Bass bite blossoms |

Bass bite blossoms

The smallmouth bass bite has really taken off in the past week. There have been a number of lakes around the north state that have seen water temperatures rise out of the high-40 degree range into the low 50s.

Some of the lakes with good smallmouth bass fishing include Scott’s Flat, Pardee Reservoir south of Jackson on the Mokelumne River, and Trinity Lake.

Locally Scott’s Flat Lake has had temps as high as 54 degrees last week and the lake level continues to rise. Both of these factors contribute to the bass moving up into the shallows searching for food. Mike Pumphrey reported good success fishing around points with minnow imitating “rip baits”. He also caught fish on soft plastics.

Pardee Reservoir has given up smallmouth bass as large as 8 pounds recently. But I did not get particulars on how they were taken. I also got good reports from Trinity Lake. My sources report that the bass bite is best around incoming water. The fish have been hitting crawdad imitations in 8 to 15 feet of water. Trinity water temps vary between 51 and 55 depending on time of day and location around the lake.

I fished Sunday on Collins Lake and expected good fishing, but results were poor. The trout plants are in full swing but this past weekend was slow for most anglers. What surprised me was the water temps that I found. Collins Lake currently has visibility of 3 to4 feet with a green color. The particles suspended in the water contribute significantly to sun warming of the upper water layer. I

used a thermometer that registered the temp and depth to record some unexpected data. There was also a stiff north wind in the afternoon. Wind moves the warmer surface down wind and stacks it up against the face of the dam, downwind. By mid-afternoon at the dam, the surface was 73 and at 20 feet down the water was 60 degrees. A half a mile upwind, in mid-lake, the surface was 61 degrees and at 20 feet the temp was 54. These mid lake temps had risen 2 degrees from my first sampling at 8:30 a.m.

I was surprised by the volume of warm water that had accumulated at the downwind end of the lake. You have to get down to 30- plus feet to get away from the wind effect by the dam. For those bass anglers interested in fishing the backs of wind sheltered coves, the surface was 68 degrees.

My point is that I was able to find more than a 20-degree variance in the top 20 feet of water based on time of day and direction of the wind.

This past week I went to Clear Lake and the bass fishing there is good.

That is to be expected this time of the year. What was good to hear was that the crappie fishing is rebounding from a cyclical low four years ago.

The 2004 season had good fishing but the first three months of this year have been exceptional. The crappie population follow the bait fish cycles. Mild winters result in good shad survival which allows the crappie numbers to stay up. This winter is the third mild one in a row and there is a bumper crop of these pan fish. The largest of these was a 3.8 pounder caught late February at the Clear Lake State Park.

Tonight, March 15, the Gold Country Fly Fishers are having their monthly meeting at the library in the county government complex off Highway 49 on Maidu Lane.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m., with guest speaker Ralph Cutter, who will be presenting a slide show. Ralph is well known for his underwater photography. All interested people are invited to attend.


Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union 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. He may be via e-mail at

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