EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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FISHING SEASON ENDS DECEMBER 31, 2017
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SEE 2013 THRU 2016 CREEL DATA HERE. WHEN DFW CHECKS YOUR FISH WEIGHT AND LENGTH AND ASKS QUESTIONS OF HOW LONG YOU FISHED.
SERVICE FOR JAY FAIR BEGINS AT SPALDING MARINA SATURDAY JUNE 24 AT 10:30am. BRING A CHAIR AND WATER. IT WILL MOVE TO THE LAKE NEAR THE AIRSTRIP IN SPALDING SO BE PREPARED. JAY FAIR Jr AND FAMILY WILL BE AT THE RV PARK ON THE 22ND. AN INFORMAL GATHERING IN THE EVENING OF FRIDAY JUNE 23 AT THE RV PARK, THEY SHOULDN'T BE HARD TO FIND. EVERYONE IS INVITED TO SHARE STORIES AND ANY PHOTOS.
TROLLING: South basin. Fishing has still had its up and down days. Some limits but mostly just catching a few here and there for the average angler. Water temps rising, fish are on the move from the north. South basin was holding around 63F on the surface this morning and rose to 65F by 11am. But expect to see 65F+ in the morning by later this week unless we cool down some. We have been running J Fair toplines and our leadcores set at 1 ¾ colors off the reel. I will keep one line on top with a fly at that level, but I will be going deeper this week. Leadcores at 4 to 6 colors with orange Baby Simon and Red/prism #2 needlefish, orange trolling fly will be the first in the water. I will switch out one rod with other lures and leave the Simon and needlefish in the water. For the topline I will run Jay Fair’s electric series “buggy olive”, orange, and his traditional hot orange, but we also had several on burn orange traditional leech trolling flies so that will be in the water the longest. As we heat up this week, we should begin to see more fish heading for the depths. The trout won’t generally go to 40ft or below so don’t target the chubs down there or that’s what you will catch.
While the surface temps of the water remain below 65F I suggest keeping at least one topline above 10ft while chasing the deeper fish later in the morning. We are expecting to see our ambient temps warm up to the 90’s next week so a change is coming. We really need to get these fish moving and schooling up before the fishing has a chance to pick up and hold steady. Orange has remained the best color for us.
18 to 24ft has been my lucky number for trolling while surface temps are below 70F but it can come gradually, one day I will be doing well above 10ft, the next day 12 to 15ft and a day or two later 18-24 and even to 28ft (4 to 6 colors 18lb leadcore in the water at 2-2.5mph). But I still keep a topline in the water nearly all season long.
As of 6-19 I still had a few trout off the south side of Pelican Pt but it had a lot more algae today and surface temps hit 69-70F by 11am. We did have some springs cooler but the fish pretty much blew out today. I suspect I might find them holding out just north of Miners Pt before they head around it to the depths. Trout remain scattered and in small groups but they should be schooling up in their summer haunts before too long. If you catch one, work the pod before moving on. Chances are there is at least one more there and it may be a while before you find the next pod to work.
For the east side, it’s been pretty tough. I plan on running more of it on 6-20. The most fish I have seen have been off Aspen ramp to Camp Ron McD towards The Springs. Gold lures with red dots have landed a few this week as have orange Baby Simons in that location. We have had a few fish off Miners Pt this week but it too had more algae this morning.
I would also keep the red-prism #2 needlefish (it’s actually more florescent orange than red). It has caught me more fish on this lake than any other lure in all my years of fishing this lake. Orange/nickel is also a good lure and the Baby Simons are starting to get attention again. For trolling flies its hot orange or cinnamon leech. They have been working when the bite has been tough. We are already seeing some daphnia foul the swivels, not bad yet, but there nonetheless. The shrimp are also providing a food source. The baby shrimp look like jelled applesauce with a little pepper sprinkled in it in the fish’s stomach. A few fish have been caught on the west side with the baby shrimp in their stomachs this week, so it’s coming on pretty strong now. The east side will see the same thing happening so let’s hope it helps bring some fish in soon. We still have a little time before we start seeing any tui chub minnows show up or hitting the food court, although we are starting to see a few small clouds holding close to the bottom but minnow imitations haven’t quite kicked in yet.
