The spring bite is just around the corner
—Roderick Haig-Brown, “Fisherman’s Spring,” 1951
Spring is here and it has brought the rain and snow that winter lacked.
That is a good thing — a very good thing.
These March rains have been a blessing on many levels; the effect on our fisheries is just one of them.
It is simplistic, but true, to say that more water equals more fish habitat. And more fish habitat equals more fish.
These spring rains mean lots of wildflowers and plenty of forage for the critters of the forest including the deer that are just now dropping their hungry fawns.
The March rains have kept me home some days when I might have been fishing in better weather. I have to admit that unless steelhead are involved, I am a bit of a weather weenie. I do like to be comfortable when I fish.
But maybe it is time to get the rain gear on and head out. The spring bite is about to start and those hardy anglers who are braving the weather are finding some good fishing.
The weather has been crazy up at Frenchman, but the fishing has been good.
There have been reports of rainbows being caught at Big Cove, the dam, to the left of the dam, Nightcrawler Bay and at Turkey Point.
Fishermen have been using inflated night crawlers or PowerBait in rainbow glitter, white glitter or garlic.
The fish are running about a pound to a pound and a half.
The roads are clear up to the dam, but going around the rest of the lake, you need a four-wheel drive and you may want to carry chains with you as a precautionary measure.
Call ahead to Wiggins Trading Post, 993-4683, for current information.
The ice at the dam is not safe to go out on. The ice fishing is over but bank fishing is good and some anglers have been able to get small boats on the water.
Prior to these most recent storms the boat ramp at Mallard Cove was accessible and a few small boats had been launched.
Fishing continues to be good at Mallard Cove and Coot Bay. Night crawlers and Turbo PowerBait in rainbow or red are working.
The few trollers on the lake report catching fish on Dick Nite lures.
Fly anglers are doing well with black AP nymphs and midge patterns.
Call ahead to J and J’s Grizzly Camping Resort and Store, 832-0270, for the latest conditions.
A couple weeks ago it was tough to buy a fish at Almanor. I verified that first hand.
I talked to several anglers and only one boater had caught a fish (it was a nice large brown).
I heard of one bank angler who also caught a single fish.
The other anglers, like my wife and I, enjoyed a nice outing, but no fish.
Since then the fishing appears to have picked up, at least for the shore anglers.
Recent rains have the lake level up. The water temperature is holding around 40 degrees. That is still on the cool side for active feeding. Water clarity hasn’t improved with all of the recent runoff.
Despite the winter-like conditions the fish are starting to bite. The few shore anglers braving the weather are starting to pick up some nice fish.
Look for coves with gravel bottoms. Rainbows tend to be spring spawners and they seek out gravel for their spawning redds. The other fish follow to feast on drifting eggs.
Trolling has been a mixed bag.
According to Doug Neal of Almanor Fishing Adventures, the bite has been coming on from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and then drops off. Rainbows and browns have been from 15 to 19 inches. The afternoon bite has been sporadic.
Doug recommends slowly trolling dodger and night crawler combinations at 10 to 25 feet deep. Speedy Shiners trolled at moderate speed seem to do better later in the afternoon.
Doug reports that fish are still scattered all over the lake and feeding on smelt.
The early spring bite isn’t far off. That means hungry fish in shallow water. That is prime time at Almanor.
If you have not yet bought your fishing license, be sure to get one before you head out.
I bought mine online at dfg.ca.gov/licensing. It took less than five minutes from the comfort of my own home.
I printed off a temporary license that would allow me to start fishing the same day. The official copy arrived in the mail within a week.
Stay warm and dry but don’t let the weather keep you from some great fishing.