Red Hot Kokanee Bite at Stampede Reservoir

Not many other lakes throughout California can say that 75-100 fish by late morning is the norm.  Non stop action is to be had at the beautiful gem of a reservoir nestled about 15 mins northeast of Truckee.  Currently I’m mainly fishing Stampede Reservoir due to the incredible catch ratio and the lack of heavy boating pressure.  Typically we see Bald Eagles and Ospreys diving down to grab a quick meal everyday.  And, oh yes, the fishing is spectacular!!!!  I do not update these fishing reports regularly as its much easier to report on my facebook page Tight Lines Guide Service.

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deckfull of Stampede Kokanee 6/29/19

6/1/14 Donner Lake

Donner Lake, we launched at 5:15 AM and spent the first hour fishing the top 25′ of water for Mackinaw. With no action we switched over to Kokanee. Overall, it was a great bite. We landed limits for our two clients and lost well over 15 others. Not sure why but they just wouldn’t stay on. I talked to a friend last night that experienced the same thing yesterday. We also landed and released a Mackinaw that was around three pounds. The Mackinaw gave a nice fight on the Kokanee gear. All our fish today were caught on Seps Watermelon Dodgers and Uncle Larry’s spinners along with RMT spinners behind Shark Cannonballs. Our corn today was Pink Pautzke Fire Cured Corn. Our best depths today were 28 to 38 feet.

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5/28/14 Donner Lake Kokanee

Donner Lake Kokanee
We started at 6:00 AM and headed over by the Loch Leven Lodge where we found some good schools of Kokanee on Sunday. They were gone! We searched that area and only marked a few fish. The wind was already starting to blow. We went ahead and dropped the rigs down to 35′ where we were marking a few fish. We managed to get our two clients limits of Kokanee in this area but it was not the same kind of action we had Sunday. I had planned to fish for Mackinaw later today, however, the with the wind getting stronger every minute I decided against it. Our Kokanee were caught on Sep’s Watermelon Dodger with a RMT Assassin Spinner and Pautzke Fire Cured Corn. The best depth was 35 to 40 feet. We did release two fish that were about the size of the dodger. The Kokanee we kept averaged 12″.

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5/25/14 Donner Lake Kokanee

I had the day open and needed to check out Donner Lake Kokanee  for the first time this year. I took two of my granddaughters Brooke and Charlotte along. We launched a little after 6:00 AM. I went straight across the lake and started trolling. I wasn’t marking any fish as we worked our way up the lake. We moved over in front of Loch Leven Lodge where there was a couple other boats working. We started marking nice schools of fish at 35” and 55’.  It wasn’t long before we started hooking Kokanee at 35’. We couldn’t get the fish at 55’ to hit anything. The girls had two limits of Kokanee and back on the Trailer at 8:30 AM. Our Donner Lake Kokanee were caught on Sep’s Side Kick’s and 4/0 Dodgers both in Watermelon color and a RMT Assassin spinner tipped with Pautzke Fire Corn. The fish we caught today were about the same size as Stampede Kokanee, they averaged 12”.  Donner is in great shape, plenty of water and no issues launching.

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Brooke Kennedy and Charlotte Brown from Grass Valley


8/27/12 Donner Lake

For some reason, I set the alarm an hour earlier than I needed today and showed up at the Donner Lake ramp way to early. It didn’t take me long to also discover it was a lot colder than the days before. Okay enough complaining. We got the boat in the water and everything ready to go. Our clients showed up and off we went in search of Kokanee and maybe even a Mack or two. We were almost up to Loch Leven Lodge and found some nice schools of fish around 50 feet deep. We dropped in a Sep’s Watermelon Strike Master with a pink Uncle Larry’s spinner tipped with pink Pautzke’s Fire Corn behind a Black Shark Cannonball weight. The next setup we dropped in was a Shasta Tackle pink Melon Sling Blade with a Rocky Mountain Tackle pink Plankton spinner also tipped with Pink Pautzke Fire Corn. The next step was going to be to drop a couple bigger baits down for Mackinaw, however, the Kokanee didn’t seem to want to give us a break. It was fast action for the first hour with bright Donner Lake Kokanee. We finely managed to get some bigger bait’s down but the Mackinaw bite wasn’t happening for us today. After a slower spell that lasted about an hour the bite picked up again and we netted a few more and called it a day. After a chilly morning on Donner it turned out to be a nice day with some nice Kokanee. The Kokanee at Donner this year are by no means big, they and sure nice bright clean and good eating fish.

8/13/12 Donner Lake

Our son-in-law Steve Brown took the Tight Lines boat out to target some Donner Lake Kokanee. Gary Tonnesen of Antelope along with Dan Bacher of the Fish Sniffer joined Steve. They started fishing in front of Loch Leven Lodge. They quickly found action down 50 feet on a Sep’s Watermelon Strike Master dodger and a Uncle Larry’s Pink Tiger tipped with Pink Pautzke Fire Corn. Steve also ran one heavier G-Loomis STR 1063 C-1 rod down a little deeper in an effort to pick up a big Lake Trout (Mackinaw). They did end up with one, however, it was in the 3-pound range. The Mackinaw fell for a Denis Pierce tandem fly in a Kokanee pattern with Pautzke Krill added. Other productive lures for Steve were Rocky Mountain Plankton series spinners and Tsunami dodgers, Shasta Tackle Glow Sling Blades

The Kokanee are not trophy size. On this day they averaged 11 to 14 inches, there are a lot of them making the action steady.

Davis Lake Rainbows

Davis Lake is where were fishing today.  But first, as we were traveling on Hwy 89 out of Truckee we soon learned the highway was a solid ice. After a little thrill with the truck and boat going sideways we decided to slow down and take our time. We arrived at the Honker Cove parking lot, I knew it was not going to an easy launch. We found about 3 inches of snow with solid ice under it. Knowing, I was going to need chains to get up the ramp, I decided to install them in the upper parking lot rather than on the ramp. As I was installing the chains I asked my son-in-law to walk down and check the ramp. Upon returning, he told me, “the whole cove was solid ice”. I was even more disappointed and broke the news to our clients. We decided to run over to Mallards Cove and check that ramp. We found a lot less snow and open water at the ramp. With chains still installed we were able to get the boat in the water without much of a problem.

We started trolling straight out in front of the ramp and headed towards the big island. About half hour without a hit, I was wondering if it was just going to be one of those days. Once we got into a little deeper water I started marking fish just off the bottom at 30 feet. The water temperature was 37 degrees on the surface so I dropped a probe to see what the temperature was at 30 feet. The result was 38 degrees at 30 feet of water, one degree difference is a all. I started targeting the fish on the bottom using the downriggers and in no time we were hooked up. Our clients today were Tom Gore of Healdsburg and Geoff Eisenberg of San Francisco who landed his first fish ever, a nice 16 inch rainbow. I was glad we were using our new Lamiglas kokanee rods with P-Line 6 lb. CXX, it made that 16 inch fish feel much bigger then it was. From that point on we put 15 nice rainbows in the boat in two and a half hours. We used several different lures such as a Shasta Tackle Red/Gold Humdingers and Needlefish but they seemed to want the smallest Dick Night spoon in Copper/Pink slathered with Pro-Cure Garlic Plus. The weather ran the gamut today from sun to snow flurries. After learning this was Geoff first fish ever and we ended up with limits of nice rainbows, it made all the extra effort getting the boat in the water well worth it.

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