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Event Article:

Toplining for Elusive Lake Tahoe Brown Trout (continued)


Driving In: Our adventure started early morning on the 24th, as we got up early to head to the South Lake Tahoe/Nevada border, the drive from TackleTour headquarters in the Bay Area is a short 4 hour trip when the conditions are good, unfortunately for us on this particular morning we encountered heavy snow showers on the pass going into Tahoe. Visibility was poor, traction was even worse, and the sudden snow dump had caught many motorists without 4-wheel drive off guard.


Rather than use live bait we used AC Plug "Stickbait" lures


The result was a very slow crawl through the mountains and some hairy spinouts and stranded cars. As we made our way down the hill we witnessed numerous crashes including a near miss with one car that whipped around a corner and slid right past us, up a snow bank where it was finally stopped by a tree. By the time we reached the final climb, checkpoint stations were set up and chains were mandatory for all vehicles without 4-wheel drive and snow tires.


Mark of AC Plugs takes a moment to check and tune every AC Stickbait bait


Though the snow slowed us down we wanted to make sure that we made it to the dock on time and pressed onward. As we drove into South Lake Tahoe the snow shower continued to intensify. “Remind me why we are doing this?” Cal asked. I had a bad feeling this was going to be a tough day fishing, and certainly among the coldest. These conditions were a huge contrast to the warm sunny days we had recently enjoyed when fishing Clear Lake for bass. “Well, this is going to be different, that’s for sure,” I replied.


Mark and Zander jerk Stickbait baits while Captain Mike puts us on the honey holes


We pulled into the marina and stepped outside to change into our all-weather fishing gear and as we waited on the dock for Mark from AC Plugs to arrive, the weather took a dramatic shift. In the span of ten minutes the snowfall completely stopped and the clouds parted to reveal blue-bird skies. It was almost like we had stepped into another day but even though it was clear blue skies and the sun was shining the air was still cold and registering at only 28 degrees. I was starting to feel pretty lucky, first we had avoided a crash on highway 50 and now the snowstorm that we thought we would be fishing in had completely vanished just in time for our 5 hour window. With fingers crossed I hoped that our luck would hold.  


Because Browns are so spooky we run our lines 200-300 feet behind the boat and use 10-12lb line 


About Brown Trout: Before we get to fishing, let’s take a moment to reflect on our target for the day. The Brown Trout is considered to be native to Europe and Asia but was planted throughout California back in the late 1800’s, and since then the species has thrived in many lakes and rivers, Tahoe being one of them. They are among the most prized fish among anglers as they are harder to catch than most trout due to their wary nature. This wariness is one of the reasons why Brownies can survive long enough to grow to become trophy sized fish, and much like how some swimbait anglers pursue giant largemouth bass there are some anglers that do nothing else but passionately hunt for giant Browns.


To target bigger Browns we also run AC Plug Skinny


Let the fishing Begin: We loaded our gear into Mike’s new Starcraft boat which was outfitted with an enclosed canopy area to help shield anglers from the cold while fishing on wintry days like this particular morning. It was so cold that we started up the propane heaters right away and just as it was feeling nice and toasty inside, we began to set up our lines. “Check these guys out,” Mark said as he pulled out some new custom color AC Stickbait baits. The Stickbait was designed specifically for big trout, especially browns. It has a single joint and the new baits we were fishing had more realistic finishes with multiple layers of clear coat. They come armed with Owner Hooks and HyperWire split rings.


Mark has fished Lake Tahoe for Browns many times and brought a number of custom patterned baits made specifically to target Browns


We decided to run a 4 rod spread, with four different patterns of the AC Stickbait baits, two rods on outriggers and two jerked rapidly by hand inside the spread of the outrigger lines. “The water here at Tahoe is so clear that the Browns get really spooky, so we are going to let out a lot of line,” Mike explained. “Let’s start with about 200 to 300 feet of line behind the boat and we will work the shallow water.” We fished with a number of different baitcasting and spinning rigs spooled with 12lb. mono. As we prepped the rods Mark took the time to tie on each of his four chosen AC Stickbait lures and dragged them behind the boat to check and make sure they were running perfectly.


In the deeper water we mark Lake Trout on the bottom, anglers use leadcore lines to get to the fish, but today we are going to fish shallow for Browns


To kick the trip off, Mike took us to one of his prime spots alongside a bank and we started trolling in only 10-12 feet of water. As the outriggers dragged the lures fifteen feet away from the boat Cal and I jerked the Stickbait Minnows through openings in the vinyl cabin.


Zander holds up one of the Stickbait plugs we are trolling for Browns


Next Section: A double hookup and some nice fish 









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