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Return to Lower Twin Lake

A nice fat 7 LB.+ brown.

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After flying back down to California to bring Jan home, I had the opportunity to make a trip over to Lower Twin Lake this past week. I would be meeting up with Brownbagger buddy, Dan Stewart, to fish and pick up his recent catch of a 12 Lb. 12 oz. hen brown to mount for him. I always enjoy getting together with him as we have similar sense of humors and enjoy needling each other.

As I prepared for the trip back to Bend via the Sierra’s, I remembered that going over Sonora Pass was by far the shortest and quickest way to Bridgeport from Porterville. I was excited because I hadn’t been that way since my Dad and I made our last trip there together more than 20 years ago right before he died. As we winded our way along toward the summit, I saw an overlook above Beardsley Reservoir that I had never noticed in past trips. I told Jan we should check it out and so we did. The overlook is probably at least a 1,000 feet above the canyon below that was home to the Stanislaus River long before the series of dams that created Tulloch Lake, Beardsley and this other reservoir we were peering at. I was puzzled as I didn’t know there was a lake above Beardsley. The sign on the overlook talked about the construction of Donnell Reservoir and a little of its history. I was intrigued!

When I got home, a quick Google search gave me more info on the lake and I found this photo of a 17 Lb. 2 oz. brown from the early 60’s. To this day they claim it is the largest trout to be taken out of Tuolumne County. For any of you hardcore brown trout aficionado's that might be interested, they say you can now get a car back down to the lake after a slide had kept it closed until recently. Be forewarned that they say it is tough to get into and launching a boat is almost impossible. I know that will spark some hardcore anglers to give it a try though. If I lived closer, I might.

With some weather supposed to come in that Monday evening into Tuesday, I wasn’t sure what to expect fishing wise. Dan had been popping some nice browns to 8 LB. the last few days from the lower lake. After getting our room in Mono Village at Upper Twin Lake, we took a nap before meeting Dan at the arranged time of 4:00 to have an early dinner at the café where we were staying.

I was excited to get back out on the lake again. It was 2007 when we filmed our 2nd “Monster Trout” series DVD on Lake Tahoe that I fished it last . If you would like to read the account of that trip, you can check it out here: These two lakes hold many memories going back to 1981 when I made my first serious trip to them in pursuit of the monster browns that make them famous. My Dad and I would come up each spring and many falls in this endeavor over the next 14 years before I moved to Bend.

The wind was blowing that evening as we got out around 5:00 p.m. We worked the area that had been producing some of the browns Dan had popped in recent days. We marked lots of kokanee balls on his new Humminbird graph but didn’t have any browns that liked our offerings. Score it: Browns 1, Baggers 0 that evening! The next morning when I awoke, I peered out the window in the low light of 5:00 a.m. to cloudy skies and light rain. When I packed for the flight back down to Porterville, I could only take so much stuff in my large Shimano duffle bag I like to travel with. Unfortunately, no raingear made it due to limited space in the bag.

As luck would have it, it turned to a snow/sleet mix at lake level and an extra rain jacket Dan loaned me helped a bunch. The fishing was fun but the catching was tough and I had the only hit that morning right after we got out. The “white outs” of snow hit us several times in sporadic waves and we almost threw in the towel until it let up and we just hung in there. It was to no avail though as the browns made a two day sweep of the Baggers and we settled for joking and teasing until we got off around 9:00 a.m.

With Dan’s brown in the ice chest, I bid him and Steve Marti farewell as I left the parking lot of Lower Twin. We had a long day ahead of us heading back to Bend.

After getting home, I still had the urge to fish and got out on one of our Central Oregon lakes for a little brown action this past Thursday. I didn’t get up early because of a rough night with the pinched nerve in my right arm. I was finally on the water a little after 7:00 and managed two browns of 3 and 4 LB. up until around 2:00 p.m. when I decided to take a nap in the back on the truck. With my batteries recharged, I got back out around 3:30 for the evening drill. The browns were much more responsive and I was into a good bite that afternoon with 4 browns to 7.5 Lb. as fast as I could get the lure out. By the time I got off and loaded the boat around 8:30, It was Rick 12, browns 0.....unlike Lower Twin, this was a much better ballgame!

I will be up at East Lake this next weekend with buddy, Vince Cacciottoli, for the first time this year. It will be fun to see what she offers us!

Tight Lines,

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