The Fish Sniffer - Mother Lode Roundup
Mother Lode Roundup

Written By: Dan Bacher, Garry Erck, December 21, 2013
Species: Bass Catfish Trout
Location: Camanche Reservoir, Lake Amador, New Melones Reservoir, McClure Reservoir, McSwain Reservoir, Don Pedro Reservoir,


(Ione) The Lake Amador Trout Derby started November 29 and will run through the last February 23.

Prizes for the tagged fish include $100, two nights camping, boat rentals, day use food and clothing. The one time entry fee is $7.00.

The resort will hold a drawing on the last day at 2 pm and will pull out two $500 tags. The derby entrants must be present to win, according to Kathy Isaac at the Lake Amador Resort.

The fishing continues to be “pretty good” as daily plants of big rainbows continue. “Anglers are hooking fish averaging 4 to 5 pounds while fishing close to shore ,” she said. “The best baits are night crawlers, garlic flavored chartreuse Power Bait, white Power Eggs, Rapalas, Kastmasters and flies.”

Taro Cuetara of Davis landed a 6.06 lb trout at the corner of the dam while soaking white Power Eggs and yellow Power Bait.



(Burson) Imagine Cha Vang's grief. While fishing for trout, his prized fishing rod took off into the trout pond at Lake Camanche after a fish took the bait. He thought he'd lost the rod, muttering to himself, "Damn, that was a Loomis."

A moment later, Vang saw his Loomis rod floating in the water and was able to retrieve it, discovering that the fish that had run with his rod was still at the end of the line. It was a Lake Camanche record for catfish.

The channel catfish Vang landed weighed 17.32 pounds. Vang had used salmon eggs to catch the lunker, taken with a Loomis 7' 6” worming rod, rigged with 6 lb. Yozuri line.

Camanche Recreation Company General Manager, Hismael Guerrero said, “Unless a bigger fish is caught before the end of the year, Vang will win a Lake Camanche Annual Fishing Pass for landing the largest catfish in 2013. We award one of these passes to anglers who land the biggest fish for each species caught at Camanche.”


New Melones

(Angels Camp) Trout fishing is only “fair” now at New Melones, but the cold surface temperatures resulting from the recent cold snap should move more fish to the surface making them easier to catch for both trolling anglers and bank anglers.

Trolling anglers should try fishing from 30’ to the surface, reported Melanie Lewis at Glory Hole Sports. With a large majority of fish moving to shallow water, it’s a good idea to troll near the shoreline or use a side planner. Try using small shad patterned spoons and spinners fished behind a string of flashers.

“Bank anglers have been catching more and more fish each week,” she stated. “Most anglers are targeting fish that are feeding near the bottom Power Bait Dough, Power Eggs, marsh mallows, crawlers, or a combination.”

There are also quite a few fish feeding and cruising near the surface. The best way to target these fish is with a bubble/crawler, or a bubble/fly rig.

Big fish honors go to Dale Knight of Angels Camp, who caught a limit of very nice rainbows including a hefty 4.73-pound fish. He reported catching them while still fishing from a boat with eggs and crawlers.

Bass fishing is slow. “ The lake is starting to turn and the fish are on a late fall/early winter pattern,” said Lewis. “The fish seem to be spread out from deep to shallow water anywhere from 5-70’ of water. It is very important to use your electronics to locate fish and bait."

“Most anglers are catching a few while finesse fishing with small baits and light line,” she stated. “Try using a drop shot rig near the main lake. Small shad patterned soft plastics and 4” hand poured worms are producing some fish.”

Pat Olson of Bishop caught and released a massive 12.07-pound largemouth while fishing a trout pattern swim bait on the main lake.

“The catfish are still in fairly shallow water and feeding heavily,” she tipped. “ At this time of the year we generally see some really large cats being caught, especially if we get a little rain.”

New Melones Lake is currently holding 1,037,513 acre-feet of water, 947 ft. above sea level and 139 ft. from full. The water is fairly clear in some areas and slightly stained in others. The lake has cooled some and is 57-61 degrees depending on what part of the lake you are fishing


Don Pedro

(La Grange) “Don Pedro continue to fish tough for trollers,” said Monte Smith of Gold Country Sportfishing.  “We are covering a lot of water and seeing sub-limit numbers of trout.  There is no real pattern as to depths or lures that anglers are scoring on – they are working through a lot of tackle and covering a lot of water to get 2-3 fish per rod.”

“Bass action at Pedro is about as dismal as trout action,” reported Manny Basi at The Bait Barn.  “Dropshotters are doing the best on shad pattern plastics from various manufacturers.  Most fish are being caught in the 40-50 foot range across lake points and at the marinas.”

Don Pedro is at 50% of capacity.



(Snelling) Anglers have been scare at both lakes McSwain and McClure, the betting man might put his money on McSwain as consistent plants are adding to the fish count nearly every other week.

“We have seen nice three and four pounders coming out of Lake McSwain this past week” said Terri Mello at A-1 Bait and Tackle. “Bank angling has led the way at the Brushpile and handicap dock. Garlic scented PowerBait and Power Eggs have been the best bait with some nightcrawler action also reported. No troller reports have come in lately – so it seems to be a bank angler gig right now.”

“Lake McClure is so low, we just are not seeing much anglers coming through to the lake.” Reported Terri.  “Large minnows have done pretty well on bass off the banks – but boat action for trout, salmon or bass has just been poor.”

Lake McClure stands at 24% of capacity.

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