The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.
— A.K. Best
There has been precipitation and cabin fever these past few months. With the promise of spring, we are trading our cabin fever for a bit of spring fever. And all of that rain and snow, while certainly needed on several levels, has become too much of a good thing. I certainly welcome the warmer and (hopefully) drier weather of spring.
It is, after all, time to think about going fishing.
I have not written about fishing for a few months. Fishing opportunities are limited during the winter and it gets a little tiresome writing (or reading) about the same thing week after week. That is still somewhat true.
The fishing options are limited but getting better. Let me give you the run down.
Don’t even think about it. The stream fishing season is closed. None of our streams are legal to fish in right now. There a few streams in the north state which are open year ‘round. But none of them are in Plumas County.
The high elevation lakes are still covered in ice. The ice is getting soft and thin as the days get longer and warmer.
Some folks are still fishing through the ice. A couple of the less fortunate anglers have needed assistance after breaking through recently.
I will take a pass on the ice fishing and I suggest you do too.
The bass are still deep and on the lethargic side due to the cold water temperatures. There are good bass fishing reports coming from several foothill reservoirs, but here in Plumas County it will be another month or so before the bass action starts to pick up.
And for the better news:
Lake Almanor is the best bet locally right now. You can fish from shore, but your best bet for finding fish is from a boat.
There are not a lot of fish being caught. The fish that are being caught have been running an impressive two to eight pounds. Both browns and rainbows are being caught.
Water temperatures are in the 40F range so that fish are not super active. There is still lots of water draining into the lake from a number of large and small tributaries. Hamilton Branch is running off color so the clarity in the east basin is not great, especially in the upper end of the basin.
A few boats are getting out between storm systems. Early morning seems to be the most productive time especially when there is little or no cloud cover. The pond smelt and aquatic insects will be most abundant and active in the shallow and warmer water right now.
The west basin of the lake has clearer water now. Because it is shallower, it is also warmer than the east basin. The west basin is the place to be. In particular, I would focus on the flats north of Bailey Creek and the more shallow areas along the west shore like Rocky Point and Almanor West up to Airport Flats.
The trout are not super active right now in the colder water, so a slow trolled crawler is a good choice for trollers.
Most pond smelt imitations require a little faster trolling to produce the fish attracting action designed into the lure. These will still work, but require getting your lure right in front of the fish because the trout are less inclined to chase a bait in the cold water.
Electronic fish locators are a must later in the season, but they are less effective when the fish are very shallow. Look for surface feeding fish and diving birds to help you locate fish. Don’t be afraid to move around if you are not finding any action.
Inflated nightcrawlers or Powerbait are the old standbys for bait anglers. They are still the best bet.
Fly anglers should try leech patterns, Baetis mayflies or midges. I like searching the many coves between Prattville and the dam. If you don’t see any sign of feeding fish in 30 minutes, consider moving to the next cove.
Some of the largest trout being caught right now are browns. The Department of Fish and Wildlife has decided to discontinue stocking browns in Lake Almanor. That makes those fish a scarce resource, Please release any browns you catch so they can go on to spawn and sustain that resource.
Be patient. The fishing is not red hot right now. But after so many months of rain and snow, just getting out on the water is reward enough for me. And the chance of hooking a large fish is just icing on the cake.