EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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JUNE 29, 2016
Fishing is so bad this season for trollers covering 6 to 8 miles per day for 0-1 Eagle Lake trout and 25 tui chubs then come on up and waste your money. Guides working their butts off for a couple bites. If you want more than a limit in a week of trolling, go elsewhere until better days come around...and it may not be this year. After a month of the season, less than 25 fish per week are being caught. And probably less than a couple hundred all season long. Mostly small planters and a very small percentage of trout over 2 lbs. Only a few trout are rising to any hatch and it is very location specific. It appears that it has nothing to do with the trout not biting, it does however appear that there are very few trout in the lake to chase. Fly fishing dying off as well and numbers have been very poor this year. The new name for Eagle Lake has become "THE DEAD SEA". The food finally took over the pond. The handful of trout that remain have more food than they can eat & the lake water is like trolling through Jello. Numbers appear very low and the hold over from the last 2 years nearly non existent.
You can help by donating via PayPal link on eaglelakeguardians.org! We are going on an ONLINE fundraising campaign and need all the help we can get!! YOU’RE SUPPORT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! TOTAL INPUT FOR PINE CREEK RESTORATION TO DATE IS $23,500!!! LETS SEE IF WE CAN DO THAT AGAIN!! I also believe that CDFW's 27% off the top of any donations to the state Fish and Wildlife is too much of the public's money for administrative costs. Perhaps that's why they are in bed with other nonprofits. Had Eagle Lake Guardians donated their $23,500 to CDFW the state would have taken $6345.00 for absolutely nothing.
FREEZE BRANDING IDENTIFICATION:
This allows you to be able to identify which hatchery a branded trout came from and what year it was planted. FREEZE BRANDING IDENTIFICATION
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LETS TALK FISHING!
FISHING SEMINAR SATURDAYS AT EAGLE LAKE MARINA PATIO AT 4PM.
I help you get set up and dialed in to catch fish using your own toys!
FISHING REPORT 6-29-16
6-29-16: Fishing remains tough for trollers very few fish are coming in. Mostly being caught trolling Fire Tiger #2 needlefish & double jointed orange Sure Catch Red-dog. Early depths have been between 6 and 10 ft deep & dropping to 18’ to 24’ later in the morning. Mostly, it’s been about a lure having yellow on it and getting it in front of a trout. One hit wonder colors this week have been chartreuse and pink. We have been fishing off Lake of the Woods (between Wildcat Pt and Shrimp Island) however it was loaded with algae today. Early I have worked the rock pile but after sunrise I have moved out over 20-50ft of water. I fished the east side by The Springs to Eagles Nest last weekend. I did get a 3 1/4lb and missed 4 others on brown leech pattern trolling flies in 6 to 35 ft of water 8 to 12 ft deep in about 1 ½ hours. So we do have a few trout on the east side, just not a lot, but I can drag a line through the massive tui chubs and pick up 25, 30% foul hooked. There is a ton of adult tui chub just about everywhere you go, stacked up below adequate oxygen levels for trout. People who planned on staying for several weeks, packing up and leaving for better trout fishing elsewhere.
The lake clarity is very poor when we can barely determine the outlines of the rocks in 3 to 4 ft of water. Since the lake became so low, our clarity looking down from above has dropped from an average of 15ft to getting lucky to see 6 ft down. The best I have seen it in the last few years has been around 9ft. Hopefully as the lake completes its seasonal shift to summer mode, we will see it clear up a little but I don't think the fishing is going to be picking up. There is only so much water, my network has covered every inch and we are all seeing the same thing. It's not a matter of the fish not biting, they aren't around in large schools....only patchy small pods. We are on our way to seeing 70F surface temps (except over the springs which are holding patches of surface temps at 56F. But once we see 70F for a few days, we should see more trout gathering up in their summer haunts if they are here.
