Fat fish await those willing to wade through the slow bite

Compiled by Mari Erin Roth

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Lake Almanor

“It’s another chilly morning up here in the mountains as our nighttime low dipped into the teens,” said John Crotty of Almanor Fishing Association Feb. 7. “Shallow areas of Almanor remain frozen and we saw freezing in the flats between Prattville and the Peninsula this past week.” Water temp remains in the upper 30s and visibility is unchanged at 5-8’. Snow is expected to return by the end of the week. Lake level rose slightly and currently sits at 4480’ which is down just a couple of feet from last year at the same time.


Both boaters and bank fishermen have been taking advantage of the intermittent sunny weather. The main parking lot at Canyon Dam was full with trailers over the weekend with a few vehicles in the overflow lot. Bank fishermen struggled with both the ice and fish. As Hamilton Branch continues to clear, it will offer fishermen the best shot at catching a mature fish. A heads up, the trail from the parking lot can be treacherous during icy conditions.

Trollers continue to target efforts around the dam and along both the east and west shorelines. “Yesterday’s bite was slower, the grade of fish made up for the slow bite with reports of Browns exceeding 6 pounds,” reported Crotty. Rapalas, flies, hardware and gulps/crawlers will all work. Targeting fish in the top 30 feet of the water column has been netting results.

“I was talking with Mark at the Sierra Fly Shop at Hamilton Branch yesterday and he had a customer ask about setting up rods for trolling this time of year,” said Crotty. “While we all have our preferred method this is how I set up my rods. I use an 8’ spiral wrapped rod that is custom made by guide Duncan McIntyre for trolling on Lake Almanor, add a Daiwa Lexa 100 (line counter reel), spooled with 8 or 10# maxima line, attach a #1 P-Line three-way swivel, 5’ of 6# leader and a size 8 Gamakatsu bait hook. I use a size 8 for both crawlers and gulps. I use the same setup for hardware and just switch out the hook for a small snap so that I can easily change out lures. I always carry two lead core rods set up with Arctic Fox trolling flies for top lining flies. I believe as fishermen we quite often out/over think things, especially when the bite is tough, keep it simple and don’t mix incompatible presentations. By that I mean, don’t have baits that work best at one mph on one rod while you have hardware on another that works best at 2.5-3 mph while trolling at 2 mph.”

The Canyon Dam ramp is clear and open. Lake level is increasing daily and fishermen will need rubber boots to get onto the dock when launching. Be safe and call ahead for current weather and fishing conditions.


Lake Davis

Three feet of snow slowed down fishing at Davis with only the dam area accessible for fishing. “Prior to that, Catfish Cove, Lightening Tree and the dam were all seeing fish caught,” said Jeanne Graham at J&J Grizzly Store. The ice was reported to be 8” thick Feb. 1.

The Father’s Day Weekend Derby is on the Lake Davis calendar for June 19.


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