Kids Fishing Derby Saturday at Donner Lake |

Kids Fishing Derby Saturday at Donner Lake

Both of my children have developed a love for the sport of fishing.

Each year about this time I am reminded of just how each of them got some of their first experiences. It was at the Annual Kids Fishing Derby at Donner Lake.

Each year this event draws hundreds of youngsters from in and around the community of Truckee-Tahoe. The derby founder, Bob Tilton, was able to get an event started that has been immensely popular with the local population. Bob began the event because fishing was a good way for kids to keep active and keep them out of trouble. It is a formula that has worked for him and his children, and I can certainly say that it has been good for my family and me.

This year the Derby will be held this Saturday, July 21 at the Donner State Park pond at the entrance to Coldstream Canyon. The Derby is for children 12 and under and is free. It runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Truckee Rotary Club and Nevada County Fish and Wildlife Commission are once again the sponsors of this event.

Rachel Sundale, calling on behalf of the Rotary, indicated that the Rotary would again be providing lunches, snacks and drinks at a nominal cost. Money raised from the sale of lunches helps keep this event going, so support the Rotary Club barbecue. The main focus, as always, will be on the kids’ fishing itself. This year there will be advanced sign-ups at Bud’s Sporting Goods and at Mountain Hardware and Sports.

While there, why not get some fresh line on that reel that your child will be fishing? This is the most common mistake that I see at the derby. A full spool makes it much easier for your child to cast a longer distance. Distance can be a real premium on the pond. Getting kids started requires an immense amount of patience, even if you understand how to fish yourself. Kids have short attention spans and really need multiple activities while you are on a fishing outing. They also need explanations about everything.

As a parent new to fishing, learn as much as you can ahead of time about how to set up the tackle that you are using. You can get help at the places locally that sell the fishing gear that you will need. Even if you have some old tackle that has been handed down, have it checked out by people that know what they are doing. During the day of the derby, I have seen tackle run the gamut. One year I actually saw a surf fishing rig, and a number of salt-water set-ups with 20 pound-plus line. Setting-up the rod, reel, line and terminal tackle properly will really increase the odds of a successful outing. Nothing can be more frustrating or nerve-wracking than having fishing gear that doesn’t perform.

There is nothing like a successful outing to keep a child interested in fishing. A Kids Derby such as this gives you the best opportunity for the child to have some success. The odds are in your favor, but fishing can provide its share of frustrations. No matter how good the odds, you may or may not catch fish.

The derby organizers really try to insure the success of young anglers by providing a good number of hungry fish. The rest is really up to you! Be prepared and just have a good time with your children. Whether you catch fish or not the outing will be something your kids will always remember. Mine certainly have not forgotten their experiences at the derby!

Fishing is a great family pastime and this is a terrific way to get your children started.


Boca – (8,740 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair and is dropping rapidly. Water is being released at 203 CFS and only 104 CFS is coming into the lake. In spite of the low water levels anglers are still having success. Anglers near the dam are still catching fish. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Boats that can still be launched are having some success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing is good for those experienced anglers that can get a boat in the water. Fly fishermen near the inlet have experienced fair to good action early and late. Nymphs and streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught recently. When it calms down, midges are very productive.

Donner Lake – Fishing has been fair to good. Anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair to good success. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had fair success.

Lake Tahoe – (Elevation 6226.03) Fishing has been good for mackinaw. Most fish are in the 5- to 7-pound range. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair overall. The creeks opened this past weekend. Keep in mind that any large fish that you catch are most likely fish that have come out of the lake to spawn. Please release these fish. No fishing is also allowed within 300 ft. of these tributaries.

Martis Lake – (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may be bagged or possessed) Fishing has been fair to good. Most activity has been early and late with blood midges and callibaetis imitations. Most anglers are using nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quigley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.

Little Truckee River – (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – (103 cubic feet per second) Fishing here has been fair in the stretch between Stampede and Boca. Fishing has been fair near the inlet area of the Little Truckee into Boca reservoir. This area changes almost daily. Fly fishermen fishing this stretch between Stampede and Boca are experiencing frequent hatches where a dry flies and emergers have been productive. Nymphs and streamers are still the first choice if there are no fish on the surface.

Prosser – (11,619 ac. ft.) Prosser has been fishing fair. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Flyfishermen near the inlets have taken a few fish mostly on nymphs and streamers.

Stampede – (178,330 ac. ft.) Stampede is fair to good. Shore anglers are catching a few more fish. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Topliners have fair to good success for kokanee salmon. Most use a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Look for improvement as the weather warms. There is still good action, mostly subsurface, with nymphs such as the pheasant tail and the bird’s nest. There is some good surface activity early and late as well. Streamers are also working.

Truckee River – The release from the dam at Tahoe City is 345 cubic feet per second and near Truckee it’s running the same. Fishing has been fair throughout the river. Seasoned anglers have been doing well. Prince nymphs, Bird’s nests and pheasant tail nymphs have produced some fish as well as streamers. Because of the increasing hatches dry flies are now working as well. Try an elk hair caddis, hares ear parachute or an E/C caddis. Fishing has hit the typical summer early morning or late evening peaks in activity throughout our local waters.

Other Waters – Jackson Meadows has been fishing well. Davis and Frenchman lakes are fishing fair this past week.

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