The lake has a very green color to it up off the Youth Camp, more tannin color to it below Miners Pt. Still stirred up by the afternoon winds but the surface has been pretty clean. Exception has been in close and shallow off Lake of the Woods. We have been running brown leech pattern trolling flies around 5 ft deep over all depths of water off the west side early in the morning. Jay Fair All Around Best (yellow and orange) trolling fly has slowed down under the clear bright skies but is still a viable option while the water has so much color to it. So for lures, throw the box at these fish but Fire Tiger has caught more than any other lure this week. Seems as though many different lures are earning the “one hit wonder” title. The most looked at colors have been lures with yellow and chartreuse and Pink, very off for Eagle Lake in summer. The “one hit wonders” this week has been Rainbow Runners in chartreuse, Sure Catch single and double jointed red-dog, copper/burnt orange needlefish, red prism needlefish, fire tiger, frog and bikini got some attention, but only nudged…which is better than nothing. It won’t hurt at all to use an attractant such as ProCure trophy trout attractant or garlic. Ttrolling nightcrawlers has been dead too. One day you might get a strike, the next day no....get it in the tui chubs and you will catch the hell out of them. Crawlers should be trolled at slower speeds than we troll lures, but they can still work at faster speeds, just make sure they aren’t spinning up your line. We have to show up in the cloudy water or have a scent trail for the trout to follow to your offering. Regardless, it’s just been tough for trollers.
I am still working the west side. I ran up to Pelican Pt too....68 to 70F surface temp now. But on the north side of Miners, there were a few trout lingering in 20-30ft of water and mostly all holding about 10-12ft deep. There was also a pretty large school of tui chub moving up north, probably to spawn as they normally do off the Youth Camp. Most of us that had launched in Spalding for years consider this area our home turf. However, it is the most dangerous area of the lake for anyone who isn’t familiar with it. Don’t count on your gps contour maps to be accurate or you will end up in the unmarked rocks. The Youth Camp/Biology Station has pretty much been vacated by the trout when surface temps shot up to 68F the week after opening weekend. If the water temps don’t drive the fish to their summer haunts, the solstice will. Give the lake a little time…she’ll be heating up real soon. This has not been a normal year so far and the lake is in a prolonged transition.
We have massive schools of adult tui chub out in the middle, several “stage two” tui chub minnow schools outside of them. Trout only showing up in 2 to 3 fish groups.
The more you know about tui chub, the more trout you will catch. Might not be your favorite fish in Eagle Lake, but it is the one you need to understand. Number 1, you can smell them. The tui chub release a gas when breathing. Due to the shear numbers of them, you can smell them. Little ones, medium ones and large ones. Once the minnows hatch, you can smell them too. Tui chub show up on your scope differently because they school differently than the trout. They also occupy depths that don’t hold the necessary dissolved 02 to sustain a trout. They will show up in a massive school between 7 and 48+ft thick. Also, depending on what they are doing, they can show up as a 5-8ft thick layer on the bottom when spawning or as a horizontal wall to protect the hatching young from hungry trout when water temps drive the trout down, generally the wall forms around the 40-45ft depths. Once their eggs start to hatch, that’s when the trout pound them & the adults can’t protect them all. Once the little minnows suspend in the water column to feed on microscopic algaes, they turn to microscopic zooplankton. The trout only really want the current seasons hatch of minnows or what I call “stage one” tui chub. Stage two tui chubs are last year’s hatch as well as juveniles from probably the last 4-5 years. They are protected by 4 to 6 larger sub adult tui chub or what I call the “guardians” who I have visually seen bumping trout away from the school.
Stage 3 tui chub are the adult spawners and they don’t generally mix with the other stages. Those that make it through the season before becoming trout food end up in Stage 2 schools the following season. By late summer/early fall, we find the current hatch close to the shoreline and ledges, stage 2 just outside of them and then the adults. Basically forming two walls intended to keep the trout at bay and protect the young. Tui chub are an amazing species and provide one of the largest fast food supplies for the trout. But, you can waste a lot of time working the chubs when you should be working for the trout. We release the chubs carefully and living. In the old days, we gilled them and fed them to the pelicans before understanding that they are a critical species for the trout. We also have Tahoe suckers and Lahontan red-sided shiners in the lake. Please release any of these species alive.
Tui chub are a long living species (30+ years) and don’t mature quickly. So trout don’t generally target the larger baitfish schools that are 4 to 8 inches long. Although they will hang outside of the school waiting to ambush a wounded or crippled minnow. They are outside the size range our trout prefer. We need to see our trout get big again before these baitfish have anything to worry about and right now, it doesn't appear that the tui chub minnows have many predators other than the grebes.
