It's the last weekend of April. Do you know where you've left the Red Dot Frogs?
California stream fishing season opens Saturday, April 28, and conditions are superior to those last spring, when it felt like a February.
“It is the opposite of last year,” said Victor Babbitt, who is in his 19th season with Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters in South Lake Tahoe. “We're looking at it pretty excitedly because it's going to be a long season. ... There are more early opportunities because there is good groundwater and the reservoirs are full. Everything is topped off.”
The Sportsman's Scott Shehadi agreed.
“Streams were tough to access last year because of the snow,” he said. “The flow is a little bit high, but the state and Alpine County have been stocking them so it should be a pretty good opening weekend.”
The state has stocked the Carson Rivers East and West Forks twice this month with cutthroat and rainbow trout and Alpine County has added a ton of trophy fish. At North Shore, the Truckee River opens above the Highway 267 bridge. Martis Lake also opens Saturday.
All of the rivers that flow into Lake Tahoe are closed until July.
Possible thunderstorms this week shouldn't affect the fish, just the fishermen, er, make that anglers. The Tahoe Daily Tribune's fishing columnist for 20 years, Doug “Mac The Naw” Busey, was grilled by a reader for being sexist once when he used the term fisherman, so he has been careful with his vernacular ever since. His fishing report will be published Friday.
“Some rain Thursday might muddy it and make it unstable,” said Busey, who will fly-fish or use a rod and reel, keeping open all options. “It's fun to just to be out there, just to walk along a river and think like a fish and try to find something that would imitate what they're feeding on and then get an adrenaline rush of a strike and trying to get him in.”
With fast-flowing and possibly murky water, lures are a good choice.
“Fly-fishing needs more calm water and open spaces so we recommend an old-fashioned spinning reel with nightcrawlers or Rooster Tails or Panther Martins,” Shehadi said. “Salmon eggs are also effective. The brighter the color lure, the better.”
Babbitt ranked the bait: “No. 1 is salmon eggs, then power bait, which is made with what is fed to fish in the hatchery, and then live worms.”
Heavier lures are best, he said, recommending the Panther Martin spinner and Kastmaster and Thomas Buoyant (and its Red Dot Frog) spoons.
Babbitt said fishing is the nation's most popular outdoor recreational activity because it attracts everybody from hard-core hikers to sedentary anglers with a Budweiser, a book and a bell with a hook on it.
Here are some more Lake Tahoe Action fish findings:
— An annual California license is $44.85. It will cost Nevadans and other non-residents $120.14 for the season. A one-day license is $14.30.
n Babbitt is miffed that the state spends so much time and money to raise the fish only to cut corners at the end of the process. No longer are the fishes released from buckets at numerous locations. Now they come out of a truck. So anglers might find the most fish near easily accessible bridges were the fish are unloaded.
— Busey painfully learned not to try to shake hands with a rattlesnake. First of all, snakes don't have hands, and, moreover, they are often full of vitriol and venom. A rattler was seen crossing a road last year near the tent area at Indian Creek Reservoir. There are plenty of rodents on the East Fork, so it's conceivable hunting snakes are in the area.
— While the average size is 2 to 8 pounds, 10- to 12-pound rainbows have been planted, and some of the wild trout could be as large as 15 pounds.
— An old fish trick is sending a kid into another angler's spot, then gradually move in to the area with your entire group. We recommend respecting people's space.
— Lifelong Tahoe resident Rus Wilson, who helps organize the Moose Lodge kids derby at Lake Baron, will miss the stream opener because he will fish for bass this weekend with his brothers in Oroville. He said he likes to fish because “it's serene. I don't keep any because I don't really like the taste, but I sure like catching them,” he said.
— Sawmill Pond's fishing derby will be June 9, and later this month a half-ton of fish will go into the drink on Lake Tahoe Boulevard. Sawmill Pond is open to children 14 and younger.
— Tahoeans love the time of the year when fishing season begins so much they might finally wash their cars and partake in other vernal traditions. “It does signify the end of winter and hopefully the start of a warm spring so you can bike, golf, fish or go watch a baseball game without freezing your ass off,” Shehadi said.