The extended drought has affected all northern
California bodies of water, but Lake McSwain has been
particularly hard hit by the effects of the drought with last
year’s closure of the Calaveras Trout Farm in Snelling. This
year’s high flows have allowed for the Calaveras Trout Farm to
be back in the business of raising trout, and there have been
two plants at McSwain with the past two weeks with 1500 pounds
on August 31 and another 1500 pounds on September 8. The trout
plants have spurred on the bite from the shoreline and for
trollers working the river arm, and fishermen are returning to
the lake in droves. The lake remained busy for campers and
recreationists for the past several months, but the arrival of
the planted trout were just what was necessary to bring back
The 22nd Annual Lake McSwain Trout Derby hosted by
the Merced Irrigation District will be held from Saturday,
October 7 at 7:00 a.m. to Sunday, October 8 at noon with no
registrations accepted after October 5. The entry fee is
$15.00/individual and $35.00 for a family of 2 adults and 3
children, and it will be limited to the first 200 boats or 500
entrants. There will be 50 tagged fish released into the lake
with prizes at $2000, $1000, and $500 with the remainder of
tagged fish shared equally from a prize pool. A $200 prize will
also be awarded for the heaviest fish by weight.
Registration is available at www:lakemcclure.org.
Currently, the best action is in the normal locations of the
Brush Pile, Handicapped Docks, or along the peninsula by the
marina with trout dough bait, Power Eggs, Kastmasters, or
inflated nightcrawlers. Trollers are pulling blade/’crawler
combinations or Wedding Rings tipped with a nightcrawler behind
a flasher from the Second to the First Fence Line.
Camanche remains outstanding for experienced
trout trollers who know the routine for catching fish. The
arrival of cooler weather has limited both the number of
recreational anglers, but also the fishermen. However, anglers
should have primary access to the lake in the coming months for
bass, crappie, and planted and holdover rainbow trout.
Robbie Dunham of Galt, aka ‘The Koke
Machine,’ continues to put on a weekly clinic for rainbow trout
with quick limits by 10:00 a.m. on Saturday with his wife, Kim.
Dunham said, “We had early limits, losing another five fish,
running Speedy Shiners coated with Kokanee Feast at depths from
25 to 40 feet in the Little Hat Island River Channel. We had a
double and even a triple hook up. We even released three bass
and a crappie.” The trout are moving up in the water column as
the temperatures are cooling down.
The deep channel has been the hot spot for trout with Kristy and
Mike Carpentier for a total of nine rainbows from 14 to 19
inches along with three bass, releasing a small trout using
Speedy Shiners in gold or purple/blue at depths from 28 to 38
feet at speeds to 3 mph.
Bass fishermen are starting to show more interest, and there is
a topwater bite in the morning when the shad schools are
located. Once the sun comes out, reaction baits such as
jerkbaits, ripbaits, or crankbaits are all working along with
working the bottom with Senkos or plastics on the drop-shot.
Recreational boating is starting to slow down after Labor Day,
but the hot weather is keeping the lake busy during the
Camanche Recreation Area and East Bay Municipal Utilities
District are once again holding the Great Sierra and Mokelumne
River Cleanup, and participants will receive a free night of
tent camping, lots of prizes, and a free BBQ for helping from
8:30 a.m. until noon on September 16.
Register at: http://www.ebmud.com/…/vol…/2017-great-sierra-river-cleanup/
Camanche held at 84 percent.
The Pardee Recreation Company continues to
complete their commitment of planting rainbow trout before the
resort closes in November, and another trout plant of 1500
pounds of 1- to 1.5-pound fish occurring on Friday, September 15
from the Calaveras Trout Farm.
Shore fishermen are starting to get in on the action off of the
Stony Creek Landing with trout dough bait in various colors or
inflated nightcrawlers within days of the plants before the
rainbows move out into deeper water. The kokanee have gone deep,
and they are starting their process of spawning. Trout trolling
in the main lake is decent with shad-patterned lures or Rapalas,
but the best is yet to come before the closure with the huge
amount of rainbow trout planted in the lake this year along with
the cooler water temperatures.
The Lake Pardee Recreation Company is closing up shop in
November in response to the East Bay Municipal Utilities
District changing concessionaires to the Rocky Mountain
Recreation Company based out of southern California in Valencia.
Rocky Mountain currently operates Del Valle, Shadow Cliffs, and
San Pablo Dam Reservoirs in the Bay Area and Rancho Seco in
Pardee Recreation Company is current selling assets that the new
concessionaires do not desire, and these include: art work in
the café, commercial metal warehouse shelving, miscellaneous
office furniture and supplies, miscellaneous restaurant
supplies, miscellaneous maintenance supplies, a 2-bedroom,
2-bath mobile home and a number of additional items. Some items
are available now and some will not be available till after
November 5th. If you are interested or would like more
information, please email us at
Pardee is at 94 percent.
Catfishing is solid for large whiskerfish with chicken livers,
nightcrawlers, or cut baits in the coves with the best action in
the evenings from dusk until the following morning. Trout plants
should start by the middle of October once the water
temperatures cool, and in addition to plants from additional
sources, the Lake Amador Hatchery will be releasing some of
their Donaldson trout.
