Plumas County is well known for its exceptional fishing opportunities, among the best in the state. The many excellent lakes get the most attention due to their healthy populations of large fish.
This week I want to focus on the many excellent stream fishing opportunities. In addition to excellent fishing in uncrowded conditions, Plumas County also has something else to offer.
William (Bill) Mayer of Blairsden caught this 15-pound, 32-inch lake trout (mackinaw) at Gold Lake. He was fishing with Jack Voggenthaler. Photo submitted
Arguably the best fall foliage in the state of California is found in Plumas County. Much of that beautiful fall foliage is found in and around the riparian areas that border the streams. Combining stream fishing with viewing the fall foliage offers an exceptional outdoor experience.
The leaves in Plumas County are just starting to turn. Over the next few weeks, they will explode into beautiful displays of red, gold, and orange.
This just happens to be the same time of year that the October caddis, a favorite trout food, are hatching. There are also good hatches of blue wing olive mayflies, midges and stoneflies.
You don't have to be a fly angler to take advantage of the good fishing. Spinners and small spoons will produce fish.The usual array of baits work well. As a young boy I learned to fish by drifting a Pautzke salmon egg with a single split shot through likely looking pools and riffles. Sometimes I am still inclined to leave the fly rod behind and give that a try.
The fall weather brings cooler water temperatures that shake the fish out of their summer doldrums.
Winter is not too far off, so the fish instinctively eat more to build up their fat stores to sustain them through the cold weather to come.
Whether your favorite way to fish is with flies, spinners, or by drifting baits you have a good chance of catching fish in our local streams right now.
For current information on the progression of fall foliage check the Plumas County Visitors Bureau at PlumasCounty.org.
The “Awesome Autumn” blog is loaded with current reports and photos. There is a wealth of information on this website including a species identification guide and a fall colors touring map to download.
Listed below are some of my favorite streams that offer good fishing and incredible fall colors at the same time. So pack a picnic, grab your camera and fishing gear, and head out for a gorgeous fall day.
Starting in the north end of the county:
Warner Creek is fishing well in the evenings. Fall colors are starting.
North Fork of the Feather River above the lake is fishing well in the evenings. Try nymphing in the morning and dry flies in the evening. October caddis are starting to show.
I like to use a size 10 stimulator with a rust/orange body to imitate these big morsels. The river below the diversion dam has been planted.
Deer Creek is fishing best around Elam and below the falls in the catch and release area. Road access is very good from Highway 32.
Hamilton Branch is a consistent producer and has been planted recently. Try olive Wooly Buggers, birds nest and Red Copper Johns or drifting salmon eggs. This is a pretty creek any time and it is especially inviting in the fall.
Antelope Creek below Antelope Lake is a beautiful stream with lots of rainbows to 12 inches. The drive up to the creek from Indian Valley and through Genesee Valley is one of the most beautiful drives in the county.
The oak studded hills not only provide for rich fall color, but also provide excellent habitat for deer and turkeys.
If you want fall color but prefer to fish lakes rather than streams Antelope Lake is your best bet. The lake is fishing well, especially by the dam.
What Antelope Lake lacks in large fish it makes up for in numbers of fish.
Middle Fork of the Feather River from Clio to Graeagle is a bigger stream than the ones mentioned above. This one might be better suited to throwing spinners if that is your preferred method of fishing.
The Middle Fork’s real claim to fame is the excellent fly fishing. Look for blue-winged olive mayflies and small yellow stoneflies.
With the unseasonably warm weather we have had lately, there may still be a few hoppers left. Try hopper patterns in the middle of the day. A pheasant tail nymph dropper would be a good addition. ( I must admit I don't often fish droppers because I wind up spending too much time untangling my leaders.)
Little Last Chance Creek — Truth in advertising requires I disclose that I have never fished this stream. I have only seen it on my drives up to Frenchman Lake. It looks very inviting and I want to give it a try.
For me, Little Last Chance Creek offers an opportunity to explore. Checking out new waters is one of the really rewarding parts of fishing.
I do know Little Last Chance Creek Canyon offers what has to be one of the very best explosions of fall color. If the stream isn't your thing, there is always Frenchman Lake at the head of the canyon.
Grab some snack, your camera, and your fishing gear and hit the water. Whether it is fish, or fall colors, or better yet both, this is prime time.