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So what good is a fishing report?

Michael Condon

So what good is the information in this or any other fishing report?

A good friend of mine raised this question after spending a few days fishing at Lake Almanor.

He hadn't done all that well. He even went so far as to suggest that this report is a "Chamber of Commerce fishing report." Ouch!

Let me put that accusation into perspective.

He was talking smack. That is what guys that fish together do, at least most of the guys I fish with.

Smack is just part of the game. Good smack requires wit, imagination, and it is a sign of friendship. You don't talk smack to strangers. (Notice there is no mention of maturity or intelligence in that explanation.)

Part of the smack process is that when someone dishes you smack, you are obligated to dish some back.

It is similar to exchanging gifts at Christmas time. You want the gift you give to be at least as good as the one you receive.

So I told him that the information in the fishing report was intended for, and only useful by, those who actually knew how to catch fish. Checkmate.

Setting the venerable traditions of smack aside, my friend raised a legitimate question: How do you use this information?

Here are a few thoughts:

By the time you read a fishing report, a few days have gone by from when the information was gathered. What was working a few days ago may not work tomorrow, especially with the rapidly changing weather conditions we are seeing. The information provides a starting point, but you may need to make adjustments to be successful. The ability to make smart adjustments is what makes for a smart angler.

Most of the information comes from fishing guides and tackle dealers. They have a business to promote.

I don't worry too much about that. They go into this business because they love the sport, not because it's a great way to get rich.

They are generally eager to share what they know just for the sake of sharing. They are either on the water nearly every day, or talking to those who are. That makes them the best source of information.

I "field verify" the information as often as I can, although not as often as I would like. (This is a very demanding responsibility and I take it seriously!)

I certainly don't catch as many fish as the guides do, but I believe I catch more because I tap into their knowledge.

Our lakes and streams are as numerous as they are large. Just knowing where to start can be intimidating. A fishing report can help with that.

If you follow the advice in a fishing report and it is not working, adjust your technique or change your location.

There are no guarantees in fishing. That is what makes it the challenge it is.

What follows are some suggested starting points for your next fishing outing. Give them a try. But remember this: there are no guarantees. Just go out and enjoy the setting and have fun.

Stream fishing

Most streams are improving, but still running high and cold for this time of year. Fly hatches are sparse at best.

Hamilton Branch and the North Fork of the Feather River above Lake Almanor are now open.

The better water will likely be in the higher reaches of these streams. The same is true of the Middle Fork of the Feather. The water from Graeagle upstream looks the most fishable but downstream is improving too.

With the water still cold, and fly hatches sparse, whether you are tossing flies, worms or spinners, fishing deep will likely work best.

Lake Davis

According to guide Jon Baiocchi the water has warmed up into the high 50 degree range. Water clarity is an issue in some parts of the lake but not everywhere. Look for the warmer and clearer water.

The lake level is very high and the newly submerged areas have fish scattered searching for food.

Concentrations of fish have been found at the north end of the lake, Freeman Creek and the first and second ledge off Cow Creek, according to Jon.

Hatches are sparse and will remain so until we get multiple days of warmer weather.

The best producing flies lately have been blood midge pupae in size 10 or 12, and coco midge pupae in size 18. Jay Fair Wiggle Tails in brown and olive are an effective searching pattern.

Fish have been found at all depths throughout the lake.

Lake Almanor

According to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures, there are many spots on the lake that are "turning on."

(While that may be generally true, many spots also "turn off" as the fish move from one area to another in search of feed.)

A few weeks ago the east shore seemed to be the place to be. More recently the west shore has turned on.

Mid to late morning has been a productive time, although longer days with more sunlight will eventually shift prime time to earlier in the morning.

Most of the fish appear to be feeding on midge larvae, and tend to be shallow.

Fly anglers will do well with midge patterns while trollers seem to be having success with scented Speedy Shiners, especially in red and gold. Threaded crawlers are also producing.

Try the west shore from the Forest Service boat ramp north. Start out about 100 yards off shore. If that doesn't work, move farther off shore but continue to keep your bait between 8 and 15 feet deep. That is what worked for me last time I was on the lake.

Butt Lake

I think this lake is our local sleeper. It used to be well known for trophy-sized trout.

It was drained several years ago so the dam could be repaired. Conventional wisdom is that it has not returned to its former glory. I can't dispute that based on my recent experience there.

It is a very nutrient rich lake and the fish have been re-introduced. I expect that it will very soon start producing some exceptional fish.

I haven't heard any reports yet, but the area near the powerhouse opened Memorial Day weekend and that usually produces some good fish this time of year.

The main draw for the fish is the pond smelt that get pulled down from Almanor. Try smelt imitations in low light conditions for the best fishing.

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