Category Archives: What’s Hot Now

Master Tech: 5 tips for better German brown trout fishing

Shangle’s note: The following Master Tech story comes from CS’s roving trout bum, Chris Shaffer

Lake Tahoe expert Mike Nielsen stresses smaller baits this time of year for German browns.

Regardless of what you hear or read, there are only two kinds of anglers that catch German browns in California: those who do so on accident, and others who spend obsessive amounts of time chasing them.

Here’s a summary on catching brown trout tips:

  1. Track the weather
  2. Be patient
  3. Use smaller baits
  4. Know water conditions
  5. Go long lines

Unlike rainbows, brown trout aren’t easy to catch. They’re predators, they’re wary of danger, and they only tend to put themselves in vulnerable positions under certain circumstances. It takes skill and patience to catch them consistently.

Especially when you’re talking trophies. Hands down, anglers who catch the most trophy browns are those who are well educated in the sport, have patience and know how to properly approach the species.

Right now is perhaps the best time of the year to pursue them as browns leave the depths and creep to the surface to feed for a month or so prior to their annual spawn. The great thing is that not all browns spawn at the same time: early October through November can be excellent months to target trophy browns (in lakes that remain open, of course).

Fall can be an excellent time to catch trophy fish at places like Lake Almanor, Lake Tahoe and other known big-brown factories, but you’ll need to master a few concepts to guarantee success. Here are five must-know tips that can help you catch more browns than ever before.

1. Track the weather
Regardless of how skilled you are, trophy brown trout fishing is routinely poor throughout the summer. In fact, most successful brown trout anglers don’t even bother to start fishing for them until the middle of September (and that’s even early). In summer, browns tend to be located in portions of the water column that can be a challenge to fish: Namely, deep, deep.

It’s better to hold off on your brown-bagging excursions and focus on a period when you know the probability of catching a quality brown is better. Like right now.

Brown trout fishing doesn’t normally get good until after a lake turns over, but once the thermocline breaks apart, browns tend to start to creep to the surface to feed. Your best indications that this will take place are falling water temperatures and shorter days. Cooler temperatures, both air and water, promote great brown trout fishing, but it usually takes a few weeks of fall-like conditions before browns even think of moving shallower.

“The window of opportunity in the fall is much smaller than it is in the spring,” says well known brown trout guide Mike Nielsen of Tahoe Topliners Guide Service ( in Lake Tahoe. “In the fall, once they get in their spawn mode they don’t want to bite anything. The rewards can be huge on the fall fish because they’re fat and ready to spawn. The spring fish are thinner after they’ve got done spawning and the lake has been frozen over. They’re actively looking for food in the spring, but they’re usually smaller.”

2. Learn the art of patience
Once you determine the ideal fall conditions have been met, it’s even more important to prepare yourself to BE PATIENT. I can’t stress enough that browns aren’t like rainbows; p of the reason it’s special to catch trophy browns is because they take work to catch, and hookups aren’t as common. If it was easy to catch browns, there wouldn’t be as much hoopla involved as there was when, for example, Nielsen brought a 14 and a pair of 15-pound Tahoe monsters aboard his boat between 2009 and this spring.

Be primed to fish for several hours, if not days, at times, without catching many browns. Unlike rainbows, which are predictable, you never know when the browns are going to be active, but once the bite starts, expect it to last for several weeks.

When this happens, the early morning, late evening and twilight bite (when there’s a full moon) should yield great opportunities to nab trophy browns throughout the West Coast.

“A successful brown trout fishermen needs to put a lot of time on the water,” Nielsen confirms. “That means fishing consistently enough that you’re there when the fall bite begins. That may be a week or a month without catching a lot of fish. Having to take that time and not always catching fish is tough for a lot of people, but you’ll also catch plenty of rainbows while you’re fishing for browns.”

That patience pays dividends the moment you catch a trophy brown. The power, strength, beauty and force of a brown is unmatched by most other North American trout species.

