About Donner Lake
This beautiful lake can be seem from I-80 as you motor 100 miles east of Sacramento. Donner lies about two miles west of Truckee. It’s about 3 miles long and about 1 mile wide, with complete facilities. The lake really turns on in the springtime.
The winter bite is possible through the nasty cold, and the summer activity requires some deep water tactics. Donner, like Tahoe, has a resident population of giant Mackinaw Lake trout. Using downriggers, locals troll the main channel with magnum-sized J-plugs or live minnows behind a brilliant Dodger reflector.
Donner Lake Fishing Report
Most trolling occurs at 100 to 200 feet, but consider working shallower after a trout plant. The Mackinaws will go into a virtual “Mac Attack” feasting on planted rainbows or browns in the shallows right after a scheduled plant. Troll the east end and the boat ramp area and the Donner Tahoe Beach stretch for marauding macs.
At this time, switch to either a rainbow or brown trout pattern minnow plug and troll 30 to 60 feet. The larger browns can be taken spot-casting larger gold Toastmasters and Hopkins spoons into deeper water.
The Mepp’s Luxsox spinner is exceptionally heavy, and is often used for greater depth control.. Standard Rapala, and Rebel plugs worked on top or later in the year, deep, will produce on rainbows or browns as will blades’n worms.
Bait fishermen can score on some quality fish with ‘crawlers, either inflated or drifted under a bobber. Or, try live crickets and grasshoppers tied on behind a Cast-A-Bubble. Salmon eggs and Velveeta will nail the smaller, stocker rainbows.
Bait can produce near the outlet estuary in Donner Park, or the beach off the State Park. Spin fishermen using a fly and bubble will also be effective with various flies. Fish the Wooly Worm, Black Ant, Brown Bivisible, Dusty Miller and even the Li’l Rainbow Trout streamer fly with this rig. Donner also has a modestly thriving kokanee fishery.
Troll deep at the drop off near China Cove and near the west end inlet for kokanee action. The basic kokanee “menu” also works here: lead core line with Wedding Rings, Needlefish, Kokanee King and Triple Teazer lures.