Fall is my favorite time of year.
The veggie garden is full of produce. Hunting season is here. Mushrooms are popping up in the forest. The weather is changing and usually just about perfect for my preferences.
And the fishing is at its best in the fall.
I do have two serious issues with fall. First of all, it is always too short. Second, there is just too much to do. I seldom do everything I hope to do before winter takes over.
I hope to do better this year. I pledge to spend more time in the woods and on the water.
You might consider doing the same. Call in sick if you need to.
It is not really summer at Almanor. The mornings are chilly and the jet skis and ski boats are pretty much gone.
But it is not quite fall yet as far as the fishing goes. The lake hasn’t “turned over” yet. That means cooler water is trapped below the warmer surface water.
Trout prefer the more oxygenated cooler water so they are still holding deep.
According to local guide Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures (258-6732) the thermocline is around 28 feet deep. Fish are holding from there down to 40 feet deep.
Under these conditions there are two effective ways to fish the lake.
First, a downrigger is a must for trollers. Trolling weights or lead core line just won’t get you deep enough.
Successful trollers are fishing Needlefish behind flashers or dodgers.
Red and gold is a popular color combination. I also like any lure that mimics the silver color of the pond smelt.
The second effective technique when the fish are holding deep is to drift fish with either bait or jigs. It is easy to get your gear down to the proper depth while drifting. Whether trolling or drifting, a fish-finder is the best way to find the fish and know at what depth they are holding.
Doug says the early bite has been best. After the sun hits the water it slows down some. The bite continues, but at a slower pace.
Rainbow and brown trout have been active from Big Springs to the Hamilton Branch, probably because both sides of the powerhouse are up and running again.
For bank anglers, the hot (and most crowded) spot is the mouth of Hamilton Branch.
I would also consider the jetties at Prattville. There are underwater springs just off the jetties that keep the water temperatures low at shallower depths.
Try fishing with suspended crickets, mealworms and crawlers.
The kokanee are staging in front of the creeks just about ready to spawn. The rainbows, browns and brook trout are moving in toward the inlets ready to feed on the eggs and fish remains that will eventually wash back into the lake.
For now, the fish are still holding in deeper water on the outside edge of the inlets.
Some fish can be found fairly shallow in the low light conditions of early morning and late evening. But your best bet is to fish near the bottom in 25 to 40 feet of water.
I have fished Lakes Basin a number of times this summer including a recent four-day camping trip at Gold Lake.
My take on Lakes Basin is that it is wonderful place to spend time but the fishing may be a bit less exciting than some other local options. You will not find trophy trout lakes in Lakes Basin.
Some of the lakes are fishless. The rest depend largely on stocked fish. A few of the lakes have some natural reproduction and every now and then the angler will be surprised with a very nice fish.
On my most recent trip, I fished Gold Lake. Based on my experience and the experience of other anglers I talked to, the fishing was slow.
I have done better there, but that was usually later in the fall. Gold Lake does have a population of Mackinaw trout. These are large predatory fish that see a nice 8- to 12-inch hatchery trout as dinner.
My take is that as the California Department of Fish and Game has cut back on its stocking program there may not be enough fish to satisfy both the Mackinaws and the anglers.
The Mackinaw are pretty good at catching trout; apparently much better than I am.
Local guide Jon Baiocchi (836-1115) fished the Cow Creek area of Lake Davis recently. It was a windless day and he and the shore to himself. He walked the shoreline and found plenty of fish to cast to. Jon said the rainbows were in pods and singles, just cruising the shoreline in 3 to 8 feet of water.
Jon did well fishing a dry blood midge emerger fly in size 14. He predicts the fishing will only get better between now and when the lake ices over. October will provide some great fishing opportunities.
Stream fishing remains good. Insect hatches are plentiful; the streams are in great shape.
Fly anglers should be on the lookout for the large orange caddis fly known as the October caddis. This is prime food for the trout as they fatten up before winter. Look for them on both the North and Middle Fork Feather River.