San Pablo Reservoir will be teeming with trout for opener

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San Pablo Reservoir will be teeming with trout for opener

Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle  

Thursday, February 14, 2002

ALL ANYBODY hopes for is the chance for something good. That desire will be answered tomorrow when the Bay Area's No. 1 fishing lake, San Pablo Reservoir, opens for the season.

The lake, with a record for giant fish, was stocked yesterday with 7,200 pounds of rainbow trout ranging 12 inches and up. Water conditions are good for this early in the season.

A check this week showed that the lake is murky but not muddy, with about a foot of clarity, and cold but not frigid, with 48- to 49- degree surface temperatures.

"Word is getting out that the lake looks so good for mid-February," said Vic Macchietto, operations manager at the lake. "That has us really busy here, getting the place ready for Friday."

On many previous openers, muddy water spoiled the day, and in some years, it took months for the lake to settle, green up and provide good prospects.

Last year was one of the few openers when water clarity was acceptable, just as it is now. I spent the morning with Macchietto and had one of my best openers here, a five-trout limit that weighed 17 pounds. Every fish was caught on a J-9 Rapala (clown color), trolled 6 to 8 feet deep from a downrigger along the face of the dam and mouth of Scow Canyon.

That started one of the best seasons ever for big fish at San Pablo. Lake records were set for rainbow trout (21 pounds, 12.8 ounces), largemouth bass (18 pounds, 11 ounces) and crappie (3 pounds, 3.2 ounces). These were also among the largest catches of these species in in northern California.

Now, the fish have had a three-month rest. And the holdovers are being joined by this week's new stocks. Macchietto advises that more trophy-size catches shall likely turn up over the coming three-day weekend. Gates open 6:30 a.m. tomorrow. Permits for fishing and boat launching are available in advance for those who want to avoid lines the morning of the opener.

Fish plants at San Pablo are among the highest of any lake in the Western U. S., courtesy of a system where anglers pay an entry fee per vehicle and also buy a daily fishing permit which fund future trout plants.

Last year, catch rates averaged 2.5 per rod. In addition, there were 430 trout caught that weighed over 5 pounds, 79 bass over 5 pounds, and 68 catfish over 10 pounds.



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Lake San Pablo Getaway
-- Fees: Park entry ($5.50), daily fishing permit ($3.25), boat launch ($5),

annual park pass ($80), annual boat launch pass ($80). Senior discounts available.

-- Tackle: Free loaner program (with refundable $20 deposit) has rods rigged with weights and hooks available.

-- Boat rentals: Row boats, motorized boats and patio boats available.

-- Access: 8-lane boat ramp available. Only boats with 4-cycle engines are allowed. No wakes within 100 feet of shoreline; 25-mph speed limit. Kayaks, canoes must be at least 25.5 inches wide. No windsurfing, water skiing, swimming or wading.

-- Picnic areas: Many sites available. Group Picnic Area has tables, barbecues and gazebo available for up to 100 people. Cost: $200. Reservations: (510) 223-1661.

-- Directions: From Interstate 80: Take San Pablo Dam Road exit, go south on San Pablo Dam Road for 4 miles to Main Rec entrance, or continue another three miles for boat launch.

Directions from Highway 24: Take Orinda exit, go north on Camino Pablo (it becomes San Pablo Dam Road) and drive to the boat ramp, or continue three miles to Main Rec entrance.

-- Contacts: San Pablo Main Rec, (510) 223-1661; recorded info, (925) 248- 3474 ext. 1; http://www.norcalfishing.com.

Chronicle Graphic

E-mail Tom Stienstra at tstienstra@sfchronicle.com.
 

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