Lake Tahoe Detour Produces Limits of Mackinaw Amidst High Sierra Splendor!
Written By: Cal Kellogg, March 13, 2013
Location: Lake Tahoe,
It looked like the ideal spot. We were on the east side of Lake Tahoe. The shoreline was steep, rocky and covered with patches of icy snow. The water was about 30 feet deep and the clarity revealed an array of granite boulders ranging from the size of apples to Abrams tanks and even larger carpeting the bottom.
We were hunting for big fish and it was easy to imagine any number of big browns, rainbows or macks lurking in the voids between the rocks waiting to attack!
Rick Kennedy handed me a rod armed with a generic Bass Pro Shops house brand rainbow pattern minnow plug.
“Spool it back about 250 feet,” Rick instructed as I started letting out line.
When the line counter hit 250 I dropped the reel into gear and slipped the rod into a holder. Almost instantly the rod pulsed into a deep bend. Part of my mind wanted to believe that it had to be a snag, but the angler inside knew better. I wrestled the rod out of the holder quickly.
This was no snag! I could feel hard head shaking. I’d only cranked the reel a handful of times when the fish took a run off the starboard side and several yards of line quickly spooled off the level wind.
Seeing that I was into something with power, Rick slowed the boat down and cleared the other line. With the boat moving slower the fish was more manageable, but still plenty strong. The way it surged, shook it’s head and stayed clear of the boat, I was thinking it had to be a brown. When it finally materialized 50 feet behind the boat, we were surprised to see that it was a good size mackinaw in the 5 to 6 pound class.
Seeing the mack was one thing, landing it was another! I brought it close to net range a half dozen times only to have it surge away before I was finally able to steer it into Rick’s long handled rubber net. I’ll always remember that fish as the “mackinaw that wouldn’t quit”!
Rick quickly popped the hooks out of the mack’s jaw, I posed for a quick photo with it and then we released it back into the lake. If you visit the lake and catch an ill-tempered mackinaw with a scar on the lower jaw, you’ll know the story!
The events I just described pretty much happened at the end of the trip I took to Lake Tahoe with Rick Kennedy of Tight Lines Guide Service on February 13, so I should rewind back to the beginning.
When I called Captain Kennedy a week ago, I wanted to go to Englebright Reservoir. My buddy Tom O’Brien had just nailed a 5.5-pound rainbow at the lake and I was itching to get one of my own.
“I’ve still got a Tahoe inspection seal on my boat and I’ve got several upcoming guide trips on the lake, so I don’t want to break that seal. Let’s fish Tahoe and hit Englebright another time,” Rick related.
It sounded great to me. I love fishing Tahoe and I knew Rick had been hooking a lot of fish at the big lake in recent weeks including the huge 10 plus pound brown that adorns the cover of this issue of the Fish Sniffer Magazine, that Rick’s granddaughter successfully battled.
My Father In Law and Fish Sniffer sales representative Gene Rush has long wanted to fish with Rick, so I asked if he could join Rick and I. The next thing I knew Gene and I were meeting Rick in Colfax at 5:00 am on February 13.
We arrived at Tahoe’s north shore around 7 and soon after that we were circling a hump covered with mackinaw in 225 feet of water within sight of the CalNeva Casino.
Rick rigged up one rod with a Sep’s Pro Secret Spoon and another with an old beat up Kastmaster that he’d painted white. Rick dropped down the Kastmaster, while I sent the Pro Secret down to the bottom.
In terms of biting, deep water macks typically start sluggish and end strong and these fish weren’t an exception to the rule. Despite the great numbers of lakers we could see on the sonar it took us about 20 minutes to hook the first one. After that the action was steady.
Gene got the first fish, a healthy 4 pounder, on the Kastmaster and followed up with a second 4 pounder on the Pro Secret. Just like that Gene was limited and would be taking home a sweet sack of fillets for the grill!
The green Pro Secret was hot. After Gene put his second fish of the day in the box, I went to work on my own dinner. Within a half hour or so, I had a pair of fish in the boat that were just about identical to Gene’s.
With our mackinaw limits accounted for we headed off to see if we could find a trophy caliber brown or rainbow while toplining big plugs. That’s when I caught the fish I described at the beginning of this story.
Naturally after hooking the mackinaw so quickly on the minnow plug our hopes were running high, but I’m sorry to say that was our last strike of the day. Toplining big baits at Tahoe is an all or nothing proposition. You aren’t going to get a ton of action, but the fish you do hook will be above average and you just might encounter that double-digit monster you’ve been dreaming about your entire fishing career!
Fishing Tahoe with Rick Kennedy is a pleasure. He utilizes high quality light tackle that makes catching the lake’s mackinaw a lot of fun. Rick is available for deepwater mackinaw/toplining trips throughout the rest of the winter and spring. When spring gives way to summer Rick will be offering combination mackinaw and kokanee trips on Tahoe.
These unique trips produced kokanee to 16 inches last summer. Big kokanee and tasty macks while fishing one of the world’s most beautiful lakes…Where do I sign upBack To Reports