TROLLING: My best trolling speed this week has been 2.2 to 2.5 mph. I generally have my lines running slightly different depths but I always keep a Jay Fair topline or two in the water and it always catches fish. I also run my leadcores so I can drop them down deeper as the trout begin to drop. For leadcore, I use 18lb for many reasons. Being able to always splice it and a faster sink rate with less line than the lighter 12 and 15lb. I am running anywhere between 2 and 4 colors in the water. I normally work the west side rocky ledges and points deep to shallow and back out again depending on what other boats are doing. Lots of turns and zigzags helps work a 10ft column of water without changing anything. Typically, I run 60ft+ of leader off my leadcore just to get some distance behind the boat when running it as a topline, and not too long to prevent crossing my other lines. If letting out more than 3 colors of leadcore I often shorten that up to about 25ft just to get it away from the leaded line. I often use my leadcores for toplines setting them at 1 color in the water so you need that long leader to get those lines behind the boat a way. I run them about 20-25ft shorter than my long toplines, this prevents crossing lines on my many sharp turns and helps when trolling more than 4 lines.
Buoys only mark the worst and mostly the man-made hazards. Plenty of rock piles aren’t marked by buoys. As a rule, on this lake, if you are in 20 to 30ft of water on the west side, you are very close to rock piles that will pop up and slap you right in the face if you aren’t watching. There are three different ledges on the west side and the bottom can come up if you aren’t watching the water. You can’t see a thing until the sun is on the water
I prefer using a clip for lures, it allows for a nice flutter on turns over a direct tie. I don’t use swivels as clips but I certainly always use a swivel and I prefer black over brass & the transparent nylon swivels seem to be holding up pretty well too. Note: the spring clips need changing once sprung but the swivel clips catch more weeds. The clips all tend to catch some algae, weeds and grass so you do need to check them periodically.
Hot flat and clear weather along with rising water temps have dropped the trout to 8 ft early, to 24 ft deep by mid morning.
TROLLING FLIES: Arctic Fox trolling flies come in two different models. Tube flies slide down the leader to the hook and tied on the hook traditional models. Both work fine so it’s often just a personal preference. The suggested method of trolling Arctic Fox flies is using an action disc around 3” or so above the fly. The disc gives the fly a beautiful action while your rod is in the rod holder. The further the distance the disc is from the fly, the further it generally travels laterally so be careful if your running several lines. Jay Fair flies are tied traditionally on the hook and can be run the same way, but being a Jay Fair progeny, I usually hold my rod & give it my own action as it’s the instant hook set that gets fish to the boat. On flat water, I believe that too much movement and erratic motion doesn’t do as well as smaller motions or non at all. Jay has a new “electric” pattern out this year. It’s important to check the flies periodically, not only for weeds or algae, but the feathers get twisted around the hook if a fish takes a look or nudges it. The fly doesn’t have the same action with twisted feathers. There is only one thing that twists the feathers on a trolling fly. A fish you didn’t know was there hit it.
Trolling flies and grubs I direct line tie. Florescent orange or brown to cinnamon leech pattern trolling flies are normally my first trolling flies in the water but most any shade from burnt orange, cinnamon to a lighter brown leech pattern usually works well. Jay Fairs “all around best” has done well under cloudy conditions this week. I am throwing my best arsenal of flies at them and the brown or cinnamon leeches have been the most looked at on the west side, all around best out in the middle of the lake. Minnow imitations I reserve for when the trout start pounding minnows, it won’t be long now. Once it happens, it will be critical to match the size of the minnows when they first hit the food court. The marina carries boxes of Val’s choice flies. Bead-head leeches for tubing (especially for full floating lines to keep a little depth. These sink pretty quickly if cast into shallow rock piles so you have to start stripping right away but it’s a good way to get the fly down to the fish when they move off the shallows and down onto the 8 to 12 ft deep ledges. The other box of “minnow” flies has brown leeches (with a little smattering of red flash), small minnow patterns and others, including a yellow leech pattern. 8 flies in each box. And, yes, I troll smaller flies all the time so don’t think they are simply for tubers and fly fishermen. They just aren’t marketed as such.
