Even the fish are trying to cool down
Cris Carrigan, of Walnut Creek, shows off a 19-inch rainbow he caught in the Middle Fork Feather River just upstream of the bridge at Camp Layman last week.Photo courtesy Shelley Wilkerson
I don’t know about you, but I did my best to avoid the heat as much as I could during last week’s oppressive weather.
It is not really any different for the fish. As the water warms past their comfort level fish will change their location and their activities through the day to avoid the heat.
Because fish are cold-blooded, their body temperature and their metabolism are controlled by the temperature of their surroundings. Fish also have specific oxygen requirements. The amount of dissolved oxygen that water can hold varies with the temperature. Normally, warmer water holds less oxygen.
What this adds up to is that fish are even pickier than we are about finding that comfortable temperature — and with good reason. Their bodies can only function properly within a fairly narrow temperature range.
So what does this mean for the angler? It means that the fish have likely moved from where you found them last week in order to find colder water.
Most trout prefer water in the 58 to 62 degree range. Lake trout like temperatures in the low 50s.
Surface water temperatures are in the low 70s on many local lakes. Anglers need to fish deeper and fish earlier before the sun gets on the water. Look for seeps and springs that add cool ground water to the mix. And look for tributaries that deliver cooler water.
As with any good rule, there are exceptions. Fish will leave their comfort zone for short periods of time if there is a good meal involved. Things like damselflies, stoneflies and the lingering Hexagenia mayflies will entice the trout into warmer water to feed.
Don’t be afraid to fish a good insect hatch and also check out nearby cool water spots.
Think like a fish. You want a decent meal and a cool place to hang out. Where do you go?
The big news on Almanor lately has been the Hex hatch. It has likely peaked but there are still some bugs hatching. They are just a bit more spread out now. The Hexagenia hatch right at dark along the west shore of Almanor anywhere from the dam north to Almanor West.
The hot weather has slowed the trolling. The trolling is good one day and then slow the next according to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures. Doug has been finding a few fish very early and then it shuts down till late afternoon. Doug says the bait fishing has been a little better. Big Springs and the A-Frame are good places to drown worms or crickets. Expect fish to begin to hold at springs as the surface continues to warm, compressing the thermocline.
It looks like we will finally be getting a launching dock back at the Canyon Dam boat ramp. The Lassen National Forest has awarded a contract for the installation of a ramp by the weekend of July 20.
The new float will have a steel frame and wooden walking surface. The Canyon Dam boat launch has been without a float since last fall when the previous structure was removed for safety reasons.
Both trout and smallmouth bass are feeding on Hexagenia in the evenings. The dam and the west shore are seeing the most action.
The Powerhouse has been running and there are reports of some large fish being caught below the powerhouse. Try white crappie jigs, woolly buggers or other pond smelt imitations.
The damsel hatch is still going. Look for trout cruising the shallows near shore in the mornings. There are also still a few blood midges hatching.
There are still a few Hexagenia hatching in the evening. Look for them along the west shore.
The water is warming in the Middle Fork Feather and the fish are looking for colder water. The best fishing is from Camp Layman downstream.
Continued heat could put a real damper on fishing in the Middle Fork unless you know where to find cooler water. Look for deep pools and oxygenated riffles. Fish will tend to congregate just downstream from where cooler tributaries dump colder water into the river.
Yellow sallies, golden stoneflies and small mayflies are all present. There is still an evening caddis fly hatch. Try fishing a stimulator with a caddis dropper.
The bait anglers are getting in on the action too. The folks at Camp Layman reported a nice 19-inch rainbow was caught by one of their guests, Cris Carrigan of Walnut Creek, drifting a nightcrawler early in the morning.
The NorthFork Feather is at summer levels. Nymph fishing has been most effective, according to Tom Maumoynier of Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co. in Chester. A few golden stoneflies are hatching in the evening.
Deer Creek has been fishing well below Elam Creek. Early morning fishing consists of dry/dropper setups. Concentrate on the faster pocket water and runs. Get out early and fish until midday.
There is decent caddis hatch in the evening but it may not last long given the heat.
Remember that Deer Creek is designated catch-and-release from Deer Creek Falls downstream to Ishi Wilderness.
Hamilton Branch at the lake mouth is fishing well.The upper stream is as well. Nymph fishing has been best and there have been some evening hatches.