LAKE TAHOE — A 15-pound, 2-ounce German brown caught by San Jose fisherman Dan Hananouchi, who was fishing with Captain Mike Nielsen, operator of Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing on June 20, is likely to shatter Lake Tahoe’s brown trout record by just short of a full pound.
The lake’s existing record for brown trout, 14 pounds, 3 ounces, was set, incidentally, by Nielsen who caught that fish in May, 2006. The new record isn’t official yet, needing to go through the verification process, but the fish was weighed on a certified scale and was witnessed by several people.
Nielsen, who operates Tahoe Topliners Sportfishing out of Camp Richardson, is a well-known brown trout fisherman and has guided for browns on Tahoe for more than a decade. He said Hananouchi has fished with him in the past and has been hoping to catch a big brown for a long time. And his fulfillment of that wish couldn’t have come in a more exciting fashion.
According to Nielsen, “We spotted the fish rolling in open water on the surface chasing a small trout or kokanee. We went after it and ended up catching it at 15 feet deep in water that was 200 feet deep. It was special because we actually got this one in. I’ve lost several in the past we knew were this big. These big browns can be tough to catch in water as clear as Lake Tahoe.”
The big fish hit Nielsen’s current favorite brown trout lure, a Rebel Minnow. early in the morning. In this case, it was a gold-and-black F40 Rebel Minnow slathered with Pautzke’s Liquid Krill. The fish was landed by Hananouchi using a medium-action 7-foot rod with 12-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon line.
Nielsen has only landed a handful of browns over 10 pounds. This was the largest ever caught by one of his clients and the first larger than 7 pounds this year. Lake Tahoe is known for being California’s top Mackinaw fishery, but isn’t usually considered for trophy brown trout. It isn’t planted with browns, but has a self-sustaining population of the fish.
An early report on the big brown, not coming from Nielsen, claimed the fish would also be the new Nevada state record. Not to take anything away from Hananouchi’s catch, but the Nevada record for brown trout was set by one weighing 27 pounds, 5 ounces. According to Nevada Department of Wildlife records that fish was caught in Cave Lake by Dennis Mangum on Dec. 9, 1984.
Generally, browns and kokanee are largely overlooked in the Lake Tahoe angling picture. The browns are difficult to find and can be equally hard to catch, making them less attractive to most charter-boat operators other than a few like Nielsen.
Kokanee occupy a similar status. The little sockeye salmon populations are substantial, but only congregate in large numbers at spawning. Most of this action is at the south end of the lake and there is some brief angling interest. But once they disperse again, the lake is way too big to go looking for them.