Massive Donner Lake Mackinaw Caught And Released

On my almost annual trips to Lake Tahoe with the family, we’d always get the sense that our destination was near when from Interstate 80 we’d get a peek at the bright blue waters of Donner Lake. (As a youngster I couldn’t quite understand the tragic history of how Donner Lake and Donner Pass was named – the doomed Donner Party). Indeed, it’s almost a hauntingly beautiful scene there.

I remember one year when my dad and I did a trip to Tahoe, on our way back we left early and broke out the fishing gear during a pit stop at Donner Lake, a narrow but productive trout and Mackinaw fishery. We spent a few hours fishing from the bank, had a bite or two but ultimately left empty-handed (though we did have a tasty sandwich from a deli near the lake).

Donner is not known for being an elite fishing lake, so I was a bit surprised by the news that a 31-pound Mackinaw was landed there recently.

Great fish! Here’s more on a near lake record from the Reno Gazette-Journal:

After more than 20 years of fishing regularly at Donner Lake, Schroers had his trophy fish, weighing 31 pounds, 4 ounces, which he promptly returned to the lake.

The Donner Lake record for a mackinaw is a 34-pounder caught in 2000 by Al Bonturi.

Schroers, 44, used a DRT Klash 9 swim bait to land his mackinaw. His catch was not examined by an employee of California Department of Fish and Wildlife, so is unofficial. The California state record is a 37-pound mackinaw caught in Lake Tahoe in 1974.