These fish have taken hold in the
reservoir and account for some trophy sized bass. The lake record for largemouth
bass is better than fifteen pounds. Every year many ten pound plus fish come
from the lake. Studies done by Fish and Game from 1988 to 1993 showed the
population of bass to be somewhere near 60% small mouth, 30% spotted bass and
10% largemouth. Since these studies were concluded in 1993, they expect that
the spotted bass population has increased significantly. Besides the black bass in
the lake there is also planted rainbow trout in the cooler months, crappie, bluegill
and some good sized catfish.
We can divide the lake into three sections, the main body, south fork and
North Fork. All three areas have good fish holding locations. In the main body
several dams provide riprap and deep-water access. Coves provide spawning
area and cover near Dyke Eight and at Beales Point. The peninsula that extends
into the lake toward the dam offers large boulders, rock piles, and trees for
Folsom Lake's North Fork has many good locations for fishing and is
large enough that you can always find a secluded area. The stretch that runs
upstream from Granite bay on the north side of the river has expansive bays filled
with boulders that hold fish year round. Further up the arm on the south side is
Anderson Island. Some of the biggest fish caught on the North Fork come from
this area around the island. Further up the river near Rattlesnake Bar the terrain
resembles a canyon type reservoir with steep walls and deep water.
The South Fork is the smaller of the two but contains, what is probably
the best known area in the lake for lunker bass, New York Creek Cove.
Many bass anglers visit this spot every day, especially during the spawn. This
area holds more big bass than any other area its size but be forewarned the fish
here are wary. Some other good spots in this arm are Deep Ravine and Jacks
Shack. This part of the lake holds a good population of largemouth bass all year
Folsom Lake can provide good action year round for the serious angler.
Winter can be a great time to fish the lake without all of the traffic that summer
brings. You can be on the water all day without seeing more than a handful of
other boats. Winter patterns can vary with the water conditions but some methods
produce day after day.
Splitshotting worms in winter is a good bet. Some worm
colors that work well at Folsom are browns and greens such as Witches "T",
Green Craw, Green Weenie, and Summer Moss. Shad patterns also work well
with Blue Ghost, Purple Ghost, Morning Dawn and small minnow imitating
reapers catching fish. Fishing can be good with spoons in the winter with fish
being found suspended off steep walls and by following creek channels out of the
coves. Spoons can be any size from three-eighths oz. when fish are shallow, say
from 10 to 20 feet, or up to several ounces when they are found deep, to 60 feet
Another pattern that provides good fishing action from October through
January is a spinner bait. Fish a white on white combination in a half ounce with
white double willows and slow roll it past the rocks and boulders in the north fork
around Anderson Island and banks with large rock between New York Creek
and Jacks Shack (Sweetwater Creek)
The water in the lake can become extremely cold in winter due to the fact
that it's supplied by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Take
precautions when fishing in the winter and be prepared if you are ever
unfortunate enough to fall into the water. One other hazard of winter fishing is
fog. This reservoir can become "socked in" and you will have trouble navigating.
When the lake is low in the winter months there can also be many submerged
hazards that may or may not be marked. Use caution when boating in unfamiliar
areas at low water.
Spring is the time to move into the coves and flats. The fish will move up and
down on a daily basis and you must work to find the holding depth on any given
day. Once you figure out the depth you can move from spot to spot and find the
fish easily. Remember that a lake like this can have water temperatures that will
vary 20 to 30 degrees from one end of the lake to the other. If you try an area
and it doesn't produce bites try a different location.
Running water in the backs of
creek channels can help to locate spring bass. The warmer water temperatures
that can be found from this running water can attract pre-spawn fish. Try
throwing a spinner bait or a pig and jig into this water and look for big bites.
Another benefit of this inflow is clearer water. While everything else is muddy,
this fresh running water can have much better visibility.
Good choices for spring fishing at Folsom include rip baits such as a TD
Minnow, Smithwick Suspending Rogue, or Rapala Husky Jerk. These lures can
provide bites so forceful that they'll take a rod from your hands if you're not
careful. Fish them around staging areas and creeks leading into spawning flats.