TIPS FOR GRUBS AND TROLLING FLIES: Wiggle discs. I run the transparent discs right next to the hook but you can run them a few inches above it, just remember, the further up the line the disc is, the further it travels laterally which can tangle when running multiple rods. 3” is a good stopping point & a slip bobber knot or stop makes a good sliding stopper. The Carolina rigs that come with Arctic Fox trolling flies are hard for women’s hands to pinch open with pliers. Other folks run the grubs behind dodgers. As a dodger or flasher tip for this lake, run a short leader to the grub no longer than 14” from the dodger or flashers. These fish can come up so fast behind hardware that if your leader is 3ft long or longer, they miss your offering and strike the blades. Result is lots of strikes but no hookups.
For better action toplining, get your line out 125 to 150ft feet behind the boat. There is absolutely no reason to let out 100yards or 300ft of line or more. At that point, I guarantee that you will hook up lines of other trollers in the area as well as cross up your own. Running 400ft of line out is only asking for trouble. 200ft is common for some, but 150ft is all you really need for topline action. Any further behind the boat and you can’t use your boat to move fish to your lines. ;-) (yep, that’s how I do it)
Attractants work. But, don’t use one that has sat in the sun for several seasons. Chances are that it has soured and it can become a repellent rather than an attractant. I keep my attractants refrigerated and out of the heat. Garlic is my favorite and krill & shrimp next but other flavors have also made their way into Eagle Lake’s arsenal. Pro Cure trophy trout has been a good flavor this season. I don’t generally use them unless water and sky conditions apply. But, I have been known to use them on bait under slip bobbers and some lures. My main theory is that the attractants cover up the human scent and for trolling it leaves a scent trail for curious trout….I often use vinyl gloves simply to keep my scent off the bait to begin with and if using an attractant, I don’t use it on all the bait in the water until I see what the fish are taking. It can also improve catching when our water is cloudy. By late summer/early fall the tui chub flavors kick in. Note that sunscreen or any hair products such as gels, spray or oils on your hands is about the best fish repellent you can get.
FOR BAIT FISHING FROM ANCHOR: At this time, I would be freelining rather than slip bobber fishing nightcrawlers. This allows your bait to cover the active section of the water column rather than just one specific depth. It won’t be long before the trout inhabit their summer haunts and lay around 25 to 30ft deep…they are already seeking late morning depths between 18 and 24 ft deep. A 10-15 minute drift covers the active part of the water column (over the deeper 40 + ft of water) (5-7 minute drift in 25-35ft of water). If fishing shallow rock piles, of course a bobber is needed to keep from hanging up in the rocks. A slow retrieve before relocation often gets a look. It won’t be long before the trout begin to school up in larger numbers and settle in between 25 and 35 ft deep, but for now, they are scattered and we’re just working small pods here and there.
Nightcrawlers basically imitate the leeches commonly found in the lake. I have only found two locations where snail leeches (whitish in color) are prevalent; mostly where the largest springs are located off Miners Pt/biology station and the big spring off Wildcat. Snail leeches are somewhat bone white with burnt orange hue down their back in the right light…which is why pumpkinseed grubs work well around these locations. White grubs can really work well in fall in these locations when the water gets real cloudy. Sometimes size matters. I don’t always troll the biggest, fattest worm in the box as most often, the trout want a little snack over a major meal. Even my personally tied trolling flies are smaller hooks than commercially tied. All you have to do is ask to see the selection of tubing and fly fishing flies behind the counter at the Marina store.
