It’s the time of year for not only fishing but also catching
Jon Dvorak shows off the prize rainbow trout he caught May 24 at Lake Almanor. There are still many reports of monster fish being caught around Plumas County. Photo by Johnny Mansell
“Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and youcan get rid of him for the entire weekend.”
Timing is everything when it comes to fishing. And now is prime time for lake anglers and especially for stream anglers.
Being cold-blooded creatures, fishes’ metabolism and activity level are dictated by the temperature of their environment. In other words, their feeding activity is directly related to water temperature.
A temperature of 55 to 60 degrees is considered near optimal for most trout species. A few weeks ago many of our local waters were running in the low 50-degree range. In a few weeks from now, they will start to warm above 60 degrees. That makes now the prime time for fishing.
The fishing always slows as the water temperature rises during the summer. With the lack of snowpack, water temperatures will rise much more quickly than normal this year.
As the summer progresses finding cold water (think deep pools and springs) will be the key to finding feeding fish. But for now, the fish are spread out and they are feeding actively.
Fishing is always good. Right now the catching is pretty good too.
Middle Fork Feather River
This is the time to hit the river. The trout are spread out. There is a lot of insect activity and that will get even better over the next couple of weeks.
In the morning try a midge or blue-winged olive nymph under an attractor dry. As temperatures rise during the day, look for fish rising to march browns, and caddis flies in the afternoon.
Streamers along the stream banks with a sink tip line are producing some browns. Rubberleg stones and beadhead nymphs will also catch some fish.
According to Jon Baiocchi of Baiocchi’s Troutfitters, the upper river from Portola to Graeagle is very low and the water is starting to warm up. The trout are migrating downstream to find colder water.
Jon says the best fishing is from Two Rivers and downstream to the Nelson Point area.
Fish can be found in the deep pools as well as the pocket water. Pheasant tails and copper johns fished under an indicator are picking up a few fish.
Dan McDonald of Camp Layman Resort (camplayman.com) reports that his clients are starting to pick up a few more fish. Dry fly fishing is improving. Evening is the best time.
North Fork Feather River
Fishing has been good on the North Fork. Fish an attractor nymph under an indicator with a little split shot early in the day.
For bigger trout, concentrate on deep runs and areas close to tributaries. High stick a rubberleg stone with a caddis pupa dropper at the base of boulders.
This is the best time of year for dry fly-fishing in the evening. Try stonefly, caddis or blue-winged olive dries.
The best fishing for kids is on the Caribou section near Belden where they can have good success with planted rainbows.
Trollers are starting to report some very good action, according to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures (almanorfishingadventures.com). Others anglers are mooching suspended baits and some are catching limits of impressive-size browns and salmon.
The fish are moving around so yesterday’s hot spot may not be so hot today. The key is to keep moving and trying different lures and trolling speeds until you find the hot spot of the day.
Big Springs has been hot one day and cold the next. But when it has been hot, it has been very hot. There are some small planter rainbows in the shallow water, but if you troll or mooch below 25 feet you should get into some larger fish, both salmon and trout.
There have been good reports of quality fish at Canyon Dam, according to Doug. There are more pond smelt at the dam than any other single spot in the entire lake. Anglers slow-trolling Berkley Gulp smelt or ripping trolling flies off lead core have often reported rainbows from 2 to 3.6 pounds and salmon to 3 pounds.
Anglers trolling from rec 2 north to Bailey Springs have been catching a mix ofbrowns and rainbows, and a few salmon over 4 pounds. Red and gold Speedy Shiners trolled at 2.8 mph have been the hot rig.
Almanor West north to airport flats is another productive are this time of year. I avoided that area for years thinking the water was too shallow. I was wrong. It can be very productive in the spring before the water warms. It is better in years when Super Ditch is running, but even in a drier year like this year there are lots of bugs and lots of fish up there.
There are still some king salmon holding at the “Snag” just east of the dam. Try mooching anchovy tails or half crawlers with a bit of scent added.
The Hexagenia hatch is always a big attraction both for fish and anglers at Almanor. It usually starts around mid-June and peaks in early July.
Given the warmer water, I would expect it to start a bit earlier this year. I walked a little of the shore line this past week and did not see any of the spent mayflies along the shore. But I am going to keep looking as I think it could start any time.
Fishing is fair at Davis. As the water temperature rises there is a slow but steady increase in the insect activity. A few damsels have already been spotted so expect an early hatch this year. There are a few midges hatching.
Water temperatures are already high for this time of year, according to Jon Baiocchi of Baiocchi’s Troutfitters (baiocchistroutfitters.com) Water clarity is way off, mostly due to the wind and the dropping lake levels exposing more soft mud on the banks.
Indicator fishing has produced the most numbers, whether you’re presenting vertical rigs 3 – 6 feet down, or right off the bottom in 12 to 15 feet of water late in the day. The takes have been light, so anytime that bobber dips, give it a quick set.
Fish are still a bit scattered but there are some heavier concentrations on the west side of the lake. Productive flies have been Albino Wino midge, Callibaetis soft hackles, Mahalo blood midge larva, Sheep Creek Specials and Balanced Damsels.
The recent Eagle Lake opener appears to have a been a mixed bag, according to the reports I have heard. For some anglers it was fair. For the lucky or more knowledgeable anglers it was very good.
Most fish have been running in the 16- to 20-inch range. Those are nice fish even if they are slightly smaller than the historical average. But I would never complain about an Eagle Lake trout. They are healthy, feisty and bigger than you find in most lakes.
Most fish were caught fairly shallow: the top 10 feet of water seems best. Jay Fair trolling flies are always a favorite offering. Cinnamon and fiery rust are seem to be the most productive colors.
Bank anglers can cast flies or also do well with PowerBait or nightcrawlers suspended below a bobber.
Boaters need to be on the lookout for submerged rocky shoals. These can sometimes extend well out into the lake. The water is on the low side this year so these rocky spots will be a real hazard.