It’s time to get back on the water; Fishing Report

Michael Condon
Staff Writer

"The best fisherman I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them." John Gierach "Fly Fishing the High Country"


I keep getting asked. Have you been fishing yet? How is the fishing?

I sheepishly admit that I haven’t been fishing yet. Maybe it’s because my last outing involved a near death experience and a good bout of hypothermia.

I was fishing from my kayak in November. My dog Willow was with me. She got excited about something and capsized our little boat. I spent a couple hours in some very cold water.

It was the sort of thing you can maybe just forget about when you are in your twenties. But I am in my 60’s now and it caught my attention. It made me think seriously about things like friends, family and the meaning of life.

I am still working on that last one. I will let you know if I come up with anything definitive.

But it did dull my enthusiasm for winter fishing. I have opted for staying warm, dry and out of the water these past few months. It probably has been the longest I have ever gone without fishing. Now it is time to get over it!

This isn’t winter anymore. It doesn’t even feel like early spring despite what the calendar says.

Lakes that should be iced over are thawed and roads that should be covered in snow aren’t. Some days it’s hard to know if I am waiting for winter to begin or end. I mean how can winter be leaving if it never really got here in the first place?

The streams won’t be open for a while yet. But most of our lakes are open year round. Most years we are waiting patiently for snow and ice to melt in March, but not this year. If you enjoy fishing the many lakes of Plumas County, now is the time to get on the water.

Some of my friends are big into long range fishing. They like to travel to exotic places to practice their craft. (I use the term “exotic” loosely; maybe anything over 100 miles from home.)

I am not opposed to an occasional road trip for some good fishing especially when it involves sharing a campfire with old friends. But what I really enjoy is learning how a particular fishery responds to changing conditions; learning the patterns. For me this means fishing close to home and fishing the same water over and over so I can learn how it responds to seasonal variations.

This year offers a set of conditions unlike anything we have seen in a long time. The last time we had a winter anything like this was back in 1976 and 77 when I first moved to Plumas County.

So this warm and dry winter presents a new set of challenges and opportunities for the angler. It is a new puzzle to solve.

I am not feeling good about the condition of our streams this year, but since stream fishing is still a ways off, let’s worry about that later and concentrate on the lakes for now.

The biggest difference is early access. Lakes that would only be accessed on skis or snowmobiles this time of year are easy to drive to. Early spring fishing can be outstanding. This year getting to your favorite spot early is much easier.

The Mackinaw are feeding in shallow water. Rainbow trout are in spawning mode. Fishing from shore, whether with flies, bait, or hardware, is at its best in the early spring. If its big browns you like, they are on the move this time of year too.

In the past few years lake levels have been fairly high. This has been great for the fish. There has been plenty of feed and shallow water cover. While that is great for the fish, it can make for some tough fishing. My guess is that the more abundant feed and cover coupled with lower mortality probably have the fish populations in our local lakes at very high levels.

But this year there is less water. When you consider the past few years collectively, what we are in for this year is more fish competing for less feed in less habitat. That can make for some very good fishing. This will play out a little differently at each lake. But it will pay off to consider how these factors have affected your favorite lake and what that means in terms of how best to fish that lake.

I suspect the spring fishing will be excellent. Later in the summer we will be faced with entirely different conditions. Lower and warmer water will take its toll on our local fisheries. Fish will become lethargic and we anglers will have to give some thought to when its best to leave vulnerable fisheries alone so we don’t contribute to excessive mortality.

I am not looking forward to late season fishing. But for now we have some great opportunities to take advantage of.

Surface temperature will continue to increase slowly as the weather warms. This will make the fish more active over the next several weeks, so the best is yet to come.


Lake Almanor

The Almanor spring brown trout bite is on according to Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service. This can be some of the most exciting fishing of the year.

The mild spring temperatures have these fish in spring mode. Bryan reports outstanding fishing with fish running from 3 to 6 pounds.

There have been a few tough days on the water where weather and water conditions have made for tough fishing, but overall the bite has been good.

In addition to the browns, Bryan has been seeing few really nice rainbows and a few smallmouth bass. Anglers who have been targeting smallies and rainbows are reporting decent results.

Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures reports some insect activity starting in the warmer and shallower water, mostly around Lake Cove on the east shore, the West side of the Peninsula from Bunell Point to Rec.2 and the Almanor West area.

Aquatic insect events will get fish more active as insect larva are packed with protein, which converts to energy quickly.

Doug says the water clarity is improving but he still likes trolling with an attractor to grab the fishes attention. The Silver Prism, with 1/2 a crawler 12 inches back, trolled slowly has been producing some nice fish.  Salmon have been hitting fast action lures like 1/6 oz. Speedy Shiners in nickel hammer finish, or Fire tiger.


Lake Davis

Lake Davis is returning to its status as one of the premier fishing destinations not just in Plumas County, but in the entire state.

Fish populations were returning back to normal last year. Then there was the news of Hexagenia mayflies becoming established in the lake. These large protein packed morsels are making for even fatter trout than before.

The snow that would normally surround the lake this time of year is gone. Anglers can drive in to their favorite spots.

Fly fishers have been doing especially well. The rainbows are actively cruising the shallow coves. The east side of the lake is fishing especially well.

Jon Baiocchi of Baiocchi’s Troutfitters reported seeing some early blood midges and damsel flies. He reports that callebatis nymphs and pheasant tails are the flies of choice right now.

The afternoon fishing is decent, but if you want a treat, stay until the sun goes down. The fish just before dark can be very exciting.


Frenchaman Reservoir

Bank fishing all around the lake has been good and trollers are doing well too.
Big Cove, Snallygaster and Turkey Point have been the hot spots. Anglers are hooking up with rainbows to 16 inches using Powerbait and worms floated off the bottom.

Bob Parry, the resident fishing guide, says that the fish are in spawning mode now and can be found in the shallow waters near the stream entrances.

Call Wiggin's Trading Post for the latest conditions (530) 993-4683.

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