Fishing Report for the week of 9/5/2014Michael Condon
Warm water challenges anglers
The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.
Fishing in late summer is normally pretty tough. The warmer water and depleted oxygen levels slow the fish’s metabolism and feeding. The low water in the streams makes for less cover, resulting in fish that are more skittish.
This year has been especially tough. The meager snowpack caused the water temperatures to rise and the levels to fall even more quickly than usual.
Fall isn’t far away. One very good thing about fall is that the fishing picks up. But if you are not willing to wait for fall fishing, there are still fish to be caught even in the heat of late summer.
Lake Almanor is a little slow right now but probably providing more fishing action than any of our other local waters.
Surface temperature is right around 70 degrees. That is much better than it could have been thanks to a relatively cool August with more cloudy days and a couple good rain showers.
The lake level is lower than it has been in a few years and beginning to drop. But it is still far higher than most north state lakes. All of the boat ramps are in excellent shape. Fishing pressure is light.
The one real hot spot at Almanor has been the mouth of Hamilton Branch. Predictably, good numbers of fish move into the mouth this time of year for the warmer, more oxygenated water. This year they moved in early. There have been bigger fish and greater numbers of fish than have been seen in many years.
I have mixed feelings about fishing Hamilton Branch this time of year. It can be way too crowded for my taste. I am not a fan of combat fishing. And I worry about the many hundreds of fish that are removed from the lake in a situation that is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.
Then I hear about the 10-year-old that had the very best day of the summer fishing Hamilton Branch with his grandfather and it all feels a little better.
Hamilton Branch has slowed down just a little bit in the past couple of weeks and may slow down even more as the lake level is dropping fairly fast right now.
If you are going to fish the Branch, try drifting salmon eggs or fishing a dark-colored nymph under an indicator in the stream just above the lake.
If you are fishing from a boat, there are fish staging just in front of the mouth.
The best action for boaters has been drifting suspended baits over springs, according to local guide Doug Neal, of Almanor Fishing Adventures. Doug has been finding some nice browns just outside of Rec 2 near the tip of the peninsula.
Doug says the trolling lanes in some of the well-known spots like Rocky Point, Big Springs and A-Frame are reporting a few decent fish; however, anglers are fishing longer and working harder for them.
The fishing at Butt Lake depends on the water level. And the water level at Butt Lake can go up and down like a yo-yo.
A week and a half ago the water level was up and the powerhouse was running. Some nice fish were being caught below the powerhouse. They move in there for the colder water and the pond smelt that get washed down from Lake Almanor.
Then the lake dropped 6 feet in just a couple of days and the fishing shut down. A few days later I went down to check it out. The water was back up and the fishing was back on.
When the water is up, try white jigs or other pond smelt imitations on the powerhouse side of the jetty. Small nymphs can be effective on the creek side.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good in the main lake.
Antelope Lake is another bright spot among the local fisheries. Most of our local reservoirs were built for and managed for hydroelectricity. Antelope, on the other hand, was built for flood control. That gives water managers the ability to maintain higher water levels through the summer. Antelope Lake is very full compared to other north state lakes.
Antelope is also full of planted trout. They are not as big as those in some other local lakes, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers.
Try working the deeper water off the points. Trolling woolly buggers is a good bet.
The lake is low and the fish are deep. Patient bank anglers and fly fishers are rewarded with an occasional rainbow or brown, but kokanee are the main attraction at Bucks right now.
The key to finding kokanee is to fish the deep water just above the old creek channels. Most anglers use a fish finder to locate fish and downriggers get their gear to the proper level.
Kokanee gear usually includes a dodger of some kind (Shasta Tackle Sling Blades are a favorite) with a small lure trailed behind. Set the lure back a distance of one and a half times the length of the dodger.
Most successful kokanee anglers tip their hooks with a bit of corn and/or some garlic scent. I have no idea why those work, but they do.
Another key for kokanee fishing is the trolling speed. You do not want to troll so fast that your dodger spins in the water. It should have a gentle side-to-side motion. That usually means a very slow trolling speed.
The ramp at Sandy Point is out of the water although car toppers can still be launched there. Bigger boats have to go in at Bucks Lake Marina.
If you want the latest information on Bucks Lake, and the best gear to use once you get there, stop at the Sportsmen’s Den in East Quincy on your way up to the lake.
Lake Davis is a shallow lake, so the water tends to get warm. Fishing has been tough lately.
Bank fishing is slow, although a few fish are being caught at Mallard. Fly-fishing is slow but a few fish are being caught on woolly buggers or green damsels.
Anglers that are trolling or fishing suspended baits on anchor are catching a few fish in the deeper water north of the islands.
The lake level is around 55 percent.
Stream fishing is tough but there are a few bright spots. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, colder water is the key.
Fishing below cooler tributaries or springs is the key. Deep canyons are a good bet as they offer booth more shade and often more springs.
Deer Creek and Mill Creek are both fishing well. Your best chance is in the morning or evening when the sun is off the water. This will draw fish out of the deeper holding water to feed on caddis flies and mayflies in the riffles and pocket water.
Smaller dry flies will work. If you don’t see any surface feeding switch to nymphs. Deer Creek is fishing well near the Elam and Alder campgrounds where there are good numbers of stocked fish. For the adventurous, both of the streams have deep hike-in canyon sections with lots of wild trout.
There are small evening hatches on the North Fork Feather above Lake Almanor and on Warner Creek. The water is low, according to Tom Maumoynier, of Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. in Chester. That can make for tough fishing.
If all that fishing makes you hungry and thirsty, Tom and his wife have opened up a new pub, The Thirsty Trout. They serve a nice selection of tasty pub food and drinks right next door to the fly shop.
The best action on the North Fork Feather from Caribou downstream is when the sun is off the water. Try fishing a caddis imitation just before dark. In the middle of the day try drifting eggs or weighted stonefly or caddis nymphs through deep pocket water.
The Middle Fork Feather is slow right now due to low flows and warm water. There is some action below tributary mouths like Two Rivers or Nelson Creek where some colder water enters the river. The best action is early and late in the day when the sun is off the water and the trout are rising to caddis and yellow sally stoneflies.
Free fishing day
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that Saturday, Sept. 6, is a free fishing day. Both children and adults can fish without a fishing license.
The Plumas National Forest will host a free kids’ fishing derby at Round Valley Reservoir that same day.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to noon and includes fishing, contests, prizes, educational and cultural activities, crafts, snacks, historical stories and more fun.
Round Valley Reservoir is located off Highway 89 in Greenville. Travel 3 miles west on Hideaway Road, following signs to the reservoir.
For more information about the derby, contact the Mt. Hough Ranger District at 283-0555 or visit the PNF website at fs.usda.gov/plumas.