By Dick Nichols, Dicks Fishing Charters
Hello Clovis Roundup readers, I am back with another season of fishing reports from Shaver Lake. I truly enjoy sharing what I have learned with you.
The upcoming season is one that will begin slow with a lower lake level and end on a high note with a full lake. Last year’s fishing was simply terrible. I have no others words to describe the fishing from mid June for the rest of 2016. The trout bite was totally off and the kokanee, well, where were they. I asked Department of Fish & Wildlife about the lack of kokes last year and they responded with, “the drought.” I guess the drought, that caused low lake levels and warmer than normal water temperatures, had an affect on the kokanee. They either did not respond to lures or bait or simply they died and fell to the bottom of the lake. Who really knows, just a guess.
The beginning of the 2016 season in April was a kick. Most everyone limited out on trout, collecting many very good sized rainbows. But again, the kokes were few. Then as the lake rose, the trout started eating insects that were captured from the shore as the water level came up. They were packed with insects and quit hitting lures or bait. I thought it would end by late summer when the rise of water tapered off. But it did not. I closed my fishing charters down in early 2016 for the season due to a bad bite.
This year, I think you will find the raising of the lake water to slow fishing initially. Remember the trout go after those yummy insects that hit the water on its rise. But when the water is more stable the trout bite should resume. My guess would be late May to mid June.
The kokanee have already shown themselves and some are about 14 inches in length. That is a good sign. Some feel these are second year kokanee. I am not certain as we caught very few second year fish last year and possibly think that the second year fish last year just went dormant. Hopefully, we had a good survival of the 40,000 kokanee hatch that were planted three years ago.
Currently, Shaver continues to drop its water level daily. At this writing, it is about 32 percent of capacity. The reason for the drop is SCE’s concern of the near record snow accumulation in the high Sierras. It will slowly continue to drop during the month of April to about 30 percent capacity on May 1. At that point a moderate increase in water storage will begin and the lake is expected to reach 67 percent capacity by June 1st. The lake will continue to slowly rise to about 100 percent capacity by Labor Day. Currently, the main Sierra ramp is out of water, but the auxiliary ramp is still in the water. It is unknown how long that will last. I have cancelled all charter trips until mid May when we will resume providing charter service at Dick’s Fishing Charters for our 11th season.
Currently, the bank fishing report has been good. Many good size rainbows have been caught from shore. Most recently, Kevin Kato, head chef at Norm’s Cafe in Shaver, picked up two trophy sized trout. Fishing from The Point, Kato hooked a 3-pound rainbow, which resembled one of the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project hold over trophy trout planted last year. The other was a 19-inch brown. Kato photographed both fish and released them back to the lake. He was using Power Bait in rainbow color.
A few weeks earlier, Shaver Lake resident Drew Tallberg fished the Point between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. He hit the bonanza as he picked up three trout that ranged from a 20-inch 3-pound rainbow, a 23-inch 6-pound brown to a 26-inch 9-pound bow. Wow! I am impressed with Drew’s good fortune that day. All from the shore on Power Bait. I don’t think this happens everyday. It’s just when the big boy’s get hungry and find the hook of the current angler who is tossing bait from the shore. Could be you!
For trolling, very few boats have launched. There just isn’t much activity. But, I did have reports of a limit of mixed kokanee to 14 inches with trout possible. Most successful trollers are fishing at about five feet deep for best results. I would recommend Trout Busters tipped with corn on the inside hook and a piece of crawler on the back hook. This will give you a double possibility for both kokanee or trout.
Here is the trout plant forecast for Shaver for the rest of 2017. DF&W should plant about 8-10,000 pounds of catchable trout. Talking to Ron, the Friant hatchery chief, this year’s plants are a little bigger than the normal half pounders. Ron and his crew have done an outstanding job of recouping the stock they were forced to plant during last years drought. The Friant hatchery is very well ran and are open daily for viewing of the trout hatchery process. Another source of trout will be plants by the SLTTP. Bob Bernier, the projects chief planter, says this year’s crop will be divided into two plants. One will be when school is out in hope that youngsters will have a chance to experience a big fish, the other, well Bob holds that close to his chest. About 1,500 trophy sized trout will be planted by the project over the next few months. I think there are many trophy fish left from the 2016 plant. We only caught 16 of them on my charter boat and only a few from other boats. I would estimate that only 500 of the 1,500 planted were caught. So, there is an extra 1000 trophies that may presently swimming out there. In addition, DF&W will plant another crop of brooder trout this year. All depends on the need to harvest eggs. They made one plant of brooders earlier this year.
I will check back with you in two weeks in the next edition of the Roundup. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to answer any questions that I can for you. I look forward to seeing you all on the lake this summer.