I had planned on writing about ice fishing this week. Reports from both Davis and Frenchman indicate angler success has recently been quite good.
But the recent unseasonably warm weather is melting the ice. The ice is still there, but it is thinner and getting more thin with each warm day.
My advice....unless you really know what you are doing, stay off the ice. Falling through thin ice can ruin your entire day.
I suggest skipping the ice and heading to Lake Almanor. The east basin of the lake is ice-free and both trollers and bank anglers have been doing well.
The ramp at Canyon Dam is open and ice-free.
International Sportsmens Exposition
I made it down to Sacramento for the International Sportsmens Exposition recently. It was quite the show. There were five very large halls and several outdoor exhibits dedicated to everything fishing and hunting related. I felt like a kid in a candy shop.
I went with my son in law. Before we left, my daughter asked that I not let him buy anything. When I explained how unreasonable her request was, she modified it to not letting him buy anything that needed to be towed home. I succeeded. But just barely.
There was more than enough to keep us occupied for many hours. All of the latest tackle was on display. There were fishing lodges and guides from all over the country
Plumas County was well represented by Chamber of Commerce groups from both ends of the county as well as local resorts and fishing guides.
Bryan Roccocci of Big Daddy's Guide Service (530 283 ) wowed them with his videos that included some huge mackinaw from Bucks Lake.
Judging from the size of the crowd, the seminar on “Fishing Lake Almanor and Beyond” put on by Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures was one of the biggest hits of the show. Doug has fished Almanor for many years and Almanor is the only lake he guides on. He has mastered techniques for Lake Almanor, but that doesn't mean they won't work elsewhere.
Doug shared two techniques I was particularly interested in.
First, when fishing with Powerbait, rather than shaping it into the usual sphere, he forms the bait balls into pyramids. That increases the surface area of the bait so more scent leaches into the water and it also gives the bait a more interesting wobble as it moves through the water.
The second technique involves using a plastic swim bait made by BassTex that closely resembles a pond smelt. It is a two inch white bait with a large eye and a touch of purple along the back. Doug inserts a 1/16 inch piece of copper tubing through the bait and then gives it a slight bend. That causes the bait to move through the water with a spiral motion just like an injured smelt. That is very attractive to a hungry trout. I can't wait to try it.
A friend of mine recently asked me what my favorite fishing lure is. If you have read this column much you have probably figured out that fly fishing is my favorite fishing technique. But I also do plenty of fishing with bait and hardware.
At first I thought the idea of a favorite lure was not that useful. After all, fishing situations and conditions are incredibly variable and one of the primary challenges of fishing is to match your gear and technique to the specific situation find yourself in.
But then I thought about how I like to carry as little gear as I can get by with. Over the years I have made a drastic switch away from carrying a ton of gear to a very minimalist approach. When fly fishing, for example, I generally leave the vest at home and instead opt for a film can with a dozen or so flies, some tippet material, and some nippers. I might splurge at times and throw in a spare tapered leader.
When I am fishing hardware, I still like to keep it simple. Unless I am in the boat, a box of lures that fits in my pocket will usually suffice. Once I thought about it, there is one lure I am never with out. It is the silver Kastmaster. The Kastmaster has an ingeniously simple design. It has the aerodynamics and heft need for outstanding casting performance. I especially appreciate this when I am shore fishing as it allows me to cover lots of water. The Kastmaster also has a shape that allows for very effective jigging and a fish-getting wobble when cast or trolled.
Second on my list of favorite lures is the Thomas Boyant spoon. I don't know what it is about these little spoons. They don't have enough weight to cast that well on there own. They do have a decent wobble when trolled or cast. Nothing special that I can see. But the fish love them. I have seen them out-fish any other bait or lure, or fly on numerous occasions, especially in small lakes. I won't head into the high country without them.
And then there is my sentimental favorite: the Super Duper made by Luhr-Jensen. I have to admit I haven't fished with one of these in years. But as a kid it was my Dad's, and therefore my, “go-to” lure. Both the chrome/red and the gold/red were great producers whether we were trolling or casting from shore. I am going to add some of these to my arsenal this year. I think I will try the chrome/red and the new silver prism/red models. I bet they will do a great job of imitating the Lake Almanor pond smelt.