Tahoe National Forest

Fishing - Downieville Ranger District
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Highway 49 Area

Highway 49 goes north out of Nevada City, crossing the South and Middle Yuba Rivers. It follows the North Yuba River, from Indian Valley through Downieville and Sierra City, to the summit at Yuba Pass.

Oregon Creek: The area at the confluence of Oregon Creek and the Middle Yuba River is very popular with the public. Day use swimming and picnicking are the primary activities at this site. Native rainbow trout inhabit this creek.

Bullards Bar Reservoir: This large, low elevation lake is generally accessible throughout the winter months and receives statewide use by anglers fishing for Kokanee. Kokanee, a landlocked sockeye salmon, is being managed by the California Department of Fish & Game (CDF&G;) as the primary and target coldwater fishery for the lake. 200,000 Kokanee fingerlings are planted by airplane in late spring. Adult Kokanee up to 16 inches are regularly taken by anglers. Rainbow fingerlings are also planted on an annual basis. A self sustaining population of brown trout lives in the lake. Fingerling McCounaghy rainbow trout were released into the North Yuba River seven miles above Bullards Bar Reservoir. 100,000 more fingerlings were released in 1986. This strain of trout has adapted to big, deep lakes in Tennessee, where they successfully spawn in rivers flowing into the lakes and survive to large sizes. These fish should now be anywhere from 16 to 22 inches in length, depending upon food sources and survival rate.

Yearlong fishing is available for a variety of warm water fish as well as cold water species. The smallmouth bass is the leading warm water fishery. Smallmouths do well because of the rocky habitat. Other warm water species include the largemouth bass, sunfish, bluegill, white crappie and bullhead catfish. Populations vary for each species. The shoreline is very steep and the lake is often drawn down by summer. Fishing from a boat is by far the most effective way to fish this lake.

Middle Yuba River: Access to the river is extremely varied. Native rainbows and trophy size brown trout can be found on various reaches of the river, although squawfish and suckers have thrived in its current condition.

North Yuba River: In the past, over 20 sites along the river, from its Highway 49 crossing to the Gold Lake Highway, were planted with 10,000 pounds of catchable rainbow trout per year. The planting sites are presently reduced to approximately ten with more fish planted in the selected sites. These sites include the Indian Valley area, Goodyear's Bar, and pools near and upstream from the town of Downieville.

The North Fork Yuba River from Sierra City downstream to Ladies Canyon Creek is a special regulation area Signs designating this section are posted near the river Anglers may use only artificial lures or flies with single barbless hooks. A two-fish limit applies and fish must be at least ten inches long to be kept.

Lavezolla Creek: This stream has been designated by the CDF&G; as a wild trout stream and is currently managed as a wild fishery. Colorful, native rainbows are small in size but numerous. No special regulations currently apply to this water.

Pauley Creek: Native rainbow fishery; small, but numerous.

Ladies Canyon: The creek is abundant with small rainbow trout to ten inches in length. The canyon is narrow and steep, and access can be difficult. The stream reach at the crossing of Hwy 49 is on private land.

Haypress Creek: Near Wild Plum Campground, catchable rainbows are planted every two weeks for a total of 3,000 catchable rainbows each year. The upper stream runs through meadows and is abundant with brook trout.

Gold Lake Highway Area

This area of high mountain lakes and streams may be reached by following Highway 49 north and east of Sierra City, four and one half miles to the Gold Lake Highway junction at Bassetts. It may also be reached from the Sierra Valley by following Highway 49 west approximately thirteen miles from its junction with Highway 89 at Sattley to the Gold Lakes Highway. The entire lakes basin is very popular with the public and receives high use from Californians and Nevadans alike.

Packer Creek and Salmon Creek: Small populations of rainbow and brown trout. No catchables planted.

Lower Sardine Lake: Catchable rainbow and brook trout (12,000 pounds) are planted each year. The area is very popular with the public and CDF&G; estimates 80 percent of the planted fish get caught.

Upper Sardine Lake: Three to five thousand fingerling rainbows are planted each year.

Young America Lake: Every two years the lake is planted with golden trout fingerlings from the Mount Whitney hatchery. It is a tough hike to this special lake.

Sand Pond: This small, shallow and warm lake is very popular for day use swimming and picnicking.

Volcano Lake: Fingerling brook trout are planted every two years. This lake is entirely on private land with no public road access.

Upper Tamarack Lake: Five hundred fingerling rainbow trout are planted each year.

Lower Tamarack Lake: Five hundred fingerling brook trout are planted each year.

SaxsoniaLake: The lake was planted with fingerling rainbows in the past but it is currently being planted with 2,000 fingerling Lahontan cutthroat trout each year.

Dugan Pond: Five hundred fingerling brown trout are planted every two years. Half of this lakeshore is privately owned, but the lake can be accessed through public land. The lake outlet area is the portion on National Forest Land.

Packer Lake: Catchable rainbow or brook trout are planted in this lake every two weeks. This is a CDF&G; target fishery for hatchery catchables. Bank and boat access is excellent.

Upper Salmon Lake: A CDF&G; target fishery for hatchery catchables with rainbow and brook trout heavily stocked through the summer. Up to 7,000 trout are planted each season.

Lower Salmon Lake: Once a year, 2,000 fingerling brook trout are planted.

Deer Lake: Three thousand fingerling rainbows are planted every two years.

Horse Lake: ive hundred fingerling brook trout are planted every two years.

Hawley Lake: Two thousand fingerling rainbows are planted every year. This lake is on private land; however, public fishing is allowed.

Snake Lake: Every two years, 15,000 fingerling rainbows are planted.

Little Deer Lake: Two thousand fingerling rainbows are planted every two years.

Upper Spencer Lake: One thousand fingerling brook trout are planted each year.

Lower Spencer Lake: Five hundred fingerling brook trout are planted each year.

Snag Lake: Two thousand catchable brook trout are planted each year.

Williams Creek and Deer Creek: Off Highway 49 south of Gold Lake Highway. Catchable rainbows and some brook trout in the upper reaches. Not planted, but some migration up from North Yuba River.

Deadman's Lake: South of Highway 49 about five miles east of Gold Lake Highway. Foot access only. Planted yearly with 1500 Lahontan cutthroat trout fingerlings.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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