The shore fishing has nearly been nonexistent all week. Weeds are hampering shore fishing in some locations along the flats such as at Christie and the shoreline up towards Wildcat. The east side shore fishing hasn’t provided action yet. But the deeper ledge is still accessible with a good cast and if the fish move in for summer one can do pretty well from shore there when and if we start seeing some trout move in.
Regardless of having a few decent days, we worked for every strike and fish we got. No doubt about that. If you can get a couple fish to the boat, consider that a good day right now.
It is not unusual for these fish to be scattered but we should see them begin to move into their summer haunts in a couple weeks. The water was still very clear this morning with average visibility to 10 ft pretty well.
The challenge to fishing this lake is that our trout are migratory by nature and move from place to place, sometimes overnight. It is very typical for them to be scattered early in the season, generally only hovering together once the surface temps reach 70F+ and when the tui chub minnows hit the food court later in summer. We will see surface temps rise now. So it’s coming, it just can’t come soon enough!!
Not a lot of surface activity on the hatches but some here and there. The fish have been feasting on suspended zooplankton & shrimp at deeper depths.
Winds can still bring the trout up or keep them in the upper 10ft of the water column as the oxygen is increased. But generally, once they go deep, that’s where the majority of them stay for food and comfort and that is where they are normally most active when it gets hot.
If you see fish on your scope below 40 ft, chances are good that they are NOT trout but tui chub. This species does take lures trolling and they school in thick concentrations, generally this time of year they hover near the bottom in 40 to 50ft of water and we have a northern school moving north of the Youth Camp to spawn. We also have red-sided shiners (look like a sucker) and Tahoe suckers that also spawn in the lake. The suckers numbers are much smaller than the tui chub. The tui chub can live over 30yrs. Without predators, this species is prolific and has increased substantially the last few years during the drought. Once the fresh hatch of minnows hit the food court later in summer, the trout only target the fresh ones and rarely the “nursery” which is last year’s minnows along with subsequent years that are protected by sub adults. The pelicans and grebes do target the nursery chubs, but not the trout. Water temps are still favorable to have trout mostly in the upper 10-12 ft of the water column early in the morning but I have a feeling that’s going to change by early next week.
Note that there are few buoys on Miners.
Out of Spalding.: Surface temps shot up to 69-70F today. Youth Camp starting out around 63F-64F. There hasn't been much action going on at the Youth Camp or tip of Pelican Pt but there has been action along the south side of Pelican Pt but I believe it won’t be long before the fish move out over deeper water towards Miners Pt. It also had quite a bit of algae and weeds on 6-19.
There is plenty of aquatics, flies (various chironomids), black caddis, spinner mayflies (later in AM), snails and even the damsels and dragon flies have been showing up, mostly later in the morning/afternoon. The water was full of life but very few fish working the surface hatches. The flies are probably the most plentiful….on that note, don’t breathe through your mouth at certain times in the morning. Several species were hatching at the same time. Midges under indicators for fly fishing or casting under bobbers….leave about 3-4ft between the midge and bobber
We do have new tules quite a way out from the old tule line…basically at last years low water line is the new tule line. Once they rise above the surface we will see a more defined tule line and hopefully by fall, we will still have a little water in them. I believe we have some areas that will provide for some minor grebe nesting. The tui chub should do well spawning this summer so fall might be productive, pending launching feasibility. Even though some of the new tules are spindly, there are thick patches and should have a couple of feet of water under a nest in August when they hatch. At least, it’s going to be a little different tule line once we do get water back (and we will get that water and we are making a lot of progress on getting the Super Ditch filled in and water back to the creek channel starting this summer). So the future is promising and I won’t let this project fail to bring back the north basins habitat. I have always said, start fixing the problem and Mother Nature will respond. If we can get some tui chub spawning up off Troxel Pt this summer, we could see some trout move up there in fall, but it was a bust up north since the lake opened.
