Denis Peirce: Early start to Kokanee season |

Denis Peirce: Early start to Kokanee season

Kokanee season got a premature start last week.

I received my first confirmed report about Donner Lake from guide Keith Kerrigan of the Sierra Guide Service. He reports that while mackinaw trolling on Donner he runs an additional rod with kokanee gear. Last week at the end of a good long run of warm sunny days, he picked up his first kokanee of the 2007 season.

His largest kokanee went 15 inches. He took these fish on his own Sierra Anglers brand pink & blue spinner with a copper blade. He also took kokanee on “Radical Glow Hootchies.”

Late last week Donner had warmed up to the mid 40s with the mackinaw looking toward the surface for food. Kerrigan noticed some slurping, surface feeding by kokanee interspersed with frantic-fleeing activity. The kokanee ultimately realized that while they looked for a meal on the surface, they were a meal for the next unit up the food chain.

In their attempt to get away they accelerate and try to swim up and out of the water.

Kerrigan did keep one of the mackinaw he caught but that particular one had 5-inch minnows in the stomach rather than kokanee.

The cold front that came in over the weekend put an end to the bite.

“It will take three consecutive days of warm weather for the bite to begin again and five consecutive days for the fishing to be good,” Kerrigan said. Reviewing last year’s guide log book, Kerrigan noted that he was consistently catching kokanee from 17 up to 19 inches by May 9.

Watch for a stretch of good weather and head up the hill.


Closer to home on Bullard’s Bar Reservoir last week a trusted source, who prefers to remain anonymous, took his first kokanee of the year off Garden Point at a depth of 30 feet. The fish went 12 inches with a full girth.

This is a good sign for the up coming season on Bullard’s. My source also fished the mouth of the North Yuba trolling flies for trout. He had numerous “short strikes” and only solidly hooked one trout.

The mouth of the North Yuba was 46 degrees and the main body was 50.

As you go lower in elevation and farther south the water is warmer and the kokanee season has started. New Melones Reservoir is at the 1,000-feet elevation east of Stockton. The kokanee angling there has been decent for 10 days.

The water is in the low 60s with 13- and 14-inch kokanee being taken at the 30 foot depth.


The best fishing in the north state at the moment is striper bite on the Sacramento River. The fishing is good from Verona to Colusa, with the best fishing reported between Knight’s Landing and Meridian.

Last week I mentioned trolling upriver and drifting back downstream with minnows.

Another technique that has been producing results is to fish largemouth bass gear with large black rubber worms. You drift in the current within casting distance of the bank. An electric trolling motor is a great help with boat control.

The Texas-rigged worms are cast to the bank and retrieved. Rip rap banks are good choices for places to start. This fishery should last through May, depending on water temps and moon phase.


The last days of March brought the first spring run salmon up the Feather River to the afterbay hole. There have been scattered reports of salmon taken during low light conditions by anglers throwing spinners. This is not a red hot bite but persistent anglers can take nice salmon.


The ocean salmon season opened last weekend off the Bay Area. The bite was slow. Monday’s result form Emeryville Sport Fishing was 19 anglers taking 12 salmon up to 18 pounds. The fishermen were aboard two boats, the “Dandy” and the “New Seeker,” off the Marin County coast. It takes time to find the fish once the season opens.


On Saturday, April 28, there will be two kids fishing derbies in our area.

The Penn Valley Lions are sponsoring an event at the creek crossing in Western Gateway Park. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with fishing from 9 a.m. until noon.

On the same day, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, the Grass Valley Sportsman’s Club is hosting the 35th annual Kids Fishing Derby.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. with fishing at 10 a.m.

Bring your own rods and reels. Power bait is by far the most successful bait. If you have kids and don’t know how to rig up, there will be volunteers at both events to help.

These are great events to get kids exposed to fishing. It is my belief that the people with the greatest interest in the environment are those that recreate in wild places. Fishing is the sport that takes me there.


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 reached via e-mail at

If conditions permit, the following lakes, reservoirs and ponds, listed by county, will be restocked with catchable-size trout from Department of Fish and Game hatcheries.

Week of April 9

Butte County – Desabla Reservoir

Nevada County – Rollins Reservoir

Placer County – Halsey Forebay, Sugar Pine Reservoir

Week of April 16

Lake County – Upper Blue Lake

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