Fishing through the ice for trout at Red Lake and Caples Lake

By Don Quilici

Several weeks ago, I wrote a column about all kinds of useful information on ice fishing.

Today, I would like to expand on that subject by zeroing in on ice fishing at two nearby destinations: Red Lake and Caples Lake.

Here is some useful information about each of those destinations:

Red Lake:

It is about 40 miles from Carson City (on this side of Kit Carson Pass), via U.S. 395, Nevada S.R. 88 and California S.R. 88.

Red Lake has Eastern brook, Lahontan cutthroat and rainbow trout.

Doug Busey of Douglas County has reported that the ice is currently at least three feet thick. Nope, that's not a misprint. The ice is more than three feet thick. It's plenty thick and safe to be on.

I would advise that you have a gas-operated ice auger to drill your hole. A hand-operated auger is going to take you quite a while to get through that much ice.

Also, be advised that the Sierra District bonus bag limit of 10 Eastern brook trout per day that are less than 10 inches in length DOES NOT apply at Red Lake. The limit is five trout....period!

Your best bet for success is usually near the parking area. However, as I've written before, remember that parking area is also a very popular destination for cross country skiers. So, if you don't get there early, you could be out of luck in finding a parking spot.

Once you've dug your hole, for best fishing results, try slowly jigging up and down with small shiny lures (Kastmaster or Phebe or TOR-P-DO), nightcrawlers, bright-colored Power Bait, cocktail shrimp (Heck, you can even snack on what you don't use!) or even mealworms, just off the lake's bottom or just under the ice.

Last week the trout fishing was rated as fair to good.

Most of the fish caught were average-sized brook trout.

Those brookies were taken with gold Kastmaster lures or nightcrawlers or Berkeley's Dip Bait.

Caples Lake:

It is on the other side of Kit Carson Pass, just before you get to Kirkwood. It is located about 10 miles past Red Lake.

Caples Lake contains a variety of fish: Eastern brook, German brown, Lahontan cutthroat, cuttbow (a hybrid crossbreed between a male Lahontan cutthroat and a female rainbow), Mackinaw (lake) and rainbow trout.

The ice is reported to be 5-6 feet thick. Yep, it's even thicker than at Red Lake! So, in addition to my advice of having a gas-operated auger, you better have an extension on your auger, as most of them only go down three feet.

The lake limit is five trout, but you can have an addition 10 Eastern brook trout per day that are less than 10 inches in length.

Your best bet for success for browns and Mackinaw trout is usually in front of the dam nearest to Carson City.

Use the same lures or baits as you would at Red Lake.

Commonly, each year, some lucky ice angler catches a Mackinaw trout in the 12-15 pound class.

This year, it could be you!

One of the bonuses of ice fishing here is that you can wave back at all the vehicles who honk at you as they go speeding by on the highway.

Miscellaneous Info:

1. Fishing holes can not be more than 8 inches in diameter, as per Calif. fishing rules and regulations.

2. Be sure to have a scoop, so you can scoop out the ice that forms on the water in the hole.

3. You must wear your California fishing license where it is readily visible above the waist.

4. Dress warm! Dress warm!

Be sure to have waterproof insulated boots, layered clothing for variable weather conditions, wool cap, warm gloves and sunglasses, plus plenty of food and hot drinks.

5. Take a piece of thick rug or plywood to stand on. If you don't, your feet will get cold, very fast.


If you've never tried ice fishing, give it a try in the very near future.

It's a great excuse for getting out of the house on a late Winter day.


Call either Dave Kirby at the Woodfords Station in Woodfords, Calif. at (530) 694-2930 or Doug Busey in Douglas County at the Mac-The-Naw Hotline at 267-9722 or the Caples Lake Resort at (209) 258-8888.

• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon he can't tell you what combination I've used, while ice fishing at those two lakes.

If he grins and says, "That combo is a small white plastic, lead-head jig, tipped with a small piece of mealworm, and slowly jigged up and down," he has been watching me.


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