Detroit Sports and More

Detroit Area Sports and the Great Outdoors

California Trout Fishing at Pinecrest Lake Serves up a Surprise

Posted by detroitsportsandmore on June 12, 2009

For better or worse, for richer or poorer. I think fishermen should know these vows, married or not.

I was fortunate enough to take a vacation last week and visited my wife’s side of the family out in California. We were there for a wedding, congratulations Shannon and Javier, and my future brother-in-law planned to rent a pontoon and take everyone out for a day on the lake.

The weather was better than it had been but was too cold to go swimming. I found myself getting chilled when the sun ducked behind the clouds. We headed across the lake near where the river fed the lake. Evidently rented boats don’t utilize anchors so we drifted the pontoon to shore and climbed out onto the rocks to try our luck for a few rainbows.

Drew described the lake as a decent fishery but not spectacular. Fish and Game regularly stocked the lake and had just stocked it the week before. This meant that there should be 800 more 9″-11″ fish swimming around and that was what he was used to catching.

I shipped some of my fishing gear the week prior but had not planned on trout fishing much. Instead, I was set up to tackle bass on New Melones Reservoir.

I looked through my hard bait selection and came up with one decent option. A Bass Pro Shops brand spoon that is no longer in production to my knowledge. It’s a simple shad type pattern, black top, silver side, red throat, and a silver backside. It was a bit over-sized but it was the best I had in my box, so naturally I decided to give it a try.

I climbed out on the rocks and looked for a spot. The wind was creating some mild waves and I tucked into a small bay surrounded by massive boulders. I began throwing my spoon and almost instantly I had a hit. No hook-up though so I slowed my retrieve. Another bump and another bump. The slow retrieve was getting attention but no hook-ups.

“Maybe the fish are too small for this larger spoon offering”, I thought to myself.

I decided to stick with it and I sped up my retrieve to a medium speed and threw in a few erratic jerks immediately after it hit the water. Steady medium speed, all the way in. Bam. Hook-up!

The braid was more than strong enough to handle the 14″ rainbow and I pulled it into a shallow pool in the cracks of the rock. I went and showed Drew what I had found. “That’s pretty good for here”, he remarked. Not from a recent stocking it seemed.

California Rainbow Trout at Pinecrest Lake

We placed it on the stringer and I went back to my spot, hoping that it would turn into more than just a lucky catch.

A few casts later I knew I had it right. A big hit and fun fight yielded an 18″ rainbow. It was such a  beautiful, healthy fish my wife wanted to take a picture. I hadn’t held a trout in my hands for about two years and forgot just how strong and feisty they can be. The trout jerked right through my hands, bounced once, and was gone.

At least it was a catch.

I was a little disappointed but my adrenaline was pumping and there were more fish to be caught, so I climbed up to the next rock and went back to it. A few short minutes later I landed a 15″ fish, then a 17″ fish, then another 14″ fish.

Everyone was excited. My two younger sisters, Breena and Miriam, were standing behind me, when they weren’t fishing, for many of the catches. I went on to catch several more trout including another nice 18″ fish.

In total we took home 7 fish in under 2 hours of fishing. Not bad for a lake that is only OK.

I look forward to getting back there and finding some more trout, whether in the lakes or streams, California has a remarkable trout fishery.

I encourage everyone that loves fishing to try it out if the opportunity presents itself.

11 Responses to “California Trout Fishing at Pinecrest Lake Serves up a Surprise”

  1. Shoreman said

    Hey Dave. Thanks for the nice comments on the Blog Catalogue. I’ve added you to my blog roll and I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot of our fishing friends stopping by. Glad you had a great time fishing Pinecrest Lake. It’s fairly close to me, and our UPS driver keeps nagging me to get over there and fish it. I’ve put it on my list and will check it out soon. Watch the blog for my report. Next time you’re out, drop me an email at and maybe we can hook up for a morning of fishing some new lakes for you.

    Mark (Shoreman)

    • detroitsportsandmore said

      Sounds great, I will be looking for it. Try the West (oops I mean east) side of the lake to the left of where the inlet is. There’s a small bay that was full of trout. Also, lots of guys troll from what I was watching but the casting action was as good as it gets. You can catch them all over the lake it seems. One other idea I hope to explore is the use of a chatterbait. They are designing small minnow body chatterbaits for panfish that I think could be perfect for trout. You can replace the bodies with almost any small plastic once you buy a set. I am chasing a state record here in MI for Pumkinseed Sunfish and I used a chatterbait last time out. Caught some big ones. Just a thought.
      It’ll be some time before I make it out there again but I will keep in touch. It looks like next spring, May specifically is the next planned trip.

  2. Shoreman said

    I’m working on the Rapala Clackin’ Rap for trout out here. It’s a big lure and I have to use it where there’s not a lot of rocks and stuff in the water. Hard to burn 9 bucks getting it snagged. Good luck on that state record. I’ll be watching.

    Mark (Shoreman)

    • detroitsportsandmore said

      I know what you mean innovation gets expensive. I tried looking yesterday, the large fish develop a hump on the top of their head, it’s the main sign they are mature. I caught one that was developing the hump, only an 8 1/2″ fish though. Not the 10″ plus I am looking for. Several 9-10″ gills, again not what I was looking for. The search continues. The state record is 10″ even and 1.34 lbs. Last spring I caught a 10 1/8″ and 0.97 pounds. It was early in the year though. That fish in the fall would have been very, very close. I released him so he’s still out there.

      The RAD Chatterbait is the one to buy IMO. They are far less expensive but do not seem to be available right now. has some but Bass Pro doesn’t have them in inventory. I’m thinking they may not be in business, I called RAD this morning, I’ll see if they return my call.

    • detroitsportsandmore said

      Actually it’s a Z-man Flashback Mini 1/16 oz. and there’s the link. Check it out if you get time. I know there’s a Bass Pro down off 108 in the valley but they are back-ordered right now.

      • monti said

        hey hey- for the chatterbait flashback mini go to Gander Mountain (online) 3 bucks with NO SHIPPING CHARGE– I’ve got a few there and I can’t wait to try them- I’m going to try them even with a keitech spider as the trailer! I’m sure they’ll catch bass as well as panfish-

      • Thanks for the info Monti. I will look into that. They shut down the local store a few years back.

  3. nice post 🙂

  4. Lilly K said

    Hi Dave,

    Google Maps seems to show two creeks coming in to the lake. Do you remember if you were fishing the creek coming in from the NorthEast or the creek coming in from the East? Thanks!


    • I was just North of the creek coming in from the East. Far side of the lake from the marina. If you went to the creek coming in down the mountain and turn left (North) up the shore there is a point that sticks out into the lake and a bay back in behind it, it’s a decent size bay. I was fishing along the point, mostly in the bay and up the shore. Hope that helps!

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