All of the heavy rains of the last few weeks have put a premium on local waters that are fishable. The silt in the water decreases visibility and makes catching a bit tougher. In the lakes, finding clearer water is often the key. The mud suspended in the water tends to settle from the top down, and as the tributaries clear, the mouths of incoming creeks offer clean water.
One local lake that offers winter trout fishing is Englebright Reservoir. This lake is planted with trout during the cold-weather months when the surface water temps are in a trout’s comfort zone. The Department of Fish and Game has planted the lake twice this month on the 5th and the 18th. Each time, the allotment was 2,000 pounds of fish, which translates into 8,000 rainbows in the month of December. The total DFG allotment of trout to be planted in the calendar year 2013 will be more than 16,000 rainbows.
This is not the entire story for trout plants at Englebright. Lisa and Nick Rogers, owners of Skipper’s Cove Marina on the lake took it upon themselves to undertake a private trophy trout program. During the cold-weather months when slips at their docks are available and the surface temps are right, they have a pen project in place.
This is the second year for their trout rearing efforts. They built floating pens that fit in a boat slip to hold the fish. Each pen has its own automatic feeding system that puts a measured amount of floating food into the pen on a regular schedule.
The trout were purchased from the Mt. Lassen Trout Farm and arrived in mid-November. There was a total of 1,000 pounds of rainbows. Ninety percent weigh in at the 1- to 2-pound class and 10 percent are in the 4- to 8-pound class. These are all “triploid” trout. They are the steer of the fish world. They are sterile, and all of their energy goes to putting on weight. With the steady supply of food, these fish will achieve substantial weight gain by their release date late next March.
The entire pen project is privately funded. The DFG is only involved in the licensing of what is, in effect, a private aquaculture endeavor. Lisa and Nick have guaranteed the funding, location and labor to produce trophy fish for us to catch. They would appreciate help from the anglers benefitting from their efforts. The cost just for the food will be in the $2,500 range for the duration. This does not include the cost of purchasing the fish or the pens and feeders.
The first donor to step up to support the project this year was the California Inland Fisheries Foundation Inc. (aka Project Kokanee). It made a grant of $1,000. Another part of the funding process was a donation by two local fishing guides, Ed Fisk (fishtalesguideservice.com) and Rick Kennedy (fishtightlines.com).
Each of these guides has provided a fishing trip to be raffled off in March at the end of the pen project. If you fish at Englebright, I strongly urge you to support the project by purchasing a $5 ticket. They are available at Skipper’s Cove office and store.
Englebright Reservoir is a narrow, flooded canyon that is best fished by boat. At the upper end of the lake are the two forks of the Yuba. Depending on the recent weather, they can be putting in either clear or muddy water. These tributaries are major food sources for trout in the lake. The North Yuba flows cold all year and is the best trout fishing in the warm weather months.
During the warm months, the lake separates into two fisheries, a warm water fishery at the lower end and a cold water fishery at the top. Currently, the entire lake has a water temp in the high 40s. With the recent plants, there is a lot of smaller rainbows spreading out from the marina area. In the upper lake, there are good numbers of holdover trout, which include some browns.
If you plan on fishing here this winter, here are some of the reports I have been getting.
Ed Fisk and Rick Kennedy were on the lake last week. They picked up some of the recent planters long lining as they motored out of the marina area. They also hooked up a few trout at the upper end of the lake, all at the top of the water column in muddy conditions.
Dave Holloway, from Nevada City, has fished Englebright numerous times this fall. On his best day, he boated 18 trout, and last week he had a skunk. He trolls the upper lake above the South Fork and has picked up a few good browns this fall. He will also drift fish, casting spoons and spinners.
Gino Kelly fishes the lake regularly, mostly from the shore. With the current brown water conditions, he fishes bait hung below a float to target fish near the surface. Once the water clears, he does well using a weighted system, targeting fish near the bottom. There is an angler’s trail between the two boat ramps for access in the marina area. The other walk-in access is from a trail that goes from Bridgeport State Park on the South Yuba a half mile down to Point Defiance on the lake.
Englebright is the best value for boat launching with the fee being only $4. It is the lowest elevation lake in the county, which can mean comfortable air temps in the winter. If you go, consider picking up a raffle ticket and thank Nick and Lisa for their efforts to improve the quality of angling in our lake.
Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at www.fineflies.com.