August 4-5, 2011Cruising under the Highway 49 Bridge on New Melones Lake.
Having missed my own local fishing the past couple of weeks while fishing in Oregon, it was time to prep the boat and head for New Melones once again for some kokanee fishing. I wouldn’t be fishing in heavy, winter clothing as I did in Oregon; it was in the 90s both days at this lake near Angels Camp, the California Gold Country town that holds the somewhat famous Jumping Frog Jubilee each year, inspired by Mark Twain’s fable.
To miss much of the heat and the crowds, I’ve been arriving at the lake in mid-afternoon when the ramps are not busy, then spend the night at anchor, and head home mid-morning the following day, again when the ramp isn’t so busy with launching lake lice, etc. So far, this is working out pretty well.
This weeks trip would include testing the new Raymarine S1000 Autopilot that I installed in the boat this past week. Having had a Raymarine Smart Pilot in my old C-Dory, and I loved it, this new autopilot had some big shoes to fill. The installation of the autopilot is recorded on this site at about the middle of this page.
The Glory Hole Sports store, near New Melones Lake, reported that trout and kokanee fishing was fair to slow. I’m a fair to slow fisherman, and that sounded like a match to me.
Shortly after I launched, a flight of geese winged their way across my bow, and I accepted their presence as a good luck omen. I would need one.
The Glory Hole fishing report was accurate; I couldn’t buy a fish all day, trolling as deep as 80 feet where the kokanee were finding water cool enough for their liking, about 50° I’ve read. The lake surface temperature was in the low 80s, and most of the trout and kokanee were deep. They have plenty of room to find cooler water as the lake is 500 feet at its deepest:
My fish finder shows 501 feet deep in the main lake. Most of the lake is 250 feet to over 400 feet deep. It was a good, wet winter for us!
Perusing the neighbors in Angel’s Cove. A relaxing night on a lake will make a fishing fool out of most anyone!
Another view from my anchorage. Splendid!
I trolled from about 1330 ’til 1800. And for a change, I anchored with the many stored houseboats that are moored in Angel’s Cove. It was nicely protected and quiet. I dropped a couple of lines over the side, baited for trout, and after sundown dropped down a light. I left the lines out all night, and again didn’t get so much as a bite. Yep – the fishing was slow!
I awoke on Day 2 and set about the morning chores and prepared to start trolling as soon as possible. I was trolling a bit before 0600, and at first trolled shad patterns relatively shallow around 40 feet for trout. I didn’t have a bite, and soon switched to kokanee lures and dodgers at 70 to 80 feet.
Trolling for kokanee on New Melones Lake at sunrise. Life is good!
For the first time in a couple of years, I turned into the dam area, a bay that is well known to hold kokanee. Finally, about 0730, my deepest lure at 80 feet popped loose and I had a fish on! I reeled him in gingerly, having learned the hard way that kokanee are easily lost because of their soft mouths and their tarpon-like antics when they see the boat. I was surprised when I first saw him because he was a huge kokanee – at least by my standards!
My “big” kokanee at 16 inches and 1¼ lbs. On New Melones and most foothill lakes, this is a fine catch. It’s the biggest kokanee I have ever caught! Note the developing hooked jaw and the slight pink – which becomes bright red – along his side. It’s getting a bit late for kokanee and they’re beginning to prepare for spawning.
I scooped him into the net after a bit of a fight – a fish brought up from 80 feet is pretty much whipped from that experience alone – but he struggled gallantly to the end. After all the hours I’d invested in this trip, seeing this big beauty was a real thrill! I have often had to settle for the single dumbest fish in the lake, and it seemed this trip would be just that. But if I had to settle for just one, I’m glad this was it!
As for the new Raymarine S1000 autopilot, I need another trip or two with it before commenting. I was used to the now unavailable Sport Pilot mechanical version, and it was at the very least easier to operate. After another trip or two I’ll know whether the new pilot was worth the investment. The problems I seem to have encountered with it may be the result of not knowing how to properly operate it on this first trip. Time will tell…
Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.