By Mark Lassagne
Lake Camanche is named after the town that is now underwater.
The lake is located in the California Gold Country near Ione, Calif, about a two-hour drive from the bay area was created in 1963, is about five miles long with 54 miles of shoreline when full. The lake has numerous island humps, dredge tailings, ledges, river channels, graveyard along with underwater roads and bridges.
There are two main launch ramps North Shore and South Shore with a mussel inspection before entering.
You will want to make sure you pull the plug, lower your outboard and dry your livewells prior to the inspection. It’s not a white glove inspection but they do check.
If you decide to stay a few days, they have over 500 campsites, a mobile home park along with some cottages. Both ramps have a store to purchase food and basic supplies, they both have café’s that open seasonally.
Lake Camanche has a variety of fish with: trout, catfish, crappie, smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass. The variety of bass make it an ideal lake for bass anglers as we know each species has its own criteria. They also have regular trout plants to keep our bass healthy and happy. More on Camanche @ www.lakecamancheresort.com
In December, the lake elevation was at 215, 67% of capacity it rose to 79% over the month and now preparing for the runoff they’ve increased the outflow lowering it back to 215 ft again.
Full pool is 235 so we’re 20 ft from full and hoping late rains and snow melt will keep it full for most of the year.
In early to mid-December before the major rains the lake was 52 degrees, very clear and the bite was awesome. (see The Informative Fisherman’s video) Late November through December the A-rig bite was off the hook, 20 to 30lb stringers and a few giant fish each day was the norm. As the weather turned cold and rains came the bite slowed off.
Ron Howe holds up some nice December Camanche Bass
I guided a client on Camanche just as the bite was tapering off in late December and though it was a little tough but we still managed 15 fish quality fish with a 20lb stringer for five. These were mostly on the A-Rig (Umbrella rig) with a few on plastics and jigs in the mail lake on steeper bluff walls. Besides these quality fish we found a big school of small bass with some crappie mixed in and caught 20 or so on small swimbaits and Senkos.
In early January, the water was rising and even though the water was cold the fish were going to the bank and the bite was pretty good again using a variety of baits. Jigs were the number one for quality fish while drop shotting, dart and shakey heads were also productive.
Moving to the end of January the bite is altogether different. The fish now are scattered and mostly loners up feeding then leaving. I know this because using the Aqua-Vu underwater camera, I can see exactly what’s going on, you can see a fish up shallow (8-18ft) and then catch it. These fish are mostly spotted bass located in 8 to 18ft of water with chunk rock and the nice thing is once you find one they are easy – so catching them is not nearly as hard finding them.
We used a few different baits to fish for these feeders. The best overall was a standard brown or brown and purple jig with a matching Yamamoto twin tail grub, you’ll want a jig with a weed guard because there’s a lot of brush underwater to snag on.
Next bait is dropshot use about a 10” leader and a 4” worm (Aaron’s Magic, Morning Dawn or Prizm Shad), I like a #2 Gamakatsu dropshot hook because the hook ratio is so good but you’ll snag up and want to have some extra hooks and weights available.
Small Keitech’s , shad patterns on a barrel head work well but again these will get hung up.
The tube is also a staple at Camanche which there are some special ways to rig them that the locals won’t tell you about, but the standard green pumpkin or Old Ugly work well rigged Texas rigged or on a jig head.
An umbrella rig will still work but it’s slowed down considerably where you will only catch a few fish using it all day with the same quality as other techniques.
The Underspin, Blade Runner 3/8oz chrome underspin with a shad colored 3.8 Keitech will also produce some good fish.
MOST RECENT DAY
On Jan 30, I guided a client on Camanche where the water was 49 degrees and weather was beautiful but the fishing was a little tough. I believe high pressure and the lake level dropping caused the bite to slow. We started the day off with a 4lb largemouth in 18ft of water on an underspin and then proceeded to get a few more in the morning all in the 3lb range fishing the same shallow rock pattern as before. By 10AM we had about 5 or 6 fish for about 14-15lbs, a couple on a jig but most on the underspin. We then headed up river to where they were biting the day before hitting the best spots but they were gone. Also, the day before we caught 8 fish on the dropshot, when this day they wouldn’t touch it. After spending a couple unsuccessful hours up river, we headed back to the main lake. Once there we started catch fish again, with a few on the underspin and a couple more on the jig.
All in all, a decent day, we landed about 10 fish, missing or losing maybe 6 or 7, no fish was under 2.25lb and we had two 4lb fish for the day.
Dropshot: 7.4 Med light Okuma Helios spinning rod, Okuma Helios 2500 spinning reel, 10 Fins 40G braid with 8lb Sunline FC fluorocarbon leader, Gamakatsu #2 dropshot hook and a 3/16ox dropshot weight. (same set up for the small swimbait and Senko)
Jig: 7.3 Heavy Okuma Helios rod with a 7.3:1 Helios bait casting reel, spooled with 12lb Sunline FC fluorocarbon, ½ Revenge football jig with a 4” Yamamoto twin tail trailer.
Underspin: 7.0 Med Heavy Okuma Helios rod with a 7.3:1 Helios bait casting reel, spooled with 12lb Sunline FC fluorocarbon, 3/8oz Blade Runner underspin with a 3.8 Keitech.
Things change every day so keeping an open mind and changing up will help put a few more fish in the boat. The dropshot was key on day one where the underspin was the bait on day two and on day three who knows what a deep crankbait might bring up.
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