Marauding bears can easily ruin a camping trip

Fishing report: Rainbows are coming around at full Lake Pardee now that heat has eased
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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It’s heard often and seemingly is a common occurrence in the Lake Tahoe area, a marauding bear breaking into a house.

While homeowner’s insurance generally will cover the damage, you don’t have that luxury for damages at a campground.

There are up to 35,000 black bears in California. Though the species isn’t people-oriented, the bears do enjoy dining on human grub.

If you’re in bear territory and think locking your ice chest inside your vehicle will keep it safe, think again. Black bears have a tremendous sense of smell and often find a way into a vehicle, and the damage can be tremendous.

Don’t ever have food inside a tent. I’ve known a number of campers who have had their tents shredded by bears. Fortunately, it was daytime and the campers were away when the bear raid occurred.

We were camped at French Meadows when two marauding bears visited our campsite, one about an hour after dark, the other around daybreak. Both bears could smell the food stuffs stored in ice chests that were quality units with effective lid-locking systems. While one bear rolled and rolled the ice chest — about 50 feet from camp — he was unable to gain access to what was inside, and I was able to chase off the critters.

At night on the day we left, a family member who stayed fought off a bear attempting to get into the camper of his pickup. The bear was on one side of the truck; he was on the other banging two pans together. Fortunately, the bear gave up and left.

In one case, I attempted to chase away a yearling from my campsite. Instead of running away, he went up a tree so fast it was nearly a blur. On flat ground, they’re extremely fast.

Bears over the years have found grubbing through Dumpsters and dumps as a much easier method of getting food than turning over rocks for grubs or finding enough wild berries or other natural foods.

Marauding through Dumpsters, dumps and even campsites is a learned activity. Mama bears teach their cubs the nuances of food gathering, and unfortunately, it’s of the human type.

Many campgrounds throughout the state provide bear-proof Dumpsters for leftovers and garbage produced during trips. A few campgrounds provide bear-proof containers to store food that doesn’t require refrigeration.

If a bear is hungry enough, it will actually come into the campsite while you’re there, if it feels you aren’t a direct threat. Their sense of smell is strong. Don’t dally after you finish a meal. Clean and pick up anything with a food smell, and store or dispose of it immediately. That includes the barbecue. The odor left on the grill will attract a bruin.

Items such as suntan lotion, soap, candles and insect repellant can trick bears into thinking they’re edible.


Current fishing


Lake Pardee: The water level is still in excellent shape, two to four feet from the top of the spillway. As would be expected, fishing from shore suffered terribly when the temperature was well over the century mark. Few people tried, and those who did weren’t well rewarded. Once the temperature dropped, anglers again gave it a shot and the rainbows cooperated. A trout plant also helped tremendously. The usual shore-fishing areas are the regular producing areas: Rainbow and Blue Herron points and the bank opposite the boathouse near the boat ramp. Those pointing their boats upriver as far as Indian Rock are doing some of the best kokanee catching. It takes downriggers as deep as 65 feet to reach the small salmon.

Lake Camanche: If you’re willing to go deep and put in the time, it’s still possible to haul in one of their trophy-size rainbows that have been put into the lake. That means working the river channel that leads to the dam and around the dam itself. The ’bows are there. Some of the best rod-bending action right now occurs just as the sun sets. If you’re camping, haul the mosquito repellant, fishing gear, a night light and bait to the lakeside and go for catfish. If you want to make a short evening of it, we’ve had tremendous success fishing the coves around the North Shore boat ramp area. You can easily get a stringer of pan-size kitty fish, and there could be 5-pounders in the mix.

San Francisco Bay: The striper bite could occur at any time. Nobody knows what happened, but there was no blistering hot striper bite last year. There are high hopes for this year. Drifting live bait around all the usual hot spots is yielding a striper here and there and a decent halibut bite.

Jackson Meadows: Trolling has been producing limits. The best region of the lake has been working the water from the dam to the inlet. Watch your scope closely for where you’re marking fish and drop down accordingly. A threaded night crawler behind blades or a dodger should get you bit.

Stampede Reservoir: The lake is just over half full. You can get into a kokanee bite by trolling the top 30 feet, but don’t expect a salmon of any size. If you want a quality-size kokanee, you need a downrigger to get you down as much as 70 feet. Now that summer has truly arrived, your best fishing time is going to be the early morning.

Camp Far West: It’s a good possibility you won’t be able to launch a boat here in the next week or so; not off a trailer anyway. What’s the problem? The lake is going to be drawn down so work can be done at the powerhouse. If you can’t get around the lake by boat, bass fishing will be just about done for the year. A hand-carry boat can always be launched, however. From shore, anywhere around the lake will be hot for catfish with the usual baits, mainly once the sun sets.

Contact George deVilbiss at