Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Leslie Ajari with a nice bass on her birthday several years ago.

Now that August is here and the weather has been warm for so long, trout fishing will begin to take a back seat until cooler weather returns. Rivers and lakes get too warm to safely catch and release trout during this time of year.

So what is an angler to do when this happens? Fortunately, there are alternatives for the hardened trout fisher. One of them is to take advantage of a great smallmouth bass fishery in a couple local reservoirs.

Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) were introduced illegally sometime between the late 1990s and early 2000s in both Stampede and Prosser Creek reservoirs. To put it simply, they have flourished.

Boca Reservoir also has some smallmouth in it, but the habitat is not nearly as good as in Stampede and Prosser. Smallmouth bass are considered by angling experts to be America’s greatest game fish. Well, that is quite a debatable statement, but we can all agree that they fight extremely hard and are worthy of consideration.

Excellent habitat in those two reservoirs, as well as a great food chain, has caused them to really take hold.

Our favorite time for fishing for bass is in the low-light periods of early morning or late evening.

If you are new to this form of fly-fishing, all you need is a floating or sinking line, a 6- to 8-weight rod, a 9-foot leader with 0X to 3X tippet and some crayfish and baitfish imitations for flies.

Smallmouth bass love crayfish. As a result this is our go-to imitation to use during this time of year. They also love rocky areas and other structures, such as logs, where they can find crayfish and baitfish.

Our favorite time for fishing for them is in the low-light periods of early morning or late evening when they seem to be more active, cruising in search of food in shallow water.

In the middle of the day, look for them in deeper water hanging around structures. Generally, this means water 10 feet or more in depth. Use of a boat or some other floatation device, such as a pontoon boat equipped with an electronic fish finder, is extremely helpful in locating good holding water and fish.

Once you locate a school of bass, the action can be fast and furious. They are an aggressive fish and will attack virtually anything that is put in front of them when they are feeding.

Keep in mind that they are moving, so you may catch a couple right away, but they will move out of your area. You can either try and stay on the school with your electronics or just wait them out at ambush points.

I prefer the latter method and have found it to be productive especially during the low-light periods mentioned earlier. Bass are fun to catch. Give them a try.


Boca Reservoir | The road over the dam is closed until further notice. Inflow is at 106 cfs and the outflow is 98 cfs. Powerbait, nightcrawlers and lures are all working. Fly-fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet with nymphs, streamers and dries.

Donner Lake | Fishing has been fair to good. Kokanee fishing has been fair to good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | All tributaries are open to all fishing until 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 anglers use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is at 106 cfs. This flow is up slightly from last week. Nymphing and dries should both work at this level. Dry dropper rigs are also recommended. Hatches are similar to the main Truckee.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is best early in the season and the fall. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir | Fishing has been fair. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Stampede Reservoir | The road will be closed over the dam for construction this season and next. Access to the boat ramp will be through the Hobart Mills side. Fishing has been fair from shore. Nightcrawlers, Powerbait and lures have all produced from shore. Fly-fishers have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers. The kokanee fishing is still producing for those in the know. Smallmouth bass fishing should improve as waters warm.

Truckee River | The flow out of the dam in Tahoe City is at 174 cfs. The flows through Truckee are at 183 cfs. Fishing has been fair for those working hard. Best area to target is below where Prosser Creek comes into the Truckee River downstream to the state line. Lots of bugs are appearing now: Caddis, PMD and Little Yellow stones are on the menu. Grasshoppers are showing, as well. Water temperatures are up. Carry a thermometer and quit fishing if water temps get more than 66 to 68 degrees F. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches during the regular trout season.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are full. Boat, shore and fly-anglers are catching fish. Reports from Davis are only fair at best. I suggest not fishing at either until the waters cool.

Bruce Ajari

Bruce Ajari is a long-time area fly-fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.