Woe is me, it’s the California 2012 trout opener weekend and I’m stuck at home nursing the worlds worse cold.
But my hacking and wheezing hasn’t stopped two friends in central California who respooled their reels and restocked their tackle boxes and hit a couple of my all-time favorite California trout spots; Fuller Lake east of grass valley, CA on north of Highway 20 and Manzanita Lake in Madera County CA.
I often write about Fuller Lake and my limits at this under fished Lake on the West slope of the Sierra recommend it more than any other spot in California.
Fuller is a jewel it’s a shallow lake only 90 minutes from Sacramento and it’s the perfect place to introduce children to trout fishing. Over the last 15 years I have yet to go to Fuller and get skunked. Although I’m an experienced fly fisherman, Fuller is the kind of place that begs anyone to put a gob of chartreuse or corn floating bait on a #16 treble and toss it on a slider rig with a quarter-ounce weight into this lake’s crystal clear water.
One of the biggest reasons I recommend Fuller as a family fishing destination is that it’s seldom crowded—which means you can teach kids how to cast without worrying about them fowling another person’s lines by over casting. More importantly most of this lake has shallow shorelines—allowing you to take kids into the water while showing them where to place their rigs in clear water away from aquatic vegetation shoals.
this is not my fish, damnit!
But the best reason to use Fuller as a teaching experience is that it’s loaded with tasty leaping trout. Although I’ve only once seen Fish and Game’s Trout mobile at the lake in all the years I’ve fished here, it has a large numbers of holdover fish that aggressively hit bait or spinner lures like light white or yellow Mepps spinners.
The two places where I’ve had the most luck t Fuller are from the face of the small dam on the downstream side, and from the shore just upstream of the dam. Another place to try at Fuller is the northeast corner of the lake where a stream empties into the Lake. The only place I’ve consistently caught hold over brownies at Fuller is fishing from a float tube in in front of the confluence of this stream and the lake.
There is a campground on the North end of this lake, if you want to make your trip to Fuller a family vacation.
Lake Manzanita is another family fishing destination I strongly recommend. Located north and east of Friant, CA near the town of North Fork. Mazanita is loaded with hungry stocker rainbows just waiting to be caught by a young or other fisherman on a no-frills West slope Sierra fishing trip. The place to go here is a small peninsula on Manzanita’s north shore near the face of the dam. There is a huge boulder near the face of the dam and trout seem to congregate in the deep between it and the dam’s face. If you’re throwing a lure in this lake, make sure you give it enough time to get near the bottom and use a twitchy return. On an average day you may be surprised to get hit by a two pound,20-inch, trout that’s been hiding in the deep cold water west of the boulder here.
(Note, there are two Manzanita Lakes in California. The Manzanita Lake I’m writing about is in Madera County. The other Lake with the same name is much further north in Lassen County—jmf)
There is a nice campground at the east end of this lake.
I’ve never experience combat fishing at either Fuller or Manzanita. I’ve also always caught trout for the nightly frying pan at both locations. A valid California sport fishing license is required at both lakes, and if you’re 16,. or older, you need to buy a license.
It’s tine to restring your reels, buy some sharp hooks and clean up your old lures. I’ll be the old guy wearing a red, white and blue tie dyed t-shirt drifting by in a float tube, whipping the water with a proven fly, but carrying a bottle of floating bait, just in case. Tight lines, Jim Forbes on April 28,2012.