3. Employ smaller baits
Yes, I said s-m-a-l-l-e-r.

It’s no secret that big browns eat big baits. but in the fall, there’s a limit to how large of a bait you want to use. In the spring, browns are looking for a huge meal after they’ve come out of the spawn and icy conditions, and food has been scarce for a few months. This is when medium size swimbaits, plugs and large stickbaits are effective.

Fall can be entirely different. Many full-time guides and longtime brown chasers believe that downsizing can help boost catch rates.

“A lot of times I’m catching the rainbows on smaller baits and then the browns will start biting them, but when I put the bigger lures out there I get far less strikes. They seem to eat bigger stuff in the spring,” Nielsen says. “I’ve found that in the fall the browns are worried about spawning and staging to spawn, not actively feeding. With the smaller baits it’s an easy meal. They’ll snap at it. A lot of times they won’t chase down a huge meal because they are conserving energy for the spawn.”

Brown trout anglers have a different perspective when speaking of smaller baits than rainbow trout anglers do. By “small,” they aren’t referring to small spoons, rather medium stickbaits. Nielsen said that in the fall he uses fall colors, perhaps black and orange, orange and yellows in 3.5-inch Rapalas. You can also troll Rebel Minnows and a B14 Bomber Long A.

Legendary brown trout angler an AC Plug inventor Allan Cole agrees with Nielsen’s theory of downsizing in the fall.

“That’s what they bite, skinny lures,” Cole says. “I’ve been trying everything for decades and they always bite the skinny type lures most of the time. I’d say that four of five times they bite the skinny type lures.”

Cole runs 5- and 6-inch lures in the fall.

“In the spring I get them on the bigger stuff, but not in the fall,” he says. “They hit my AC Skinny Plug in the fall, but not many of the other ones.”

The author with a nice fall German brown.

4. Water Conditions
According to Cole, there’s no single factor more important than water conditions when chasing fall browns. water conditions not favorable it doesn’t matter how good of an angler you are, most likely the brown trout won’t bite.

Cole bases his brown trout fishing around days when the surface is choppy. Rain, snow, sleet and moderate wind are ideal, he says, whereas bright, sunny days tend to yield poor fishing on browns. Cole is a strong believer that you need some sort of rough water to entice big browns to come to the surface and feed. If conditions are flat calm, the only legitimate chance you have of success is fishing at night or prior to the sun touching the water.

“The colder weather has to come in. If you have summer weather that stays they wont bite that good,” Cole said. “When the weather starts changing to fall-like weather after a long summer they’ll bite. If it’s warm they won’t bite.”

5. Go long … lines, that is
Neither Nielsen or Cole can stress the point enough that browns are completely different than rainbows. Unlike a rainbow, browns are unlikely to strike a lure that’s within your boat wake or following close behind your trolling route. By habit, they are wary. This is why Cole, Nielsen and many other brown trout legends run extremely long lines.

It’s impossible to have a specific number of how far your lure should be behind your boat. This depends on water conditions, time of day, boat traffic, the lure you are using, etc. Nevertheless, if you think your lure is out far enough, let it out a little further.

“You want to get away from the boat more, although I’ve caught browns right behind the boat,” Cole said. “Really it depends on where you’re fishing, but early and late in the day you can run shorter lines. It’s judgment on what condition you’re in.”

In lakes and reservoirs where the water is clear – Like Tahoe or Trinity or Stampede – you’ll want to run your lines out longer than normal, whereas in off color conditions and when there’s a chop on the water, you’ll be able to get away with shorter lines. Again, it’s important to adapt to the conditions you are faced with. Keep in mind, browns are finicky. The more measures you take to ensure that you wont spook the browns, and that you are on the water at the optimal time that browns will be feeding will drastically increase catch rates.
-Chis Shaffer

Registration Open For CDFW Hosted Muzzleloader Clinic In Merced Co.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program and the Safety First Shooting Association will jointly offer a black powder (muzzleloader) hunting clinic on Saturday, May 30.

The clinic will be held at the River Oaks Range in Merced County.

(photo by CDFW)

(photo by CDFW)

Designed for all skill levels, the clinic will include both lecture and live-fire exercises. The lecture portion will include a short history of black powder shooting, different styles of black powder rifles used today, how to safely load and shoot a black powder rifle, laws and regulations pertaining to black powder hunting and strategies for hunting with black powder firearms. The live-fire exercise will include target shooting with firearms.



The clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $45. Youths 17 years and younger are free, but must be accompanied by adult.

Space is limited and participants must register in advance online. After registering, participants will receive an email with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring. CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment.

An additional $5 range fee must be paid to the Safety First Shooting Association on the day of the clinic.

The River Oaks Range is located in Winton, seven miles north of Atwater.


Suzuki Outboards

Here’s a list of where to find Suzuki Outboard engines for your boat.


ANTIOCH SZ_Q4GimmeSix-100813_DlrColumn.indd
Inland Marine
(925) 757-1714
1600 W. 10th St.

Port San Luis Boatyard
(805) 595-7895
3915 Avila Beach Dr.

Motorsports & Marine
(619) 564-4935
630 Bay Blvd

Maurer Marine
(949) 645-7673
873 W 17th St

Lake Elsinore Marine
(951) 678-5599
18010 Grand Ave

Avalon Yacht & Boat Sales
(562) 495-2130
1300 W. 14th St.

NAPA Nappa Valley RV & Marine
(707) 252-6944
480 Soscol Ave

Specialty Marine
(805) 984-6538
3151 W. 5th St

Pacific Marine Supply
(619) 275-0508
4114 Napier St.

Hirschfeld Yacht
(415) 332-3507
400 Harbor DRive


Kirkwood Public Utility District in cooperation with Eldorado Irrigation
District will be planting 3,000 lbs of rainbow trout in Caples Lake on the 28th of August.

The plant will consist of 66 % catchables, and 34% trophy trout between 2
and 3 lbs. each. Caples Lake Resort still has good lodging available in cabins and lodge rooms in August and September.

The guest dock will still be out so bring your boat up. If you have never visited Caples Lake, the hiking and views are breathtaking.

Checkout our website at

Or give us a call at


Mike Raahauge: the embodiment of the Father’s Day spirit

By Joel Shangle

Raahauge MemorialYou don’t always have to be a father to be recognized and appreciated on Father’s Day. As was certainly the case with Mike Raahauge, who recently passed away at the age of 72, your influence on young hunters and anglers can (and should) extend well beyond the boundaries of your own flesh and blood.

Raahauge, as so many of you already know, was one of the champions of hunting and shooting in California. The Turner’s Shooting Sports Fair – which just celebrated another fantastic run in early June – is the best example of one man (and family) reaching out to people and opening them into the outdoor community with open arms, regardless of age, social status or ethnicity.

Mike Raahauge was, above all else, generous and welcoming to anyone interested in the outdoors.

“Raahauge aorganized one of the largest hunter safety training programs in the nation, providing classes for first-time hunters in Southern California.” Jim Matthews wrote in Raahauge’s obituary. “As the years rolled by and the classes grew, eventually involving a promotional partnership with Turner’s Outdoorsman, many classes ended up with well over 100 students. A recent count showed that over 50,000 people have attended hunter safety classes at Raahauge’s facility, far more than any other program in the nation.

“Raahauge was instrumental in putting together the annual Youth Safari Day event in conjunction with the Orange County Safari Club chapter. The event exposes urban youngsters to a wide range of outdoor sports, from kayaking to rock climbing to shooting of .22s and archery gear. There are nature walks in Prado Basin and fishing for catfish in a pond on the complex. This year will mark that event’s 15th anniversary.”

As Father’s Day approaches, I’d like to extend a thank you to all of the dads, uncles, granddads, cousins and family friends who have reached outside their own families and created fishing and hunting memories with the youth of our state. Keep them in mind as June 16 approaches.

California Sportsman celebrates Father’s Day with a special package for all the dads of the Golden State.

