Stampede Reservoir Fishing: The Perfect Getaway for Anglers

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Explore the Bounty of Stampede Reservoir

Stampede Reservoir is renowned for its fantastic fishing experience, especially for kokanee salmon. Not only that, but patient anglers can also reel in impressive mackinaw and brown trout. Rainbow trout and smallmouth bass add to the diverse cast of fish in this beautiful lake. Nestled in the eastern Sierras, Stampede Reservoir is an ideal vacation destination. Utilize the nearby campgrounds as a base camp while you embark on fishing adventures and explore the scenic lake.

A Paradise for Anglers and Nature Enthusiasts

Stampede Reservoir offers more than just fishing opportunities. Take a day trip south to Lake Tahoe and enjoy the picturesque landscapes. The area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting renowned hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife. Picture yourself in the evening, grilling up the catch of the day as you admire the majestic eagles soaring above the lake and the deer and elk leisurely strolling along the shoreline. It truly is a paradise.

Remember, as you enjoy the wilderness, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and follow bear safety precautions.

Kokanee Fishing: An Experience Like No Other

Stampede Reservoir is famous for its exceptional kokanee salmon fishing. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) introduces tens of thousands of fingerling kokanee into the reservoir. By the third year, these salmon average between 13-16 inches in length.

The fishing season starts as the ice melts away, usually in April or May. Keep in mind that the road leading to the reservoir may be rough due to winter conditions, making access challenging until repairs are made. It’s advisable to check the road conditions before your trip.

Once you’re on the water, start trolling in 15-25 feet of water. Kokanee salmon usually inhabit this range early in the season. As the lake warms up in June and throughout the summer, adjust your downriggers to 50-70 feet of water.

Father Murphy’s Kokanee Bug in pink or rainbow color is a popular lure choice. Many anglers also add a kernel of white corn to the hook for added appeal. Maintain a trolling speed of around 1.5-2 mph. When you locate a school of kokanee, either stop and jig them or make several passes while trolling. The active nature of these salmon ensures a steady bite.

Some hotspots for kokanee fishing include the mouth of Little Truckee River, Sagehen Creek, the area near the islands around Captain Roberts Boat Ramp, and the dam. Hoke Valley and Sardine Valley Creek inlet are also worth exploring. Stampede Reservoir is a must-visit destination for any kokanee fishing enthusiast.

Mackinaw Fishing: Battling the Giants

Mackinaw trout, also known as lake trout, thrive in Stampede Reservoir. These aggressive predators range in size from 3 to 5 pounds for younger individuals, all the way up to monstrous specimens exceeding 20 pounds.

As the ice melts away, the hungry lake trout eagerly await your lures. Trolling in 15-25 feet of water at a speed of 1.7-2 mph is a productive strategy. A blue or chartreuse Sting Fish, Koke-A-Nuts, or Matrix Minnows tailed behind Sling Blades are excellent lure choices.

During the spring, lake trout can be found in the flats, feasting on kokanee. You may also encounter brown trout during this time, so don’t hesitate to try out Rapalas while trolling.

In the summer, mackinaw trout follow kokanee schools and reside in the 70-90 foot range. Position your lures slightly below the kokanee school to entice the lake trout to strike. A blue Sting Fish is particularly effective.

As fall approaches, macks and browns congregate around the inlets, feeding on kokanee and their eggs. This period offers great fishing opportunities, with salmon eggs being a favored bait. When the lake freezes over, ice fishing becomes a popular choice, and Stampede Reservoir is among the best ice fishing lakes in California.

Brown Trout Fishing: A Favorite Among Anglers

Although brown trout have taken a backseat to mackinaw in Stampede Reservoir, they still maintain a healthy population. These giants offer excellent angling prospects.

The best areas to target browns depend on the time of year. During the spring, troll in 10-15 feet of water near Sage Hen Creek, the islands around Captain Roberts Boat Ramp, and the inlets. Rapalas, Kazi Minnows, and Smithwicks are productive lure choices.

Throughout the summer, browns can be found in the vicinity of rainbow trout plants and kokanee schools. Experiment with rainbow-colored Tasmanian Devils, Kastmasters, or Rainbow Rapalas for optimal results.

