This is prime time for Plumas County trout fishing

Michael Condon
Staff Writer

“Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.” –Mark Twain

The big news this time of year is always the Hexagenia mayflies. These huge and beautiful yellow mayflies are not found in many part of California. But they are becoming a big attraction in Plumas County.

  They are found in parts of the Midwest in numbers sufficient to inspire a Hitchcock movie when they splatter windshields and crunch underfoot. But it is very different here.

  Hexagenia are large, beautiful and graceful mayflies that occur in only a few places in our state and in numbers that stimulate amazing fish feeding rather than Hitchcock movies.

  Hexagenia begin hatching in mid-June. The peak of the hatch is usually around July 4 although I would expect them to be a bit early this year.

  Until last year Lake Almanor and Butt Lake were where the Hexagenia were found. Last year there were several confirmed reports that they had successfully moved to Lake Davis.

  Time will tell how well they become established at Davis, but given the Hexagenia’s preference for a muddy substrate in shallow water, there is every reason to believe that Lake Davis will become prime habitat. This bodes very well for what is already an exceptional fishery.


Lake Almanor

  Lake Almanor seems to have its own personality. Some lakes are easy to read. They are fairly predictable.

  But not Almanor. Almanor is fickle.

  You can fish one technique one day, or even a few days, and have an amazing time catching some beautiful fish. You can go back the very next day and do the exact same thing and come up empty.

  Almanor has been that way for me for thirty some years.

  Sometimes I think it is just me. And then I talk to other anglers and find out it is pretty much the same for everybody.

Everybody I know gets skunked at Almanor. But nobody has a bad day on the lake.

  Getting skunked gets under reported; that is just the nature of us anglers. But those that are catching some fish are reporting some good action according to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures.

  Doug spends enough time on Almanor that he probably gets skunked far less than the rest of us and he knows more about who is catching fish and how they are catching them.

  Doug reports good action off of Rocky Point, from Rec 1 to the A-Frame, and in the Big Springs area. But as I said, there are also reports of boats getting skunked at these same places.

  Suspended baits are working. Try crickets and mealworms a few cranks off the bottom.

  Trollers are doing well with fishing half crawlers behind dodgers and also with red and gold Speedy Shiners.  

  Anglers are catching some nice king salmon fishing anchovy tails at the snag and at Big Springs. The salmon seem to move in and then leave so the spot that is hot one day is cold the next.

  The hex hatch should be heating up now. This is a major fish food fest.

The hatch happens first at the dam, and then progresses up the west shore to Almanor West.

  I would concentrate on that area for the next three weeks or so. Once the hex hatch subsides and the water warms, most fish will move to the east side of the lake.

Butt Lake

  The Hex hatch is in high gear at Butt Lake according to Tom Maumoynier of Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Company in Chester.

  Some of the best fishing is at the far end of the lake near the dam. Butt Lake has some healthy brown and rainbow trout as well as some nice smallmouth bass. They will all feed aggressively on the Hexagenia.

  The powerhouse at the upper end of the lake is open. The fishing can be very good when the powerhouse is running. The trout will line up to feed on the pond smelt     that get flushed down from Lake Almanor.

  I would fish the powerhouse early in the morning and then head to the far end of the lake to work the hex hatch in the evening.

Lake Davis

  Lake Davis is fishing well right now and likely to get even better over the next few weeks.

The damsel fly hatch is in full swing. The best fishing is mid-morning when the rainbows are actively feeding on damsel nymphs.

  Midges nymphs fished under an indicator are a good bet early in the morning if you don’t see a lot of surface feeding fish.

  Wolly buggers are a good bet when the wind is up during the middle of the day. I have not heard reports of Hexagenia yet, but I would sure like to spend an evening on Davis right now and give that a try.

It remains to be seen just how well established the Hexagenia are in Davis just yet, but there is every reason to expect excellent action at some point in the near future. That could be next year or two, or it could be tomorrow night.

Davis is a shallow lake so I leave the full sink line at home and fish nymphs on a floating line with a moderate to long leader adjusted to achieve the depth I want, usually in the top three feet of water.

  Trollers are picking up some nice rainbows on Wee Dick Nite Copper Red Heads and Yellow watermelon Needlefish.

Stream Fishing

Most area streams are fishing well. Drifting salmon eggs is one of the most effective techniques for bait anglers.

Fly fishers will find Pale Morning Dun mayflies early in the day and small caddis flies in the evenings on most local streams. Ant and stonefly patterns (mostly Yellow Sallies) are also very effective.  

On the Middle Fork Feather River the best fishing is from Two Rivers to Nelson Point.

On Deer Creek, try fishing below Elam Campground.

Indian Creek is fishing well between Genesee and Antelope Lake.

Hatches are coming off in full force.  Caddis, golden stones, yellow sallies, and creamy crane flies have been abundant. Fishing caddis and sally patterns with a prince nymph, copper john, and pheasant tail in size #16-18 has been hooking fish. Focus on tailouts and slow moving pocket water in search of big trout. Largest fish reports have been up to 20”. Water in the sections above Portola to Graeagle have become warmer driving the trout to lower sections in search of colder water from the tributaries.

The best time to fish is usually early morning and late evening when the sun is off the water.

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