Accesses: NO VIABLE HANDICAP ACCESS TO ANY SHORE FISHING, ANYWHERE ON EAGLE LAKE due to low water. Pikes Pt, Circus Grounds, Christie Day Use area (Note that the handicap ramp to the lake has massive trip hazards from not being maintained by USFS, blew my knee out on it once already this season) are relatively easy but long walks packing a tube, kayak and/or gear. Camp Ronald McD to The Springs is longer but enables a good cast to reach 30+ feet of water. One can drive into Eagle’s Nest but I don’t advise following the user made road that heads towards the point just north of The Springs. Just because the road is there, doesn’t mean it’s legal to drive to the lake outside the immediate area below Eagle’s Nest. I assume this area will be being watched via camera this year as it had more traffic last year than ever. The shoreline north of Camp Ronald McDonald has a very nice ledge that is very close to shore now. The trout often tuck right in to the ledge where most boats don’t go but can be very good for shore anglers when the fish get pressured by the boats. Last year, the ledge on the east side produced good shore fishing through summer. Shore fishing has been tough but I suggest getting closer to deeper water accessible from shore such as The Springs ledge (25-43ft deep with a good cast), the ledge off the point at Christie 17 to 24ft deep or the point near Pike’s Cove 19 to 32ft deep.
Vehicle access to the water north of Christie and all the way up the west side is also prohibited, regardless of old roads leading to the lake. It is illegal to drive anywhere along the shoreline that isn’t a specific use area. The only exception is “lake front” property off Stones Landing. Spalding has no lake front properties but we often see quads burning up the shoreline to Pelican Pt which is completely illegal. Big Brother knows it and is setting up to enforce it. Just because there is a road or tire tracks doesn’t mean it is legal. I had folks enquire about taking a quad from Spalding to Pelican Pt … there have been folks doing it, however it is illegal and you may get a ticket in the mail if you do. Vehicles are not allowed to drive along the shoreline, this includes ATV and UTV vehicles. Last season, several vehicles wove their way along the shoreline from Wildcat Pt to Lake of the Woods and Shrimp Island. These folks received their tickets from USFS in the mail via the DMV database. In other words, their license numbers were taken. This area is not signed well. It doesn’t have to be; it’s been on maps for decades. For driving, one has to go through the Osprey Management Area in which even foot traffic is banned from March 15th to Sept 15th, vehicles have always been banned to the lake shore since the area was dedicated decades ago. One can boat in and fish the shoreline, but don’t think you can drive in just because an old road may lead down to the lake. I do believe that the USFS should improve access to the south side of Wildcat Pt to accommodate the increasing numbers of float tubers and kayakers who have no handicap launching areas other than competing with boats at the launch ramp or long hauls getting to launchable water from the distant parking areas. However, if USFS won’t improve the only single lane launch ramp for boats to encourage more visitors, chances are they won’t consider how much income would be generated by making improvements for the fly fishermen. HELLO??
Nightcrawlers 3-4 ft under bobbers work great from shore. For some areas, fishing from the bottom and inflating a nightcrawler or using floating dough or powerbait to float up 18 to 24 inches above the bottom is a good method. But, when reeling in, crank like hell so you keep your sinker from hanging up on a rock. Typically, if you don’t, you will break off a lot of gear & spend more time fixing your line than fishing. Small jigs under bobbers work great from shore too. Brown, orange, burnt orange, olive, black/red & wild turkey dark grey. Olive seems to be a good year round color off Pikes Pt. Just be sure to set your hook before the fish spits it out. Casting lures and small rooster tail spinners can be deadly too. Mostly, the small size cast masters have been a good choice early in the season. The one with the pink or red stripe has historically been the best. Gold or brass early in the season, silver later in fall when the trout are chasing minnows. But it’s been tough fishing from shore for most everyone.
FLY FISHING, FLOAT TUBING/KAYAKING: The marina store has a very nice selection of float tubing and fly fishing flies behind the counter so be sure to ask. We are getting close to the end of the shallow shoreline rock piles fly fishing. The water is heating up & only about a 2 hour window before the trout move out. Over the depths, the water clarity is an issue for fly fishing but the hatch has been pretty good now that the mornings are heating up quickly. I use a lot of small streamers, leeches, damsels, nymphs and wooly buggers in all different shades and colors. Some caddis, boatman, backswimmers and other nymphs. I catch and release as many fish as I normally want to using that method. I don’t make any claims of being the best fly fisher person on the lake or memorize the latin names of all the hatching bugs besides the obvious caddis, mayfly, damsels, dragonflies and midges...and a short but seasonal carpenter ant hatch, mostly on the east side for the large ants. For me, it has always been about small wet nymphs, creepy crawlers, leeches and beetles living in the rocks, gravel bars and weeds….I turn over a lot of rocks and observe and mostly #10 and #12 hooks.
