Northern CA Freshwater

Donner Lake produces 17.5-pound Mackinaw

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: Aug 09, 2018

Stampede koke derby coming up

TRUCKEE — Little has changed on Stampede in the past week, and those in the know are still connecting with limits as this Saturday’s Kokanee Power Derby approached. Meanwhile, the little salmon are chewing consistently and dependably on Boca, and a 17.5-pound Mackinaw came out of Donner.

kokesandbowsKOKES AND ’BOWS — Bo Peterson of Rocklin, Hunter, Austin and Dad Joshua Byrum of Foresthill, and Tyler and Madison McAllister of Loveland, Tenn., booked a trip with Tight Lines Guide Service for some Stampede Kokanee action, ending up with limits of kokanee and 3 bonus cutthroats, all caught on Paulina Peak Tackle down 35 to 75 feet.

James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service said he and his clients caught 30 good kokanee in 4 hours on Sunday at Stampede and that it’s the same deal. A lot of people are struggling, but the fish are there to be had and it’s an early morning chew.

“When the bite shuts off, don’t stay where there are 20 or 30 boats. Try to go by yourself as those fish aren’t curious any more,” Netzel said.

Marc Christophel of Christophel’s Guide Service agreed, advising anglers to stay away from the fleet of boats fishing Stampede. “The fish are everywhere,” he said. For Christophel, Stampede has been very productive this week before the sun hits the water. “We’re catching fish to 17 inches plus, close to 18s. I’m sure there are 18s to be had,” Christophel said.

The upcoming Stampede Kokanee Power Derby has sources a little more tight-lipped than usual. The Saturday, August 11 event features a 3-fish kokanee weigh-in per team, as well as optional Team Blind Bogey and Big Mackinaw Side Pots. For more information, visit kokaneepower.org/derbies.

Christophel added that he fished Boca this past week, where he found productive, consistent action for kokanee. The fish are smaller than at Stampede, but on the plus side they aren’t as finnicky. They’ve been biting all the way to 11 a.m.

“The fish out there are pale on the back, not the dark green of the Stampede kokanee, and the meat is also much paler, not bright red/orange. It has to do with the food source,” said Christophel, who has been catching the Boca kokes on pretty much the same stuff he uses on Stampede. This past week it was a pink coconut Mack’s Lure prototype, which has done very well with a pink Sling Blade. Christophel said Mack’s has similar colors on the market now.

At Donner Lake, Shaun Rainsbarger of Shaun’s Guide Service said fishing for kokanee has been good, with limits the rule morning and afternoon so long as the wind is putting a little ruffle on the surface. However, it was a big Mackinaw that stole the show.

He was fishing with dad Ed Verbeski and Ed’s son James when James hooked the beast at 60 feet on a Mack’s Lure Kokanee Cha Cha. He fought the fish in circles for a good 20 minutes. When it finally came up, Rainsbarger said James declared the fish was so big it looked like a shark. The big Mackinaw weighed 17.5 pounds.

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