There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
High elevation lakes
We are fortunate to have quite a number of high elevation lakes within very short travel distance.
These little jewels are my favorite fishing venues this time of year.
Some of the better lakes require a bit of a hike to reach. The lakes of Caribou Wilderness just east of Lassen Park, and Lakes Basin out of Graeagle both offer great fishing in beautiful little lakes just a short day hike from the trailhead.
Some can be easily reached by a short scenic drive. Some of my favorites are along the highway through Lakes Basin. A bit north of Chester there is Echo Lake, Silver Lake and Caribou Lake.
If ATVs or four-wheel drives are your thing, check out the High Lakes area on the Almanor Ranger District of the Lassen National Forest or the Tahoe National Forest portion of the Lakes Basin, which has a network of trails connecting a number of small lakes.
Your best guides to these tiny gems are the maps of the national forest. These are available at your local Forest Service offices. If you know you are looking for lakes in a particular wilderness area or recreation area, they will usually have more detailed maps of these areas.
These lakes typically have a shorter season and the fish are not as picky as their low elevation counterparts.
Rainbow trout and brook trout are the most common species in these small lakes. These usually aren’t big fish.
Sometimes brook trout will overpopulate a lake and it will be tough to find a fish over 10 inches. But then some of the lakes will surprise you with larger fish.
In years past I have caught some very large fish both in the Caribou Wilderness and Lakes Basin.
My favorite was a brook trout I estimated at 3 pounds from a small lake in Lakes Basin.
I love estimating trout size. I released the fish so who can argue with my estimate? I really believe that was an honest estimate. But maybe it was only 2.5 pounds. Who cares? I just know it was the biggest brook trout I have ever caught.
I like to fly fish in these small lakes. A small zug bug or woolly worm, in one of its many variations, works best. I prefer dark colors with a bit of sparkle. Try fishing them just under the surface early in the morning and then deeper as the sun gets on the water.
If you prefer spin fishing, try Kastmasters. They cast beautifully allowing the shore angler to cover lots of water. They have an enticing wobble and an attention getting shine. They are heavy for such a small lure. If you start your retrieve as soon as the lure hits the water, you can fish them just under the surface.
Let them sink for a minute or so before you begin your retrieve and you can fish the very bottom of the lake.
My other go-to lure for high elevation lakes is the Thomas Boyant. I don’t know why they work so well. I just know they work.
Streams are also in good shape now. Flows are reduced from their early summer torrents. Water clarity has improved and temperatures have risen as the snowmelt has diminished. Insect hatches have increased and the trout are feeding actively.
Mayflies, caddis flies and stoneflies are all hatching. Evenings are like magic right now.
If bait fishing is your thing, I have one word for you: crickets.
Your best bet is fishing right before dark. Carry a flashlight and don’t go home too early.
This week trout were planted in Jamison Creek, Little Grass Valley Reservoir and the Middle Fork Feather River.