The kokanee salmon are running strong as they make their way upstream in Bucks Creek. Hundreds of kokanee, a landlocked sockeye, can be seen swimming up the shallow creek from Bucks Lake on their way to spawn Oct. 12. Photos by Laura Beaton
“If all politicians fished instead of spoke publicly, we would be at peacewith the world.”
The fall colors have come on like gangbusters.Not that the fish notice, but I think the fishing is that much more enjoyable with all of the color and the crisp fall air.
The problem this fall is that along with the crisp air and beautiful color, fall seems to have brought the north winds in abundance.Despite taking a week off that was supposed to include lots of fishing, I — along with a lot of other anglers — was kept off the water by the winds.
The north winds aren’t a total game-breaker, though.When the winds blow I can spend my mornings hunting for deer and for mushrooms.So far I have found none of the former and a few of the later.But at least I am outside enjoying the beautiful fall in the Sierra.
But this week looks like it may be different.The high pressure should settle over us and the winds will hopefully calm down.If that comes to pass I will surely put in some quality time on a couple of our local lakes.But these predictions are always risky since I am writing this at least a few days before you are reading it.
Fortunately a few anglers have been out on the water lately.Here is what I have learned from them about current conditions:
Surface temperatures have dropped to below 60 degrees, which is good, but the winds have churned the water up so that the clarity has dropped considerably, especially along the west shore.
I tried fishing Almanor last week, but the wind was blowing hard.At sunup the lake was already covered with angry white caps.
When the winds let up, there were a few anglers working the east basin where it was less windy and the water clarity was a little better.But the couple of anglers I talked to reported pretty slow fishing.
With the water clarity being reduced, trollers should use either flashers or dodgers.The cooler water should bring the fish up shallower.
A fish finder can help pinpoint the proper depth.If you don’t have one your best bet would be to start shallow early in the morning (15 to 20 feet), and if you don’t get results gradually lower your rig to about 35 feet.
Trolling threaded crawlers very slowly or Speedy Shiners a bit faster would be a good bet.
For the past few months trolling has been the name of the game at Almanor. That changes as the water gets cooler and the fish move into shallower water within reach of shore anglers.
That is especially true now as the brown trout are in prespawn mode.Look for the big browns as they move into shallow water with gravel bottoms especially near springs.This is especially well-suited for fly anglers who can score with very small midge imitations or Jay Fair Wiggle Tail nymphs.
The conventional wisdom is that the smallmouth bass fishing drops off this time of year.I have talked to a couple local bass anglers who tell me that is not at all the case.Try crankbaits in 8 to 15 feet of water in the shallows around Rocky Point and Goose Island.
There are rumors that the Forest Service boat ramps are closed due to the government shutdown.It is true that Forest Service facilities that have gates are closed.But neither the Canyon Dam nor Almanor ramps are behind gates.I visited both last week and they were open.Unless barricades have been installed very recently, both ramps are open, although the restrooms are locked.
The fishing is starting to pick up at Eagle Lake, according to Tom Maumoynier of Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co.
Eagle Lake’s famous rainbow trout are moving into shallow water this time of year. Fish are always spooky in shallow water but a little wind puts a ripple on the water making them harder for aerial predators to spot and a bit less spooky.
The problem with Eagle Lake is that a little wind can quickly turn into a lot of wind.Eagle Lake is especially exposed to a north wind, which can turn the lake dangerously rough for small craft.Be very aware of the weather before boating Eagle Lake.
Tui chub are the primary food source.They are a 2- to 3-inch minnow that is generally olive on the top and lighter on the bottom.The sides are multicolored with a bronze cast.They make up the bulk of the trout diet this time of year.Rapalas or other minnow imitations work well as tui chub imitations.
There are also a number of fly patterns that will work.My favorites are the cinnamon or rust colored Jay Fair Trolling Flies and Wiggle Nymphs.Jay Fair is a master angler who has studied and fished Eagle Lake for decades.He developed these patterns especially for Eagle Lake.
The kokanee are spawning.Even if you are not an angler, the fall colors and spawning kokanee make the trip to Bucks Lake worth the drive.You can view the spawning salmon in the creek where the road crosses Bucks Creek just before you arrive at the lake.
The rainbows, brookies and Mackinaw have moved up into the shallow water in front of both the Mill Creek and Bucks Creek inlets.The few anglers on the lake are doing well in both spots.The other hot spot is just in front of the dam.
The water level at Bucks is very low.All of the docks are out of the water.All Forest Service as well as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. facilities are closed.Boats can still be launched at Lakeshore Resort and Bucks Lake Marina.
The folks at J&J Grizzly Store and Camping Resort report the fishing has been good.
Trolling Dick Nite copper red head, and the Dick Nite pearl hot head, or anything with pink has been picking up fish.
The fall bite is on, according to longtime guide Jon Baiocchi of Baiocchi’s Troutfitters in Nevada City.Jon says the fish are still scattered from Eagle Point all the way up to Mosquito Slough. The fish are starting to gang up in the north end in big numbers.
The fish are rising to sparse hatches of Callibaetis, blood midges and little green midges during the warmest time of the day.
Covering water in a float tube or pontoon boat with an intermediate line in productive areas is your best bet, according to Jon. Rust, burnt orange or olive wiggle tails are also productive.
Bank anglers using a worm and marshmallow combination have been catching some nice rainbows at Fairview Point.
The folks at J&J report that their campground is open but the Forest Service boat ramps and campgrounds are closed due to the shutdown of the federal government.
Call J&J at 832-0270 for the latest fishing, campground and boat ramp information.
Temperatures are getting down into the 20s and 30s at night at Frenchman Lake. The lake is starting to turn and the fish are feeding.
Wiggin’s Trading Post has had several reports of good shore fishing using nightcrawlers near the dam and Turkey Point.
Call Wiggin’s Trading Post at 993-4683 for the latest information.
The October caddis is out in good numbers. Blue-winged olive mayflies,mahoganyduns, little green stones and many different sizes of caddis flies are on themenuon many Plumas County streams. Unlike the summer, the best time to fish is now midday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Tom Maumoynier of the Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. in Old Town Chester, the NorthFork Feather is fishing well.Nymph fishing has been the most effective.
Warner Creek is low with some evening hatches.Try hoppers during the afternoon.
Deer Creek water levels are at low summer levels.Fishing is good below Elam Creek.
On Mill Creek fish are being caught on dark flies in the evenings.
Hamilton Branch has been fishing well.Nymph fishing has been best with some evening hatches. The bigger fish arein the lower section.
Browns and rainbows are taking midges and swinging buggers on Yellow Creek in the evenings. This is a great creek for fishing hoppers on windy afternoons.Drop them along the edge of the creek and hang on.
Water temperatures are ideal and the fish are in the deeper pools and pocket water on the Middle Fork Feather. A variety of mayflies, caddis and hoppers are all on the menu.