Shannon Simpson, of Susanville, celebrates her birthday by landing this beautiful brown trout while fishing Lake Almanor with Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service.Photo submitted
“Down at the core of every fisherman’s heart is the belief that on any day something wonderful and unlikely could be made to happen, and that if you’re careful and patient enough it could happen to you.”
—John Gierach, “Standing in a River Waving a Stick”
The fishing is good right now. Does that mean that you will catch a fish on every cast or even every other cast? No.
When I say the fishing is “good,” I mean an average angler has a good chance of catching something. And we are all average anglers, especially in the opinion of the fish. That might not fit a mathematician’s definition of “average” but fishing has its very own math. Measurements in particular, being more fluid and subjective when applied to angling, are subject to an entirely different set of rules. But let’s save that discussion for another day.
Having a good chance of catching a fish beats having a good chance of getting skunked. Having a good chance of getting skunked beats not going fishing at all. So in the general scheme of things, good fishing is way better than some of the alternatives. It’s even better still when you have a good chance of catching a pretty large fish. And some pretty large fish are being caught right now. So this must be a good time to go fishing.
Lake Almanor is fishing better than normal for April thanks to the relatively warm and dry weather. The warmer water (high 40 to mid 50 degree range) has the insect activity on the increase and fish are feeding actively all over the lake. All species are in play. Almanor’s big browns are the primary attraction right now. But the salmon and rainbows are also feeding actively and the smallmouth bass are being caught off of the rocky points as they prepare to spawn.
Doug Neal, of Almanor Fishing Adventures, has been targeting king salmon along the east shore. Doug says the kings are very active from first light until about 11 a.m. He suggests fishing threaded and scented half nightcrawlers 14 inches behind a Sep’s Strike Master dodger. Fish slowly with downriggers set to between 20 and 40 feet deep. The king salmon are running between 18 and 20 inches. Hang on to your hat when these fish snap your downrigger release. These are some strong and hard fighting fish.
The salmon aren’t the only game in town. Bryan Roccucci, of Big Daddy’s Guide Service, is getting into some excellent brown trout action. Bryan has been hooking some beautiful browns trolling black and silver Rapalas. He has been working both the east and west shores with success. He is also picking up some rainbows and even smallmouth bass while trolling for the big browns.
Fly-fishing can also be good this time of year. In summer the fish move to deeper and cooler water. But in spring the shallow water along the shore is still nice and cool. Insect activity picks up as the temperatures push into the 50 degree range. Fishing midges can be very productive this time of year. The west shore should be good right now as that water warms a bit faster than the rest of the lake.
Even when the trout are feeding on midges, I like to throw something big and bushy like a woolly bugger their way. A size 8 bugger stands out nicely in crowd of size 18 midges. A big opportunistic trout might like that.
Shore-bound anglers are also getting in on the action. Try Hamilton Branch and Geritol Cove (if you don’t mind lots of company) and also along the causeway and at Bailey Springs.
The road is plowed to the dam. I have not heard any reports this week but I suspect those few anglers who are braving the mud and snow to launch their boats are finding some good action.
The big mackinaws will be cruising the shoreline looking for baitfish. This is a great time to try for some hefty mackinaw on light gear. There should also be some very healthy rainbows and browns working the shallow water.
The snow is gone from Lake Davis, but some of the access roads remain muddy. Jon Baiocchi of Baiocchi’s Troutfitters fished Davis recently. Jon said the water temperature is about 48 degrees and the lake is about three weeks ahead of normal. The rainbows are schooling in front of the stream mouths preparing to spawn and feeding on small black midges. Once the water warms a few more degrees the insect hatches will increase and the fishing will improve.
There have been some good reports coming from Frenchman Lake this past week.
Robert Spiva, of Reno, caught his limit at Snallygaster using nightcrawlers. One of the fish was about 12 inches and the other four fish were between 17 and 18 inches.
Preston and Vera Huff, of Reno, were fishing the west side of Turkey Point and caught three nice-sized rainbows in about three hours using nightcrawlers and PowerBait. The fish measured between 16 and 22 inches in length. Rudy, Sean and Travis were fishing Turkey Point on Saturday. They caught 15 rainbows between 12 and 14 inches each using worms.
The campgrounds at Frenchman are tentatively set to open April 19.
Call Wiggin’s Trading Post at 993-4683 for the most current information.
The streams are still closed. Most will open April 27. Those streams that flow into Lake Almanor and Butt Lake will remain closed until May 25.