Opening day may shape into a good one
It has been a very mild winter, and as a result, this year’s general trout season opener should be better than most. Run-off will be dependent on the weather, and the long-range forecast seems to point to nice weekend weather.
Those of us who have fished many opening days up here know that the weather can be a real mixed bag. We have fished many opening days in spring snowstorms as well as warm sunny skies. Be prepared for either extreme, or anything in between, because the weather up here is very unpredictable.
Since the run-off for our local streams depends on the weather, be sure and check to see if it is anticipated to be a warm day or a cool one. This will dictate the best times to get out and fish. If it is going to be a warm day, fishing early before the run-off has a chance to muddy the waters will probably be your best bet. On cooler days, fishing midday when the run-off is minimized and the water remains relatively clear is your best option.
On high run-off years many anglers prefer to fish smaller waters such as the many creeks in our region early in the season. These are generally in better shape than the main rivers. While the snowpack is low, we should still have to contend with run-off during the opening weekend.
The Truckee River from Trout Creek to the Nevada state line and Little Truckee River between Stampede and Boca reservoirs have been open since March 1 for new winter angling zero-kill, artificial lures and/or flies. The fish may be a little warier in these sections this year due to the fact that anglers have been fishing here for at least a month. This is particularly true on the Little Truckee River because it is a smaller water that receives a great amount of angling pressure every day.
If you are fishing a lake that opens for the first time this season, such as Martis Lake, fishing can be very good early in the day. Fishing lakes that have not been open year-round near first light can be very productive. There have not been many anglers fishing Martis in recent years due to its weed issue early in the season and its overall decline in productivity. The best reports out of here have been very early in the season.
Do not ignore roadside lakes that you can fish year-round such as Boca, Donner, Prosser, Tahoe and Stampede. The fishing early in the season can be exceptionally good in these waters. Keep in mind that spring is spawning season for a number of species, particularly the rainbow trout. They tend to be very active early in the year before they head up the inlet streams to spawn.
With the exception of Tahoe, where fishing within 300 feet of the mouth of its tributaries is closed until July 1, fishing near tributaries in lakes can be very good. Anglers should always be mindful of catching spawning fish. Many anglers keep limits of fish and keeping fish that may be potential spawning fish can be detrimental to future fishing. It is not a bad idea to carefully release all large rainbow trout during the early season in anticipation of the spawning run.
Anglers should also be mindful of the spawning rainbows in the Little Truckee River between Stampede and Boca reservoirs. Limit your wading so that you are not stepping on nests (redds) and do not fish to spawning fish. Redds are generally easy to spot because they are patches of freshly disturbed or clean gravel within the stream. Avoid stepping on them! While this holds true for all waters where the rainbows are spawning, the Little Truckee seems to garner the most angling pressure of any local stream.
Wherever you choose to fish during this season’s general trout opener, have a great time. While opening days do not always have great angler success, the early-season fishing this year should be very good!
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.