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Fishing and leaf peeping go together in the Plumas County fall

Michael Condon
Staff Writer
11/1/2013

 

An angler is a man who spends rainy days sitting around on the muddy banks of rivers doing nothing because his wife won’t let him do it at home.

Author Unknown

The fall colors are beautiful right now and the weather has been incredible. The fall foliage may have peaked, but the fishing is still going strong. But it won’t be long before all of the leaves are gone and snow is in the weather forecast.

The bite is on and now is the time to get out as the trout and salmon are busy gorging themselves in preparation for winter.

 

Some great information for lake fly anglers

Northeastern California has some of the best stillwater trout fishing to be found anywhere. It is a paradise for fly anglers.

When I first started fly-fishing in lakes, after many years of stream and river fishing, I found the whole thing a bit intimidating. I just wasn’t sure what fly to use or where to fish.

Whether you are new to still water fly-fishing or an experienced angler looking to up your game, Jon Baiocchi can help.  Jon wrote an article for MyOutdoorBuddy.com that will help you a great deal. Jon has identified the top 10 flies for stillwater anglers. That is more important than it sounds.

If you know these flies, and know about the critters they are designed to imitate, then you know most of what you need to know about how stillwater trout feed. If you know how they feed, you know how to catch them.

Jon has fished and guided on local lakes for many years and he had the luxury of learning from the best, notably Jay Fair and Jon’s dad Bob Baiocchi. Check out Jon’s article, “The Top Ten Flies for Stillwater,” on MyOutdoorBuddy.com.

Carry those flies and take the time to learn a bit about the lifecycle of the bait they imitate and you will be on your way to stillwater fishing success.

 

Lake Almanor

Surface water temperatures are in the mid 50-degree range. That is ideal temperature for most species of trout and salmon. The lake has turned over and the fish have moved closer to the surface to feed on pond smelt.

You know for sure the fall bite is on when the fish are on the surface and that is where Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service has been catching them. The deepest fish Bryan caught last week was a salmon at 18 feet.

That means it is time to put the downriggers and lead core line away for the season. For me there is nothing better than fishing light line with minimal terminal tackle.

Bryan has spent most of his time working the east side of the lake but one day last week he made a few passes on the west side and was rewarded with some beautiful fish just north of Rocky Point.

Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures says that the rollover has reduced clarity and the thermocline has dissolved away. Lower surface temps have more fish closer to the surface longer during the morning. Brilliant October sunshine and zero wind force means fish a little deeper as the sun gets higher in the sky, according to Doug.

Small schools of pond smelt have moved into the area between Prattville and the Almanor boat ramp and the trout are feeding on them, according to Doug Neal. Needlefish and Speedy Shiners are some of the hot lures. Red and Gold one-sixth ounce Speedy Shiners and a variety of No. 2 Needlefish have been working well.

A few late aquatic insect hatches have been going off around the lake but pond smelt are the big attraction right now for fish that are anxious to fatten up before winter sets in.

There have been lots of float tubers working the shallow water around the Canyon Dam boat ramp. I have heard of some nice rainbows being caught there, but I have also heard of many anglers putting in lots of time only to get skunked. That is the Almanor we all know and love: hot one day and off the next.

 

Eagle Lake

The water temperatures at Eagle Lake are falling and the fish are responding by moving into shallow water.

Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service has been hooking up with lots of fish along the east and west sides of the lake’s south basin. Working the shallow shorelines and points from McDonalds camp to Miners Bay has been the best with darker colored grubs from the surface to about 8 feet.

The fish aren’t just holding in the shallows either, according to Bryan. A good number of fish are grabbing the gear while making turns out over the open water as well. Bryan says to look for this action to continue as we move deeper into fall.

Jay Fair Flies and Sep’s orange grubs are producing. The water is a little murky so bright colors are best for trolling.

The shallows in the north basin are also very productive now.

 

Lake Davis

Fall fishing is underway at this trophy trout lake, according to local guide Jay Clark. The fish have started to get big (up to 22 inches) and starting to put on the feed bags. Stripping wiggle tails, stillwater nymphs, seal buggers, sheep creek specials and snails on an intermediate line are the way to go. Midges under an indicator are getting lots of action.

If stalking the shallows with a floating line is your thing, then now is the time to get after it.

Jon Baiocchi of Baiocchi’s Troutfitters says the north end of the lake has had a steady increase in some very big pods moving around and if you are able to cover water effectively there is some great fishing to be had.

Finding the fish and making smart presentations are more important than the pattern right now, according to Jon. Vary your retrieves from slow to fast until you find the combination that gets the take.

Check your fly or lure on every cast for weeds.

 

Stream fishing

I have not heard many stream fishing reports lately, but this is a great time of year for stream fishing.

Plumas County is well-known for its beautiful fall colors. The best of that happens in the riparian zones adjacent to the streams.

Water flows are perfect right now. The recent freezes have pretty well knocked out the hopper population, but there are still a few around, and the trout will not pass up an opportunity for the last of the season’s hopper meals. The October caddis are also still hatching along with a variety of smaller caddis and mayflies.

According to Tom Maumoynier, of the Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Co., Warner Creek is low with some small caddis and mayfly hatches in the evenings and hoppers during the afternoon.

Deer Creek continues to fish well below Elam Creek and Mill Creek is fishing best in the evenings when dark-colored flies will entice some feisty little rainbows.

The upper reaches of Hamilton Branch are fair right now with nymphs getting the most attention, according to Tom. The bigger fish are in the lower reaches.

Yellow Creek is always a tough stream to fish but there are some big browns and rainbows in the evenings, waiting to be caught on midges and swinging buggers.

Flows are low on the Middle Fork Feather and the water temperatures are perfect. The fish are in the deeper pools and pocket water. Dry droppers are working with fish eating a variety of caddis and mayfly patterns, according to local guide Jay Clark.


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