Dead of winter time for rebirth of fishing

John Liechty

The winter months are upon us, though one could not tell by looking outside. The weather is incredibly nice for this time of the year. We should be having cold wet fronts rolling in and out each week, but instead it’s blue skies and sunny days.

Regardless of the weather, rain or shine, we are going to fish as many days as possible. The cold months (or what should be) are some of the best months of the year for fishing. There is much less boating and fishing pressure than the rest of the year and the fish cooperate most of the time.

Now, as we typically target largemouth bass, there is another species that I’m incredibly excited to see. It’s not the catfish, crappie or carp. It’s not the bluegill, Kokanee or brown trout. It’s the rainbow trout, and not the giants that have been in the lake for years or the few natives that survive. It is the planted/stocked rainbow trout that we are so delighted to have back in the system.

For years and years, New Melones Reservoir has been stocked with trout every fall and winter. That is, up until about six years ago when the lake was removed from the schedule for many reasons (excuses). Some say it was due to the trout, as others blamed it on the hatchery. Regardless of what it was, we are so happy to see the great number of fish being put into the lake.

The cold months are the best time to stock, as the water temperature is down, which increases the survival rate of those planted. It is also the time of the year when the lake turns over and the cooler water can be found near the surface.

For those who like to catch trout, it’s time to head to the lake. From boat or bank, your chance for success is great. Trolling anglers are doing well on lighter spoons and spinners. Casters can find success on heavier spoons and bank anglers can soak multicolored dough bait to load the stringers.

However, these trout plants don’t just benefit trout anglers. Anything that feeds on trout will be excited to see the influx in forage. The eagles and osprey are showing up in droves and can be perched in tall trees waiting for their next capture. The giant bass and ones that aspire to be giants are pouncing on every opportunity to run down a small planter in shallow water.

Many of these fish will be caught and harvested by anglers, some by predatory birds and others by trophy-sized fish. However, many will survive and become larger holdover trout to be caught for years to come. New Melones is fishing much like the days of old and the future looks promising. Now let’s hope for just a little bit of rain!

John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at (209) 743-9932.


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