With sturgeon biting in the bays, stripers still chomping in the Delta and hot trout action at places like New Melones and Berryessa, Folsom Lake is being largely overlooked these days.
On one hand, the fishing at Folsom isn’t red hot, yet the trout, king salmon, bass and even catfish are on the feed. All it takes to hook up is a little detective work and patience.
Best of all, for those of us living in the Sacramento area the lake is close. This means if we fish Folsom, we’ll spend more time actually fishing and less time driving!
I’ve fished Folsom twice over the past three weeks or so and both trips produced fish. The first trip was a trolling adventure with Capt. James Netzel of Tight Lines Guide Service.
James hadn’t trolled Folsom for trout in nearly a year and I hadn’t either, so we weren’t expecting stellar results. However, we both had sets of Brad’s Kokanee Cut Plugs in exciting new colors and we wanted to give the unique rolling baits a try for trout and kings.
In all we trolled for about 4 hours in the main body and at the mouth of the South Fork. Despite a full moon and glassy conditions, we got a half dozen strikes. We missed some fish, lost others and ended up landing a single planter rainbow.
Our takeaway from the trip was that there were plenty of trout around. Had we downsized and tried some other offerings, such as a ‘crawler and small dodger combo we probably would have boated more fish, but we were dedicated to scouting and playing with our new toys from Brads…
Fast forward to January 14 and Rob Bundy’s trip to Folsom. Rob teamed up with his son Drew and his buddy Brock Benton to brave the fog and land some trout.
They ended up doing really well while trolling a variety of offerings. At the end of their short trip they put two kings to 18 inches and three rainbows to 16 inches into the boat…Nice work Team Bundy!
After a so-so trout trip to the Folsom, I decided that my next trip to the lake would be focused on hooking bass…Well actually, the focus was on hiking the Rattlesnake Bar section of the North Fork but I carried a bass rod and some soft plastics.
After working some spots were I’ve traditionally caught fish this time of the year and getting blanked with wacky rigged Senkos and Texas Rigged worms I decided to give a drop shot rig armed with a 2 inch Gulp! minnow a try. The bass must have been dreaming of pond smelt.
Over the next 90 minutes I landed 6 spotted bass that ranged from about 10 inches to 2 pounds. Not only had I gotten some much needed exercise, I also caught my first black bass of the 2018 season.
With a couple Folsom trips under my belt and the report I got from Rob Bundy I was ready to run with this story, but then I got even more information during a recent trip to the dump when I ran into my longtime buddy Ronnie Ramirez.
“Hey Cal,” Ronnie exclaimed. “You’ve got to get out to Folsom and try hooking some catfish. On my last trip, I got three channel cats that weighed 3, 4 and 7 pounds.”
Turns out Ronnie had some shad and sardines in his freezer left over from striper fishing this fall and decided to give Folsom a try for cats.
“I rigged up two rods with sliding sinker rigs. I tossed one out baited with a whole shad and the other one was baited with half a sardine fillet. The sardine fillet got hit almost immediately. I had my rod propped up against my pack. I thought it had just fallen over, but when I picked it up to reposition it I felt a fish trying to swim away,” Ronnie laughed.
“I know that Folsom has shad in it, but those catfish were not interested in shad. All the action came on the sardine rod. I let the two smaller fish go, but I kept the big one,” he stated.
“It was the biggest catfish I’ve ever landed, but I’ve got to say I was disappointed when I cooked it. The meat looked good, but it cooked up tough and rubbery. I think for eating I would have been better off keeping one of the smaller fish. I can’t wait to get back out there and find out if the catfish bite is that good all the time during the winter. Maybe I just got lucky. That was the first time I’ve ever tried wintertime catfish fishing,” Ronnie concluded.