Denis Peirce: Go cast it on the mountain |

Denis Peirce: Go cast it on the mountain

The mountain lakes are in their prime for trout fishing. At the 6,000 foot level the water temps are in the high 50s which is ideal. This spring has been cool and windy, which has kept the temps from rising too rapidly.

Jackson Meadows has been fishing well for trollers working the top 20 feet of the water column. A wide variety of lures have been working. The trout are actively feeding and they have not been selective to specific lures. Most of the catch away from the launch ramp is holdover fish, 14 to 18 inches with pink meat. The fish near the Pass Creek ramp tend to be the recent planters.

Stampede Reservoir has been fishing well for kokanee. This species tends to get more attention than trout at this lake. Recently, the bite has been good. From first light until the sun shines on the surface, they can be caught between 25 and 35 feet down. Once the sun hits the water they suspend at the 45 to 65 foot depths over 90 feet of water. This past week the most effective colors have been pink and/or purple. The previous week, orange was the preferred color.

Donner Lake has seen a slowing of the mackinaw bite. There has been a good bite for most of the spring. The kokanee pattern is different this season than years past. Normally at this time I would expect to find them near China Cove. But the most recent reports from Keith Kerrigan place them 75 to 85 feet down in water 90 feet deep along the north shore. They majority of them are 11 inches long. Although they are short, they are plump and in good condition.

This past week Rick Aeschliman from Nevada City made his first trek into the Grouse Ridge area. He reports occasional snow drifts across the trail in shady spots. Without giving away privileged information, the lake he fished was at 6,000 foot elevation. It showed no signs of hatching insects or surface feeding trout. He expected to see ants but none were evident. Water temps were 54 degrees in the morning, rising to 57 in the afternoon. His portable fish finder marked trout at 7 to 9 feet down. All 10 of his fish were taken on wooly buggers.

This past weekend was the Davis Lake fishing derby, with 678 anglers signed up for the event. The majority of the fish weighed in came from shore anglers. The winning trout weighed in at more than 6 pounds. Not one of the big trophy fish, weighing up to 17 pounds, was caught. These monsters are still swimming in the lake.

The best news from Davis Lake is the return of the damsel nymphs. When the lake was treated I wondered if the damsel population might suffer. I knew that in time they would recover, but for the first season the issue was in doubt. A week ago, the first sighting of damsels came in. Since then the reports have noted increasing numbers and the consensus is that the hatch is at, or above, historical levels. Some of the points on the west side of the lake have large numbers of sea gulls walking the shore line picking off the nymphs as they crawl from the water. One party of boat anglers spoke of the insects all over the boat.

To the fly angler the damsel hatch at Davis is one of the more significant lake hatches in the state. The bugs grow up in the weed beds along the west shore. When mature, they swim to shore and crawl up onto anything dry to transform into the bright blue adult. During the migration to shore, the nymphs are vulnerable and the trout have a field day. Typically the hatch lasts into July. I recommend going up as soon as possible, as at the beginning of the hatch the trout are reckless and will bite anything. As the hatch progresses, and the fishing pressure increases, the trout get much more selective about what they will bite.

At lower elevations, the trout bite at Collins Lake last weekend was good for Bob Boucke of Yuba City. He consistently took fish throughout the day trolling hootchies behind a dodger at 16 feet. His largest fish was more than 6 pounds. Conditions were windy for most of the afternoon.

Tony Dumont of the Nevada City Angler says that caddis hatches on the lower Yuba River are particularly heavy in the evenings. There are trout rising to the bugs but they are very selective. You must have an accurate imitation well presented to be successful.

On the Feather and Sacramento rivers, the stripers and shad are still around. There are some shad in the Yuba River and at the outlet hole on the Feather. The preponderance of the Feather River shad remain below Shanghai Bend rapids. There are post-spawn stripers in the Feather, which is typical for this time of year.

Over on the Sacramento the stripers are still on a bite from Knights Landing up through Colusa. Minnows and cut bait are the best bet during the day. Flies, rubber worms and top water lures work best in low light conditions. Look for the striper run to continue until the June full moon on the 18th.

This year’s shad run on the Sacramento is very good. There is good shore action in and around Colusa. The best bet is using a boat above Colusa to access the many sand bars and islands to get into excellent shad action. Some guided anglers have landed more than 50 fish in a days angling.

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

Red Bluff Diversion Dam salmon count for the last three days =

June 8, 2008 = 15

June 7, 2008 = 20

June 6, 2008 = 17

Year to date 2008 = 581 salmon

Year to date 2007 = 1029 salmon

* We are printing the salmon counts at Red Bluff as a indicator of the valley salmon run in general. Salmon fishing on the Sacramento River is closed until November.

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