Hidden Adventures: Sycamore Island

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A calming day on the water awaits.

Three miles south of Valley Children's Hospital, off Avenue 7 1/2, Sycamore Island comes into view.

We paddled around with Sarah Parkes of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.

"Are people surprised by the amount of fish that you have out here in these ponds," she said. "Yeah, I think so. It's pretty fun and we've had a lot of new visitors to Sycamore Island as a result of the pandemic."

Vincent Vang got a bite from the bank. He prefers catch and release and went to great lengths to try to revive this fish, even going underwater to retrieve it.

Despite his best efforts, Vincent ended up having to take his catch home.

"Maybe just the fight was too intense for it," he said.

Vang was trying out Sycamore for the first time.

"If the fishing gets good, I'll come back," he said.

Trout planted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife may survive being shot into the water but don't survive the hot summer.

The trout pond was stocked in January and April here at Sycamore Island, so it may be difficult to catch a trout. But you'll find plenty of other fish along the San Joaquin River and in the seven ponds that you will find here.

The ponds are spread out over 600 acres here at Sycamore, so you have to drive to some of them. But anglers have been catching everything from bass to crappie to bluegill and even carp."

Stop by the bait shop to hear what's biting and which pond is seeing the most action. You can pick up some squiggly worms while you're there.

"On a pond like old muddy, for example, which is a lot warmer, you're probably going to have better luck catching catfish," Sarah said.

The location brings people out after work since it doesn't close during the summer until 8:30 pm.

"It's awesome," says Patrick Warnshuis Jr. "You don't have to travel 45 minutes to the lake. It literally takes me 10-15 minutes to get here."

Sycamore Island opens at 6 am.

"There's definitely a line of cars," Sarah said. "People are ready to go."

If one spot gets too crowded, you can just drive over to another pond.

"If you're struggling, you might run into someone out on the pond that will give you some tips," said.

The boat launch on the trout pond has been upgraded and an ADA accessible pier was added at a fishing hole hidden in plain sight.

"So many people aren't aware that the river is here," Sarah said.
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