New, experienced anglers can fish without license Sept. 7

Michael Condon
Staff Writer

  “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.”

—Doug Larson

  Twice a year the California Department of Fish and Wildlife offers the opportunity to try your hand at fishing without having to invest in a fishing license. The second and final Free Fishing Day for 2013 is Sept. 7.

  If you are not an angler, this is your chance to give it a try. If you are an angler, this is your chance to introduce a nonfishing friend to an activity that can become a lifelong pursuit that offers satisfaction on many different levels.

  The one thing better than hooking a fish may just be hooking a new angler, especially if that new angler is a child.

Lake Almanor

  Pond smelt are the featured menu item for Almanor trout and salmon right now — and even bass and catfish for that matter.

  According to local guide (and for the second year in a row winner of the annual Fish for a Wish Tournament sponsored by Big Cove Resort) Doug Neal, the trolling bite holds steady through the morning. It is not hot, but it is steady.

  Doug and his clients have been seeing a mix of fish from 1.5 pounds to 4.8 pounds: salmon, rainbows and browns.

  They are chasing smelt all over the lake. Smallmouth bass are feeding on pond smelt along the shoreline structure.

  Doug says that “when the fish are whacking smelt show them what they want.” Fast-action lures like Speedy Shiners and Needlefish have been very effective this past week.

  The best bite has been early and deep. Most of the action has come off No. 2 Needlefish trolled 30 feet deep. When fishing deeper Doug moves up to one-sixth-ounce Speedy Shiners in Fire Tiger patterns for higher visibility. Doug also trolls fairly fast (2 to 2.8 mph) with these lures.

  Other anglers are trolling slowly with smelt patterns close to the bottom and hooking fish that are picking up any leftover collateral damage from feeding attacks below.

  Dodger crawler rigs are still catching a few fish, but switch out that crawler with a small Needlefish or smelt-looking lure or bait and your success will improve.

  Most fish are being caught in the usual trolling lanes: Big Springs, Lake Haven Resort, The A Frame, Rec 2, Hamilton Branch and Rocky Point. What do these spots have in common? They have colder water, mostly from springs.

  In case you haven’t heard, there is a new dock in place (finally) at the Forest Service boat ramp at Canyon Dam.

Butt Lake

  The main lake has warmed into the low 70-degree range by the afternoons. But the inflow from Almanor at the powerhouse and the water entering the lake from Butt Creek have the water near the inlet a good 8 degrees cooler than the rest of the lake. That has lots of fish congregating near the powerhouse and Butt Creek inlets.

  But even though the fish may be congregating, images of a trout farm with eager 5-pounders would be sorely misplaced here.

  There certainly are some 5-pounders, but there is nothing eager about them. These fish are spooky and they have adapted to lots of fishing pressure.

  If you want to get schooled in fishing for smart and spooky trout, Butt Lake is the place to go.

  Be prepared to put in some time and bring your A game. This is a game for experienced anglers.

  Try pond smelt imitations on the powerhouse side. There are some very small mayflies (size 18 and smaller) on the creek side. Wiggle nymphs will also work.

  Some very patient bait anglers were taking fish on worms or salmon eggs, but be prepared to put in many hours per fish.

Lake Davis

  The water is getting warm, but the fishing overall has been fair to good at Davis.

  Catch-and-release anglers are avoiding Davis right now. When the water is this warm, fish will get very stressed when caught and the mortality of released fish is going to be very high.

  Bank fishing has been good at Mallard using nightcrawlers or PowerBait; early morning has been most productive.

  Trollers are finding fish scattered throughout the lake, but mostly in the deeper, cooler water. Dick Nites in Copper Red Head, Red Dot Frog and Fire Tiger have all been producing good results.

  There are no reports from fly anglers.

  Call J&J Grizzly Store and Camping Resort for the latest fishing information: 832-0270.

Frenchman Lake

  Fishing from shore seems to have slowed down at Frenchman Lake this past week according to the folks at Wiggin’s Trading Post.

  Boaters, whether trolling or drifting bait, continue to catch limits of nice-sized rainbows. Getting to the deeper and colder water seems to be the key.

  Nightcrawlers and PowerBait are still the most popular baits to use at Frenchman. Some anglers are having good results using Kastmaster lures.

  Fly anglers have been doing well using Royal Wulff flies.

  Call Wiggins’s Trading Post, 993-4683, for the most current fishing information.

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