Shaver Lake Fishing Report: A recap of the 2019 Season

Ed Parks with son Mason of Tollhouse, spent a morning on Shaver fishing with Dick Nichols for Mason’s birthday. His aunt Beth Brown says it was one of Mason’s most memorable days with his dad. (Contributed by Dick Nichols/Dick’s Fishing Charters)

Happy 2020 to all of you. Let’s hope that this is as good a season as 2019 was.

To start off, currently Shaver Lake is producing a couple limits or more of holdover trout for trollers who are willing to brave the cold weather at Shaver. I talked to a couple anglers this week who trolled Shaver two days during the weekend. They reported a take of 22 rainbows over the two days of fishing. They were focusing on the Stevenson Creek area and using a long line Apex with a crawler. That day they picked up two limits at 8 to 10 feet deep.

The next day they said they were using Trout Busters, tipped with crawler behind a Mountain Flasher and picked up 12 in the Stevenson Bay area. Year after year, you will find the holdovers in the Stevenson Bay and Tunnel Creek areas.

2019 did not produce many rainbows with exception of fresh plants, therefore many survived the fishing impact and made it to Stevenson Bay areas. I would have to think that you can still find them back there for awhile until Department of Fish and Wildlife (DF&W) plants in the spring and then it’s off to the races with an ample amount of trout that will be located in the Sierra Marina area. The fresh plants then will move out toward the Point and island areas and then traverse the underwater Stevenson Creek to Stevenson Bay.

I thought the 2019 kokanee season was one of the best in years. It’s a shame that there will be very few kokes out there in 2020 due to the fact that DF&W did not plant kokanee fingerling two years ago.

Fortunately, we did have a decent natural spawn of kokanee two years ago and should have a few third year kokanee mixed with the 2nd year fish. Remember those second year kokanee are your catch for 2021, so please release them carefully.

Let’s begin with a monthly recap of 2019 fishing at Shaver.

April was fantastic with a good kokanee bite in upper water. The fresh plant of brooder trout by DF&W was made resulting in a short span but good catches. The mature brown trout bite was very good with two browns a day common per boat. Limits of kokanee were easy.

May proved to be very similar to April in the first half with easy limits of kokanee, a few rainbows and again two browns a day per boat. In addition, the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project under the direction of Bob Bernier, made their first plant resulting in a good trophy trout bite.  Then, the second half of May fell apart with wintry storms resulting in snow, rain and cold weather. Fog during that time was a common ingredient on the lake. I pulled my boat out of my marina spot for 10 days and put it in my safe and warm garage.

The first of June, we returned to fishing and found a wonderful bite of kokanee through the whole month and only 25 to 30 feet deep. Many were on the lake’s surface using tackle like my Koke Busters, tipped with corn, behind a Mountain Dodger.

July, was a similar great kokanee fishing month but had a few days of less than multiple limits per boat. That’s often normal with July I have found. I think it is that the kokes are entering the pre-spawn mode, not in it, but their characteristics are changing.  Most days we were catching 2 to 4 limits of kokanee on each trip. The trout were nowhere to be found and a few trophies were bagged.

In August the kokanee had grown to 18 inches and were still abundant as they entered pre-spawn conditions. Toward the end of August it was normal to grab a few bucks with snarly snouts and an apricot glow.

September is normally my big trout fishing month in Stevenson Bay. I found a few in there, but relied on mostly kokanee. The bite slowed to up to two limits per day, with a few of simply a little over a limit. As the month progressed, it slowed more and then we found them back up in the water column and hunkered down in Rock Haven Cove. Two or three limits of kokanee became the norm into mid October. By this time out of 15 fish, maybe 7 were edible.

In November and December, less anglers hit the lake. A very big snow storm hit Shaver during the entire Thanksgiving week. Those who braved conditions reported up to two limits of red, spawning kokanee. About mid December, the trout returned to the Stevenson Bay area and have been producing limits of holdover rainbows for those who brave the cold mid 30’s weather.

Off and on snow was forecasted for this week.  You should check the Sierra Marina webcam before making the trek to Shaver. Most of the normal tackle carrying stores in Shaver have maintained a good supply of Shaver tackle and bait. I will be presenting my 12th annual Shaver Lake fishing seminar at a Fresno sporting goods store in March. It will focus on how to fish Shaver in 2020 without the help of  third year kokanee.

Representatives of Southern California Edison will provide the water levels for Shaver and Huntington in 2020 and a DF&W wildlife biologist will be on hand to discuss the 2020 DF&W plant, brown and the new residents of Shaver, “golden trout!”

Dick Nichols
Dick Nichols has been with us since the beginning. With decades of experience, he writes and provide insights about the Shaver Lake fishing game.