Best bass fishery in the state RIGHT NOW? Might be New Melones Reservoir

by Joel Shangle

Alex Niapas hoists a 17-pound, 13-ounce New Melones largemouth caught on a California Reservoir Lures Bedwetter jig. (Photo courtesy Alex Niapas)

Alex Niapas hoists a 17-pound, 13-ounce New Melones largemouth caught on a California Reservoir Lures Bedwetter jig. (Photo courtesy Alex Niapas)

ANGELS CAMP-The term “best ever” is a dangerous, somewhat ambiguous label to hang on a fishery, even one as well-known and productive as New Melones Reservoir. How can you possibly prove it?

Here’s how: “There have been over 10 (largemouth) pushing the 15-pound mark caught in the past three weeks, one 19-pounder, one spot that went 10.1, and I have no doubt that there’ll be a spotted bass over 12 (caught here),” says Bub Tosh, owner of Paycheck Baits.

For those of you who are keeping track, the 10.1 was a new lake-record spot, and the 12-pounder that Tosh predicts would shatter the International Game Fish Association world record. And the double-digit largemouth, while occasional catches at this  massive Mother Lode impoundment in previous years, haven’t been nearly as prolific as in the past 365 days.

So, best ever? Hell yes.

“The past two years, I’ve seen that fishery blow up and kick out giants like it’s never been before,” says Tosh, a lifetime resident of the area. “It’s unreal. Melones has kinda flown under the radar for bass guys – all the guys from this area love to troll it for kokanee, but the bass anglers haven’t been abusing the lake. It’s all built up. The past two years, it’s kicked out the biggest and most badass of spots and largemouth.”

You can thank the abovementioned landlocked sockeye for that, and for the abundance of 5- and 6-inch shad. While Melones is indeed one of the best kokanee fisheries on the West Coast, those 8-inch chromers are more than just good fodder for smokers throughout the Mother Lode. They’re growth pellets for both largemouth and spots, and the dinner bell stays on virtually year-round here.

“Because of the way they’ve stocked this lake, they’ve almost turned it into a pond,” Tosh observes. “There’s more food in this lake than anywhere: you go look at McClure or Pardee or even Clear Lake, and the guys are crying because they don’t have the shad we do. Add them to the kokanee, and this lake is just much, much more fertile. The bass are almost never around the bank because they’re out eating kokanee, which never come away from the thermocline. You can just beat the bank to death and not find anything, because the bass are out suspended in huge wolf packs, almost like a school of stripers.”

Your shot at shallow fish
That wolf-pack phenomenon has contributed to a unique fishery where anglers are fishing for typically shallow-water species in water that’s “kokanee deep,” so pros like Tosh have tweaked their techniques to suit the conditions.

“You learn to throw topwater in 120 feet of water,” Tosh jokes.

This month, however, is the one time of year where fish will behave more like every other bass on the planet and move shallow to spawn. Water temperatures this spring kicked off an early spotted bass spawn, but the largemouth spawn has been pushed back, and should be at its peak in May.

“Largemouth are absolutely looking for wood or bank structure now,” Tosh says. “The bigger ones will try to be around the docks, basically any downed wood they can find. This fishery consists of a small main lake and a long river, and you can fish from the bottom end of the river all the way up to Mormon Creek, as far as you can go. There’s a helluva lot of wood back up in that river arm.”

Randy Pierson of Oakdale hooked the new lake-record 10.1-pound spotted bass in March, but local experts swear that a world-record fish exists in New Melones’ waters. (Photo courtesy Glory Hole Sports,

Randy Pierson of Oakdale hooked the new lake-record 10.1-pound spotted bass in March, but local experts swear that a world-record fish exists in New Melones’ waters. (Photo courtesy Glory Hole Sports,

Bring out the baits
John Liechty of Glory Hole Sports has been whacking big largemouth since March, mostly throwing big Huddlestons over main lake points as bass phase through their prespawn. While those big boomer baits will still be in play this month, Tosh suggests possibly downsizing a little to better mimic kokanee and shad than the trout that the Hudds imitate.

“I think these fish are used to eating a little bit smaller bait,” Tosh says. “The Hudd will definitely still work, but as much as (Melones bass) gorge on smaller fish, I’d probably run something like a Top Shelf or Optimum, those 5- and 6-inch baits.”

