Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.
I like smoked fish a lot. But smoked fishing is another matter. And right now that is what is on the menu for much of northern Plumas County.
The Chips Fire is on the loose. It started along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Feather River Canyon and is now well-established in the Yellow Creek and North Fork Feather River drainages.
It’s not going away anytime soon. These are steep, rugged and inaccessible canyons and several thousand acres are likely to burn before the fire is controlled.
Butt Valley and the Almanor Basin will be draped in smoke for the next couple of weeks.
The water quality at Almanor is much better than the air quality. Water clarity is excellent at around 17 feet and water temperature at the surface is in the low 70-degree range.
Air quality is another matter. Smoke from the Chips Fire settles into the Almanor Basin every night. That is much more a concern for the fisherman than the fish and it is not likely to change anytime soon.
For those anglers willing to endure the smoke, the fishing is very good. The insect hatches are about done. The pond smelt population is very healthy with lots of big smelt this year. The fish are beginning to key on the smelt and looking for cooler water. This should make fishing a bit less of a puzzle.
Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures likes Big Springs these days. Doug says the salmon are in there: lots of salmon averaging 18 to 19 inches. Doug has been doing well mooching anchovy tails eight to 10 feet off the bottom.
During the Fish for a Wish Derby Doug changed up and trolled just south of Big Springs where he and his partner Rod Overstreet hooked a mix of salmon and rainbows stacking Sep’s Strike Master Dodgers and half a crawler at 25 feet and 44 feet down. They managed three fish weighing 9 pounds, 14 ounces. That was enough to take the top spot in the tournament.
Butt Lake will be getting a bit of a rest for a while. All of the campgrounds and the day use/boat ramp area are closed to public access due to the fire.
I have heard a couple reports that Antelope Lake is fishing well. But I don’t know enough to offer specific recommendations. Antelope has lots of structure. It has a mix of rainbows, brook trout and both smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Antelope is farther away and further south from the fire than Butt Lake and Lake Almanor. Some days it may not get much smoke, but on others days it could get a fair amount. Either way, it will have less smoke and might be a good alternative to Butt and Almanor.
Fishing has been great at Frenchman Lake this past week for both trollers and bank anglers.
Early morning bank anglers are catching rainbows up to 18 inches using bright green PowerBait or worms.
On Saturday two Reno anglers were fishing at the dam and caught their limits within an hour.
Fly anglers are doing well deep lining midges early in the morning. A full sink line is your best bet. There is an evening midge hatch. Try midges and soft hackle flies just under the surface once the sun gets off the water until dark.
The fishing is great, the weather is warm and you can find everything you need, including the latest fishing tips, at Wiggin’s Trading Post. Drop in and see them on your way up to the lake or give them a call at 993-4683.
The water has warmed into the low 70s and the fishing has slowed down just a bit. There are still a few damsel flies on the water but most fish have gone deeper. Try fishing eight to 20 feet deep. Trollers should try Dick Nite lures. Fly anglers should use midges, woolly buggers or Jay Fair Wiggle Tail Nymphs.
Fishing had slowed but is starting to pick up again. The water has warmed to the low 70s and the fish are moving deeper. Fish are between 12 and 20 feet deep. Trollers are doing well with Needlefish and Jay Fair Trolling Flies.
Fly anglers should try tui chub imitations or Jay Fair Wiggle Tail nymphs along the tule edges early in the morning.
Trollers are still doing well at Bucks Lake. The catch has been mostly browns and rainbows with a few kokanee and brook trout in the mix. The hot spots seem to be in front of both the Bucks Creek and Mill Creek inlets.
The North Fork Feather River above Lake Almanor is in good shape. Nymphs are working best. Golden stones and mayflies are hatching in the evenings.
Warner Creek is also fishing well with lots of small natives being caught and released.
Deer Creek is an excellent choice for stream fishing. The upper creek is easily accessed from Highway 32. The stretch near the campgrounds is stocked with rainbow trout and makes a great place for beginning and experienced anglers alike. Eggs and crickets are top choices for bait anglers. Fly anglers should try prince nymphs and parachute adams.
Lower Deer Creek offers a beautiful setting for the anglers who are willing to hike a bit. Watch for summer run king salmon holding in the deeper pools. They migrate up the creek in the early spring and spend the summer in the deepest pools waiting to spawn in the fall. It is truly amazing to see such large fish in a small creek. Remember they are an endangered species and it is illegal to fish for or harass them in any way.
Hamilton Branch right at the mouth is a popular spot now as fish move from the lake into the cooler water. The upper stream is fishing well with dry flies in the evening.
For the latest information on streams in the Almanor area, stop by or call the Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Company in Chester (258-3944). For stream information in central and eastern Plumas County stop by or call Allan Bruzza at the Sportsmen’s Den in Quincy (283-2733).