Denis Peirce: Good fishing on tap at area lakes, rivers |

Denis Peirce: Good fishing on tap at area lakes, rivers

Memorial Day Weekend marks the start of the summer season.

As a general rule, the Sierra rivers and streams will be flowing high as the weather warms this weekend. The recent rains did not raise river flows significantly. In fact the North Yuba flow which had been normal, has been falling for the last week to a level 500 cfs below average for this date. This is due to the cool weather. I expect it to come back up to seasonal high flows with the warm temps this weekend.

The best trout fishing in the mountains will be in the lakes. The water temps are prime for the trout to be near the surface. I heard that the road to Jackson Meadows Reservoir from Hwy 89 was opened a week ago. Jackson Meadows is always a good early season lake. There are good numbers of hold over fish from the previous year. The lake can give up some large trout early in the year.

Stampede Reservoir near Truckee has been a disappointment so far this year. A recent derby had anglers struggling to come up with kokanee. The water temps are in the 50s which is prime. There have been a few brown trout landed. Speculation is that the low water last year knocked down the populations. The locals have been fishing Boca which is below Stampede. Boca has been kept higher this spring and the fish populations seem to be in better shape. There have been some significant catches of browns there in recent weeks.

The Lakes Basin between Bassett’s Station and Graeeagle is opening up. Gold Lake has been producing mackinaw. As of a week ago the newest launch ramp was still snowed in. There was launching at the original ramp at the dirt parking area along the main road.

Last week the mackinaw were caught on worm and flasher rigs that are more commonly used for rainbow trolling. The macs are near the top of the water column.

Eagle Lake near Susanville opens tomorrow. The lake is six inches higher than it was this time last year. This is an improvement but we are still limited to the single ramp at the south end of the lake. The low water has been more about access problems than the fishing. Once you get onto the lake the fishing will be good. The water temps are in the high 50s and these fish have not seen a hook for five months.

You don’t have to go to the high country to find good fishing. The Foothills lakes are doing well with most of the bass spawn behind us. I fished Folsom Lake for the first time this season. The water temp was 68 degrees and the lake is about 6 feet below the spillway. Fishing the North Fork arm of the lake produced a nice mix of smallmouth and spotted bass. The best producing bait was a drop shot rig of a small plastic pond smelt imitation.

I fished with guide Don Paganelli. The first spot we fished was a cove that had a breeze blowing directly into it. The pond smelt imitation did well fished near the bottom in water 10 to 20 feet deep. The other bait that picked up fish was a soft plastic tube in a crawdad color. This produced well cast to the shore and slowly pulled out to deeper water over rocky structure.

The second spot we fished featured granite rock formations 100 feet off shore that had depths of 10 to 20 feet. The bait fish were among the submerged boulders and the bass were in the area looking for them. There was not much fishing pressure mid week. I think that might change for this weekend. With the lake almost full there will be a lot of water to fish.

What I found interesting about Folsom was that after falling to 15% of capacity there were enough fish to repopulate the lake at full pool. I had expected slow fishing and was pleasantly surprised at how well we did on the day.

Lake Oroville is similar to Folsum. The water temperature was 69 degrees on Thursday. I expect good water skiing conditions for the weekend. If the anglers get out early in the day you might not see any skiers. The water level has begun to fall on Oroville. As the level falls look for the bass to back off of the banks and move a bit deeper.

The best fishing for the weekend might prove to be shad fishing in the valley rivers. This is shaping up to be one of the best runs in a number of years. Reports from the Yuba River have been excellent. Guides floating the river near Marysville have been catching dozens per day.

I have not received recent Oroville reports but the flows coming down the Feather River have been good enough to bring the fish up to the upper river. There has been a lot of shad caught in the Shanghai Bend area. Verona, where the Feather joins the Sacramento River is another good spot to try.

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

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