WHAT TO USE: Well, orange is always a good color on this lake and it’s worked for me this week. I always start out with one aggressive color and one passive color and see what happens. When throwing the box at them, here’s a place to start. For orange: Red/prism or nickel/orange needlefish. As a note; I tweak the bend slightly and change the hook to a #10 treble…basically going back to the 30-year-old style of needlefish…too much bend and it will twist in the water. It doesn’t take much tweaking. Orange Baby Simons, Rainbow Runners, Sure Catch in Red-Dog (large single worked over the double) or Goldie Locks and I also like the German Brown Sure Catch in single medium size. Trolling flies in olive (Jay Fair electric series) or orange and olive have worked this week. Traditional “Rust” has also gotten attention. Jay Fairs Hot One (it’s a little darker, sort of a cross between cinnamon and orange).
We do have other fish in the lake that spawn, not all the minnows are tui chubs so we could have seen an influx of Redside shiners or Tahoe suckers of which could easily be location specific. That’s when a splash of red works. We also have speckled dace which only grow up to be a minnow. Typically seen next to your boat when anchored or in small family groups of all sizes drifting out over the depths. So not all minnows are chubs.
Little Cleo's (1/8oz drops 5 to 6 ft deep at 2mph off mono; 1/4oz drops to about 7-8ft at 2mph (orange/gold and orange/silver have been getting some fish for us. Red-dot gold Jake’s and small Zrays have been bit too…mostly on the east side. We do have a good toad population so Red-Dot frog patterns would be my next lure color in the water and I consider it to be more passive. Firetiger patterns do well in overcast conditions, heavy winds or cloudier water but it’s an aggressive color and it didn’t fare too well this week. Perch can do well, tamer than firetiger yet still has orange brassy hues and darker greens.
I don't use many natural minnow imitations until the tui chub minnows begin to hatch later in summer, but they have been in the top ten lures for this lake historically and we are seeing some minor hatches now…but it will be a while before they actually become the food source of choice. We may have to throw the tackle box at them again this week with warmer days and bright sun.
I like 2.5 to 2.8mph but I have often had to ramp that up a bit to 3.2 to 3.4. The last few days my best speed was 2.2 to 2.5mph. Vary your speed, you will find a sweet spot. Normally, this lake is a pretty fast troll for anything but nightcrawlers. If you use a dodger, shorten up your leader up here. Wiggle discs ahead of grubs or trolling flies work well, but the higher they are on the line, the further they travel laterally. Not a big issue unless you have 4 rods in the water at different depths. Don't be afraid to use something different, Berkley minnows in different colors....they have a good movement and are scented. We are going to need all the help we can get this year.
Trolling threaded nightcrawlers is also an Eagle Lake standard. When all else fails, troll the live bait. Generally, we can get away with using flashers later in the season when the chubs hatch or in fall when the clarity of the water drops to around 2 to 4 ft. If you do like to use flashers, shorten up your leader but for the most part, they don’t work well until later in the season. These fish can come up behind a flasher in fall fast…real fast. If your leader is too long, you get lots of strikes but no fish hooked. That’s because they miss your offering and hit the flasher. 14” is about all you need. 3 to 4 ft of leader & 9 out of 10 times they pass it up before hitting the flasher. LoL. You get the strikes but don’t hook the fish. Attractants can also help. I generally use attractants in cloudier water, but they have proven themselves up here any time of the year. Garlic seems to be a favorite, Krill, trophy trout next up. If you have sunscreen on your hands or used any type of hair product before heading out on the lake such as a gel or fragrant oil on your hands, you may need to cover up your scent on bait. I use stick sunscreens, that way I don't get it on my hands and don't have to worry about touching any bait, lure or fly. This can be a critical tactic in clear water. My back up plan for that is keeping some vinyl glove on the boat and keep my scent off them to begin with.
