Lake Almanor is fishing very well. The spring bite is on!
Warmer waters have triggered abundant insect hatches and, along with spawning pond smelt, have hungry trout and salmon moving into shallow waters to feed.
Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures has had excellent results trolling red and gold Speedy Shiners and florescent Rainbow Runners with a generous application of scents.
Doug reports that other anglers have had success trolling night crawlers behind dodgers, or else Needlefish tipped with a piece of a crawler.
Trollers are working the entire east shore, from Canyon Dam to Hamilton Branch and back.
Some fish are active early, but the pattern this last week is that the bite really picks up after 8 a.m., when the sun hits the water. Doug suggests working the top water early, 4 to 16 feet down, and fishing deeper in the late morning, 28 to 38 feet.
I fished the west shore of Almanor a couple days ago and can verify everything Doug says.
I also got a lesson in trolling speed. I was trolling slowly at first with no success. As soon as I increased the speed a bit the fish started hitting.
I also found it interesting that even though I caught fish using a pond smelt imitation, the one fish I kept for the table was absolutely stuffed with green midges.
According to the folks at J&J Grizzly Resort and Store (238-0270), the lake level is at 88 percent.
Anglers are catching fish trolling at 6 to 10 feet. Dick Nite Copper Red Heads, Red Rainbow Runners and Red Dot Frogs have been the best.
Night crawlers are producing the best results for bank anglers while Jay Fair Wiggle Tail nymphs in Burnt or Cinnamon are working well for fly anglers.
Mallard Cove and Coot Bay are fully accessible. Honker Cove boat ramp is in the water and open.
The west side road is still snow-packed at the turnoff from Lake Davis Road.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Yes, it is a little early to fish the waters of Lassen Park. The park is covered in snow and will be for some time. But it is never too early to plan.
What I like best about the park is that with the possible exception of Manzanita Lake in the northwest corner of the park, the park gets very little fishing pressure. It also has some great fishing.
National Park Service policy prohibits stocking fish. As a result, many of the lakes in the park have no fish. But there are a few lakes that have excellent trout populations.
The key to supporting a sustainable trout population is the lake needs tributary streams for the fish to spawn in. Several of the Lassen Park lakes have the necessary habitat features.
One of my favorite lakes is Snag Lake. It’s a bit of a hike to get there. Strangely, the walk in has gotten even longer since I first went there nearly 30 years ago. Funny how that happens.
I try to go to Snag Lake every fall. The fishing can be excellent then, especially if you can manage to carry in some sort of raft or float tube.
I have a small Sevlor raft that packs very nicely and only weighs about 3 pounds … but be prepared to get a little wet.
The other interesting thing about Snag Lake in the fall — or for that matter anywhere in the Sierra or Cascades in the fall — is that you can encounter a wide variety of conditions.
In October I have experienced very warm weather. I have been pelted by hail from late summer thunderstorms. More than once I have even been snowed on.
I have also been chased out by thick smoke from nearby managed fires. But I keep going back to Snag Lake and will do so again this year.
The season at this high elevation is short. And as I mentioned, there is no stocking. These are fragile populations. Catch and release is highly advisable.
If you want to know more about fishing in Lassen Park check out the May/June issue of Northwest Fly Fishing. There is plenty of good information about fishing the park along with a map of the best fishing waters. The article features Tom Maumoynier of the Lake Almanor Fishing Company in Chester (258-3944). One of Tom’s fly patterns, Tom’s Party Dress, is featured in the article. It looks a bit on the gaudy side to me, but Tom knows his stuff so I am going to give it a try.
If you like good fishing in a beautiful and secluded setting and don’t mind a bit of a hike, you will enjoy Lassen Park.