The Fish Sniffer - Fly Fishing For Bass At Mather Lake
Fly Fishing For Bass At Mather Lake

Written By: Headwaters Fishing Team, July 10, 2014
Species: Bass
Location: N/A,

Fly Fishing For Bass At Mather Lake
Fly Fishing For Bass At Mather Lake Fly Fishing For Bass At Mather Lake

After a skunk at Black Butte, I decided I needed to further educate myself in the ways of bass fishing. Since I am admittedly not the world's best bass fisherman, I figured I would be equally effective either fly fishing or using conventional tackle, so of course I chose to further my fly fishing skills.

My first stop was tKiene's Fly Shop, my favorite toy store. I happened to luck out on the day that I went, because Jim Christensen was working the shop that day and he happens to do a lot of bass fishing using flies. I explained to him that I fish a lot with folks who like to use conventional tackle and ultimately I would like to keep up with them with my fly rod and that I had tried unsuccessfully last season to land even a legal (12") bass.

Jim outfitted me with some recommended flies and also some places to try my luck. Up until now I had been targeting places like the Delta (too much water for a beginner to cover), and Rancho Seco Lake (too clear) that evidently aren't that great for the beginning fly fisherman. Jim's answer was to try fishing ponds. "Of Course," I thought.

When people ask me about getting into trout fishing, my recommendation is always to hit a small stream. The fish might be smaller, but it is easier for a beginner because only short casts are required, likely lies are clearly evident, and the fish aren't very selective in what they eat.

Well, the same is true of ponds. Unfortunately I don't have any private land access. Lucky for me there are 2 very small lakes (or large ponds depending on your viewpoint) in the Sacramento area that have bass: Mather Lake and William B. Pond.

A third recommendation from Jim was Cameron Park Lake, the largest of the three. I decided to hit Mather Lake, since it is the closest to my house.

Last week was a long week at work, so I was granted a little R&R by my wife on Saturday evening, so off I went to Mather Lake. When I arrived, I could see why Jim recommended it.

It was bass heaven. I estimated the maximum depth to be about 20 feet, there is underwater weed growth and overhead cover everywhere, This was a perfect haunt for largemouth, who like to wait in the shadows for unsuspecting prey to swim by at which point they dart out and engulf it with their huge mouth.

I came armed that day with a surface fly and a crawdad imitation on a sinking fly line. I tried both. I had a grab by a small fish on the crawdad, but there was so much vegetation in the water, it was really hard to fish. I was a little disappointed by this, because I am more familiar with how to fish with a floating line and surface flies for bass than with a sinking line, but that is for another post.

After about an hour I changed from a white popper to a small floating frog. I paddled over to another arm of the lake where there was a lot of shade and dense weeds growing all the way to the surface.

After about fifteen minutes, I got my first rise from a small fish, the ones I am used to catching, but I couldn't fool this one so I moved on. I noticed that there were some holes in the surface vegetation, that looked like a good ambush point to me. I started targeting these areas with my frog.

On about the third hole, as I was stripping the frog in, I noticde a small v-shaped wake moving towards my fly. I slowed down my retrieve so that I was just twitching the fly slightly. Then came the swirl that I had been reading about in books, but had yet to experience first hand.

Fish on! My rod doubled over and I started grinning. Finally a nice bass! I picked through the weeds until I could see the fish and lipped it. I estimated its weight at about 2 pounds, by far the biggest bass I had ever caught. I took a few photos, released the fish, laughed, and did a happy dance.

I ended the evening with only one more fish that was about 12 inches long. I was extremely pleased with myself. I was on the way to becoming a bass fisherman. Stay tuned to more bass posts. A big thanks to Jim Christensen at Kiene's Fly Shop for the recommendations. 

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