Rainbow trout is the number one attraction at Pardee. The lake is planted heavily, including some lunkers. There are also large holdover and native trout. Catches in the 3 to 5 pound class are common with trophies taken ranging up to 10 pounds. Trout actions begins on opening day in February. The marina area is heavily fished by both trout trollers and from shore. Trolling is also good by the dam, in the south arm, up in the narrows and even along the shorelines (in colder months).
Shore anglers use nightcrawlers (inflated) or salmon eggs (floated with marshmallows), or cast Kastmasters, Phoebes, Krocodiles, Rooster Tails, Mepps, etc. Lures seem to work best early and late in the day. Locals recommend a a#8 hook, 30 inch leader (4 pound test) and a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce sliding sinker rig for bait angling. A long leader is also recommended for trolling with leadcore line because the water is so clear. Boat trollers hit with Needlefish, Kokanee King, etc. near the surface in spring and down deeper as surface temperatures rise. When the lake first opens, trollers start at about 10 feet down. By mid-March the depth changes to about 15 feet. During the heat of the summer the best depth is usually around 35 to 40 feet. Leadcore trolling is still more popular at Pardee than downrigging maybe because the fish never go down really deep, and also because there are shallow spots and sunken islands that can play havoc with downrigger weights and cables. The standard of Pardee regulars is Sunset Line Company’s 15 pound test leadcore line. Most put it on a Penn levelwind reel. At the trolling speed setting of most outboard motors, each color of this leadcore line will put the terminal rig down about 5 feet. So during summer, trollers are about 7 or 8 colors. The slowest trolling speed that still imparts good line action is usually the best. Troll slightly above the desired depth, never below it.
Pardee is one of the most consistent producers of Kokanee in California. More than 200,000 Kokanee fry are air-drop planted each year. Most Kokanee taken by anglers are three years old and run 11 to 12 inches, but 15 inchers are possible. Kokanee are excellent eating and hard fighting. They are most often caught by trout trollers. In late April through June, about half the total catch is Kokanee. Kokanee are in schools, so repeat a productive troll. Shore anglers work Pardee at night from the Marina Cove and the other shore angling spot, Woodpile Gulch. Night boat fishing is not permitted.
Black bass fishing at Pardee is not really that popular. Maybe its because the super clear water calls for patience and hard work, or maybe because bass anglers head to the neighboring famous bass factory, Lake Amador. Largemouth bass anglers at Pardee concentrate on the coves at the south end of the lake. Lunker bass have also been taken by anglers fishing live crawdads off the rocky points. Smallmouth bass chasers also work these same points. Crappie and bluegill fishing at Pardee has been inconsistent in recent years, but catfish up to 16 pounds are taken every year. The best concentrations of catfish are in the channel arm, but the cove at the north end of the lake at the marina is also good.