TROLLING FLIES: The Brown/cinnamon leech is my go to fly for naturals...sometimes the shade of brown can make a difference. Olive leeches can do well off Pikes Pt and off Wildcat Pt and have caught some nice fish this week (Jay Fairs Electric series olive and orange has been catching a few fish this week) . Sometimes black/red leech patterns or dubbed wooly buggers. Florescent orange and burnt orange have been the best for us the last several days. Don't discount smaller flies for trolling, especially burnt orange, brown or olive wooly buggers. Smaller versions are available at Eagle Lake Marina, ask at the counter as they are in the case along with Jay Fair wiggle tails (wiggle tails are slightly weighted) and various other flies. They have a very good selection of flies; just ask to see what they have. Sometimes these fish prefer a snack over a meal…especially if they are full from feeding all night or after breakfast. Sometimes we need to throw every trick in the book at them.....and this year is already shaping up to be just that.
GRUBS: Generally, the same colors of grubs work as trolling flies. One of the grubs I really like is a pumpkin seed, but it’s beige with a hint of orange and smaller than most. Berkley, sometimes called a jigging grub. Hard to find but can be found online or Sportsman’s Warehouse. Orange, watermelon, brown, rootbeer, black are good to start out with before going to the crazies…but we can find some crazier colors to work when nothing else does. Trolled slow and hooked correctly, the grubs have a nice wiggle, but on faster trolls a wiggle disc or dodger will give it some needed action. Berkley minnows are also a good choice. Black shad or water melon pearl have been the favorites but smoke made its debut on the lake last year and it did pretty well when the fishing was tough and other basic colors. It won’t be long for the minnows now. We are about 3 weeks ahead of schedule so it could turn on earlier this year.
STILL FISHING FROM ANCHOR: I always suggest running a freeline. No weight just the weight of the worm. Give it a toss, leave your bail open and make sure your line doesn't hold up in your guides, let it drift naturally for several minutes, eventually it will sink to the bottom. But on the way down, it covers the water column in a natural way. I generally start out with a 5 to 7 minute drop, then relocate. It is more feasible in water deeper than 35ft than it is in water shallower. 2-3 minute drop in water shallower than 30-35ft. Stagger bobbers, the fish haven't settled in on a particular depth yet…but it will come. Fish I have scoped below 7-8ft have been holding at 17 to 22ft deep and as deep as 24…I expect to see them as deep as 26 to 28ft as the water temps rise. The east side fish generally can be active deeper than those on the west side early in the season. Find the ledges and look for the pods. I saw quite a bit of empty water before finding the pods on the east side, so we're going to have to look for the pods....or hope they swim by eventually. On the west side from Wildcat Pt Slough Pt we can find them in shallower water but closer to the bottom.
SHORE FISHING: Not producing much at all so far this season. Anywhere there is rocks, you probably won't get too many weeds on your line or hang up on reeling in. Weeds along shore off Pikes Pt, Christie and any flat shoreline have hampered shore fishing and fly fishing for those wading. The shore fishing hasn’t done real well this season, we hope that it picks up this fall and we can often see the trout push the fresh hatches of minnows in close to shore in spite of warm water temps. Your best water and deeper water to access now as temps rise is between The Springs and Eagles Nest, although we haven’t seen many trout there yet, it is the deepest water one can access from shore but south and west winds are pretty much in your face there.
FLY FISHING: Some fish are being caught midging under indicators. Mostly off Lake of the Woods and the south side of Pelican Pt. Count your blessings if you find more than 5 in 5 to 6 hours. Normal years we could easily have 20+ released fish. Note that I don’t take any fish out of the water and release it. We are starting to see some fresh dead fish scattered on the bottom in areas where fly fishermen have been. Not a lot, but a few, so we suggest being very careful when handling these fish. Lots of small flies hatching early. Mosquitos, Midges of various Chironies are hatching during the morning (#16 to #18). Black caddis, spinner & minnow mayflies later and some blue darners (damsels) later in the morning. If wading, along a weedy shoreline, you may have to use an indicator to keep your fly from dropping into the weeds and fouling with the algae clinging to the weeds. If you walk out to 3 ft of water or more, you probably will be outside most of the nasty, weedy stuff and into the rocks and areas that have had water over the last few years but it’s been tough keeping a clean line when wading. The fly fishing hasn't been very good either, mostly having to access areas by boat and working out from there before finding a fish.
