Shaver Lake Fishing Report: Weather Plays Havoc for Shaver Anglers

The Castanos family of Clovis, from left to right: Wyland, Monique and Peter. Photo taken last summer, might represent the 2020 catch. Mostly rainbows with some kokanee. (Photo contributed by Dick Nichols/Dick’s Fishing Charters)

It’s been a long time since I have seen a storm this big hit Shaver on Thanksgiving week, but it did.

It started Tuesday night when the wind picked up in the 25 to 30 MPH range and heavy snow fell. The storm went on into Friday with Shaver picking up about three accumulate feet.

Our daughter Stacee and her children from Doylestown, PA, joined us Tuesday for Thanksgiving along with our daughter Erin, a local Pine Ridge School teacher, and her sons.

The only one missing from our clan was my grandson Josh, who is serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea.

There were hours of games played by the family as we were snowed in until Saturday. All our plans, like Yosemite, the Clovis Gun Range and the Sierra Vista go kart track, did not materialize due to our being snowed in. But, we had a ball.

It was the same for Shaver fishermen. I have not seen one boat on the lake as of this writing. Tuesday through Wednesday the following week; nada, zip, none that I am aware of!

Prior to the snow storm, which turned into rain last Wednesday, fishing had been hit or miss. I know Corky Burkdoll and his friend Naomi Amador, both of Visalia, had picked up three mixed limits of kokanee and trout.

The couple fished from the dam to Scout Cove at 25 feet deep using an orange hoochie, tipped with corn, behind a dodger. They picked up 12 kokanee and three trout. Due to the kokanee being in spawning condition, the Visalia anglers were only able to keep seven edible kokanee and the three trout.

There were others, like Robert and Maria Hernandez from Clovis, that were out before the storm and bagged a couple limits of trout.

So, what will happen with the rest of the 2019 season? I have no idea in this weather, but I think it will continue with the hit or miss, as all of the third year kokanee will have spawned and died by the first of the year. That leaves hold over trout, both rainbows and browns. I am going to bet that most of those trout will be found between the island and Stevenson Bay.

Generally speaking, I have had the best winter action on my Trout Busters tipped with crawler on both hooks behind a weighted Mountain Flasher at 20 feet deep and slightly up. This combination has provided me with more action during this time of year, as I believe the trout are hungry and like a colorfully presented nightcrawler.

So, let’s move on into 2020. The Department of Fish and Wildlife will most likely start their plants in early spring, when the snow is clear on the ramp and the roads leading from Friant. Last year, we had an allotment of about 7,000 pounds of catchable trout mixed with some trophy sized rainbows from the hatchery.

This year, thank goodness, our allotment is about 17,000 pounds, or 34,000 catchable trout. In addition, DF&W will plant about 2,000 two plus pounders, making a total plant of catchable and above rainbows at 36,000 approximate fish. Hey, don’t forget the 12,000 five inch browns that were planted last winter. DF&W tells me they will be of catchable size mid summer.

The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project will again supply the waters of Shaver Lake with about 1,800 three pound and larger rainbows. Last year, they went up to the seven pound range, but mostly three pounds.

My fellow guides Todd Wittwer, Tom Oliviera and I caught about 25 collective second-year kokanee. Others also reported catching and releasing second year kokanee too.

So, what is the final count? My humble estimate is about 38,000 rainbow trout, perhaps 8,000 new browns and maybe 20 percent of the normal third year kokanee will be available for Shaver fishermen this year.

The kokanee spawn is better than many of us think. I found a spawning ground for kokanee last winter in the south fork of Stevenson Creek. In 2021, the 50,000 kokanee planted last year as fingerling will be out in force, along with the brown plants and 50,000 golden trout that were planted last winter. I am told that they will be 12 to 14 inches by then, and 17 inches the following year. That should give you inspiration to go out and buy a 2020 fishing license.

For those of you who are looking for a last minute, custom gift for that fisherman in your family, contact Debby at Shaver Lake Sports for one of my Christmas gift certificates. Call 841-2740, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I am going to begin 2020, and my fifteenth charter season on Shaver Lake, on June first. I have a few health issues that I need to take care of this winter.

Thanks to all of those who fished with me, provided fishing reports or just said hi out on the lake this last summer.

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.