By Bruce Ajari
Fishing season opened the last Saturday in April. Since that time, fishing has been quite good in the local streams and lakes. Given the poor winter the Sierra’s experienced, we may have seen the best part of our 2014 season already.
With our waters dependent on snow melt to keep the lakes full and the streams flowing, the outlook for the summer months are pretty bleak. The concern by many local fishermen is that water temperatures may spike early in the summer and make conditions inhospitable for our local trout. That said, some anglers feel that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to consider some closures to local waters to prevent stressing the fish in the event that this happens this summer.
With so little run-off this season, Mother Nature has accelerated its timetable. As anticipated, we saw aquatic insects hatching ahead of schedule. For example, Caddisflies were already being seen the end of April, perhaps a good month early. All of the other insects also seemed to be ahead of schedule. Other hatches will be early, so fly fishers anticipating hatches should look for his or her favorite hatches early this season.
Streams this year are looking good for the early season and the Truckee River should benefit from releases from Tahoe earlier than usual. This means that flows for the Truckee River should be good for the season. As the season progresses, small creeks and the Little Truckee between Stampede and Boca will see pretty low flows.
A survey of the local lakes really shows the impact of our light winter. Donner Lake looks to be full. Boca Reservoir is pretty low at around 16,500 acre feet as of late May. Stampede is low at 78,300 and Prosser at 10,700 acre feet. These are extremely low.
Anglers should concentrate their fishing early in the season and should be mindful of water temperatures. Carry a thermometer. As temperatures rise, the prudent trout angler would be wise to quit fishing when temperatures meet and exceed the 65-degree mark for surface temperatures.
Some of our local lakes provide some opportunities for warm water species, such as Smallmouth bass. Bass fishing can be good particularly in Prosser and Stampede Reservoirs. This is a great alternative for fishermen and women who want to keep fishing as water temperatures warm. That will certainly be my focus as the water heats up this season.
(For water levels visit troa.net)
Boca: Inflow is at 325 cfs and the outflow is 288 cfs. Try powerbait or nightcrawlers. Throwing lures from shore also has been working. Fly fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet, mostly nymphing and with streamers.
Donner: Fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and powerbait seem to be the bait of choice. Mackinaw and Kokanee fishing has been fair. Fly fishermen are catching some fish with streamers.
Lake Tahoe: (Lake Tahoe tributaries are closed to all fishing until July 1. The Lake within 300 feet of a tributary also is closed. Tributaries are open July 1 to Sept. 30.) Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore fishermen use inflated nightcrawlers.
Little Truckee River: (The flow is now at a fairly high 325 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good. Keep an eye on the flows here. At the higher level, the Little Truckee fishes best with a large and small nymph combination. Anglers have been using SJW, Stoneflies, BWO and PMD imitations.
Martis Lake: Zero kill. Catch and Release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Some small cutthroats and an occasional large brown and rainbow may still be caught here. Smallmouth bass also have been introduced. Try fishing here before mid-June when the water typically warms up for trout.
Prosser: The Lake is fishing fair to good. Powerbait and nightcrawlers are the best bait. Lure and fly fishermen also are taking some fish from shore and near the inlets.
Stampede: Stampede is very low. The bottom of the boat ramp area is now dirt, about 15 to 20 feet past the end of the concrete ramp. Fishing has been fair to good from shore. Kokanee fishing has been good. Mackinaw fishing has been good.
Truckee River: Flowing out of the lake at 167 cfs at Tahoe City, through Truckee at 331 cfs as of May 25. Fishing seems to be fluctuating like the flows in the river. Fish have been caught on nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers. I was out on the river last week and the water was more than 35 cfs higher. Wading was difficult at this level and few fish were looking up. Midges, craneflies, caddis, BWO, March Browns and PMDs were all observed. Your best bet is to nymph or streamer fish at these flows unless you see an active surface feeding fish.
Other Waters: Davis and Frenchman have been fair to good. Fish are being caught on blood midge patterns and Callibaetis imitations. Streamers fished deep also can be productive.
Bruce is a long-time area fly fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.