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Trout derby upcoming at Rancho Seco, rain or shine

By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Back in the good old days, when the Sacramento Municipal Utility District produced electricity through the nuclear power plant at Rancho Seco in the southern range of Sacramento County, the joke was the fish in the pond were of the glow-in-the-dark type.

It wasn’t true, of course, but it did stop some anglers from wanting to fish the pond.

SMUD quit producing nuclear-powered electricity years ago, and the pond has become a favorite getaway for many families throughout the year. Twice each year, SMUD hosts a trout derby at the little lake next to the big twin towers, and the event is always well attended.

There were a limited number of campsites available, and they’re usually taken quickly. Others go to the event just for the day.

It’s a good event for youngsters. They can do a little fishing and, when bored with that, do a lot of exploring the surrounding fauna. And, the family can have a good picnic day.

Much of that depends on the weather, of course. The event will be held Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine.

The small lake at Rancho Seco isn’t very deep. You can put any kind of boat onto the lake you can manage by hand. Just know that motors aren’t allowed.  Float tubes are popular, as you can get away from the shore crowd.

OK, I’ll agree Rancho Seco is a fair drive for those on the South Placer County side, but for a family outing, you really can’t beat it.

To find Rancho Seco, take I-80 into Sacramento and, at the interchange, take Highway 99 south. Nearing the southern end of Sacramento County, just north of Galt, will be Twin Cities Road. Go east on Twin Cities Road/Hwy. 104. From Highway 99, it’s a 15-mile trip, but you’ll soon see the looming twin towers of the old nuclear power plant, where the entry gate to the park will be.

Cost of the derby is $5, and the derby ticket is good for both days. The ticket must be purchased before you catch a fish.

There are two categories of prizes, one for adults 16 years of age and older, and one for the kiddies under 16. For the adult prizes, there will be 14 total with first place receiving $100. There are six prizes for the youngsters with first place receiving $50.

To enhance the fishery, a great many fish are planted before the derby. Some are just your good-eating pan-size trout. But some big, hard rod-bending rainbows also are put into the lake, and one will take the top honor.

All of the standard trout baits will prompt a bite – salmon eggs, various Power Baits, night crawlers – as will flies such as a Woolly Bugger. Some anglers will cast-retrieve a variety of small lures and get bit.

Get it in the water and you’ll have a good chance of nailing trout. Go. It’s a great outing for the kids and the whole family.