Denis Peirce: Great time to be back on the water |

Denis Peirce: Great time to be back on the water

For the past month or more I have foregone piscatorial pursuits in favor of “pride of ownership” concerns. Springtime, in addition to being prime for fishing, is also the season for lawn planting and irrigation systems.

After many weekends dedicated to landscaping, I found a window of opportunity between the seed spouting and the mowing.

My son and I fished two days. The first day was Friday on Bullard’s Bar.

We met up with John Kusanovich at 5:30 a.m. and were on the water by 7 a.m. We had the current info from Gary Gordon and started out our day fishing blue and white dodgers with spinners. The fish were at 45 feet and ready to bite.

We only landed five fish, although we had quite a few opportunities that resulted in long line releases. Kokanee have soft mouths and they pull off if you horse them in. The fish are in excellent condition and run 13 to 14 inches. Bullard’s is the best kokanee bet for anglers in our area.

I was surprised to see how many anglers were on the water on a weekday. I had expected to see only a couple of boats but there were well over a dozen trolling for kokanee. We got off the water by noon, as the water skiers started arriving. This holiday weekend expect a lot of water sport enthusiasts on the lake by mid-morning. The water surface temps are in the high 60s.

Saturday we headed up the hill to Independence Lake at 7,000 feet in elevation. There is still a little snow in evidence at this elevation. The lake had only thawed out at the first of the month. The mountain sides around the lake still have snow on them and there were numerous seasonal streams pouring cold water into the lake. We wanted to catch the lake in the prime mid 50s water temps. As it turned out we were a bit early for this elevation.

The lake was glassy when we arrived at 9 a.m. But by the time we launched the boat, a breeze had picked up and a steady wind blew throughout the day.

The wind pushed the warmer surface layer to the downwind end of the lake but even this resulted in only 51 degree temps. We fished up and back the length of the lake over the course of the day and all of the action took place at the downwind end. The trout were in the shallows and we caught most of our fish casting to shore as we trolled over the 15 foot depth. The most effective lures were gold and red spoons and “Sheep Creek Special” flies.

I spoke with professional guide Rick Kennedy ( who fished four different Sierra lakes last week. He guided clients on Davis, Donner, Stampede and Jackson Meadows. His best trip was on Jackson Meadows with solid rainbow trout action for his boat as well as other anglers from both boat and bank. The best trolling was with copper spoons 10 to 20 feet deep, but a variety of rigs worked.

Kennedy noted that Donner Lake is putting out fewer but larger kokanee than Stampede. Davis Lake was a disappointment for trout fishing.

A group of anglers from the Gold Country Fly Fishers went to Milton below Jackson Meadows on Saturday. Ed Stember, Frank Rinella and Norm Sauer fished mid afternoon until dark. They had one of their best trips to the lake. The successful rig was long 15 foot leaders and No. 14 pheasant tail nymphs fished very slowly over the weed beds. All but one of the trout were browns with largest ones going to the 20 inch mark. The majority of them were from 14 to 18 inches.

Milton is a catch and release fishery that features consistently cold water originating from the depths of Jackson Meadows.

Lake fishing in the Sierra will be good at elevations below 7,000 feet for this upcoming holiday weekend. The North Yuba is dropping into prime shape as the snow melt continues to subside. It is my pick for flowing water trout fishing.

Down in the valley, the shad fishing has been best below the Shanghai Bend rapids. The shad reports on the Sacramento River have been spotty with the exception of Verona and below. Salmon are consistently showing up on the Feather River near Oroville and the salt water fleet is doing well out of the Bay Area for salmon.


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

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User