Big creature baits like Carolina- or Texas-rigged Brush Hogs, craws or lizards will produce well this month, as will topwater baits like The One, Zara Spooks and various other poppers and prop baits. Also, don’t eschew the Alabama rig, which would theoretically approximate a small school of kokanee or shad.

“Weightless Senkos are pretty hard to beat when it warms up, too,” suggests Liechty. “Jigs, too: run a 3/8 or ¾-ounce, but nothing flashy, Just a simply twin-tail Yamamoto in green pumpkin is perfect.”

After the spawn
Once Melones’ largemouth have finished their spawn, they’ll begin to move out of creeks and shallow flats, onto secondary points, and then to main lake points.

“Almost any secondary point on the lake, there’s going to be a wolf pack of bass on it after they spawn,” Tosh confirms. “You can throw topwater and just crush them. June will be the bloodiest month of topwater anyone has ever seen around here. A guy with any skill or who knows the game a little could go up there and have an absolute free-for-all during the week.”

“Hot and cold” salmon bite out of Golden Gate is hot again; Montery, Santa Cruz inconsistent

SAN FRANCISCO–As is typically the case early in the season, the salmon bite out of the Golden Gate has been “hot and cold,” and somewhat at the mercy of late-spring weather. If you’re able to sneak away this week, though, the “hot” is back.

Mike Augney at reports the following from its fleet of charter reporters for the week of May 12:


The salmon bite heated up early this week out of the Golden Gate. (Photo courtesy

The salmon bite heated up early this week out of the Golden Gate. (Photo courtesy

“The bite broke wide open on Monday 5-13. Roger Thomas on the Salty Lady was up at a state water board meeting in Sacramento today – Roger spends a majority of his time working on salmon recovery issues and has a great hired operator on the helm when he is away; not only does he attend these meetings in state and back at DC does this on his own dime. If there is anyone who deserves recognize for not just years but decades of giving back to our salmon fishery it’s Roger – but captain Jared reported 12 limits of salmon to 22 pounds.

The majority of the salmon fleet also found fast early limits fishing just outside W buoy in 35 fathoms at .35 and .53.

Out of Emeryville, the Salmon Queen and Sun Dance reported a combined 24 limits of salmon to 22 pounds.  All boats are trolling with fish averaging 10 to 15 pounds with the occasional fish over 20. Roger said the weather was a tad sloppy with 15 knots of wind  ” but the fish didn’t seem to mind”. All of our sponsors have lots of room this week.

Santa Cruz/Monterey: Slightly futher south, the Monterey/Santa Cruz fleet has seen similar on-again/off-again action, but when it’s on, it’s on, as typified by the monumental hauls of the local commercial fleet at the Monterey Bell Buoy and subsequent hot bite aboard charters running out of Chris’s Landing. That bite has shown a tendency to dissipate within 24 hours, so pay attention to the old adage: “If you’ve heard of a hot bite, by the time you get there, it’s over. Make your own hot bite.”


Eastern Sierra trout opener brings sunshine, heavy load of trout at Crowley

By Joel Shangle

BISHOP-To say that the recently completed opening weekend of the 2013 season was the best ever might sound like a stretch, but by most accounts, it was easily one of the most productive and pleasant (weather-wise) in decades. As veteran San Diego scribe Ed Zieralski of the Union Tribune reports, daytime temperatures in the 70s (and in some case lower 80s) kick-started “the best trout opener in terms of weather and fishing that many veterans of 40 and 50 trout openers could remember.”

“We probably had about 600 boats out there,” says Bonnie Fanti at Crowley Lake Fish Camp. “We haven’t had a chance to actually count the number of people who rolled through here on the weekend, but the numbers are way up from last year.

So was the catch rate, most noticeably on big fish like the 7-pound, 10-ounce German brown landed by Kevin Ortiz on opening morning, a fish that earned first place in the Fred Hall Memorial Tournament.

Hot trolling gear this week at Crowley will include “anything with red or pink” like a Needlefish, Tasmanian Devil, Dick Nite or Thomas Buoyant.