In the fall, as kokanee migrate upstream to spawn, big browns are attracted to the inlets. Focus your efforts near the shoreline using salmon eggs for bait. Shore fishing during this season offers your best chance to catch brown trout, especially along the northeast shoreline. Lures and baits are equally effective, and a worm tipped with salmon eggs is a proven combination.

For additional brown trout fishing opportunities, explore the best lakes and rivers for brown trout in California.

Rainbow Trout Fishing: A Delight for Shore Anglers

Stampede Reservoir receives regular stockings of rainbow trout in catchable sizes. The CDFW introduces approximately 10,000 planters each year, averaging between 8-13 inches in length.

While boaters primarily pursue kokanee, brown, and mackinaw, shore anglers find great success targeting rainbow trout. When trolling may not yield the desired results, stop and cast PowerBait or spinners from the shore.

The shoreline of Stampede Reservoir offers convenient access throughout most of its length, with the northeast shore being particularly productive for browns. Smaller rainbows tend to attract the attention of brown trout, making it an excellent area for rainbow fishing as well.

To enhance your trout fishing skills, refer to our easy guide to trout fishing techniques and tips. Explore other top rainbow trout lakes in California to further expand your angling adventures.

Smallmouth Bass Fishing: Fun for the Whole Family

Stampede Dam is a haven for smallmouth bass, with individuals weighing up to five pounds commonly found in the area. Whether you’re fishing from the shore or a boat, targeting smallmouth bass promises an enjoyable experience.

Delight the children with a few hours of fishing around the dam’s rocky points. Senkos and other soft plastics are effective bait choices. Smallmouth bass put up a spirited fight, and it’s not uncommon to reel in three-pounders.

Spring through summer offers the best bass bite, as the warmer water temperatures stimulate their feeding activity. Crankbaits, spinners, and various soft baits imitating smaller fish or crayfish are reliable options. For more bass fishing tips and lure suggestions, check out our simple guide to catching bass.

Discover the best smallmouth bass fishing spots in California and plan your next exciting fishing excursion.

Planning Your Unforgettable Trip to Stampede Reservoir

Stampede Reservoir is conveniently located just off I-80 in Sierra County, approximately two hours northeast of Sacramento. If you’re coming from Nevada, it’s only a 45-minute drive west from Reno.

Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the stunning beauty of the reservoir and its surrounding landscapes. Stampede offers an array of amenities, including campgrounds, hiking trails, three boat ramps, and easy access to the water. The perfect basecamp for your fishing expeditions and other adventures.

Stampede Reservoir also provides easy access to nearby lakes such as Donner Lake, Boca Reservoir, and the renowned Lake Tahoe. In case you forgot something, nearby towns are within a few miles, where you can find everything you need.

From hiking and mountain biking to swimming and water sports, the area offers a multitude of recreational activities for the entire family. Consider planning an extended trip to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of Stampede Reservoir.

Accessing Stampede Reservoir

Three boat ramps, each with a campground, provide convenient access to the water. Keep in mind that water levels fluctuate, typically receding during late summer and fall. Before bringing a boat larger than 18 feet, check the current water level to ensure smooth navigation.

Shore access is available throughout the reservoir. Some areas may require a short hike, but solitude and picturesque views await those seeking the serenity of nature. Pack your gear, lunch, and don’t forget the bug spray and bear spray for a memorable day in the great outdoors.

Where to Stay

Unwind and embrace the beauty of Stampede Reservoir by camping at one of the numerous campgrounds available. You’ll find RV hookups and the option for reservations. If camping isn’t your preference, there are various hotels within a reasonable distance to ensure a comfortable stay.

Camping is highly recommended, as it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings. Nearby towns offer dining options ranging from sit-down restaurants to fast food, as well as markets and grocery stores.

If you’re looking for more excitement, Reno is a short 35-mile drive east and offers a plethora of entertainment options, including renowned buffets and a Cabela’s store.

Stampede Reservoir promises an unforgettable fishing trip, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Discover the wonders of this incredible lake and its surrounding area, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Book your adventure at the Ambassadeur Hotel today!

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. Please check with local authorities for the most up-to-date information on regulations, fishing licenses, and safety guidelines.