Lizards are a popular spring bait and account for many good fish. Colors like
cotton candy, pumpkinseed and watermelon are good choices, with or without a
chartreuse tail. Spinner baits and worms will also put fish in the boat. Another lure
that can catch good quality fish during pre spawn is a jig. A brown/orange three
eighth's ounce jig with a small brown pork, plastic grub, or craw trailer can be
very effective. Another jig to try is a one quarter ounce brown jig with black buck
tail. Not many fish have seen this combination and it works well. Some days
throwing chartreuse crank baits with a blue back or bright crawdad pattern in the
muddy water for staging fish will be the hot ticket. Remember the afternoon bite
can be exceptional during the early spring so don't worry if you over slept.
Summer on Folsom can be a trying time. The lake will get crystal clear and
water temperatures and boating traffic can drive the fish deep. Some good lures
to try are top water such as the Zara Spook, Splash-it, Pop-R, and Rico. These
top water baits can bring fish up from incredible depths in this clear water. Crank
Baits can produce around the dams and rock walls. Crank baits with crawdad
patterns and chrome with blue back work well. Soft jerk baits like the Sluggo or
Zoom Super Fluke will trigger strikes also.
You need to experiment with the
speed and action of these baits to find out what the fish want. Throw them around
small rock piles and isolated bushes rather than large areas of willows. Try to find
small shadows on the water created by trees on the bank or boulders. And finally
work the edges of drop offs on the outside of flats with a baby bass Rattletrap to
find small mouths.
Plastic worms take fish all year long and summer is no exception. When
the fish are deep and uncooperative a Carolina rig can produce good fish. Long
points with submerged structure on it will hold fish. If one side has a deep drop
off it will be an even better spot. Use just enough weight to feel the bottom and
adjust your leader to suit the fishes' mood, a shorter leader for an aggressive bite
and longer leader for reluctant fish. Another pattern that can work well in the
summer is fishing grubs rigged on a darter head along the dams. Use salt and
pepper, smoke and flake patterns. Skirted grubs will work well when rigged on a
three sixteenth or a quarter ounce darter head.
One other thought on worm colors, try matching the worm color to the
bottom that you are fishing. When the water is extremely clear there is no
need for something to stand out like a neon sign. If you're working a reddish clay
or mud bank rig up an oxblood and blue worm or something of a similar hue.
When the bottom or cover is grass or willows throw a green pattern worm or
plastic bait. And when fishing rock along the dams try a salt and pepper or smoke
patterns. These subtle baits will blend into the bottom and when moved will trigger
a strike that something that stands out won't.
In the summer months it can be best to try and fish the first couple hours
in the morning or late in the evening to avoid water skiers and personal
watercraft. Of course weekdays are less crowded than Saturday and Sunday, but
even on weekends there is normally plenty of parking and launching on all but the
Folsom Lake offers five facilities from which to launch a boat at.
Granite Bay is the largest facility and has a multi-lane launch ramp and several
low water ramps for use when the lake is drawn down. Granite Bay can be
reached easily from I-80 by taking the Douglas Road exit in Roseville and taking
Douglas Road east to the park. There is a facility at Rattlesnake Bar, which is off
Auburn-Folsom Road near the town of Auburn. This launch is a two-lane ramp
that is only accessible when the lake is high. Dyke Eight is the closest park and
launch facility to the City of Folsom. This location has a four-lane ramp and
allows launching until the lake gets very low. Browns Ravine features a Marina
with a store and boats slips for rent. There is a two-lane ramp at the Marina and
a two-lane ramp around the corner at Hobie Cove. The fifth site is at the
Peninsula campground and it offers a single lane for launching.
Water conditions and launching information can be obtained by calling the
California Department of Parks and Recreation - Folsom Lake office at
(916) 988-0205. Fishing information is available from Fran & Eddy's Sports Den
in Rancho Cordova or Wild Sports in Orangevale.
Todd "Toad" Crockett is a member of NorCal Trophy Hunters Bass Club.