The Fish Sniffer - Great Trout Fishing And 7.37 Lb. Smallmouth Highlight Pardee Opener
Great Trout Fishing And 7.37 Lb. Smallmouth Highlight Pardee Opener

Written By: Dan Bacher, March 16, 2013
Species: Trout Bass
Location: Pardee Reservoir,

Great Trout Fishing And 7.37 Lb. Smallmouth Highlight Pardee Opener

Boosted by heavy trout plants and great weather, anglers fishing at Lake Pardee on the opening weekend, February 14-16, found some of the best trout action in recent memory at the popular Mother Lode reservoir.

“It was the best opener we’ve ever seen,” said Richard Cooper, who with his wife, Kerri, became owners of the lake concessionaire, Pardee Lake Recreation, 7 years ago. “Everybody caught trout, although the bank anglers did better than the boaters.”

“The trout bite has been hot,” confirmed Bill Cook at the marina. “The bank fishermen are knocking the heck out of the trout. Some anglers limited out in 15 minutes and were already at the fish cleaning station in 20 minutes. I’ve seen 30 to 40 limits taken around marina area, Rainbow Point and Porcupine Point today, Sunday.”

While rainbow trout were the star attraction, the largest fish caught on opening weekend was a smallmouth bass weighing 7.37 pounds. Craig MaHaney caught the huge smallmouth while trolling a nightcrawler in the main lake on February 16.

Pardee Lake Recreation planted a total of 6,000 pounds of rainbow trout for the opener. These fish ranged from 1 to 4 pounds. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife also scheduled a 2,000 lb. plant to coincide with the Park's opener.

“The weather was warm and beautiful,” Cooper said. “In fact, we had 30 RV rigs camped in the parking lot over the weekend.”

As usual, the most successful set ups from the bank were rainbow and chartreuse Power Bait and white Power Eggs on sliding sinker set ups. Anglers also hooked fish while fishing black woolly buggers on a slow retrieve and small silver/blue Kastmasters. The top spots for the shore anglers were in the main recreation area at Tom Sawyer Island and the Mud Hole behind the EBMUD marina.  

Trollers top-lined trolled with three to four colors of lead and downriggers set to 10-20 feet. The top areas are between the Dam and the Mouth and upriver in and around Columbia Gulch.  

Pardee is an East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) reservoir located on the Mokelumne River near Ione. The reservoir has 2257 surface acres and 37 miles of shoreline when full. 

“Approximately 90% of Pardee Lake anglers fish for trout, both from the shore and from boats,” according to Cooper. “For that reason, we manage the lake mostly as a put-and-take trout fishery. For years, about 70,000 catchable rainbows, in addition to regular plants of 1½ to 5 pound rainbows, have been stocked annually.”

While the Department of Fish and Wildlife plants some fish, over 90% are stocked by the concessionaire.

“We purchase these fish using fishing access permit funds,” said Cooper. “100% of the access permit funds are used to re-stock the lake with fish. Pardee pioneered this program in 1975 and many others use this system now.”

Unlike many reservoirs, Pardee is reserved for just fishing, so you won’t have to deal with hordes of personal watercraft users, water skiers, simmer and recreational boaters during the summer months, noted Cooper.

The trout average 1 to 1-1/2 pounds, but plenty of trophy-sized rainbows including some beautiful holdovers are caught every year at Pardee. Ronny Shelton of Ione set the lake rainbow record on June 14, 2002 when he landed an 18.65 lb. fish while bank fishing with Power Bait in the main recreation area. 

Rainbows are not the only salmonid caught at Pardee. The lake features a sleeper wild population of German browns that spawns in the Mokelumne River.

Annetta Stephens of Scotts Valley landed the lake's largest-ever German brown, a 13.54 lb. beauty, while trolling for kokanee with a Father Murphy’s bug at 50 feet deep at the mouth of the river.

For trollers, kokanee salmon are a very popular species to pursue at Pardee. The kokanee are generally known for their numbers than their size at Pardee. 

To increase the average size of the kokes, the California Inland Fisheries Foundation, Inc. and Kokanee Power pressured the Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop planting kokanee in the reservoir, since natural reproduction of the fish seemed to doing so well. The Department of Fish and Game last planted Pardee with 20,075 kokanee in 2006.

The lake also features one of the top trophy smallmouth and largemouth bass fisheries in California. Harold Hardin of Stockton set a new state smallmouth bass record in July 2007 by landing a 9.83 lb. bronzeback, shattering the previous state record of 9.1 pounds caught by Tom Brady of Weaverville in 1976 at Trinity Lake. He enticed the fish with a 6 inch long charcoal colored Castaic swimbait in his aluminum boat. 

Then during the first annual Lake Pardee Media Day, hosted by Kent Brown’s Ultimate Fishing, Pardee Recreation and Jackson Rancheria in 2008, two anglers bagged two monster smallmouths over 9 pounds in one day, a feat that has been probably not been accomplished at any other lake anywhere.

No fish of this size have been reported since then, but many veteran anglers believe that there is another state record smallmouth or even a possible world record lurking in the lake. The 7.37 lb. smallmouth caught on February 16 demonstrates that those big smallmouth are still out there lurking in the lake.

While known for its huge smallmouth, Pardee also has a good population of northern strain largemouth bass. Jack Billington from Ione captured the Pardee lake record when he caught and released a 13.4 lb. largemouth using Blade Runner chartreuse and white craw jig on March 22, 2007.  

The lake also features a good population of channel catfish and sleeper populations of crappie, bluegill and green sunfish.

Pardee hosts some of the best-managed and family-friendly facilities of any reservoir in the state, with beautifully landscaped grounds, a well maintained marina and launch ramp and superb camping facilities.   

For more information, contact Lake Pardee Recreation, 4900 Stony Creek Road, Ione, CA  95640-9439, Office: (209) 772-1472, FAX: (209) 772-0985, 

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