The cold winter temperatures are good for Mother Lode trout anglers. The fish like cold water, and during the months of December through February, rainbow trout will feed close to the surface and at the shorelines of our larger lakes.
Longtime friend and co-worker Willie Meyrer mentioned that he had some time off in early January and was thinking about taking his daughters fishing while they were on the break from school.
“I would be glad to take you!” I immediately responded. “How does trolling at Camanche Reservoir sound?”
“I’m in,” Willie responded.
He and his daughters Madeyia, 12, and Gennavieve, 8, rolled up my driveway at 8 a.m. Jan. 4. Thinking of the kids, I had told Willie to arrive later than the 7 a.m. time I would have suggested so they weren’t too cold on the water.
After loading their stuff, we drove to the lake. The two attendants at the South Shore gate gave us a cheerful greeting as we purchased our permits. From there we made for the launch and were on the water before 9 a.m.
I love winter fishing because I can top-line as I troll, but I do use the downriggers if I see fish deep on the fish finder. We set out two rods on the surface as I idled out of the South Shore Marina. The rods were both rigged with single curl-tailed grubs with PowerEggs on the main line, and I set them back 90 to 110 feet. My target area was the narrows where the Mokelumne River comes into the lake, so we reeled in so I could use the big engine to get us quickly to the narrows.
Once at the narrows, I dropped the electric trolling motor into the water and we joined about five other boats that were working the area. This time I ran a more diverse selection of lures: a white, curl-tail grub; a blue and silver Speedy Shiner; and a fire tiger-pattern, broken-back Rapala. I then saw a guide trolling nearby and asked him how he was doing.
“One trout top-lining and, if you go deep, those are bass,” he responded, indicating his catch.
This let me know the trout fishing was still slow because of the weather. I watched my split-screen sonar graph carefully as we trolled. I noticed several fish (marks) down between 25- and 40-feet deep. Leaving the Rapala on the top-line, I engaged the downriggers and dropped a curl-tail grub to 8 feet and a Speedy Shiner to 26 feet. Within a few minutes, the rod at 26 feet began to pulse.
It was “Fish On!” and Madeyia took the rod from my hand as Willie grabbed the net.
“This was the first time for the girls fishing from a boat,” Willie informed me.
We all watched intently as Madeyia carefully reeled in her catch. The fish broke the surface and, as it neared the stern, we could see it was a bass. Willie quickly netted the keeper for his daughter.
The next strike came on the Rapala, and Gennavieve took the rod for this one. We all quietly watched the 8-year-old angler do a wonderful job constantly reeling in the fish. This one was hooked near the surface and, sure enough, it was a beautiful rainbow trout.
This was a beautiful day at Camanche Reservoir. We had calm weather, we saw an eagle in a tree and the girls went four-for-four on their fishing expedition.
Tip of the week – Take your kids fishing. When a child is fishing, it opens up a new and real world of nature for him or her, which they will hold dear to their hearts.
On the water:
Bass anglers work the creek arms and the backs of coves with swimbaits. In the main lakes, try drop-shots, jigs and plastic worms.
Mother Lode trout fishermen and women are soaking PowerPaste, PowerWorms, PowerEggs and inflated night crawlers from the banks and boats for fish that may weigh 8 pounds. Boaters find trout up the creek arms and by trolling in the main lakes near the surface with curl-tailed grub/PowerEgg combinations, Speedy Shiners, Rapalas, needlefish or by rolling shad.
Don Pedro – There is a fair to good trout bite here.
New Melones – The trout bite here is also fair to good.
New Hogan – It’s slow in the winter for striper.
Pardee – The lake opens on Feb. 14 for camping and Feb. 15 for fishing. There should be good trout fishing in the recreation areas.
Amador – One, two and three trout plants per week keep this lake hopping. Boaters try the creek arms. Bank fishing is good from the spillway to the dam and around back in the creek arm.
Contact William Heinselman at email@example.com.
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