Shifting weather is a good sign for fishing conditions

Michael Condon
Staff Writer

  “Look at where Jesus went to pick people. He didn’t go to the colleges; he got guys off the fishing docks.”

—Jeff Foxworthy

  I am encouraged by our recent weather. Much of Plumas County got some much-needed rain from the recent thunderstorms. (Of course, the rain didn’t come until after 40 or so lightning fires had been ignited!)

  While it is way too early to say goodbye to summer weather just yet, the cooler weather has reversed the rising water temperature trend for most local lakes.

  The windy afternoons are just a little icing on the cake as they help to cool and oxygenate the water.

  All of these weather factors are good for the trout and, by extension, good for the angler. It is a little early to drag out the fall fishing gear, but it won’t be long. In the meantime, it is safe to say the dog days of summer are behind us and the fishing will only get better over the next couple of months.

  Don’t forget that this Saturday is the second and last free fishing day of the year. No license is required for fishing this Saturday.

  It is time to get out and enjoy some of our beautiful mountain lakes and streams.

Lake Almanor

  The fishing is good: not red hot, but good. Trollers, bait drifters and fly anglers are all picking up fish, but anglers should be prepared to put some time in.

  The fish are fat and actively feeding on pond smelt, according to longtime Almanor guide Doug Neal. There are still some mayfly and caddis hatches. There is an abundance of feed spread across a large body of water. The key to finding fish right now is to work the colder water.

  Even though the lake is on a cooling trend, the fish are still likely concentrated in the coldest portions of the lake. That means springs, inlets and deeper water.

  Jigging has been getting some quality fish. Neal says that areas like the Spar Buoy, the mouth of Hamilton Branch and Rec. 2. have all produced fish up to 4 pounds. White or yellow feather or tube jigs are getting the most attention.

  Mooching anchovy tails for salmon near the A-Frame has been rewarding one day and weak the next. The same is true at Big Springs. The 2-year-old salmon are about 17 inches and the 3- to 4-year-olds are running from 19 to 22 inches. Pro-Cure Anchovy Oil or Super Herring Gel applied to an anchovy tails are the best rigs for mooching.

  Downriggers are essential for trollers right now with the best action 30 to 40 feet deep. Doug says there are a wide variety of trolled lures getting hits lately. Slowly trolling naked crawlers, smelt patterns or dodger/crawler combos are still picking up fish. Fast action Needlefish or Speedy Shiners are getting big fish as well.

  The trolling boats are scattered all around the east basin working the usual places like the east shore, Rocky Point and Canyon Dam, and between Rec. 1 and the A-Frame.

  The trolling has been a little slow but should pick up as we move into a darker moon phase and the water continues to cool.

Butt Lake

  The main body of the lake is warm but the powerhouse has been running and along with the cool water flowing in from Butt Creek has drawn lots of fish into the inlet.

  Some big fish are taking pond smelt on the powerhouse side. But the majority of the fish seem to be on the creek side of the levy where the water is slightly colder. They are feeding mostly on very tiny nymphs.

  Allan Bruzza of the Sportsmen’s Den in Quincy suggests using Jay Fair Wiggle Tails. These are much larger than the nymphs the trout are feeding on but will get the trout’s attention.

  Allan has been fishing Butt Lake for a very long time and has probably caught as many big fish there as anyone. He cautions that these are very spooky fish and the angler really needs to bring his or her “A-game.”

  The bass are also biting in the main lake. Fishing pressure is very light. Winds can get pretty strong in the afternoons.

Lake Davis

  Fishing overall has been fair to good despite the warm water. Trolling is producing the best results as fish seek out the cooler, deeper water. The fish seem to be somewhat scattered throughout the lake.

  Best results have been in the channel on the east side. Try fishing 10 to 15 feet deep in the morning going down to 20 feet or more in the afternoon.

  Dick Nite Copper Red Head, Red Dot Frog and Fire Tiger have all been getting good results.

  Shore fishing and fly-fishing are on the slow side. Fishing for catfish has been good at Camp 5 and Eagle Point. Use nightcrawlers or catfish bait.

  Call J and J’s Grizzly Store and Camping Resort for the most current information: 832-0270.

Lakes Basin

  Trolling is good at Gold Lake, according to Mark Tieslau at Mountain Hardware and Sports in Blairsden. Trollers were catching limits of 12- to 16-inch rainbows and browns. I was very encouraged to hear the size of the fish they are catching as I was beginning to think the Mackinaw were nailing all the hatchery fish before they could get established and put on any size.

  Try fishing Rainbow Runners at 15 to 20 feet deep down the middle of the lake. Watch out for the wind in the afternoons.

  Lots of planters are being caught at Salmon Lake, Upper Sardine Lake and Lower Sardine Lake. Try using PowerBait or salmon eggs.

  I haven’t been there in a couple years, but one of my favorite lakes in the area is Lower Salmon Lake. It’s a short hike in and the fishing pressure is light.

  Panther Martins and Rooster Tails, and my old favorite, Super Dupers, are all pretty much standard fair for high lakes and they will work just fine here.

Bucks Lake

  Kokanee trolling is good in front of the dam. Fish deep using dodger/spinner or hoochie combos tipped with Pautzke’s Fire Corn. Rainbows are still hitting early in the morning up in the Bucks Creek arm.

Frenchman Lake

  Most of Plumas County has only seen brief episodes of smoke from the massive Rim Fire to our south. Being located in the far southeastern corner of the county, Frenchman Lake is the one exception. The more persistent smoke there has kept fishing pressure very light.

  Despite the smoke, one angler reported catching three 2-pound fish using PowerBait at the dam.

  The Frenchman boat ramp, which has been undergoing construction and repaving this summer, reopened Aug. 31.

  Cottonwood Family Campground will be closing for the season this week. All of the other campgrounds at Frenchman are still open.

  Call Wiggin’s Trading Post for updates or answers to questions at 993-4683.


  The Middle Fork Feather gets a bit warm this time of year. Fish the cooler water from Two Rivers on downstream. Work the deep pools, especially below cool tributaries. Fly fishers are connecting with hopper patterns, smaller dries like pale morning duns, dead-drifted nymphs like rubber-legs and micro-mayflies. Try a small nymph under a big dry like a stimulator or hopper as the indicator.

  The North Fork Feather is at summer level. Both Caribou and High Bridge received their final trout plant of the year recently so there is a mix of hatchery fish and natives both above and below Lake Almanor.

  Small caddis and mayflies are hatching in the afternoons. Hoppers are always a good bet on warm windy afternoons this time of year.

  Warner Creek is at summer flow levels. Evening hatches have been good and hoppers are effective in the afternoons.

  Deer Creek is running low but the fishing below Elam remains good.

  Fish are being caught on dark flies in the evenings in Mill Creek. The stream is in good shape.

  Hamilton Branch is in good shape. Nymph fishing has been best although there have been some evening hatches. The larger fish have moved into the lower section to get to cooler water.

  Yellow Creek is producing some browns and rainbows in the evenings on midges and caddis. The meadow is full of hoppers.

  (Many thanks to Tom Maumoynier of the Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. for much of the stream information. Tom is located on Main Street in Old Towne Chester and can be reached at 258-3944.)

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