Tahoe Trolling Adventure Yields Macks For Father-Son Team
I don't get many opportunities to fish with my Dad, so while we were vacationing at Lake Tahoe for a week, I booked us a trip with Captain Gene St. Denis of Blue Ribbon Fishing. Neither me or my dad had ever fished for Mackinaw before, so it was a great opportunity for both of us to try something new.
We met Gene, his son Eric, and Bob, an angler from Palm Springs, at the launch at 6 o'clock sharp. By 6:20, we were cruising across the lake to an area where Gene had been consistently catching quick limits the previous week. The lake conditions were perfectly calm, making for a smooth, comfortable ride in Gene's Honda powered Alumaweld.
As we reached the fishing grounds, Gene and Eric quickly set up the downriggers and rods. Live minnows rigged behind a dodger were the bait of choice. Long lake trolls strung off the downrigger weights added some additional flash and noise to attract the fish.
As we began trolling, Gene and Eric constantly worked the downriggers up and down to keep them just off the bottom. The sonar did not reveal much after a couple of passes over the area. Gene explained that as we continued to circle and stir up the bottom, the fish would get curious and start to move towards us.
He was right. As we circled around for the fifth or sixth time over the same area, the fish finder started to light up with a number of returns on the bottom that were not there before.
After another pass or two, we got our first strike, indicated by a quick wiggle in one of the rod tips. Gene pulled the rod from the holder and set the hook before handing the rod to Bob. It didn't take long for Bob to get the fish, a sprite little Mack, to the surface for Eric to net. Our first fish was in the boat.
It would be awhile before our next hook up, but with each pass over the area, more and more fish seemed to clutter the fish finder screen. Gene worked the gear and the boat hard trying to entice a strike, but the fish were not cooperating.
After some time with only a few small bites and short strikes, Eric ripped a rod from the holder and set the hook with a couple of quick jerks. I took the rod and began reeling the fish to the surface. After a perfect net job, we had our second Mack in the boat, this one slightly larger than the first.
The wind began to pick up a bit forcing Gene to work the boat even harder. I was starting to worry that my Dad may not get his chance, but it wasn't long before we had another short strike.
Gene accelerated sharply explaining that Mackinaw will often follow a bait long distances. The sudden change in speed was enough to get the fish to strike. Gene set the hook and handed my dad the rod.
After another seamless net exchange, my dad had the biggest fish of the day in the boat. It wasn't big by Mackinaw standards, but we didn't care at all considering the conditions and very tough bite.
Before the wind completely hampered our efforts, Bob managed to land another small Mack, bringing our total to four on the day.
I had a blast with Gene and Eric on the water. Their experience and persistence turned a very tough fishing day into a great trip for all of us.
I strongly recommend Blue Ribbon Fishing Charters to anyone looking to fish Lake Tahoe. Contact Captain Gene St. Denis at (530) 544-6552.
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