3 Epic Lakes You Need To Fish In Amador County

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3 Epic Lakes You Need To Fish In Amador County, California

3 Epic Lakes You Need To Fish In Amador County
Jason Kaefer

The California Gold Country reveals an epic scale of trout fishing to all anglers. As you pass through Amador County on Highway 88, three lakes can be found that are known to hold larger, more impressive Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout.

Along the way, you can enjoy a rich history spanning the California Gold Rush.

If you’re new to California and looking to drop your line from shore or adrift, check out these three lakes, but be prepared to bring a variety of techniques and tackle.

Lake Amador

Lakes To Fish In Amador County
Jason Kaefer

Few reservoirs measure up to this well-known trout lake. Whether you are targeting Bass, Trout, Crappie, or Catfish, it’s all here. Open to boating, hiking, and picnicking, Amador provides an all-around outdoor experience.

According to their website, they plant 50,000 lbs of trout per year, which is the heaviest of any California lake.

Lake Amador has held a Go Big or Go Home mentality for decades as some truly impressive fish have been caught here. Moreover, everything at this location is tailored for anglers, it seems. The banks are clear and span over 13 miles. Several points and long-reaching docks provide anglers opportunities year-round.

Some of the records caught on Lake Amador include:

  • Tim Kamura’s record bass, caught in 1986 and weighing 17.1 lbs.
  • Joel Issac’s record catfish, weighing 39.6 lbs.
  • Juan Garcia’s record CutBow Trout Record, caught in November 202 and weighed 20.12lbs

When fishing in the summer, be sure to wear cool clothing and dawn a hat. Bring your sunscreen.

This is Northern California, where the sun doesn’t discriminate! 

Lake Tabeaud

Jason Kaefer_Amador County Fishing
Jason Kaefer

Lake Tabeaud is one of the most beautiful and out-of-the-way locations in Amador County. Located off Highway 88 and just next to the North Fork Mokelumne River, this regulated lake provides a beautiful environment for hiking, bike riding, and dog walking.

Anglers can also catch large Rainbow and Brown Trout (little known fact). The California Department of Fish and Game stock 1-2 times per year (which isn’t bad for the region), and small stocker trout can be caught from anywhere onshore using a standard dough bait rig with a sliding egg sinker and garlic-scented, chartreuse, or any bright colored Power Bait.

The lake is headed off by a dam and is fed and regulated by an up-stream waterway that flows over various structures – large fallen trees and stone bottoms – and at the top, a large pipe system feeding the lake from an underground waterway. This is where your tactical skills must come to fruition, and why this lake is unique. There are giant hold over trout.

Yes, that’s right – this lake, despite its quiet and humble appearance, and dinky, child-friendly pan friers caught further downstream, holds some solid 8-pounders sheltering among undercut banks.

However, as most anglers know, with size comes wisdom by way of experience.

These fish have seen a lot, and hooking one takes skill. Local guys will advocate using a bait close to the hatch. A small cricket or nightcrawler (either afloat or drifted beneath a bobber) is effective. Unfortunately, fly fishing will prove difficult (more on that later.)

I’ve had luck drifting salmon eggs, as always, along the banks and seems. Although, discovering the appropriate depth can take some time, so work your presentation at different depths, making slight adjustments to your bobbers stops.

My suggested line and hook size are:

These fish are extremely line shy. The smaller and less obvious your presentation, the better.

The other difficulty is obstructions. Low hanging branches and brush that choke the river at times will prove challenging and require your full attention. As the river calms toward the mouth and flows into deeper and warmer water, feel free to open your box of wet and dry flies, as overhead casting is possible.

Be advised, however: the larger trout have seen their share of seasonal Panther Martins, Rooster Tails, and organic baits, but aren’t impossible to catch, and could be the fish of a lifetime!

Bear River Reservoir

Fishing in Amador County
Jason Kaefer

On your way north on Highway 88 toward Tahoe, you can experience the expansive California forests, beautiful vistas, and of course, a West Coast angler’s dream: Bear River Reservoir – the prettiest lake in NorCal.


This territory is mountainous and wild. No civilization. The high altitude and long-ranging mountains and distant tree lines give you a back to nature feeling.

Boats, kayaks, and paddleboats are available to rent, with a friendly campsite nearby and a wide boat launch. But once outside the marina, you quickly get the feeling you’re roughing it.

Fishing Bear River Reservoir

The reservoir is deep and rocky, and home to some trophy Rainbow and Lake Trout (Mackinaw).

From shore, you’ll have a chance to burn your lure over rocky outcrops and giant boulders. I’ve had a great deal of experience with small stocked Brown Trout offshore using Panther Martins. Most of the reservoir is accessible, as dirt paths snake all over.

By boat, the preferred method is trolling. Going for any species of trout, try using spoons and plugs like the Yakima Bait Flatfish F-4 High Action Plug. My personal favorite in the fall is the Rebel Tracdown Ghost minnow.

Vertical jigging is a great option. With a fish finder, locate those sharp drop-offs and sink a large spoon of your choice. I’ve heard that Huskie Delve 300 spoons are effective for jigging as well as trolling for larger fish.

Most anglers would recommend fishing the dam as this area is deepest. Try trolling and jigging here.

Final Thoughts

Epic Lakes To Fish In Amador County
Jason Kaefer

These three lakes are only a peek into the vast beauty hidden among the foothills and mountains of Northern California. But if you’re vacationing here or planning to reside, give these spots a try.

What’s more, you can hit all three lakes on the same weekend. And all species are on the menu! 

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