Fish Sniffer On Demand Digital Edition Issue 3905 Feb 14-28 - Page 7

HOW TO... VOL.39 • ISS. 5 Feb 14 - 28, 2020 5 Top Bets For 2020 Trout! presents Top Trout Spots For 2020 C ^ Lake Shasta has long been one of the state’s premier trout fisheries. While Shasta’s rainbow population remains robust, the reservoir’s brown trout population has come on strong in recent years. ^ Eagle Lake is another fishery that has come blitzing back in the wake of the drought that descended on the state a few years ago. Now limits of big hard fighting rainbows like these are the norm. Fishing will be good at Eagle during the spring and summer of 2020, but things will get extra exciting as summer gives way to fall. > Lake Davis is back and the trout fishing has been great at the shallow high country lake for the past few years. At this point 20 plus inch rainbows are common and trout to 7 pounds are possible. < Ari Gomez was soaking an inflated worm from the bank at Collins Lake this January when this impressive rainbow came knocking. With fish like this showing in the catches during the dead of winter, spring fishing at Collins should be off the hook! limb the mountain that represents the California fishing scene and right up there at the peak you’ll find trout! Sure, the Golden State features epic bass fishing, both ocean and river salmon fishing, stripers, steelhead, sturgeon and more. Heck, we’ve even got exotic species like tuna and thresher sharks. Yet, Cali- fornia anglers spend more time targeting trout than any other species. It hasn’t been that long since a devastating drought severely impacted both California trout fisheries and our hatchery system. Creeks dropped to a trickle, reservoirs drew down to record lows and there simply wasn’t enough cold water available to hatcheries to produce trout at the robust clip that California trouters had become accustomed to. I’m happy to say that those days are over. The last three winters have featured plenty of rain and snow. Our reservoirs are holding a lot of water, our streams are running briskly and while still don’t think hatchery trout production is up to snuff, it’s better than it was say 3 years ago. With rain falling now and spring right around the corner, Golden State trouters have a full menu of waters that are going to provide exceptional fishing in 2020. Clearly, I don’t have enough space to outline all of the spots that will produce trout this season. Truth be told, California has so many marquee trout fishing desti- nations that I only have space to touch on a handful of Norcal’s top notch trout fisheries. This being the case, jump in the “trout- mobile” with me and let’s tour the state and explore some of our powerhouse trout destinations. Lake Shasta No surprise here. Decade after decade Shasta seldom disappoints whether the target is trout or bass. In recent history, say the last 10 to 12 years coldwater anglers have considered Shasta to be a rainbow and king salmon lake. The rainbows are still there in prolific numbers due to natural production, pen projects by fishery enhancement non-profit organizations and plants by the California DFW. Shasta’s ‘bows average 2 to 3 pounds and range up to 5 plus. The king salmon fishery has declined significantly recently. They are still caught, but the numbers and size just aren’t what they used to be. Luckily for anglers, the decline of the salmon fishery coincided with an upswing in the brown trout fishery. There are many opinions on why this occurred, but nothing conclusive beyond the fact that browns that were once allusive are now common. Browns weighing 3 to 6 pounds are the norm, while bigger fish are possible. Threadfin shad are central to the food chain at Shasta so pick your lures accord- ingly. Stay on the move, troll fast until the fish tell you to slow down and always be on the lookout for bait balls. In the spring trollers can get by with leadcore, but downriggers are a must in the summer. Eagle Lake Eagle is the comeback fishery of the past couple years in northern California. It was once the toast of NorCal trout fishing, booting out epic Eagle Lake rainbows that weighed up to 8 pounds and fought like demons. And then came the drought… The lake level that had been in slow decline for a decade dropped dramatically, leaving launch ramps out of the water and lake view properties looking out on dusty basins that had once held water. Oxygen levels dropped, the fish got smaller, spawning declined with lack of inflow and an algae bloom made fishing FISH SNIFFER HOW – TO by Cal Kellogg CONTINUED ON PG 18