Trollers who face the elements can expect big fish

Compiled by Mari Erin Roth

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Lake Almanor

Last week produced some much needed snow in Northern California. Reports range from 2-4 feet at lake level. The break between that and the next round of snow has passed and the current weather system is predicted to last through the rest of the week. There is ice forming in the North and West sections of the lake and water temps are in the high 30’s to low 40’s. Lake level continues to inch up, sitting at 4477.1 as of the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21. There has been a slow but steady increase since the season low of 4474.8 on October 21.

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Highway 70 was opened for a couple of days the last week of the year but has since closed again due to flooding and rock slides. Chain restrictions were in place for most of last week on all roads in Plumas County. Travelers can expect the same through at least Saturday. The Canyon Dam boat ramp remains the only public ramp available.

“So that’s what is happening above water, let’s take a look at what is happening IN Lake Almanor for fishermen,” said John Crotty of Almanor Fishing Association. “Fishing pressure was minimal last week and folks can expect that trend to continue for the next few weeks.” Bank fishermen are concentrating their efforts around the dam; the trail at Hamilton Branch is treacherous at best. Trollers willing to chance the elements can be rewarded with big fish this time of year. When and if we get breaks in the weather, the East Shore, Dorado, Big Cove, A-Frame to Rec #1, and the towers off Prattville are all good places to begin the day.

“It’s hard to believe we have another year in the record books, 2021 was a blur and I for one am thankful to be done with it,” said Crotty. “I am optimistically looking forward to 2022 and returning to normalcy here in Plumas County. I would like to thank all of you for your continued support of AFA; through your generosity AFA is financially sound. Deb is starting on our annual newsletter, we will soon be mailing out membership renewal notices and we are currently in the planning stages for our Veterans Fishing Day, youth fishing events and our annual picnic.”

The pen fish are fat and healthy and will be ready for release in late April. “I am proud to announce our volunteer feeders have not missed a day of feeding in more than two and a half years,” said Crotty. “While this board is extremely proud of our accomplishments we must remain diligent, Project 2105 and PG&E’s re-licensing contract, is currently in front of FERC for approval.”

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Crotty recently attended a ZOOM Meeting hosted by Susan Bryner of the Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce, LACC and the Lake Almanor Foundation. A synopsis of the meeting was posted on the Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce Town Chatter and here follows a copy as posted:

A meeting of organizations across the Almanor Basin was convened on December 24 to solicit interest in joining and funding efforts to obtain legal representation in the ongoing re-licensing of the Upper North Fork Feather Hydroelectric Project before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “2105 Project”). Those represented were:

Rock Creek Energy Group – Sharon White
Congressman LaMalfa’s Office – Shane Starr
Save Lake Almanor Committee – Wendi Durkin
Lake Almanor Area Chamber – Susan Bryner, Tom McGowan
Lake Almanor Area Country Club – Kristy Cox, Phil Scruggs, Jeffrey Janus
The Almanor Foundation – Moorea Stout, Shawn McKenzie
West Almanor Community Club – Mike Wilhoite
Lake Almanor Watershed Group – Gena Johnston, Peggy Fulder
Almanor Fishing Association – John Crotty

The group was presented with a summary of options prepared by the Rock Creek Energy Group on behalf of the Lake Almanor Country Club Home Owners Association for moving forward should a ruling be damaging to Lake Almanor. According to this summary, given the recent change in circumstances due to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) issuance of a water quality certification (WQC) for the Project that requires supplemental flows from Lake Almanor for the benefit of downstream fish habitat, the group has several options to participate in the re-licensing to advocate for protection of its interests. These included filing a motion to intervene out-of-time, filing comments advocating for FERC’s rejection of the SWRCB’s measure requiring supplemental flows.

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The group unanimously agreed to work together, engage the Rock Creek Energy Group to file the motion to intervene out of time, and to file a further coalition letter to FERC.
The Lake Almanor Country Club HOA has taken the lead in filing the motion to intervene. Each organization will pitch in funds and/or fundraising capacity to fund the effort. As a 501c3 formed for such a purpose, the Save Lake Almanor Committee was asked to be the recipient of donations. Wendi Durkin asked that those interested in assisting in rebuilding the capacity of the Save Lake Almanor Committee contact her at [email protected].

While Project 2105 has been in the works for close to 20 years it is far from over; the Lake Almanor Community is prepared to unify and fight in court any ruling that authorizes the additional release of cold water from Almanor. The AFA Board will meet to discuss our financial contribution to support litigation if/as needed and I will keep you posted as information becomes available.