- “The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?”
- —Lee Wulff
The weather man, the calendar, and even the fish are all in agreement: Spring is here. The weather is getting warmer and the fishing is starting to pick up.
But before we get to the fishing there is a more important issue to report.
Fishing, and especially the gentle art of fly-fishing, is not often associated with crime. But these are hard times and nothing seems immune from the greedy and destructive reach of the hardened criminal.
In this case we are talking about a masked bandit committing a brazen crime by breaking and entering into a local fly shop. When the perpetrator was first confronted by Plumas County’s finest, he barricaded himself inside and refused to surrender.
There was probably some discussion of calling out the Plumas County sheriff’s SWAT team. After considering the special talents of this masked bandit, a specialist was brought in to capture the hardened criminal. The standoff continued through the night. The bandit refused to surrender and could not be caught.
The intruder continued to wreak havoc on the premises. The now-wounded perpetrator left a trail of blood through the store. Merchandise was destroyed and strewn about the store as the bandit searched for food. The damage continued as the angry and cornered intruder went on a hunger- and anger-fueled rampage.
Law enforcement officials had exhausted all of their options. The bandit would not be caught. There was nothing left to do but move in with lethal force.
Finally the marauding raccoon was dispatched. But The Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. on Main Street in Chester had been violated. The damage to the shop was extensive.
Owner Tom Maumoynier contacted his insurance company. They asked him not to start the cleanup until they could get an insurance adjuster on the scene. They explained that they wanted to get an accurate assessment of the damage. Insurance companies don’t get claims of this nature every day. And they were probably well aware of the sometimes fantastic tales that are told at The Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. (many of which are actually true).
Given the circumstances, they had no choice but to check it out for themselves.
It is also possible that they just wanted an excuse to visit God’s country and get in a little spring fishing.
The good news is that the mess has been cleaned up and The Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. is once again open for business. Right now they are open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and all day on Friday and Saturday. Stop by for some excellent fly-fishing gear and great stories. (This particular tale is backed up with actual crime scene photographs.)
And now for some actual fishing information …
Frenchman Lake is free of ice everywhere except the dam. Ice fishing is over for the season. The roads around the lake are mostly open, but very muddy so use caution. It may be best to stay off the muddy roads to avoid erosion and road damage. You can park at the dam and hike around the point toward the boat ramp or hike to the left of the dam toward the cove. Fishing should be great. Try nightcrawlers. Call Wiggins Trading Post (993-4683) for the most up-to-date information.
The ice at Davis is starting to break up. The ice fishing is finished for the season. Look for open water along the shore. Ice out brings some hungry fish cruising the open shorelines. The east shore melts first so that is the best bet. Look for the fishing to get better over the next few weeks as the water begins to warm up a bit more.
Last year spring fishing was slow to come to Almanor. Not so this year. Spring has just begun and the fishing is picking up thanks in large part to the mild weather of the past few weeks. As is often the case water temperature is everything. It regulates not only the metabolism of the fish, but also the availability of their food sources. The lake is waking up from months of winter weather. The west lobe of the lake is the shallower of the two lobes so it warms up and wakes up first. Whether fishing from a boat or from shore, the west side of the place is the place to be.
There are two primary food sources right now: pond smelt and midges. With water temperatures still in the low to mid 40-degree range, insect activity is light. But midges can hatch in the cooler water. Fly-fishers using small midge imitations are hooking some nice fish in the protected coves along the west shore.
Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service has been finding lots of brown trout along the west shore. Bryan says these beautiful fish are on the move, actively seeking out their favorite meal this time of year: the pond smelt. Bryan and his clients have been enjoying a steady pick of quality hard-tugging browns from 3 to 7.5 pounds on recent trips. They have also found a few rainbows in the 3- to 4-pound class.Bryan has been trolling Rapalas in a variety of colors loaded with Pro-Cure’s Trophy Trout Gel. Bryan is finding most of his fish in the top 10 feet of water.
Shore anglers are also doing well. Geritol Cove and the Causeway are favorite places. The usual bank fishing options, nightcrawlers and PowerBait, are enticing opportunistic trout.
The rainbow spawn is nearly complete. Responsible anglers will not target spawning fish and if they do hook one they will land it and release it carefully.
Most streams open the last Saturday in April. The exceptions are those streams flowing into Lake Almanor and Butt Lake. These streams do not open until the Saturday preceding Memorial Day. Be sure to check the regulations before you go fishing.
California Fish and Wildlife website resources
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has some useful resources for the angler on its website at dfg.ca.gov.
A couple years ago the department automated their system for issuing licenses. Many anglers and some store owners who sold the licenses grumbled about this change. But I buy my license online and I find it to be very convenient. Once you are “in the system” you just enter your license number and all of your information is there. Just enter a credit card number and you are done. You can print a temporary license to fish with that same day. A few days later your season license shows up in the mail.
Do you have a question about the fishing regulations? All the fishing and hunting regulations are online. And it’s a good thing because the folks at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have gotten pretty stingy about printing the regulation booklets. But if that saves taxpayer dollars I am all for it.
Another useful tool is the Fishing Guide. This handy resource has a map and list of hundreds of places to fish in the state of California. There is some basic information about the kind of fish, the amenities and other useful information for each location. The information is not extremely detailed, but it’s a good starting point if you are planning a fishing trip.
You can find all of these resources by going to www.dfg.ca.gov. Click on “Recreation” and then on “Fishing.”
It’s time to get out and enjoy Plumas County’s beautiful outdoors.