Spring fishing is cool but warming up
“The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.”
The last of Plumas County streams open for fishing this weekend. These are the streams that flow into Lake Almanor, Butt Lake and Lake Davis. The reason for the late opener is to allow the lakes’ rainbow trout to spawn without being disturbed.
The tributaries to Lake Davis have very little water this year. The one significant tributary to Butt Lake, Butt Creek, has not been a big fish producer in recent years. But the tributaries to Lake Almanor are worth checking out.
The North Fork Feather River above Almanor is one of my favorites. I used to live in Chester and I loved the idea that there was such excellent fishing in a river that flowed right through town. The North Fork is easily accessible right out of town. The habitat is excellent and there are plenty of fish.
A couple miles above town the river flows through a canyon that is a bit of a hike to reach. The reward is some classic riffles and pool water with some nice fish.
Above the canyon, from High Bridge upstream, there is again good road access and plenty of good fishing. Right now the water is a little on the cold side, keeping bug hatches a bit sparse, but the water is clear and the flows are moderate so fishing should be good — better than normal for this time of year.
The tributary streams are not the only waters opening up this weekend. Eagle Lake also opens on the Saturday before Memorial Day.
Low water has been an issue at Eagle Lake the past few years. It is going to be a bigger issue this year.
The low-water ramp atGallatin is the only rampavailable for launching boats.Expect a long line of boats launching on opening weekend.
The water should be plenty cold for the opener so top water fishing will be a good bet. Top lures in the early season usually include Rapalas, Needlefish and Speedy Shiners. Orange is always a popular color. Trolling flies are also big producers. The Jay Fair Trolling Fly was developed specifically for Eagle Lake. Black and brown leech patterns are also very effective.
The other water that opens this weekend is the inlet at the powerhouse in Butt Lake. When the powerhouse is running, it delivers pond smelt from Lake Almanor and the trout in Butt Lake line up to feed just below the powerhouse.
The fishing pressure at Butt has been very light. There are a few blood midges hatching and the rainbows are cruising the top water looking for them. Smallmouth bass are also biting in shallow water.
Fishing pressure at Almanor has been light. The few boats fishing the east side from Canyon Dam to the snag have been picking up some 2- to 3-pound king salmon. The boats on anchor suspending anchovy tails are getting the best results.
Some of the best trout action is from the USFS boat ramp at the Almanor Campground north to Almanor West, according to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures. Try slow trolling nightcrawlers in this great springtime trolling lane. Red and gold Speedy Shiners trolled at 2.8 mph are another hot rig.
Prattville to Plumas Pines and Rec 1 to the A-Frame are also productive trolling lanes right now.
Smallmouth bass have been spawning and are still being caught on the beds in shallow water. Sight fishing with drop shot worms, gitzits (tubes) and jigs is a favorite technique.
The spring bite at Bucks Lake, especially the bank fishing, has slowed down. Trollers are still picking up some big Macs as well as some rainbows and even a few small kokanee.
Fishing is fair and improving. Trout are starting to move to the west shore around Jenkins and Cow Creek where they will pod around islands feeding on midges in the morning. Fishing snails and damsel nymphs will be good as days warm.
Trolling has been decent; fish are shallow at about 5 feet. Dick Nite Copper Red Head and Red Dot Frog are doing well. The north side of the island is a favorite area for trollers.
Call J and J’s Grizzly Store and Camping Resort for the latest fishing information: 832-0270.
Middle Fork Feather River
The water is cold but fishable in the morning. Fish midges and blue-winged olive nymphs in the morning. As the day warms, look for March brown mayflies, small caddis flies and a few small yellow stoneflies. Insect hatches have been sparse, but should increase as the weather warms.
Fishing streamers along the edges with a sink tip line is also a good tactic and the best way to find some of the larger brown trout. Try fishing the slow water to the side of the main current. Bouncing weighted stonefly nymphs along the bottom will also produce in tailouts and slow pocket water.