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Jackson Christenson from Grass Valley recently landed this 4.5-pound brown trout fishing with Captain Bryan Raccucci of Big Daddy’s Guide Service. Jackson and his fishing partner Brad landed a combination of 17 browns and rainbows. Photo submitted

Near record snow pack great news for north state fisheries

There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind.

~Washington Irving

Recent snow surveys have measured nearly twice the normal snow pack in the northern Sierras. That is very good news in several respects.

North state fisheries have suffered significantly through several years of very limited water. Now, finally they will have the opportunity to rebound.

Lake levels will stay higher and water temperatures cooler later into the summer. That will make for some good fishing.

But in the short term, this abundance of water does present some challenges for the angler.

Cooler water temperatures will delay insect hatches and all of the feeding activity that comes with those hatches. Cooler water will slow the fishes’ metabolism and that has everything to do with how actively the fish feed.

The amazing amount of snow has also limited access to many of our lakes and streams. Some of the places that would normally fish well this time of year are only accessible by snowmobile or a very long trek on skis or snowshoes. And for stream anglers, the high flows always present a higher risk when wading.

The smart angler will put some extra thought into where he or she goes and how they fish when they get there. Here are a few good questions to consider as you head out for some spring fishing: Can you get to your destination safely? What extra precautions should you take to make sure you are fishing safely? How has the higher, colder water affected the fish and how will you change your tactics to adjust to that?

Lake Almanor

Both the trout and smallmouth bass fishing are quite good at Almanor right now. The lake is nearly full and while clarity is still a bit of an issue near the mouth of Hamilton Branch, it is improving.

Successful trollers are moving away from the rocky shores and into deeper water to catch a mix of browns and some feisty rainbows. It’s time to break out the sonar and downriggers.

Warmer weather has the insect activity on the increase and this is starting to shift the activity towards the west basin where the water is shallower and the insects become active earlier. Trolling Speedy Shiners and Needlefish should to the trick. Don’t forget to add a bit of sent to your lure. If that doesn’t work, switch to a crawler trolled behind a dodger.

Look for smallmouth bass in the 2- to 4-pound range foraging off of rocky points. Rapalas and other crankbaits are getting plenty of action.

Bucks Lake

Bucks is normally a good bet this time of year. But right now, you can forget it unless you have a snowmobile. The upper road is closed at Bucks Summit, and the lower road is closed just beyond the parking area.

Lake Davis

The good news at Davis is that the lake is full and the road is open along the east side of the lake to Lightning Tree. The road on the west shore is still closed with lots of snow.

Fishing has been a bit slow with a few fish being caught on flies around  Coot Bay. Try red copper johns or beaded pheasant tail nymphs.

Mallard Cove and Lighting Tree boat ramps are open, but Honker Cover is still closed.

Frenchman Lake

The good news at Frenchman is that the main boat ramp is open and dock is in water. The roads are now open and the fishing continues to be good with many limits of rainbows in the 16- to 18-inch range.

Both boat ramps are open and the docks are in at Lunker Point and Frenchman Campground.

Anglers who fished below the spillway, Turkey Point and Lunker Point (hiking down towards the narrows) have all come back with reports of limits. Night crawlers and some power-bait appear to be doing the best for shore fishing.

Stop by or call Wiggins Trading Post, 993-4683, for the latest conditions and fishing report.


Stream flows are very high, but clarity has improved making most area streams fishable. The best fishing should be during the afternoon once the sun has warmed the water. Nymphing with a small stonefly patterns or bouncing a nightcrawler or worm is a good bet this early in the season.

The key, no matter what sort of bait or lure you are using is to get it deep. The fish are hugging the bottom right now. Look for deep pools and tail-outs.

Before you walk up to the stream bank and cast out to the middle of the stream, try to stay hidden and approach the stream very cautiously. Staying back from the bank a bit, cast to the water closest to the bank on your side of the creek. There just might be a big one taking advantage of that slower water near the bank.   

Deer Creek and the Middle Fork of the Feather from Graeagle downstream to Camp Layman, and the upper reaches of Indian Creek are good bets right now. Streams that flow into Almanor, Butt Lake and Davis Lake are all closed to fishing until the Saturday before Memorial Day.

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