Fishing Report for the week of 8/1/2014

Michael Condon
Staff Writer
“A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work.”
—Author unknown

It is hard to know how to accurately describe the fishing this time of year.

I tend to be a “glass is half full” sort of person generally. But talking about the fishing this time of year it is hard to ignore the empty half of the glass, and the warm water in the glass.

More often than not, anglers (myself included) get skunked this time of year.

The warm water and low flows have the fish heading for deep water and doing a sort of warm-water hibernation. Being cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism slows considerably when the water temperature exceeds 70 degrees. Some anglers describe this condition as “lock-jaw.”

But on the “glass is half full” side of the ledger, there are some important indicators that can help the determined angler find some nice fish.

If you read this column regularly, you are probably tired of hearing me write about water temperature. Well … here we go again.

Water temperature is everything for the next couple of months. In the spring the fish are scattered all over the place. Not anymore. The smart angler will know to fish the deep water, the springs, seeps and tributaries.

In other words, fish anyplace the water is a little colder. That includes the higher elevation lakes. This is a great time of year to head to the Caribou Wilderness or Lakes Basin.

Lake Almanor

The Hex hatch is pretty much over. There still may be a few of the big mayflies hatching in the evening, but the numbers are way down and the fish are changing their focus.

For the rest of the summer there are two things the successful angler will focus on at Lake Almanor: cold water and pond smelt.

Surface water temperature is over 70 degrees now and the fish just do not like that. They are heading for cooler water. That means deep water, spring water and water entering the lake from cooler tributaries.

Almanor only has a couple of major tributaries: the North Fork Feather River and Hamilton Branch. Right now it is Hamilton Branch that is getting all of the attention.

There are large numbers of fish moving into Hamilton Branch to take advantage of the colder water.

There are also many anglers moving into Hamilton Branch; way too many for my comfort level. But if you don’t mind crowds and the occasional line cast across yours from an angler on the opposite bank there are lots of fish being caught.

The fish include browns and rainbows of all sizes. Many of the rainbows are the small planters recently raised and released by the Almanor Fishing Association. These small rainbows are the future of the Almanor fishery and should be released.

But not all of the fish are small. One angler recently caught a 16.4-pound monster brown from the bank at Hamilton Branch. That is the fish of a lifetime and likely a lake record.

Anglers drifting flies seem to be doing very well. Eggs, crickets, various lures and soft baits are all catching fish.

Trollers are not finding such fast action but there are a few nice fish being caught, according to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures. Doug says that pond smelt are the key.

Butt Lake

Alan Bruzza of the Sportsmen’s Den in East Quincy reports that the powerhouse has been running at Butt Lake. On a recent trip there Alan saw lots of rainbows (and also lots of pikeminnows) in the inlet below the powerhouse and mouth of Butt Creek.

Unfortunately the lake level has dropped a bit so the fish are not in real close. The fishing can improve when the water levels comes up a bit.

Butt Lake is one of the few lakes where the water level will fluctuate both up and down during the summer months. Higher water means better fishing.

The best fishing this time of year is near the powerhouse. But there are fish scattered throughout the lake.

Butt Lake is one of the few local lakes where water skiing and personal watercraft are not allowed. For the angler in search of a quiet lake with some nice fish Butt Lake is a good choice. It is serene and surprisingly scenic despite the Chips Fire burning through the area a couple summers ago.

Bucks Lake

There are some trout in both the Mill Creek and Bucks Creek arms of the lake. But neither of these creeks is large enough to provide a big source of cold water so there are probably many more fish heading for deeper water.

The kokanee bite is strong right now. These are not huge fish, mostly between 10 and 13 inches. But they are feisty and can be a ton of fun on ultralight gear.

Trolling with downriggers is a must as these fish are hanging in 30 to 35 feet of water. Kokanee fishing is a bit of a specialty with a growing following.

Small flashers seem to help attract these landlocked salmon and small lures are a must. If you are not equipped for kokanee fishing, stop by the Sportsmen’s Den in East Quincy on your way up to the lake.

Alan can show you the most effective gear and give you the latest update on fishing conditions.

Lake Davis

Fishing this weekend was “unusual,” to say the least, according to the folks at J and J’s Grizzly Resort.

The bank anglers were catching their limit using night crawlers and garlic-scented rainbow PowerBait at Mallard Cove early in the morning.

Trollers have been getting mixed results and that is to be expected this time of year. Fishing early in the morning and trolling deep seems to be getting the best results.

Stream fishing

The Middle Fork Feather River, like most local streams, is experiencing low flows and warming water.

This river is too warm to safely catch and release trout, but the bass and carp fishing in the upper reaches of the river is astounding, according to local guide Jay Clark.

The smallies seem to be taking advantage of the warming water. One group of anglers recently fished the Two Rivers section of the Middle Fork. They did not find any trout, but did manage a couple of smallmouth bass.

So if working the deep pools, springs and tributaries is not getting you into trout it may be time to target a different species.

I have never fished for carp, but they are gaining a growing following of anglers, including fly anglers. They are selective feeders and very strong fighters. That just might be worth a try.

If you are determined to find trout look for spring-fed stream segments. The trout know how to find the coldest water and there is no colder water than just downstream of a good seep or spring.

The insect hatches have slowed a bit, but most streams still have a few mayflies and caddis flies hatching.

My favorite fly this time of year is a big meaty grasshopper imitation. They are best fished on along the stream edge on a breezy day.

Drifting salmon eggs or egg fly patterns through deep pools is always another productive technique.

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