Fish Sniffer Magazine Issue 4018 - Page 12

12 October 1 , 2021 MAP FEATURE

VOL . 40 • ISS . 18
Rucker Lake is a warm water reservoir that features largemouth bass , brown bullhead catfish and green sunfish . Photo by DAN BACHER , Fish Sniffer Staff

Rucker and Fuller Lakes Offer Contrasting Sierra Nevada Fisheries

Largemouth bass in the High

Sierra ? Yes , there are . I tossed out the Senko into the rocks near the dam as the sun began to set over the conifers of the Sierra Nevada skyline . Before the lure hit the bottom , I felt sudden pressure on the line , set the hook and a fat 14 inch largemouth leaped out of the water . I battled the scrapper right up to the shore , pulled the hook out and released it back into the water . Before it turned dark , I caught and released two more fat , healthy largemouths while using Texas-rigged 5-inch Senkos in watermelon / green pumpkin . As a bonus , I had the lake to myself on this early September evening . I was fishing at Rucker Lake , one of the highest elevation lakes where you can catch
Largemouth bass like this one are the reward for anglers tossing an array of bass baits at
Rucker Lake .
Photo by DAN BACHER , Fish Sniffer Staff
good numbers of largemouth bass in California . Rucker Lake and its neighbor , Fuller Lake , are located at similar elevations and feature comparable conifer-studded northern Sierra Nevada scenery , but their fisheries couldn ’ t be more different . Fuller , situated at 5341 feet above sea level in the Yuba Gap region , is a popular cold water fishery supplied from a canal from Bowman Lake . The lake offers top-notch rainbow and brown trout fishing in the spring , summer and fall for bank fishermen , float tubers and boaters . Even during the heat of the Sierra summer , the surface water temperatures are relatively cold . Just a little over a mile away , Rucker Lake , situated at 5499.5 feet in elevation in a Sierra meadow , is a shallow , warm water lake supplied with water from Rucker Creek that drains Blue Lake . Its weed-lined waters feature not just a large population of scrappy largemouth bass , but brown bullhead catfish and green sunfish . Both Fuller and Rucker are natural lakes whose water levels were raised when PG & E constructed dams on them in 1970-71 . Both Fuller and Rucker are also the same size – exactly 69 surface acres . Ted Samford , retired fishing guide and PG & E ditchtender , first made me aware of the fine rainbow and brown trout fishing available at Fuller Lake and the excellent bass action on tap at Rucker Lake when the Fish Sniffer staff had a trip to Spaulding over 25 years ago . After I experienced a slow morning of trolling at Spaulding , Samford recommended bank fishing Fuller for a couple of hours after we finished a barbecue . I had a great time catching rainbows on lures and bait and I was impressed by a couple of anglers who brought in a bunch of browns while trolling flies throughout the lake . I love making an annual shore fishing trip to these two lakes , since I can have a ball catching trout and bass the same day . I have caught my limit of rainbows several times while fishing at Fuller , while I have experienced some epic bass days at Rucker . I have experienced my top action on trout at Fuller while fishing 1 / 8 oz . Kastmasters , rainbow Power Bait and nightcrawlers . Fly fishing is excellent here also . One angler on one of my many ventures to Fuller reported catching and releasing around 40 trout , topped by a 15 inch brown , while casting black Wooly Buggers from a float tube . The California Department of Fish and Wildlife ( CDFW ) historically stocked around 6,000 pounds of rainbows and 2,000 catchable browns in Fuller annually . The CDFW this year has stocked Fuller twice , the first time during the week of May 16 and the second time during the week of June 12 . After trout fishing in the morning at Fuller , I usually drive up Bowman Lake Road and take right on the dirt road at the sign to “ Liahona Camp ” to go to Rucker . Although there is a public Forest Service campground and public parking access , there is a private summer girl ’ s camp located on the lake , so be careful in approaching the lake so you don ’ t interfere with the camp ’ s activities . Usually this is a good place to catch lots of scrappy largemouths , mostly in the 8 to 12 inch range but with some larger fish mixed in . I have caught fat , healthy bass in the 12 to 15 inch range at Rucker and I ’ ve seen fish to 3-1 / 2 pounds landed . I have heard reports of bass to 8 pounds , but the largest fish documented in a photo was a 6-1 / 2 lb . largemouth caught from a boat in 2009 . Purple , motor oil , water melon , green pumpkin and blue plastic worms are the most productive baits for me at Rucker . I usually do best using wackyrigged Yamamoto Senkos or split