We had been planning this shoot since the completion of our first DVD "Monster Bull Trout" last fall. Mark's leg work on lining up guides Mark Wiza from The Fishsniffer and Mike Nielsen from Tahoe Topliners was about to pay off. Or so we hoped. As much as you plan, it is still just fishing and the results are never guaranteed.
After winding down from the spring bull trout season, I was really ready to do some fishing for something besides bull trout. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed by best season of the last three with at least a dozen bulls over 10 Lb. and a killer 15 Lb.+ and then to top it all, the biggest bull to ever hit the bottom of my boat at 18 Lb. I am really grateful for all the success I had but it was beginning to feel like too much of the same thing. I guess I am glad that the best bull trout fishing of the year only lasts about 2 months in the spring and then a month in the fall. I was ready for a change.
The arrangement was to fish two days with Mark and then two days with Mike. Mark employs a variety of techniques for mackinaw and browns that are somewhat unique. In one of his drills, we trapped and used the redside shiners that are one of the major forage supplies for the trout and char in Tahoe. This is fun and at times deadly for big mackinaw and browns. Unfortunately, I had motor problems that forced us to use the big motor to troll which in turn limited our plan somewhat.
We stayed at Camp Richardson while on our shoot. Our cabin was located down near the lake edge. This allowed us to look out of our window to check wind conditions, which is a factor on Tahoe most days. The launch ramp was minutes from the cabin so this was a perfect setup. There is a killer restaurant right next to the launch ramp that makes a perfect end to a long day of fishing. Anyone heading to Tahoe for a fishing trip should check out Camp Richardson if they get the chance.
Our success was limited to a few smaller macks the first day until we got into some nice browns the first evening ripping plugs along the shorelines. Nothing real big, but up to 4.5 LB. I was getting excited to see that the browns were turning on as the light got low. The usual pattern I have experienced at most of my home lakes here in Central Oregon.
The second day was tough with flat conditions during the day. Again, the evening was a different story when we started ripping plugs along the shorelines for browns. The area that had produced the night before, came through with another couple of nice browns up to 5 LB. These are nice fish wherever you fish! Overall it was insightful and exciting to fish with Mark.
Luckily for us, we overcame our motor and camera problems. We had some issues with our main camera but Mark had a replacement overnighted from a buddy just in time. This all occurred right before we switched gears and got out with Mike Nielsen. I had never met Mike but we were both members of the brownbaggers angling club and had a love of chasing those big browns.
We seemed to hit our stride and got into the browns early the first morning. Mike employs outriggers on his boat which allow us to run four rods and widen the spread of the lures. It is a killer way to fish in 2-rod states. Mike had the hot rod the first morning and landed a some browns to 4 Lb. I had a few hits but didn't get into anything of any size until that evening. It was a fun day with a lot of action on browns to 7 Lb. Just what the DR. ordered when you only have a few days to produce big fish for a DVD shoot.
The next day was just as good if not better as we worked another part of Tahoe. Again, the evenings were the hot bite and Mike got us into several nice browns over 4 and up to his biggest at just under 7 Lb. If I am not mistaken, we caught about two dozen browns those last two evenings. Without giving away any spots or lures, I will say that ripping plugs fairly shallow, is the universal tried and true technique for catching browns with regularity. It works on Tahoe as well!
We were really blessed to be able to overcome our mechanical problems with boat and camera and then get into some great brown trout action with two of the premier guides on Lake Tahoe and get it all on film. I'm really looking forward to the final edited footage that should be ready by the end of summer. There is no title yet but check back and we will keep you posted on the release date.
Thanks again to two great guys for their expertise and talents in sharing what they do so well to get us into fish at this beautiful lake. I was really amazed at how prolific the brown trout action can be in the spring at Lake Tahoe. It was a trip I will never forget!
On part two of this journey into California, I was scheduled to meet and fish with my good buddy, Jim Bringhurst, at the Twin Lakes in Bridgeport, Ca. on Monday after we filmed. Jim is one of the best big brown trout anglers in the United States. With 33 browns over 10 Lb. to his credit, he is about to overtake Rich Reinwald as the top dog on the brownbaggers list.
I hadn't been to the Twins in over 12 years now and was really looking forward to getting back to fish them. Before my dad died back in 1994, he and I would fish up there every spring and fall for a week in pursuit of the giant browns that inhabit the deep green waters of the Twins. Consider that the last 3 record browns going back to the early 70's came out of one of the two lakes. These fish weighed from over 25 to a little over 26 Lb. between the three of them.
I think Jim's best is one of 18 Lb. several years ago. Just two years back, he caught a 16 lb.+ hen from the dam area of Lower Twin. In more than a dozen years of tagging the two lakes, my best was a beautiful fat 9 Lb. hookjaw back in 1990 out of Upper Twin. I was hoping one of them might pay off with a 10 Lb.+ for me this trip.
Allan Cole, Brownbagger President and founder, and Danny Stearman, current State Record holder for browns, were hanging out as well and we had a ball telling stories of the old days and just enjoying each others company. Though we didn't get into anything bigger than 3 Lb. for the four of us in several days of fishing, it was wonderful just to get out on these two famous lakes once again. I thought of my Dad often during the stay. He loved fishing up there almost as much as I did. I'm not sure I will ever get back to fish them again, but I know they will always hold a special spot in my heart.