As of July 14, the water level is dropping slowly at Almanor. The Super Ditch and Bailey Creek have dried, Hamilton Branch and the Feather are flowing. With the recent warmer weather, water temps are reaching into the low 70s. Visibility is 16 to 20 feet.
Hex activity has slowed over the past few days. There are still bugs hatching with large volumes of shucks floating on the water early in the morning.
Almanor produces big fish for a variety of reasons, perhaps the most significant contributing factor is the food sources available to the fish. As the Hex Hatch subsides and the water warms, pond smelt become the main food source. This past week small schools of pond smelt were found along the shoreline along the bank by Bailey Creek. In the next few weeks we will see large volumes of pond smelt scattered throughout the lake.
Fishing pressure remains heavy on the northwest section of the lake with most boats concentrating their efforts from Red Bank north to Bailey Creek. Slow trolling crawlers and plastics continue to produce fish. Boats are beginning to anchor up over springs targeting fish seeking cooler oxygenated water.
Bank fishing remains tough with minimal pressure in the coves and Hamilton Branch.
Middle Fork Feather River
“The fish are sleeping in right now until the bugs come out at 10 a.m.,” said fishing guide Jack Trout. “Get some coffee on the way at your favorite local café and head into the canyon of the Middle Fork Feather off La Porte Road or down Hwy. 70 off the side of the bank where you’ve seen that perfect run you’ve always wanted to access for years. Do it now, you’re not getting younger and that trout has been waiting for you for many moons, make it your blue moon, and get on it this season.”
Here is the low down on the bugs. At 10 a.m., the PMD mayfly hatch is on. Creamy white or pink size 14 or 16 light Cahill is what Trout suggests.
Around 10:30 a.m., transition to Baetis Hatch size 18 with Parachute Adams size 18 or no parachute (grey).
In the afternoon, about 2 p.m. on less windy days, Trout says to expect the Little Yellow Stone Hatch. “Called Yellow Sally Hatch East of Reno, NV,” said Trout. “It’s the Continental Divide for trout in the United States. Everything East of Reno is native and indigenous cutthroat or brook trout.”
On windy “bad hair” days, get the fish back by using an Elk Hair Caddis size 14 or 12, suggests Trout. “That will teach them to mess with you and you can also use the size 12 Elk Hair Caddis to be your indicator and have a couple of flies dangling below, depending on the kind of pocket water, run or riffles you are standing in.”
And then he shoots a warning, “Don’t just toss a fly out and expect a hit, you must suspend the dry fly and run it slowly through the 45 degree window you are fishing up and down below you by high-sticking,” said Trout. We refer to this as “the drift.”
When drifting flies through a run, raise the tip and have the fly go the same speed as the foam line you’re fishing. “Foam is home, not to be confused with, E.T. phone home,” said Trout. “Then you won’t be dragging your fly and you’ll be drifting at the same speed as any bugs coming down river.”
On really hot days, fish early and late from here on out. Try to avoid blustery windy days; look ahead at the forecasts and fish the less windy days of the week, especially after 2 p.m. A little wind is good to knock bugs into the water and camouflage fishermen high sticking two rod lengths from the trout.
“But this year is in the record books with me for the longest winter and the strangest summer weather I’ve seen in decades,” said Trout. “You have to think like a fish and look like a bug folks. Only then will you master the Mighty Feather River from top to bottom.”
North Fork Yuba River
The river is really getting into shape now with tons of edges to high stick flies through. “Don’t use a bobber indicator, use a huge stone fly like a Rogue Foam Stone Size 6 and high stick with a heavy size 12 Poxyback Golden Stone and a Prince Nymph size 14,” advises Jack Trout. “Also good black Micro Mayfly, size 16 and Black Copper John size 14.”
Mischievous Trout says, “Start local gossip and rumors by having three nymphs under your indicator, make sure they’re all barbless and you’re golden.”
Look for brown trout activity after 5 p.m. “Also think about a 10-foot sink tip and working the tail outs with black balanced leeches on 2x tippet and a loop knot tied to your streamer versus an improved clinch knot,” said Trout. “They want the action, they want the bells and whistles, make that bugger move to your medium fast 2-inch strips of the fly. Be the fly people!” The set up imitates dragon and damselflies out on the warmer sunny days. Trout recommends, medium speed 2 to 3 inch strips.
Sure of his suggestions Trout closed, “Wait for the freight train hit on the swing on that high grassy cut bank on the bend.”
Fishing classes at the fair
Catch Jack Trout in person at the Plumas Sierra County Fair on Friday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m., for Fly Fishing 101. “Add another dynamic to your fishing arsenal and repertoire,” said Trout.
Pitching a doubleheader, folks can witness and learn the Jack Trout-secrets for making magic starting at 7 p.m. during: The Art of Fly Tying.
“Think like a fish, look like a bug.”