Fishermen likely have the lake all to themselves due evacuation for the Walker fire, fortunately 97 percent contained, and seasonal closing of the campgrounds, store and docks. Weather is definitely cooling off and improving the bite but the absence of snow keeps Antelope high on the list of fine destinations, especially for locals. Lake access is permitted all year, weather challenges aside, and the fish of course are there all winter.
During an inquiry call Sept. 26th, “The fishing is doing great,” said Rebecca Guereque up at Bucks Lake Lodge, “and it’s going to do even better after this weekend because it’s going to get cold.”
We got lucky this week and had a little chat with Barbeque Bob (Bob Perry) up at Frenchman. “I limited out with a worm and a bobber,” said Bob. Not all location details were forthcoming but he said he was close to shore from about 5:30 p.m. until dark, “in the shallows.” Bob said he used a two and a half foot leader. “There were some nice ones in there, one about 3 1/2 pounds,” said Bob. “These fish have personality, they are pretty much all natives.”
The campgrounds are all closed as of Sept. 30 except the main launch remains open through hunting season, “or until the snow flies, maybe in late October” said BBQ Bob.
John Crotty of Almanor Fishing Association reported on Sept. 29 that water level is dropping as are the temps. “I fished today and saw a one and a half degree drop in water surface temps from yesterday. I would expect to see our surface temps drop into the high 50s within the next week. Last night we experienced our first hard freeze of the season and our daytime temp didn’t reach 50. Unsettled weather accompanied by wind made for both a tough bite and tougher fishing conditions.
“I have been switching from slow to fast depending on water conditions and time of day. Hardware, crawlers, plastics and flies all managed to catch a fish or two this past week, we just couldn’t get a consistent bite anywhere on the lake. Pond smelt remain scattered throughout the lake and we are marking fish, they are just tough to catch right now.
“Our weather is going to stabilize this week and fishing should improve. I would recommend fast trolling in the popular areas of the lake in deeper water until you find some bait and fish and stay on them mixing up baits, speeds and depths until you find some pattern. Rec #1 to Big Cove, Big Springs to Hamilton Branch, East Shore and the Peninsula to Rec #2 are all great places to start.”
Bank fishing pressure is picking up with a few float tubers targeting fish in the coves around the dam. There is not much going on at Hamilton Branch.
“We just got 4000 lb. of fertile one pound rainbows planted Monday Sept. 23,” said Jeanne Graham up at J&J Grizzly Store, “and another plant Tuesday of 2000 pounds, about 4600 fish.” Trollers are doing well using baby Simons in chartreuse, blue or new red and copper. “Fly fishing is picking up too,” said Graham. “It’s like the fall bite is ON!”
Is it too early to mark your calendar? Snow was in the weather forecast this week so perhaps not. The first Saturday in February is the Pato Ice (or no ice) Fishing Derby at Lake Davis.
Bryan Roccucci of Big Daddy Fishing said, “Eagle Lake is shaping up to have some pretty exciting fall fishing this year. It doesn’t get any better than battling the hot rainbows in the shallows.”
Middle Fork Feather River
If you hadn’t made plans to storm Area 51 this past weekend, you could always mosey on down to the Feather River and benefit from the recent rainstorms that were badly needed for sections of the river from Sierra Valley to Camp Layman.
Trout love autumn rains and with that comes the fall caddis hatches that are reliable and certain after 3 p.m., or when the trees start casting shadows on the far banks. “You can identify the caddis by their method of erratic flight where as a mayfly resembles a ballerina, spinning up and down in her aerial recital,” said Trout.
“It always amazes me how these different bugs come in different colors and the trout can be selective; I guess that’s why they have menus in restaurants?”
Look in the air and see what bugs are hatching, it’s all part of this wonderful hobby that brings folks out to the best places on Earth.
“Right now, size 14 green caddis are hatching in the afternoons,” said Trout. “I always found the colder weather seems to hatch the green body bugs like Blue Wing Olives, Green Drakes and Green Caddis.” Warm weather flies are generally lighter in color, like the creamy duns or the pink sulphur mayflies.
“Catching trout is cool, but diving deep into the chronicles of trout behavior based on what is hatching during a particular time of year makes me a trout PHD!” said Jack Trout. “PHD-Pretty Happy Dude; it’s a great time of the year where there are many different insect hatches.”
With increasing flows on the Middle Fork of the Feather River and North Fork Yuba River, it’s a good time to get out and search for alien trout in secret locations like “Areas” 70, 49 or 89.
“Use a heavily weighted nymphs size 12 or 14 as your point fly and keep it small on the trailer like size 16 to 20 until we get back to par on flows throughout the drainage, flows are still low,” said Trout. “One or two AB weights or one SSG if nymphing in heavy deep currents, which is rare right now, but not next month.”
North Fork Yuba River
A little rain, a little colder weather, what a marvelous time of year! Trout are realizing they better start looking up more and start taking the bigger bugs off the surface while practicing all those new dance moves.
“Larger mayflies, like size 14 Callibaetis, in grey are hatching. One could use an Adams with no parachute to imitate this delicious bug,” said Trout. “These trout are eating better than any of us, not a one of them vegetarian. Look for the trout and fish at the head of the pool where the oxygen is, keep going deeper until they hit your flies.”
Autumn trout like to school up in the Yuba so if you find one, there’s another waiting for you. “Use a green micro mayflies size 18 and blue copper johns size 16 with gold bead, it’s the Yuba River, everyone around here loves gold,” said Trout. “Don’t wet wade anymore, you need to wear waders now and have good wading boots with a sole made for these bowling ball rocks … I always wondered if you fall in the river with waders on does that mean you were really wet wading?”
On other fishing news and views, let us know how you are doing out there. We would love to see your pictures and here how the fishing is doing in your neck of the Plumas woods and waterways. Before you know it, ice fishing season will be here! Send your pictures and details to [email protected].