GONE FISHIN’: The big fish are still out there
While there are still year- round lakes open, access to some areas is beginning to shut down and so goes another trout season. As a result, most anglers currently are concentrating on the more accessible waters.
Although cooler water temperatures may slow fishing down, the chance to catch a lunker is still good. Large fish are cruising in shallow water and are accessible to anglers. A good case in point is a submission I received last week from two Auburn anglers.
On Nov. 18, Brett Harris and Keith York were trolling in a 23-foot Bayliner on Donner Lake. At about 2:40 p.m., Harris hooked what he felt was a big fish. Twenty minutes later a big fish indeed was at the boat.
According to the person reporting the catch, Harris and York typically practice catch-and-release angling, but with no camera on board to document their catch, they opted on keeping the fish. The catch turned out to be a 32-inch brown trout weighing in at 17 pounds on a digital bathroom scale.
How does a fish grow to such proportions? Inside the fish was a pretty good size rainbow or Mackinaw trout according to my source.
Whether the fish is a rainbow, brown or Mackinaw, when they reach this size they will eat other fish as the main part of their diet. Harris and York were using a 5-inch rainbow Rapala tied with a Rapala knot directly to the lure (no swivel). York caught a 28-inch 8- pound brown about an hour later. Many people do not know there is a number of nice brown trout caught each year at Donner Lake.
Because of regular California Department of Fish and Game plantings of catchable rainbow trout and plentiful kokanee salmon plantings, the brown trout and Mackinaw grow very large. As mentioned above, catching a large fish this time of year is possible since these predators make forays into shallow water to feed on the smaller rainbow trout. It is a common occurrence for an angler to catch a true lunker from shore during the fall and spring.
Lakes such as Donner or Tahoe provide good access this time of year and should not be overlooked. If you are a fly-fisherman, stripping a streamer can yield a nice catch of rainbow, brown or even an occasional Mackinaw. You can typically use the same set-up as for Pyramid Lake – a high speed hi-D shooting head on a nine-foot-six to 8-weight rod. Keep additional density lines as well since fish can often be found top-feeding on midges and at mid-depths.
I like going out about mid-day during the winter while a lake such as Donner is open (not frozen) and throwing my streamer. Keep in mind this can be a hit-or- miss proposition, but it is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
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