The Fish Sniffer - Eagle Lake Trout And Wild Chinooks Yield Great Summer Fishing At Folsom Lake
Eagle Lake Trout And Wild Chinooks Yield Great Summer Fishing At Folsom Lake

Written By: Dan Bacher, June 21, 2014
Species: Landlocked Salmon Trout
Location: Folsom Lake,

Eagle Lake Trout And Wild Chinooks Yield Great Summer Fishing At Folsom Lake
Eagle Lake Trout And Wild Chinooks Yield Great Summer Fishing At Folsom Lake Eagle Lake Trout And Wild Chinooks Yield Great Summer Fishing At Folsom Lake

The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s big plants of Eagle Lake rainbow trout at Folsom Lake this February have definitely boosted fishing at the reservoir in recent months, making the urban reservoir a definite “go to” spot this year in the Sacramento area.

The Department’s American River hatchery in February stocked 7,000 lbs of Eagle Lake Trout (ELT) averaging 1 pound each and 42,000 ELT subcatchables in the 4 to 8 inch range. These fish were added to the already good holdover trout population and naturally spawning king salmon fishery in this urban gem.

Paul Kneeland, Fish Sniffer Publisher, and Cal Kellogg, Fish Sniffer Editor, experienced epic trout and king salmon fishing on a trip to Folsom in late May with Captain James Netzel, 

When the three anglers called it a day at 11 am, they had brought between 20 and 25 fish to the boat. The rainbows ranged from about 12 to 18 inches and went up to 20 inches. “It was an incredible day of trout trolling in the shadow of the Capital City,” summed up Kellogg.

After getting off the water, Kellogg urged me to also make a trip with Netzel   before the fishing slowed down. I called Netzel and we set a trip for Thursday, June 5.

James Netzel and his father Ed met me at the low water boat ramp at Granite Bay at 5 am.  After we got in the boat, James drove the boat for about several minutes past the five mph zone into the mouth of the North Fork.

Netzel put his out four downrigger rods with outfitted with gold and bullfrog Speedy Shiners at 40 to 50 feet deep, as well as two lead core lines one with Needlefish and Speedy Shiners. It wasn’t long before we hooked up the first fish of the day, a scrappy king salmon about 16 inches that Ed brought quickly to the edge of the boat. Since the kings in Folsom are the result of natural reproduction in the South and North Forks, Netzel releases as many kings as possible including this one.

Over the next couple hours I hooked and landed three holdover rainbows up to 18 inches. Every one of these fish popped the clip of the downrigger and many of them jumped like landlocked steelhead. The fish were apparently the Eagle Lake strain that the DFW stocked in the lake in February.

After the bite slowed down there, we moved to the fish the area in front of the dam at the same depths with the same lures. From 8 am to 8:30, we experienced the hottest bite of the day. The fish ranged from 9 to 13 inches – and we released all of them except for three beautiful silvery fish in the 12 to 13 inch range. These fish were apparently the subcatchables, which were doing well in the lake’s forage rich waters.

We had a few more hook-ups over the next couple of hours. By the time we finished the trip at 11 am, we had hooked over 20 fish and kept six rainbows ranging from 12 to 18 inches.

On a following trip on June 10, Netzel and Steve Murakami, pastor of Cordova Church of the Nazarene, landed a 3-1/4 king salmon and three rainbows to 18 inches in the first hour of the morning. 

They then went scouting in the South Fork, where they lost two fish and bagged one 18-inch range.  “We got off the water am at 9:30 am,” said Netzel. “Even though we did more traveling than fishing, we still put five quality fish in the boat. The hot lure was a 1/6 oz. bullfrog Speedy Shiner.

On June 13, Netztel had a great day of salmon fishing at Folsom. Steve Bennett, Ralph Clark and Ron Hayes caught a total of 15 fish, including 7 beautiful salmon to 3-1/2 pounds and 8 rainbows to 19 inches, while trolling Speedy Shiners at 30 to 35 feet deep in the South Fork.

Netzel reflected on the fishing at Folsom this year.  “Fishing for the past two months has been phenomenal,” he stated. “I’ve only been only skunked once. And It’s just 10 minutes from my house,”  

The biggest salmon Netzel has put in his boat was 3-1/2 pounds, but fish up to 11 pounds have been reported by anglers at Folsom in recent years.

The DFW stocked 13,000 pounds of trout in the lake last year – and a similar amount should be planted this year. The stocking season for Folsom spans the fall through early spring months and stop in the summer when the water temps get warm,”  

“The total poundage of catchables for 2014 will likely be somewhere around the same as last year but they are split between this spring and next fall,” according to Jay Rowan, DFW biological.

 “If you have ever fished Eagle Lake then you know the ELT’s are a large growing rainbow trout and they are known to switch to a piscivorous, or fish based, diet early on in life. This high protein fish based diet not only facilitates their large growth, but also makes them more likely to go after lures and other trolled offerings than some other fish,” said Rowan.  

All the sub-catchable fish from this plant are marked with a right pelvic fin clip, so please take note of any missing fins if you catch and release a trout, he advised.

If you have any questions, contact Jay Rowan through a direct e-mail:

While the Department of Fish and Wildlife is stocking with both catchable and subcatchable rainbow Eagle Lake rainbow trout this year; the lake also hosts a unique population of naturally spawning Chinooks, the progeny of salmon from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

Netzel is running half-day trips this summer on Folsom to beat the heat from 5 am to 10 am. He will also be booking trolling adventures for kokanee, king salmon and rainbows at Lake Berryessa and for kokanee and rainbows at New Melones.

When Sacramento River salmon season begins on July 16, Netzel will begin fishing for king salmon between in the Sacramento area from Discovery Park to Garcia Bend.

James Netzel of Fishin’ James Guide Service can be reached via phone at (916) 284-3089. You can check him out online at




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