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MOYER: Giant trout of spring and how to catch them
Don Moyer mug

Lately the weather has been acting like it's springtime.

Every spring, large rainbows in lakes and reservoirs head up into the small streams that feed the bigger waters. The migrating trout are heading into shallow water to find well-oxygenated gravel beds in which to spawn. 

After spawning, the big mamas head back down to their home lake. If you play your cards right, you might just be able to hook into a 25-inch rainbow. I have a favorite stream that I try to hit every spring and in which I have stood in knee-deep water and caught trout over 20 inches. 

You too can catch some of these monster trout of spring if you’ll just do a couple things.

First, find a good-sized lake or reservoir. It can be anywhere from Millerton or Pine Flat near Fresno, all the way up to Lake Oroville or Shasta in Northern California. 

The foothill reservoirs are all likely candidates Mc Clure/McSwain, Don Pedro, New Melones, Comanche, or Folsom. It’s best if you have a boat which will allow you to cruise the shoreline looking for feeder streams.  Once you have found such a stream, then you can get out and wade upstream in search of monster fish. 

Generally, there is a stretch of at least a mile of stream before you come to a waterfall which the big spawners can’t get past. Spawning season only lasts for a month or maybe six weeks, until the big fish have finished spawning and move back down into the lake.  During that brief time span you might just catch a 2-foot trout.

Bear in mind that these fish are spawners and that is why you’ll want to practice catch and release fishing. If you return the big spawners to the stream unharmed, then maybe there will be great fishing for your grandchildren. 

If you want to have a trophy to hang on the wall, take a picture of your giant fish just before you release her. Then you can mount the photo on the wall and still feel good about leaving a legacy of big fish for future generations.  

Right now, the big rivers are probably running high, cold, and cloudy from melting snow.  Stick to the smaller feeder streams for the big spring spawners. Of course later in the year, after the spring runoff you can head for the high alpine meadows and the feisty 9-inch brookies. 

That way you can have your cake and eat it too.  What the heck give, the spawners of spring a try for some world class catch and release fishing.

Until Next Week,

Tight Lines