Know Your Forage By Mike Gorman

Know Your Forage
By Mike Gorman


k F W n O ow R y A ou G r E



elcome to our new se-

ries on knowing and un-

derstanding bass forage.

This series is intended to inform anglers of the life history and behavior of the common forage species in California.

Understanding a bit more about the forage

throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin system and as far south as Diamond Valley Lake in Southern California.

options that exist in waters you fish, might put the right baits in your hand and better fish in your boat.



This small dynamo is a substantial part of the bait fish forage available to bass in a number of California reservoirs, including but not limited to, Lake Almanor, Butts Lake, and Lake Oroville.

Wakasagi (Hypomesus nipponensis) were intentionally introduced in 1959 from Japan by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as an experimental forage fish for trout.

The wakasagi were stocked in California in Sly Park Reservoir, Dodge Reservoir, Spaulding Reservoir, Big Bear Lake, Dwinnel Reservoir, Shastina Reservoir, and Freshwater Lagoon in 1959.

They were then stocked in Lake Almanor on the North Fork Feather River in 1972. They have since migrated downstream from Lake Almanor to Lake Oroville.

NOTE: the species is not found today in all waters historically stocked and it has been observed

One negative effect of wakasagi introductions has been the collapse of kokanee fisheries in reservoirs into which they have been introduced.

Evidence suggests that, although wakasaki can become an important and reliable forage base for sport fishes such as trout and bass, they may simply displace other planktivorous prey fishes (e.g. threadfin shad) with no real net gain in the growth of predatory fishes.


Wakasagi, commonly referred to as Japanese pond smelt, are a pelagic (meaning they feed in open water) plankton feeder found in open lakes, streams and reservoirs.

They are a slender bodied fish generally reaching 70- to 90-millimeter in total length. Wakasagi are nearly translucent with a steely blue sheen to their sides (I’ve personally observed a range in color to