Do you want to go fishing but aren’t sure how to get started?

Michael Condon

There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse.  Either is a gain over just staying home. ~Roderick Haig-Brown, Fisherman's Spring, 1951


I have a non-angling friend who is having a guest this weekend.  They would like to go fishing.
My friend asked me to set her up with some fishing gear and some ideas on where to go.
I realized that this is a dilemma that anybody could face.  You want to go fishing but you are not quite sure of how or where to start.


Getting started

The easiest way to get started is to take a class or better yet hire a guide.

We have outstanding fishing guides in Plumas County.  They can teach you about the gear, technique, and the subtleties of how to fish a particular lake or stream.

But guides are rather expensive.  Expect to pay up to $150 per person per day.

The advice in this column, on the other hand, is free.  And while I am familiar with the phrase “you get what you pay for” I think the following basic advice will help you get started fishing our many local waters.

Fishing Gear

My favorite way to fish is with a fly rod. But that is not how I started fishing.

Fly fishing can be as complicated as it is rewarding.  I highly recommend fly fishing, but I think a class or good mentor is really the way to get started.

For the do-it-yourself angler, spinning gear is the way to go.

To cover the many great waters Plumas County has to offer, I would start with a 7 foot, light action rod, with a reel spooled with 6 pound test.

If your focus exclusively on small streams and lakes, a 6 foot ultra-light rod and 4 pound test line would work even better. The lighter line will cast better and the lighter rod will be perfect for detecting light strikes and providing plenty of strength to land fish.

For trolling and fishing for Plumas County’s many big fish, a 7.5 foot rod with 8 pound test is a good choice.

But for all-round fishing in a variety of settingls, you want a sensitive rod with line that is lite enough to cast easily and strong enough to land the big one.  A 7 foot rod with spinning reel loaded with 6 pound test line is ideal.


Terminal Gear

“Terminal gear” is fishing speak for that stuff on the end of your line.

We are keeping it simple here for getting started.  If you want to cast lures from the bank but only want one lure, go with the venerable Kastmaster.

It has been around for years, has a great action in the water and casts very easily allowing the angler to cover lots of water.

If you are looking for more variety add a couple of Mepps spinners to your arsenal.

Bait is a very reliable option.  Salmon eggs and night crawlers are the old stand-bys.

Power Bait has been a favorite for several years.  It’s a bit like play-dough and must be molded into a small ball on the hook.  It releases a fish attracting scent into the water.  It also has the advantage of floating.  Place it on a size ten hook 3 feet above a small weight and it will float just off the bottom.

Crickets are another great option.  They can be tricky to get on the hook, but they are great fish catchers in both lakes and streams.


Where to go?

There are so many options here in Plumas County.

Stream fishing is great right now.  The Feather River near Graeagle or Sloat are good choices. So is the North Fork near Caribou Crossroads.  Deer Creek and Hamilton Branch are great options that are easily accessible in the Almanor area.

Frenchman, Davis, and Antelope Lakes are all good choices.

For a beautiful high lake experience, I suggest Lakes Basin near Graeagle.  Upper Salmon Lake, Lower Sardine Lake, and Packer Lake all offer good bank fishing.  Look for rocky shore lines with a relatively steep drop off.

Sardine Lake resort also offers boat rentals.

Bucks Lake is another great local choice.  Fish the inlets near Bucks Creek or Mill Creek.

Lake Almanor is one of my favorites.  Boat fishing is the best opportunity at Almanor but there are also excellent bank fishing.

Try the cove at the Canyon Dam boat ramp or the jetties near Prattville.

These areas both have spring fed water and steep banks allowing the bank angler to reach cooler and deeper water where the fish will most likely be holding.

Anglers need to eat.  Eating breakfast at Camp Prattville or lunch on the deck at the Lakeshore Lodge are both hard to beat.

These are very basic recommendations.  If you want more information check with one of our local fishing tackle dealers or e-mail me your questions to me at


Trout Plants

This week trout were planted in the North Fork of the Feather River above Chester and Hamilton Branch on the east side of Lake Almanor.


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