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Monster mackinaws at Bucks Lake

By Bill Lynch

Sonomans Bill Fernandez and Mike Mazza spent the opening day of trout season on Bucks Lake in Plumas County catching monster mackinaw trout that were up to 33 inches long and close to 23 pounds.

Bill and Mike were trolling Rapallas in 35 feet of water at a depth of about 22 feet and managed to hook and land six of these huge trout, the shortest of which were 29 inches long and the largest 33 inches long.

By any measure they are the biggest trout I have ever seen caught in California. Bill said that this early spring run of mackinaws only last for a short time, but if you’re on Bucks Lake at the right time, the action can be amazing. What’s even more interesting is that they landed the huge fish using eight-pound-test line.

Bill said the weather was mild (in the 60s), while Mike considered it cold, but worth the effort.

Bill, whose usual fishing territory is the Eastern Sierras near Bridgeport, said the fishing in that area is good. From twin lakes, the rainbow trout and German brown trout are running in the six- to seven-pound range, while at the Bridgeport reservoir the fish are more plentiful with lots of rainbows in the one- to three-pound range and quite a few browns in the two-to-five-pound range.

Trout fishing on the upper Sacramento River was good this week, said Bob Grace, at the Ted Fay Fly Shop. The water is still a bit high with spring runoff and most of the action was on nymphs. He said the McCloud River opened last Saturday with fair to good results for anglers who tried it.

Hat Creek and Fall River are excellent choices for good early season angling. The fish are less educated than they will be later on. Action has also been great on the Pit River and lower Sacramento River between Redding and Anderson.

He said the best website for fishing reports in that area is kenssport.com.

Casey Rollig, at Leland Fly Fishing Ranch here in Sonoma, sent me an email last week that the ranch is getting closer to some kind of reopening for casting and also for fishing in its pond.

Leland is offering spring fly casting lessons/tune-ups at all the Sonoma County Parks; Marin Civic Center in San Rafael; Santa Rosa ponds; Kennedy Park in Napa; and any private residence, which we do often in Sonoma. They’re also working with the Sonoma Valley High School fly fishing club.

The retail shop has been improved and it has expanded Leland products to include Sonoma Series rods, and they sell a line of Sonoma Bass reels, too.

Casey added that shad are in now and a quick drive to the American River with fly or gear can be outing. Berryessa bass are also on the prowl.

“Bottom line is now that we’re closer to actual fishing we’re becoming more of a local shop versus the destination outfitting type of retailer we were in San Francisco,” Casey said.

Salmon fishing off the Sonoma Coast was terrific this week, with flat calm water and lots of fish. I talked to Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, Wednesday midday while he was out with a group of clients on his party boat.

Every body on board had caught a limit of salmon to 16 pounds, and they were just moving to the crab pots to bring home limits of fat dungeness crabs. Rick has room most days on his boats. Call him at 875-3344.

Inside the Bay the minus tides this week have muddied the water, slowing the striped bass and halibut bite. Conditions improve this weekend and as the water clears, there should be lots of good action in the usual spots. Call Keith Fraser, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael, for the latest conditions and to book a party boat for bay fishing, 415-456-0321.

Wind made bass fishing on Clear Lake and Lake Berryessa difficult this week. It will improve as weather best better.