Denis Peirce: Road less traveled turns out nice catch
The Sierra is a long mountain range that contains a lot of fishery gems that are not readily apparent to the casual observer.
Many of these are marked by just a small green sign on a high speed roadway. We briefly notice these signs on our way to somewhere else. I find myself getting into ruts and I plan trips to locations where I have been successful in past seasons.
Driving by those little green signs is often an opportunity missed. I believe that it would take more than one lifetime to explore this range and appreciate all these mountains have to offer an angler.
I had planned an overnight camping trip for Memorial Day weekend. Other commitments precluded being competitive in the race for prime camping spots on Friday or better yet Thursday. We could not leave until Sunday morning.
My best guess was to try Little Grass Valley Reservoir because it is not on a highway to anywhere else, and it is often under utilized. But on Friday I was offered an invitation to Webber Lake. It turned out to be a wonderful two days in the high country.
Webber Lake is marked by one of those green signs on the Fiber Board Road west of Highway 89 on the way to Jackson Meadows. The lake is on the private “Webber Lake Ranch” and is not open to public access. This made my invitation all the more compelling and off we went.
The warning before heading up was to prepare for maximum mosquito conditions. The lake is at 6,800 feet in elevation and currently the area is near the end of the snow melt with a lot of marshy areas. There were more mosquitoes per square inch of exposed skin than I had seen since Duluth, Minn., circa 1956.
But Deet trumped the mosquito curse and we had camp set up by 2 p.m.
We were on the water shortly thereafter in a stiff breeze with our trolling flies out. Fishing was excellent. We concentrated on the drop off at the transition from weedy flats to deep water. Ken the ranch manager recommended an olive color fly. We tried a number of colors and orange was the hands down color most preferred by the trout.
We hit Webber Lake at its springtime peak. The water is in the mid 50s and the trout are actively looking for food. There were trout feeding at the surface throughout the day and long line trolling was terrific. The creeks coming into the lake were high as was the Little Truckee River exiting the lake. Sunday was windy with white caps on the water but a wind-chopped surface is good for shallow trolling. It was one of those weekends where we were at the right place at the right time for some great fishing.
Webber has a diverse fish population of rainbows, browns and brook trout. The native fish are augmented by a planting program to assure quality angling. We caught only rainbows but the minimum size was 16 inches going to over 20. There were fly anglers working the flats as well as trollers in the deeper water. The rules are single barbless hooks and no bait to facilitate catch and release fishing.
Webber has been a sporting destination for Grass Valley residents for more than 100 years. The ranch sells seasonal camping sites but they are so valued that they are passed down from one generation to the next. If you get on the waiting list for a season long camping site it may take a decade to get one.
But in the recent past they have instituted an annual day pass and a daily fishing access program. For more information the ranch can be contacted at P.O. Box 398, Loyalton CA 96118.
This past weekend was the opener for Eagle Lake. I checked in with Bob Aguilar, a guide on the lake. Fishing overall was good. Water surface temps were 59 to 61 degrees. Most of the fish have migrated to the deeper south end of the lake. Early in the day the fish were 6 to 8 feet deep and they moved down to the 14 to 16 foot mark when the sun was high.
There were some fish taken near the tules close to Spaulding, but Pelican Point and southward was the area where the majority of fish were taken. Red was the lure color that worked for many anglers. Various “watermelon” colored grubs and red “Sure Catch Lures” did well over the weekend.
This coming Friday is a full moon. This will probably signal the last striper spawn of the season on the Sacramento River near Colusa. I have received reports of shad moving up the Feather River above Shanghai Bend Rapids. If you are looking for them, the base of the rapids is the best bet but up into the Oroville Wildlife Area is a possibility.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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