We have seen quite a few trout that look like footballs. Some folks call them “morphed”. I have filleted hundreds of these fish and they all have compression fractures in their backs, probably caused from being stuck in the truck chute when being planted. The compression fractures are very easy to see when filleting but not if keeping the fish whole. There is no genetic transformation, it is a physical injury that causes this. But man, do they have some thick meat on the shoulders!
From the east side, the ledge that drops from 12 to 40+ft deep is further out than it was over the last few years. So it will take a good cast to get over that deeper water from shore this year but it’s reachable.
The Eagle Lake Marina store has a very good selection of flies behind the counter, just ask. Jay Fair Wiggle Tails are there too (wiggle tails are weighted, good for drifting in tube or kayaks when there is a breeze).
Good Luck out there, we’re gonna need all the luck and as many bags full of tricks we can get!!
All lake elevations are also posted on Lake Conditions page going back to 2012 so it is easy for you to compare. All launch ramp photos are posted in the 2017 ramp album for you to view. All surface temps for areas are also located on Lake Conditions, even though I add a few here.
Thousands of cows grazing along highway 139 thru mid January so we can safely assume some heavy nutrient loading as the water is gradually coming up covering all the cow patties. We believe that the heavy nutrients led to our massive blue/green algae problem last season. Rotting weeds from recently being covered in water contribute to the nitrate loading too. I doubt I will waste much time scouting the north basin early this season after seeing water temps rising an only starting to see a few fish off Spalding once reaching 7 to 8 ft of water. As water temps rise, the fish will move towards the Youth Camp which was already beginning to happen on 5-10-17. It was pretty clear of surface weeds closer to the Youth Camp but there were still a few scattered about. Anything can happen but a week of warmer weather will cause water temps to rise in the shallows really quick. We are already seeing patches of algae on the surface out of Spalding along the airstrip towards Rocky Pt but there were still some clearer channels further out. We could see it increase if the next few days are warm and water temps rise higher. It’s a catch 22.
Plenty of folks didn't believe me about the silt and water pump problems in the low water conditions in the shallow basins. But they do now. So just be watchful, this isn't the best lake to have your motor seize up or overheat on early in the season when winds and cool weather are still prevalent. Once or twice isn't the killer, it's the repeated launching day after day that can get you. So we are doing better than the last 4 years, but we still below 5097ft elevation on the pond. I'll still be launching down south at the low water ramp this season.
In spite of seeing a few larger fish in 2016 season, the numbers of fish caught were dramatically decreased. I requested the creel data from DFW but Paul Divine had not compiled last year’s data by April 2017 and I still have not received the info. For the first time in my 55 years, the lake was green and massively cloudy all 2016 season. Dissolved oxygen dropping below sustainable levels for trout below 22ft deep. I took a video camera down into the water column and was totally amazed as to the water quality. At that time DFW chose not to perform more water testing. I expect to see similar condition’s this season in spite of getting a little water back in the lake; 99% of that water is going to bring heavy nutrients from covering up millions of cow patties left in the north basins from grazing along the lake thru mid-January as well as from Pine Creek. I do see some blue/green algae forming along the shoreline, but so far, the water has been clearer than I have seen it in a while. I expect to get through a few weeks of clearer water but once the green hue comes back and visibility drops, we will know what is going on and try to adapt to it. Cautiously optimistic, but we haven't even started yet. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks. So far it hasn't started off very good at all.
