|A proud young angler with her first fish and some great memories. The Smurf snow boots and Dad’s Powell 5wt fly rod make a great fashion statement. (And yes, that is my daughter. I like to live dangerously.)|
Photo by Michael Condon
“She ain’t even thinkin’ ’bout what’s really goin’ on right now
But I guarantee this memory’s a big’in
And she thinks we’re just fishin’.”
—Trace Adkins, country singer, reflecting on fishing with his daughter
I love those lyrics. They hit home with me.
My daughter is a grown woman now. Yet some of my favorite memories of her childhood, and hopefully some of her favorite memories as well, were the times we went fishing together.
You only get a few chances to create those memories.
Take a young one fishing. The rewards will be immeasurable — for both of you
This time of year Bucks Lake is full of wake boarders, jet skis and swimmers on any given afternoon.
The mornings are another matter. The mornings belong to the anglers.
The mornings are quiet and beautiful with only a few fishing boats and maybe a couple of float tubes on the lake.
Fishing at Bucks changes with the seasons. In the spring, the big Mackinaw are on the prowl. Rainbow and brown trout feed in the shallow water near shore.
In the fall, the kokanee move into the creeks to spawn and the other fish follow them into the bays in front of the creek mouths.
Now it is mid-summer. The kokanee are in deep water and are a very big draw.
Kokanee are landlocked sockeye salmon. They are found in only a handful of lakes in California. Bucks Lake turns out to have nearly ideal conditions for kokanee reproduction so it has a very healthy and self-sustaining population.
Initially the kokanee at Bucks Lake were quite small. Then Fish and Game introduced Mackinaw trout to feed on the kokanee. The result was fewer but larger kokanee and a great Mackinaw fishery. The Mackinaw were helping to regulate the previously over-populated kokanee.
Then more brown trout were introduced to the lake, thanks in large measure to the hatchery program at Feather River College. That further improved the regulation of the kokanee population producing even larger kokanee and a much improved brown trout fishery.
Kokanee salmon do not reach the really large size of many other trout and salmon, but what they lack in size, they make up for in numbers. And Bucks Lake has lots of kokanee.
I am a big believer in catch and release. But you will never see me release a kokanee.
Catch and release needs to be approached with a bit of thoughtfulness. A large Mackinaw or brown trout is a scarce resource and, I believe, should be released to spawn and perhaps be caught another day.
The kokanee at Bucks are another matter. Kokanee only live three or four years, then spawn and die. When I catch a kokanee the only question is whether it is headed to the smoker or to the grill. These are fine eating fish and there are plenty of them in Bucks Lake.
Catching kokanee requires a bit of finesse. They have a “soft” bite. Kokanee are naturally plankton feeders. The best kokanee lures are rather small. Lures tipped with a corn kernel are most effective.
Dodgers and multi-blade attractors can often make the difference between catch and no catch. Dodgers are flat metal blades that move in a side-to-side manner. Multi-blade attractors have blades that spin and appear like a school of kokanee.
Kokanee seem to have strong color preferences, but the preferred color changes often. If the color of the lure you are using isn’t producing, change colors and keep changing until you find the color that works.
This time of year the kokanee are rather deep. They prefer cooler water, often in the 50- to 60-degree range. Downriggers or lead core line are the best way to reach them.
Landing kokanee can be tricky. Once hooked and on top of the water prior to netting, they often go crazy. They will start to roll up on your line. When a kokanee is exhausted and lying on top of the water it is easy to net.
However, when a kokanee is on top and going wild, quickly lower your rod tip and get the fish to go under and start swimming again. If you attempt to horse a kokanee when it’s on the surface going ballistic you will almost always tear the hook out.
If you are getting the impression there is a lot to kokanee fishing, you are correct. The information above is only a very brief summary.
If you want to get schooled in kokanee fishing at Bucks Lake, try Big Daddy’s Guide Service (283-4103).
If you are ready to give it a go on your own, check out the Sportsmen’s Den in East Quincy (283-2733) for a full selection of kokanee gear and the latest fishing conditions.
Fish are still being caught at Davis, but the water temperature is rising. The fishing guides are moving on to greener (and cooler) pastures.
If you do fish Lake Davis while the water is as warm as it is now, please consider a catch and keep scenario as fish released in this warm water will most likely not survive.
The water temperature at Frenchman Lake tends to be a bit lower than Davis so the active bite lasts longer.
There have been reports of anglers catching limits of both rainbow trout and catfish.
The north end of the lake is still the best part of the lake for shore anglers.
Fly anglers are having good success with small Woolly Buggers, sheep creeks and Jay Fair Wiggle Tail Nymphs fished on an intermediate line.
Nightcrawler Bay and Lunker’s Point were excellent spots this past week.
Trolling is still excellent around the dam and near Big Cove.
Call Wiggins Trading Post for the latest conditions (993-4683).
I recently found out firsthand that the fishing at Almanor is tough.
I have heard the same from some of the fishing guides. (It’s always good to know you are in good company when you aren’t catching much.) Catching fish at Almanor right now requires time, patience and a bit of luck.
Almanor is very much a good news/bad news scenario these days. The good news is that the water is high and cool, and feed is very abundant. The fish are happy and healthy.
The bad news is that the fish are scattered and can be very selective about what they are eating. The anglers aren’t so happy.
I won’t stop trying, but I am also looking forward to fall fishing.
Flows on the North and Middle forks of the Feather River, like most area streams, are now just about perfect.
For the fly anglers, pale morning duns, little yellow sallies, golden stones and caddis flies are all hatching on a daily basis and providing excellent dry fly opportunities.
Fish the tail-outs in the evenings and the riffles during the day.
Fishing zebra midges and pheasant tails under a strike indicator will also produce.
Remember to put a lot of weight to get your offering down to the fish.
This past week trout were planted in Lower Sardine Lake, Gold Lake and Snag Lake, all in the Lakes Basin area of Sierra County.
A bit farther south, trout were also planted in Stampede Reservoir (another excellent kokanee fishery).