There are still large rainbow trout in the
deepest waters in the main lake, and the trout to 5 pounds can
be landed by trollers working shad-patterned spoons from 40 to
75 feet. Bass fishing remains fair with reaction baits or
finesse techniques. There are plenty of small bass in the lake
with the high water conditions along with loads of shad and
small bluegill. There is a brief window for topwater lures in
the early mornings. Catfishing is good with cut baits or live
minnows with Glory Hole Sports holding their annual month-long
tournament from October 1 to November 1.
bass remain an excellent option, and trollers are starting to
get in on the action in the normal locations of the islands in
front of the Trash Racks or at the mouth of Portuguese Cove.
Bank fishing is also an option, and there have been some big
stripers caught and released from the shoreline on lures. With
the high water conditions, the action should only improve as the
water continues to cool down.
Jesus Reyes Silva of JKings Lures in Hollister is out doing work
on the big lake on a regular basis, and he has been scoring
schoolie stripers with a variety of his rip baits. Topwater
lures, flukes, or jerkbaits in shad patterns are working inside
of the coves early in the mornings or late in the afternoons
Brandon Dean Jenkins caught and released a 15-pound striped bass
casting from the shoreline on Saturday at the big lake.
Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis said, “One of our
customers, Ryan Bailey, has been at the lake on a regular basis,
and he has been catching a good number of stripers running
Alabama rigs or large plugs in the 7- to 8-inch range such as
P-Line Predators at depths from 30 to 40 feet in the main lake
along points or over island tops. The fish aren’t huge, but they
Jumbo minnows have been absent on most bait shops so bait
drifters are having to settle for extra-large minnows. As a
result, trolling has been more productive within the past week.
San Luis has dropped to 88 percent.
The Shaver Lake Kokanee Power Derby is normally
one of the most challenging events of the year, and as it is
traditionally held in September, the kokanee are normally in the
process of hugging the bottom. This year was no exception for
the big fish, but the largest limits in this event in years
provided one of the highlights of the year for Kokanee Power and
Shaver Lake. Gary Coe, president of Kokanee Power, along with
his partner, John Lico, took first place at 86.0 ounces for
three fish, followed closely by the team of Kenny MacDonald,
John Zemen, and Mike Giovacchini at 85.1 ounces. Coe said, “It
was an epic day as we landed 4 big mature healthy males at
depths from 55 to 100 feet in depth. We didn’t go 150 yards at
55 feet in depth before hooking our first fish, but we saw big
fish on the meter hugging the bottom, and we hooked fish while
slowing down to fight a fish, so we said, ‘Wait a minute, there
is another story to be told here.’ We specially targeted the
deep fish, and we were able to get them to go as most anglers
were working from 35 to 50 feet. We changed our tactics by going
to the bottom and going as slow as 1.0 mph, and we also lost one
large fish at 100 feet in depth. The Paulina Peak’s dodgers and
lures were working for us, and these are the best new stuff I
have seen on the market as there is an extra bend in the dodger
that works very well as slow speeds.”
Since the derby, the kokanee action has been up and down with
Todd Wittwer of Kokanee.net Guide Service saying, “Monday’s
thunderstorms shut down the bite, but it rebounded before
slowing down again over the weekend. The boats scattered out
into locations that haven’t been tried for a while, but a number
of trollers continue to try for the deep fish in the trough out
in front of the marina. Orange or chartreuse Apex lures, the
Tasmanian Devil in Smashing Pumpkin, or Dick’s Koke Busters
behind ball trolls are all working when the fish are willing to
Shaver has dropped to 89 percent.
Courtright Reservoir continues to routinely kick
out limits of rainbows with a few brown trout mixed in while
Wishon is showing signs of life after slowing down for the past
Crane of Wishon Village RV Park and Store said, “Courtright
remains the top location for both bank fishermen and trollers,
and the Trapper Springs Campground remains hot with trout dough
bait in red or pink. Shore fishermen are picking up limits on a
regular basis while trollers are pulling Rapalas on leadcore
from 5 to 6 colors. There have been a lot of limits taken, and
there are a number of brown trout mixed in with the rainbows.”
is starting to heat up for trout as the high county is getting
colder, and Crane said, “Fishing is picking up with a few nice
limits taken on Rapalas at 40 to 50 feet on the downrigger as
well as on leadcore at 4 to 6 colors. The key is to go slow.
Shore anglers are picking up a few more fish on trout dough bait
in red or pink. Richard Joseph, the dock man at Wishon, was
casting a Rapala off of the docks, and he landed a nice brown
trout. This could have been a fluke, but I don’t know.”
Maintenance on the power plant is taking place at both lakes
over the next several weeks,
Huntington Reservoir, Steve Newman of Valley Rod and Gun said,
“Trolling has been very slow as the kokanee are turning towards
the spawn, and the action that is taking place has been for bank
fishermen around Rancheria Creek or the Auxiliary Dam with trout
dough bait, Power Eggs, or inflated nightcrawlers.” Huntington
is at 97 percent, Mammoth Pool at 57, Edison at 80, and Florence
is only at 2 percent.
The Sheriff’s Motor Fee will remain in effect
throughout the year now, and boaters are expected to pay the fee
at the Sheriff’s Tower prior to launching. The fee had
traditionally been administered from Memorial Day to Labor Day,
but it will be enforced year round. Bass fishing is best early
in the morning with topwater lures before working the docks with
plastics on the drop-shot or Senkos. Trout fishing
remains very slow, but the bite should improve as the water
cools. Webcams of the lake are available at http://basslakeca.com/.
The lake is releasing water, and it has dropped to 97 percent.