Donner Lake seen from Mt. Judah

View of Donner Lake from Mt. Judah,
located west of the lake

Hatchery trout stocking provides supplementary fish populations to the life of natural lakes and reservoirs. Recreational anglers enjoy fishing such waters from shore, docks and boats. Donner Lake, a freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada located within the town limits of Truckee in California, gets stocked with rainbow trout and with kokanee salmon: Donner Lake also has plenty of Mackinaw and brown trout [1,2].

Donner Lake is a natural alpine lake placed between the Donner Ridge to the north and Shallenburger Ridge to the south. Just under three miles long, it width does not surpass one mile. The deepest point was measured to be at 328 feet (about 100 m) [3]. It surface area has been given as 960 acres (page 4 in [4]). The water body underneath provides enough room to hold thriving populations of fish, which are occasionally stocked up to enhance fishing experience. Contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been analyzed in edible tissues of some fish species from Donner Lake; but typical levels of contamination are low enough to safely consume a fish serving per week. A guide to eating fish caught in Donner Lake is available [4].

The sequence of pictures below documents the release of rainbow trout into Donner Lake during a morning hour on August 22, 2012. A fish truck— its tanks containg 8,000 rainbow trouts—arrived from a Sacramento fish hatchery at the boat ramp in the northwest corner of the lake. The release of fish from the tanks took less than hour. After tumbling down into the water, some fish tried to swim “upstream,” meaning upramp onto dry territory, but the majority found deeper water quickly. Of course, the release didn't procede unnoticed by predating birds that were scanning the water surface from above and eventually got a meal. And in case you wonder: they are not familar with catch-and-release practises.
Donner Lake boat ramp: fish truck approaching

Truck with fish tanks arrived
at Donner Lake's public boat ramp

plate at tank of fish truck

“California Inland Fisheries Foundation” plate at fish truck

Release of rainbow trout

Release of rainbow trouts, watched by fishery staff and onlookers

Release of rainbow trout

Rainbow trouts on their tumbling way
into Donner Lake water

Released rainbow trout

A rainbow trout just released into lake
water trying to find her orientation


Release noticed by birds: a predator
circling above disoriented trouts

References and additional information

[1] California's Greates Lakes: Donner Lake Fishing:
[2] Sierra Anglers Guide Service: Donner Lake Guided Fishing Trips:
[3] Historic Donner Lake: About Donner Lake:
[4] Health Advisory and Safe Eating Guidelines for Fish from Donner Lake (Nevada County, CA), January 2011:

515218_25% OFF  125x125 snow plant logo
Trailing Ahead

Custom Search