LOWER MOKELUMNE RIVER
Lower Mokelumne River
Updated - 1/15/20
Current River Conditions: 330 CFS
Guide Bill Ferrero of Mokelumne River Outfitters says that fishing has been hit or miss since the opener last week though we have had a couple of customers stop by the shop and reported that they did pretty good in the wadeable section below the dam. Water is kind of low and higher flows will be needed to get a good slug of fish to come up to the hatchery area. The larger winter Steelhead haven't shown up yet but should be trickling in over the next few weeks. A good rainstorm should help things out.
Try a red Copper John and either a bead or egg pattern if you dead drift. An egg sucking leach along with a bead or egg pattern will work if you swing. Once the Salmon are on redds in next month, egg patterns will do the job.
About the Lower Mokelumne River
Below Comanche Lake the Mokelumne (Moke), the river courses through private agricultural land that has public access at certain intervals. The tailwater section runs for about eight miles. Most of the best water can only be accessed by watercraft, but there is a productive wadeable section adjacent to the boat ramp near the hatchery. Being that the river is located in the lower elevation foothills, the flow characteristics are in the form of pools and deep tailouts which is typical of the other central valley tail-waters. One of the great things about the Moke is that it runs primarily through private agricultural land so it gets little fishing pressure and to fish its whole length you must float it in some sort of watercraft. In the summer the rafters can be a nuisance.
the river has a fair number of fish in the ten to twelve inch range, and most of them are probably Steelhead smolts. There are a lot of them year round. But when the winter weather warms up a little in February, the larger adult Steelhead arrive on their spawning run, which is when things get real exciting. Hooking a six to eight pound fish just fresh from the saltwater is one of the most exciting experiences in the sport of freshwater fishing. For most fishermen, pound for pound, Steelhead are the strongest fighters than almost any other fish species that can be caught in fresh water.
Returning Steelhead begin entering the system in January and continue until April when they pair up and begin spawning. These fish average from twenty to twenty five inches and possess a chrome sheen when they first arrive. This is one of the best times to float the Moke as the flows are usually at a manageable 350 cfs and only blow out occasionally during heavy storms that come in off the Pacific. As the storms tend to be somewhat less frequent in the spring, you usually have good water to fish in. The number of fish can increase dramatically right after the river subsides at the end of a big storm.
The most important bugs that make up the fish cuisine are the caddis & pale morning duns (summer) and blue wing olives in the cooler months so patterns representing them are a must regardless of the time of year. Crawdad imitations aren’t a bad idea either. In the winter and spring, any two fly set up should include an egg pattern. In the summer and fall dry flies can be productive so size #16 and #18 Pale Morning Duns and Blue Wing Olive imitations (after September when the weather begins to cool off) are productive. Double nymph rigs with a bead head olive Caddis larva imitation and a #16 or #18 Pale Morning Dun nymph imitation such as a small bead head Pheasant Tail or olive Bird’s Nest, cover all of the bases in the spring and summer.