New Melones night fishing a cool way to enjoy trophy rainbows

NEW MELONES CHROME RAINBOWS – Kyle Wise of HeadHunter Guide Service with chrome rainbow taken on a UV Apex lure.


ANGELS CAMP – The temperatures in the Mother Lode have been pushing triple-digits for weeks, and combined with heavy smoke from various wildfires filtering down through the foothills, it has been challenging to be out during the daytime at lakes in the 1,000-foot elevation such as New Melones. There is a great alternative for locating quality rainbow trout by fishing at night under lights.

Richard Kowski of Kowski’s Guide Service was out on New Melones this past week to film an upcoming episode for Angler West TV with producer Justin Wolff, and they found success for chrome-bright rainbows to 7 pounds.

Kowski said, “Night fishing is really an enjoyable way to experience great action as it is much cooler, there are no waves on the lake, and it is very peaceful out there. We can relax, have time to enjoy each other’s company, and have fun reeling in some trophies. I have developed a technique that works well, and it is a matter of anchoring up and dropping down lights at varying depths to attract the shad schools. The lights with cords at 20 feet, but I have customized the cords to lengths at 80, 60, and 40 feet along with the standard 20-foot length. I will lower the lights to the varying depths along with placing a light just under the surface in the bow and stern of the boat. The lights close to the surface provide enough light to see what you are doing on the boat. Once the lights are set, the shad will start moving in, and I have noticed that they start arriving between midnight and 1:00 a.m. As soon as the shad start schooling up, the rainbows will come in. You can run the lights at the standard depth at 20 feet and draw the fish up to you, but I prefer to find them at the thermocline at which they are holding. Our best action on this trip was found between 50 and 70 feet, and I set up my offering in this matter – first I thread on a Berkley Power Nugget, then a nightcrawler following by a second Power Nugget, and I place PowerBait in a teardrop type pattern to allow the bait to milk down. After I set the bait up, I will rub all of the excess PowerBait on my fingers up the leader to the barrel swivel. Little things like this make quite a bit of difference. You can jig for them as well with a heavy spoon, but I have enjoyed just letting the rod sit and do the work. In addition to the trout, we also caught and released a big catfish.”


Kowski added, “We trolled for a short period of time the next morning before Wolff had to catch a flight, and we were able to land some quality rainbows at 50 feet. I thought they would be deeper than they were. The Angler West TV episode should be coming out sometime in the fall, and it will also be available on YouTube.”

Kyle Wise of HeadHunter Guide Service has also found quality rainbows on the troll with UV Apex lures, and a recent trip produced a rainbow that was so bright and clean that is looked like a steelhead. The shad schools are abundant in New Melones, and the rainbows and the remaining brown trout are gorging themselves on the shad.