Denis Peirce: Fishing boats out en masse |

Denis Peirce: Fishing boats out en masse

The warm afternoons the past few days have started a “boat hatch” on Highway 20 through Penn Valley. Regardless of the weather, the anglers don’t take to the roads in good numbers until the duck season and the Super Bowl are finished.

Since those two events have passed the anglers are out in the good weather to start the fishing season in earnest.

Mike Pumphery arrived at the Scott’s Flat north side launch ramp Saturday morning at 8:30. The snow had been plowed in the parking lot. During warm afternoons the snow piles melt and run water over the asphalt which is a sheet of ice early in the day. By late morning things thawed out, but Mike left and traveled to Rollins Lake for a day of angling.

He was in the water and fishing by 9:30. Water temps on Rollins varied from a high of 48 degrees at one location off the face of the dam to 38 degrees in the Bear River current, flowing into the lake. Most of the surface temps were between 43 and 45 degrees. Mike caught one crappie suspended over 35 feet of water near a school of pond smelt in the Greenhorn Creek arm. He also landed a smallmouth and a largemouth bass both in the 1.5 pound range. In addition, he also picked up one spotted bass and a squaw fish for his day on the water that lasted into late afternoon.

He did see young of the year pond smelt in the 3/4-inch range near the surface and recovered pond smelt up to 3 inches from the fish he landed. His most productive bait was a soft plastic bait fish imitation in pearl/blue/shad color.

Rollins, like other foothill lakes, have bottomed out for water temps and it is only a matter of how fast they warm up into the prime 50 to 60 degree range.

Ed Everhart fished Oroville on Saturday and Collins Lake on Sunday. Oroville was 42 degrees and Ed had to cover a lot of water to locate fish. The pattern turned out to be decomposed granite banks on the south facing shore (full sun) and a slow presentation of shakey head jigs in red. His six fish came from the 27-foot depth. Structure composed of mud banks or large rock did not produce fish on Saturday.

On Sunday at Collins Lake, Ed was on the water by late morning with the best fishing coming mid-afternoon. He caught a 2 1/2-pound spotted bass on a Margarita Mutilator worm at 27 feet. He also landed a 3 1/2- and a 5-pound spotted bass on a Huddleston Swim Bait in water between 12 and 16 feet. All of Ed’s bass came from the west side of the main body of the lake. Water temps varied between 40 and 43 degrees.

I heard of another party trolling Collins over the weekend who caught a mixed bag of trout and bass, long line trolling Rapalas close to the east shore at Collins.

Farther south in the foothills New Melones Reservoir near Angels Camp has been slow during the stormy weather in January. The lake never got below the 50 degree mark in January and is currently 52 degrees. This last weekend things took a turn for the better due to the warm weather and the number of anglers fishing a trout derby on the lake.

The derby was won with a 3.98 pound brown trout. There were six other browns weighed in between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds. The other noteworthy catch has been kokanee in the 14 inch range. It is unusual to find kokanee biting in mid winter. Most years the kokanee bite comes on in May. 14 inches is a good size for May, let alone in early February. This bodes well for the 2008 season. New Melones is 2.5 hours south of us.

On the lower Yuba River, I get mixed reports on the trout fishing. The best fishing seems to be up river of the Hwy. 20 Bridge in the private access water. The public access areas do not have the same concentrations of fish that want to bite.


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

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