We saw a lot fewer trout in the tributaries this spring than in years past. Papoose creek has had up to a couple hundred, Merrill Creek just a handful. Both of these tributaries have traditionally had well over a thousand fish in them, even in years with less water we have seen 1700 to over 2000 in them. Pine Creek finally drafted around 1200+ over 6 weeks not all were spawners but DFW had to close the gate and prevent free passage upstream for a while, until they got every ripe hen they could which was in violation of the conservation plan for free passage for the native spawn so it was manipulated again this year. Then had to resort to electro-shocking in the lake for as many more as they could get. I don't believe they got their entire target number of eggs. It took well over a month of flow before any trout had come up Pine Creek and DFW had to work through the first week of May. Pine Creek started flowing in mid Dec and continued to trickle through the winter under the ice. Generally, eggs collected that late in the season aren't generally as viable as earlier eggs. Time will tell but we are seeing a lot fewer fish than we have in years past...absolutely no doubt about that. I'm sure DFW will tell you that the fish are there and just not biting, that is just an excuse. Don't complain to the stores or marinas about the poor quality of fishing and fish, you need to complain to the local department of fish and wildlife biologist in charge of managing this lake. 530 254-6363 Paul Divine. SEE TROUT PLANTINIG AND MARKINGS FOR YEARS PLANTED HERE. 100% OF THE PLANTED FISH ARE NOW MARKED BY FIN OR TAIL TRIMMING.
Trout come and go with catching and mortality of release in the summer months. Tui chub (other than the hatch of the season) have no predators and live over 32years. They stay in the lake regardless. Tui chub are highly concentrated in the depths of the south basin, leaving little room for much else. Many have been on their way up north and concentrating off the Youth Camp and heading north. The chubs scope differently than the trout do and are pretty easy to determine on your screen. Generally, they stack up and are very thick in zones of the lake that have dissolved oxygen levels too low to support trout. When they spawn, they blanket the bottom, often 4-5ft thick. We caught some chubs 22" long in 2016. Huge monsters for chubs so they are doing very well....maybe too well considering the biomass and fewer trout being planted. I expect to see my scope very cluttered with tui chub in 2017 season. With a little more spawning habitat back for the chubs, I think we will see another prolific hatch. I believe their population density is going to bite us in the ass if it hasn’t already.
Various zooplanktons have also become very prolific to the point of fowling lines and downriggers...and when thick enough, can plug jet pumps. The biggest change in the fishing occurred in less than one year. From catching and releasing tons (20-40+ per day) of 2-3+ lb fish to being lucky to get one or two was a dramatic shift in Eagle Lake in less than one year. We may have seen some 4+lb fish but their numbers being caught were few and far between. Over 50 years of eating these trout, the best quality of meat comes from a 2-3lb trout. Meat of the bigger trout of 4 +lbs is generally grainy, mealy and soft. Everyone wants to catch a big fish, but the quality of the meat is not nearly as good as smaller fish. Consider that. I rarely keep a fish over 4lbs as to me, it is a waste if it doesn't eat as good as a smaller fish...most of us consider them to be "smokers".
Content of this website is copyright protected 2003-2017 by Valerie Aubrey. Any reuse of the content must simply be authorized by asking. Unauthorized use or lack of crediting content will be considered for legal action. We often see our report summarized in other publications with no credit to where the info came from. As a note, I do leave in some spelling, grammar and punctuation errors in and seeing them in other publications is a dead giveaway. LoL! Opinions on this site are not necessarily the opinions of our sponsors or people we work with. Our opinions are based on over 50 years of fishing Eagle Lake and nearly 30 years of living here full time. Through the El Nino's of getting 24ft of snowfall and through several droughts. We have been there and done that. We know that a lot of the local county info on the lake elevation in the past has been doctored due in part to not having an official actually checking lake elevations in the 1990's...1993 200 residents of Spalding witnessed the lake rising nearly 8ft from the local snowfall of 24ft over that winter. Despite our efforts when the lake chart was updated a few years later with incorrect numbers "to make the chart look historically accurate" not actually accurate, it remains inaccurate during those years as there was no water m. Our explanation from BOS was "No one will know when you are all gone". So we don't believe everything that Lassen County says. That is the honest to God truth and there are still many of us old timers around that know that.