April brings the bite all over

Toll Chea has a nice stringer of trout at Pardee Reservoir.

As an angler, what I like most about the month of April is the fact that it’s easier to catch different species of fish. Why “easier” you might ask? Well, the fishing action seems to heat up right along with the air temperatures in April for several reasons.

Trout fishing in our rivers and streams opens on the last Saturday of April every year. This year, the date for the opener is April 27. Rainbow and brown trout will be possible to catch, and the trick is to be the first angler to get your worm (or other bait) in the water in the new season; you could catch the fish off-guard.

April brings the bite all over

A spotted bass took the Senko bait at Pardee Reservoir as William Heinselman reeled it to the boat. 

All Mother Lode lake fishing begins to pick up in April. Bass, which were holding in deeper water through the cold winter and early spring, now have the strong urge to spawn, brought on by the warmer water temperatures. During this month, bass relocate from the deep to shallower depths between 5 and 15 feet in search of places to make their spawning beds. April is the time to cast spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms and Senkos.

Striper at New Hogan Reservoir are also in spawn and can be found close to the bottom up the Calaveras River arm and the Whiskey and Bear creek arms. Threadfin shad is what the striper feed on naturally, so any lure or rolled bait that resembles a shad has a good chance at success.

The crappie are shallow as the water warms up in April, and every season, trollers often catch the slabs on trout setups like needlefish spoons, curl-tail grubs and small Rapalas. To target only the crappie, troll close to the shorelines and around exposed and submerged island tops. Another great method for catching crappie is to drift or vertical jig small plastics on an eighth-ounce jig-head setup.

April brings the bite all over

David Keeland gets into the spring of things with a nice crappie catch at Camanche Reservoir.

The Gold Country’s lakes are full of planted trout from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and private stocking outfits. Our major lakes, Don Pedro, New Melones and Pardee, have a fair population of wild German brown trout, too. In April, the water is still cool and these species of trout will be in the top 20 feet, if not shallower. This means the recreation areas will have good bank-fishing with lures, worms and PowerBaits. Trolling is usually pretty good. Needlefish, Speedy Shiners, curl-tail grubs, jointed Rapalas and night crawlers behind sling blade dodgers are all good choices when seeking trout species.

Kokanee salmon (landlocked sockeye salmon) are now beginning to show in many of our lakes in April. Kokanee are sensitive to water temperatures and clarity because they feed on plankton. This means they will move up and down in the water column depending on the weather. In April, I would look for the kokanee in the top 40 feet of water. If you’re lucky and find them on your sonar, be sure to remember the depth and run your lures in that zone. Kokanee like yellow, orange, red and pink beaded spinners, Hoochies and Apex lures in the spring. Add a kernel or two of garlic-scented shoepeg corn to your hooks for increased kokanee action.

Tip of the month: Pardee and Camanche reservoirs and Lake Amador have very good trout fishing in April, as they are heavily planted every week. All of our Mother Lode lakes have campsites to enjoy sleeping under the stars. New Hogan has two campgrounds and Pardee has two. The South Shore of Camanche Reservoir has 10 campgrounds that can accommodate recreational vehicles and tents. New Melones has five campgrounds and Don Pedro has three. Don Pedro, New Melones and Camanche offer camping at the water’s edge.

Contact William Heinselman at mtaylor@sierralodestar.com.

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