Low snowpack: Early season looks promising
After waiting more than five months, anglers should be happy; the 2004 general trout season is scheduled to open on April 24.
What began as a promising winter has failed to produce the much-needed heavy snowpack in our region to sustain flows throughout the season. At 80 percent, the snowpack in our region is quite a bit below average in both the Tahoe Basin and in the Truckee River drainage. Couple this with some unseasonably warm temperatures early on and the prognosis for the early season seems to be a bit more optimistic than normal.
Water temperatures will still be cold, but opening day flows should be better than normal. Even with the warm weather that we have been experiencing in the past six weeks or so, the Truckee River has not run abnormally high or off color during that period. The Truckee River should fish better than usual for the opener.
While it is still the early season, and the fish may not move too far for the angler’s offering, anglers should find it much easier to fish than during large snowpack years due to the lower flows. When fishing early in the season, it is always best to concentrate on what anglers refer to as soft water those areas that have some form of a current break that afford the fish some relief from the flows. Areas behind obstructions such as rocks or deadfall are prime areas upon which to concentrate. When the water is high, the water closest to the bank that form back eddies are also prime areas in which to concentrate your efforts.
The general rule of thumb is that one should cover a water thoroughly, but also cover a lot of water. In other words, make a number of good presentations through a particular holding area and, if you do not hook a fish, move on to the next location. Typically, the more area that you cover, the more likely you are to be successful in the early season.
For fly fishermen, streamers are a good choice during the early season. The most popular opening day water in recent years has probably been the Truckee and the Little Truckee Rivers. Since most roadside lakes in our region are open year round, they do not get as much attention as waters opening for the first time since last November 15.
One local lake that has drawn attention in the past and is subject to the season opener is Martis Lake. Martis Lake is strictly a catch-and-release, artificial-barbless-hook-only water. Over the past several years, this lake has not been producing well. The spring and fall months are typically the best times to fish this lake.
Most seem to feel that the problem with Martis is due to the increasing amount of vegetation that has been appearing in the lake, making it extremely difficult to fish. As a result, we have not seen large numbers of anglers on this water during the past couple of openers.
Lots of anglers tend to concentrate on smaller creeks to fish during the early season. This is typically a very good strategy. The best time to fish early in the season is probably the middle part of the day since the water will be at its warmest. Unless the weather or conditions are extremely ugly, opening day typically attracts a crowd, and this opener should be no different. Just make sure that you are prepared for it and enjoy yourself. You will find that most anglers are in a very good mood, simply because of the shear enjoyment of being out on the water; it has been a long wait for most anglers.
One final caution: Do not forget that license. The wardens are typically out in force during the opener, and I am sure that this season will be no exception. It would be a shame to get cited for a violation, so besides the license reminder, know your regulations.
There are special regulations on both the Truckee and the Little Truckee in certain sections. Check your 2004 Regulation Book if you are uncertain about the rules on any water.
Bruce Ajari, a Truckee resident, is a regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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