Kevin Ortiz of Eastville with a 7-pound, 10-ounce brown landed opening morning at Lake Crowley. (Photo courtesy Crowley Lake FIsh Camp)



New Melones the best bass fishery in the state right now? Maybe!

By Joel Shangle

Best place in NorCal for fish like this? New Melones Reservoir. (Photo courtesy Glory Hole Sports)

ANGELS CAMP-Let this serve as an official preview of a story that hits the newsstands in about a week, with the May issue of California Sportsman: get thee to New Melones Reservoir for what some locals are declaring “the best bass fishing EVER.” As in, better than last year, better than 10 years ago, better than any other time since the Stanislaus River was dammed back in 1978.

Here’s what they’re saying at Glory Hole Sports:

The fish are in three different modes, pre-spawn, spawn, and post spawn. There are a lot of fish being caught shallow. The larger fish will be in deeper water either preparing to spawn or recovering from the spawn. To catch some nice fish try dragging a Brush Hog or a lizard on a Carolina rig. Try targeting areas that are protected from the main lake disturbance (wind and boating traffic). These are places where the bass like to spawn.

With the weather getting warmer everyday, the top water bite should be picking up. Try throwing Spooks, Rovers, and Sammys in the morning hours for some exciting blow-ups.  We have been seeing a lot of big spotted bass being caught and we possibly have a world record swimming around out there.

The current state record and world record was caught May 3, 2001 out of Pine Flat Lake. It weighed 10-pounds, 4-ounces.  If you catch a fish that is larger, and want it to be recognized as a state record, it must be weighed on a certified scale.  The post office or the grocery store meat department has a certified scale.

It is very important to practice catch and release during the spring months!  If you do keep a bass, please keep the spotted bass and release the big female (largemouth) black bass.  Glory Hole Sports can teach you the difference, so you can practice good conservation of the species.

Camping options filling up fast for the Isabella Fishing Derby

With the 24th Annual Isabella Fishing Derby fast approaching (April 20-22), out-of-area derby competitors might want to finalize their lodging plans for the biggest trout event in the U.S. Here’s a quick-hitter list of information for those of you who plan to rough it a little:

Campgrounds filling up fast: Pioneer Point, Paradise Cove, Hungry Gulch, Boulder Gulch and Tillie Creek campgrounds are open and have first-come, first-served sites available at $20 per night. Camp 9 also has plenty of sites available at $17 per night. Group sites at Tillie Creek, French Gulch and Camp 9 are also available by calling (877) 444-6777 or through their website at

In addition, overnight camping is allowed at Auxiliary Dam, Old Isabella Road and South Fork Recreation, with a daily fee of $10 (or $50 for an annual pass).  Passes can be purchased at Golden State Surplus in Lake Isabella, Sierra Gateway Market and Sporting Goods in South Lake, Sierra Gateway Market in Kernville, Red’s Kern Valley Marina, and at the Lake Isabella and Kernville Forest Service offices.  Stine Cove and Hanning Flat are also available for camping and are free of charge.

Additional spots now open: For the derby weekend only, the Forest Service has agreed to open up additional areas for overnight camping. The following non-developed day use areas will be open to camping: Engineer Point, Paradise Cove (along the beach area below the campground), Boulder Gulch (along the beach, north and south of the campground), Kissack Cove, and Rich Gulch (between French Gulch day use and Boulder Gulch).  For these areas, visitors can begin to set up campsites on Thursday, April 18 at 6 a.m.  If visitors set up their campsites earlier they may be cited.

The special camping areas will remain open until Monday, April 22 at  p.m.

As a reminder, camping is limited to 14 days out of a 30-day period. Visitors can set up their recreation vehicles in developed campsites prior to the weekend event.  However, visitors must occupy the site and may not leave a vehicle or trailer unoccupied for more than 24 hours.  Extra dumpsters and portable toilets will be placed around the lake for the Derby.

Locations include:  Engineer Point, Stine Cove, Auxiliary Dam, Kissack Cove, South Fork Recreation, Old Isabella, Boulder Gulch, Camp 9, and at the Old Cemetery.  Campers are reminded to make use of these restroom facilities and dumpsters to help keep the forest looking beautiful.