Lake Merced SF. Some patterns are apparent at Lake Merced. The North Lake provides larger trout, but results are unpredictable. Also, a consistent stream of smaller trout come from the South Lake. And finally, boat anglers outscore shore anglers on both lakes.
So anglers, who want to be assured of fish work the South Lake in a boat, and anglers who want the best chance at a lurker, work the North Lake from a boat. Boat anglers are advised to work the tule-lined shoreline; 10 to 30 feet out from the tules is a good bet.
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Some of the most productive shore fishing spots include the beach on the North Lake, and the bridge and fishing pier on the South Lake. Basic trout fishing methods work here. Bait fishermen score with cheese, nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, and marshmallows.
Fish with as little weight as possible and 4 to 6 pound test line. Size 6 to 10 hooks work well. Fish from a boat, if possible, because it provides better mobility. Move until you find a fish. Shore fishermen do well, but often need to wait the fish out.
Try a variety of baits until you score. Trollers and lure casters also take their share of fish. Mepps, Rooster Tails, Panther Martins and Z-Rays all produce fish. Some trollers often use small flashers in front of nightcrawlers. Black bass fishermen score on spinnerbaits and nightcrawlers. Carp are taken on corn and dough baits.
This post emphasizes that fishing at Lake Merced is by far done best with a boat. But how many people have a boat they can haul to Lake Merced? Up until 1999 there was a fishing concession operation at Lake Merced that rented small row boats. The concessionaire understandably bailed out in 1999 because of the rapidly declining water levels at Lake Merced. Since then, thanks to the good work of CalTrout and many other dedicated activists the water levels are back up. But has the City & County of San Francisco found another fishing concessionaire to make Lake Merced a fisherman friendly place? NO!
Shortly I’ll add another post suggesting what Bay Area fishermen interested in seeing Lake Merced returned to its glory years can do to help make that happen