July 13-14, 2011
Full to the brim New Melones Lake as seen from the Highway 49 Bridge.
Traveling aboard the motor home had been getting in the way of my fishing lately, and it was more than time to load up the boat and head for New Melones once again. The beautiful, little kokanee have been red hot according to fishing reports, and the website of Glory Hole Sports, a store near the lake, reported that the lake was just seven feet from full – virtually full!
I launched the boat a bit after noon on Wednesday and began trolling for kokanee. I caught two nice ones, the biggest 15½”, by mid afternoon, and kept trying for more. I reeled in two or three very small ones, about eight inches, and released them. I’m afraid the survival rate of fish brought up from 50’ or 60’ and released is not good. Yet such small fish are not of much value on the dinner plate. By the time it’s cleaned there isn’t much left! It’s a bit of a quandary.
An Osprey soared over New Melones as I trolled, looking for a fish dinner himself. Bald Eagles are seen here, too.
The greatest pleasure of fishing New Melones is to enjoy the evening at anchor, and at about 1900 I dropped anchor in a protected cove near the spillway for the night. I’d dealt with breezy conditions all day, but the cove was flat calm and very pleasant. I tossed over a couple of lines for trout, along with an underwater light, and waited. But consistent with my last three tries at anchor, I could not attract any action. Even so, I watched the moon rise over the nearby hills and enjoyed an incredible summer evening on the lake, taking in a relaxing time that can be found only on a lake. It was marvelous!
By 0630 I was again trolling for kokanee, and managed what would have been a limit except for releasing two or three more very small kokanee. I wish those little eight and nine inch kokanee weren’t so aggressive! I saw most of them swim away after release, but I also released a couple that did not make it. Perhaps it’s time to keep the first five I catch, no matter their size. At least none would be released to float away.
All the fish were caught at 45’ to 60’ on various kokanee lures such as pink and green wedding rings behind colored dodgers. I had a flasher on one downrigger weight and the lures were 25’ to 35’ behind the downriggers, with the furthest lure about 10’ above the closer lure.
At 1300 I gave up trying for that last big kokanee. I reeled in and stowed the gear, then headed to the dock and home. It was a grand trip and I look forward to more lake trips this summer. Most of all, I’m looking forward to the first salmon season in about four years on my beloved California Delta. And I’m looking forward to a kokanee trip-of-a-lifetime to Flaming Gorge in Utah/Wyoming in September with my old high school buddy from Oregon. Life is good!
En route home on Highway 49, this logger pulled over to check his load. Having been a log truck driver back in the 70s, I pulled over to check out his splendid rig because it looks to me like nothing has changed about logging truck design. Sure enough, the geometry and layout seem identical to the rigs I drove. This incredible rig is a ’91 Kenworth with a new Cat 600 HP engine installed four years ago. Although this beauty has over 1,000,000 miles, it looks new! The owner keeps the entire rig – even places you cannot see – polished and looking great. He’s my kind of trucker! (His name is Larry Thomas.)