Northern CA Freshwater

Donner Lake yields 18-pound Mackinaw

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jul 12, 2018

TRUCKEE — Donner Lake has been slow for Mackinaw all season, according to Shaun Rainsbarger of Shaun’s Guide Service, and that made catching an 18-pound beast particularly exciting.

Meanwhile, the resilient kokanee bite on nearby Stampede continued to be very good for anglers who know their stuff and get out early before the sun is up.

AN 18-POUND, 4-ounce Mackinaw lake trout was caught by Mauri Clevenger of Chandler, Ariz. It was a sight for sore eyes, as Mack fishing has been slow on Donner this season. He was fishing with Shaun Rainsbarger of Shaun's Guide Service.

Rainsbarger said the big mack caught Thursday on Donner weighed 18 pounds, 4 ounces. His client Mauri Clevenger of Chandler, Ariz. did a great job fighting the fish, which was fooled by a big wiggle hoochie offered behind a Mack’s Lures Double D dodger. “I was glad to see the big momma swim away,” Rainsbarger said when they released it.

In addition to the big Mack, that trip produced 10 keeper kokanee and another 15 released. “I lost track,” he said. The kokes averaged 11 to 12 inches and were caught at around 65 feet.

Shore fishing at Donner has been slow according to Miles Zimmerman of Mountain Hardware and Sports. It’s been some time since the lake was stocked with trout.

Meanwhile the kokanee fishing at nearby Stampede continued to be limit-style for those who know what they are doing and get started before the sun rises. Brett Brady of Bare Bones Guide Service described a typical great day. He had 20 fish by 8:30, caught in 55 to 65 feet in front of the boat dock. They ranged up to 16 inches in length. Orange hoochies and Mack spinners were the best producers.

James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service fished Stampede almost every day last week. On Sunday, he tallied 35 keepers plus a couple of trout. “As long as my clients are smiling at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me,” he said. He’s using Paulina Peak baits, starting with glow-in-the-dark before the sun rises and then switching over to UV ultraviolet patterns.

Marc Christophel of Christophel’s Guide Service said much the same as the other guides. “Not much has changed since last week. We started fishing by 5, had limits by 9, most caught before the sun came up. After that we were kind of struggling,” he said. Christophel estimated he and his clients hooked 45 to 50 fish, most at 45 to 50 feet, the site of a massive 6-degree swing in water temperature. “If you start at 6 you’ll struggle to get limits,” he said.

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