As long as you can pack your gear over 100 yards to the water you are good to go. If not, your only launching will be at the ramp. The road into Wildcat Pt was ok but still had a few muddy spots to get through. However, you can no longer launch a trailered boat from the beach anymore. If you do get caught, it could cost you in excess of $300. The handicap walkway at Christie is a disaster waiting to happen. If you aren’t disabled, you may be after you walk down. I stay off to the side as there are way too many trip hazards.
Float tubes, pontoons and kayaks have just as much right to launch at the low water ramps as any other boat. Other boaters may not like it, but there is nothing they can do about it. Just have everything ready to go to unload. There is room to offload and allow others to launch if you get off to the south side of the turnaround. I generally do all my tube and kayak launching off Christie when I can’t get into the south side of Wildcat which was still a walk of around 250ft from the legal parking area to the water’s edge & it’s more than one trip back and forth to get my gear down so I allow myself plenty of time. I prefer Wildcat as then I have a choice of which direction I can go which often depends on which way the wind is predicted to come up but it also depends on what condition the road in is in. It’s much easier to drift back to where I launched than it is to buck the wind and waves to get back. These things are overlooked by the agencies and can become a safety issue if one doesn’t have the strength or equipment to get back towards the parking area. We often see people drive right to the water, just know that is illegal & you could be cited.
If we don’t see water in the coming years and the government continues to refuse to keep the boat launching going I can certainly see safety issues if only kayaks and tubes can launch in the future. Small crafts don’t have the time to get back to shore (at 2 to 5 mph) before the winds and waves cause extremely dangerous conditions.
I pretty much use slow to medium sink tip fly lines from my tube or kayak. I only use a full float when wading from shore or midging. The sink tip allows one to use the floating section of line as an indicator & can be worked quickly close to the surface over shallow water, or let it drop down over a ledge. A full sink line has too much belly to pull out before noticing or feeling the strike, even striping in …. By the time you feel it, the fish is long gone and you missed him. I use mostly 4 to 5 lb tippets with #12 to #8 flies. 5lb seems to get my fly back when I hang up on the bottom in shallow water, 4lb doesn’t. 4lb also doesn’t hold up as well in our water conditions or to abrasion from the tufa. 4x-5x is pretty standard for me as well as my personal fly hooks.
Basically anything from burnt orange to very dark brown & which one goes on first is chosen by flipping a coin. I tend to lean to the darker browns unless something inside me says to use something else such as a lighter brown, burnt orange or something else…..olive wooly buggers can be deadly, mostly on the west side and particularly off Pikes Pt. I also have florescent orange wooly buggers just in case.
Our trout don’t often hit dry flies on this lake, except for carpenter ant imitations, even though you may see a ton of fish rising. Mostly they are taking emergers from just under the surface, not on the surface. Midges under indicators can be deadly in black, grey or olive. Generally, #12-14 but as all tiers know, hook size can vary dramatically between manufacturers. I have gone as large as #10 and as small as #20, but on average #14-16 is fairly common for the caddis hatch. When using these small flies, I often drop down to a 2lb tippet just to get the line through the eye of the hook to tie it on. These fish can get line shy so don’t slap too much water before landing your line on flat water. I use thingamabobbers for indicators. I poke a small hole and fill it with water....where it is still on the surface but adds a neutral buoyancy. Adding water to them adds weight and control in the wind too. I often run this set up off my tube for my second rod. If I do, I normally get the line out away from my craft, and try to keep it on the slow inside bend of my drift if I am working the other rod. When the fish are midging, you don’t have time to run two rods. We are seeing some hatches on warm days. Also, these fish aren’t dumb, keeping a lower profile from a boat will catch you more fish than casting from the highest part of the boat where every fish can see exactly what you are doing. You will catch a few fish if casting over bobber fishing with indicators. You won’t double digit fish unless you can throw 60plus feet of line. Do we tandem flies? We have been known to do that. Usually using a small bead-head. 3-4 ft above & about 18” long.
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