EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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OUR FISHING REPORT IS THE MOST COPIED AND LEAST CREDITED EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT ONLINE SINCE 2006!
MAY 24, 2015
AN 8 PACK OF VAL’S SELECTION OF BASIC LEECH PATTERNS ARE AVAILABLE AT EAGLE LAKE MARINA STORE AND ONLINE HERE
Arctic Fox will be having more Eagle Lake patterns soon! Look for the "maribou minnow" series of colors!
EAGLE LAKE GUARDIANS DONATE $17,500 TOWARDS PINE CREEK RESTORATION PROJECTS, ASSESSMENTS AND STUDIES. LOTS OF WORK GOING ON. Data is being compiled over the winter months. You can help by donating via PayPal link on eaglelakeguardians.org! We won’t be holding general fundraisers at the lake this season. However, 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 IN 2014 IS $17,500!!! LETS SEE IF WE CAN DO THAT AGAIN!!
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
Trout planting YEARLY allotment reduced to 80,000 from 180,000 trout due to low lake elevation and loss of habitat which affects the food supply for all the species of fish in the lake.
5-24-15: Awesome opening weekend! Lake surface temp 56-58F. Trout were plentiful & scattered just about everywhere this weekend. Most the high quality 2-2 ½ pound trout were being found in deeper water. The trout were scattered in the water column. We caught them on top & we caught them down to 20ft & just about every level in between. We had a heck of a good mid morning bite on the deeper rods before the toplines fired back up again around 10AM. We ran half our rods as toplines (4-6ft below the surface) and found a steady bite on brown leech and hot orange trolling flies. The other half of the rods in the water were leadcore at “4 colors” in the water. My friend has been doing well trolling nightcrawlers (which wasn’t as hot last year as it has been in the last 55 years I have fished the lake) anywhere from 4 ft deep to 12ft deep. Basically, he caught fish on “just about everything he put in the water at one time or another. It all worked. Florescent orange trolling flies, lures of color combinations with florescent orange such as needlefish (#1 smaller first choice, #2 second) 50/50 brass/flo orange, medium Sure Catch Red-dog (double jointed and single), Goldie Locks (medium) just to name a few. Firetiger patterns had their moments. Last season, the more wobble a lure had, the more fish it caught. This weekend has shown to be coming on the same. A new hot lure to the lake this weekend was a tiny little Simon lure with a big wobble! It is new to the Eagle Lake Marina shelves. Copper/orange was hot today. Big doesn’t always make for better on this lake! Orange, pumpkin seed & root beer grubs behind dodgers or run with action discs caught a few fish too. The bigger the wobble the more attention you got. You can move the action disc up your line for a bigger wobble, but once you get over 6” above of your offering, they have a tendency to travel sideways & cross over other lines (especially the larger discs).
Shore fishing and shallow water, in spite of good water temperatures, didn’t produce big numbers of trout Saturday morning. I launched off Christie Picnic (Day Use) Area & worked up towards Wildcat. The water was pretty dirty along that run & we had to keep checking & cleaning the algae off our hooks. We had a handful of trout in close & shallow but most were found out off the ledges & over deeper water. Orange wiggle tails & wooly buggers were getting the most attention, brown leech patterns were second. If you were in a boat on a rock pile surrounded by 10+ ft of water, you caught a lot of fish. If you were trolling, you caught fish. Wading for them didn’t produce much. Further north of Wildcat Pt had better conditions & cleaner water on the west side. But, just because they weren’t in close & shallow after a week of stormy weather, doesn’t mean they won’t be back tomorrow. A week of intermittent rain showers & westerly winds up to the very last minute could easily have moved the fish out temporarily. Until water temperatures reach 64F, the trout move in and out from the shoreline.
The east side from the Springs to Eagles Nest has a lot of quality fish. We simply headed out to the middle of the lake off Eagle’s Nest, dropped our lines in and started trolling in big circles. We caught & released 8 trout no less than 17” long & no larger than 19” (2 to 2 1/2lbs) out of over 18 strikes. All were chubby & beautiful.
TROLLING: Depth: From 4 to 21ft deep over 20-50+ft of water. Speed: 2.5 to 3.0 mph.
TROLLING FLIES: Hot orange was the best & produced the most strikes. Brown leech patterns worked great for the early AM but shut down for a couple hours after sunrise before firing back up around 10AM.
LURES: "Red" prism #1 #2 needlefish (I enhance the bend for more action), medium Sure Catch Red-dog (I prefer double jointed). Single spoon Red-dog is generally best in Large, however the smaller versions of lures are working better than larger sizes. We have a highly overlooked western toad population & frog patterned lures have held a high ranking on the best overall fish catching lures on the lake. Red-dot frog patterns are probably the best but yellow has held its own under certain conditions.
For lures, normally brass & copper backs seemed to work better than nickel back lures. Generally by late summer nickel-back begins working well again & that is all about fresh baby tui chub minnows venturing out to the depths. Sure Catch lures, needlefish, speedy shiners, cast masters are historically our best producers. But, sometimes something new with a lot of action can produce good results. Last year, the better the wobble, the more attention you got. Keeping that in mind, Eagle Lake Marina found “Simon” lures & folks who were trolling them opening weekend had awesome results.
Remember, that the tui chubs show up differently on your scope than trout do. This species (non game fish) generally loads up your screen between 7 and 47ft and appear stacked & nearly blacken your screen. The trout are going to show up at regular depths, generally not below 35ft (until later in summer) & rarely below 40ft due to dissolved oxygen being lower than the trout need to survive. One can waste a lot of precious fishing time fishing the wrong school of fish just because you see a massive school of fish on the screen. The most active level for the trout will most likely be 4-6ft deep over all depths of water. We might see them drop depending on how much pressure they feel from the first onslaught of boats on the water after months of silence.
BAIT FISHING UNDER SLIP BOBBERS: A free lined night crawler off Eagles Nest is working best. Allow it to cover the water column down to about 20ft (5-6 minute drift before relocating). If I were to set a slip bobber to one depth, I would probably shoot for 18 to 20ft after sunrise if I had to. But mostly the trout are scattered in the water column & a free line covers the bases. Free lining is not using any weight. I do use a small #12 or #14 black barrel swivel 3 ft above my threaded night crawler which does sink faster than a naked line but protects my spool from twisted line if I catch a tui chub.
SHORE FISHING wasn’t as good opening day as it has been historically. Folks caught some fish but there weren’t a whole lot of fish cruising the shallows. Be it from a week of stormy weather or the broken silence after months of no boats on the water. The majority of the fish were caught over deeper water, even though plenty of trout were found around 4ft deep. Wildcat Pt and north provided more action than between Christie and Wildcat but probably just a temporary condition. Access to Wildcat Pt was doable in 4x4. The area between Camp Ronald McDonald & The Springs didn’t produce too much but further up towards Eagle’s Nest had better luck from shore. There is good access & accessibility to cast to deeper water (30’ +) from shore. Trout move along the shoreline all the time. They just weren’t in real tight real long this weekend.
KAYAKING, FLOAT TUBING & FLY FISHING: Just because only a few trout were found along the shoreline between Christie and Wildcat Pt, doesn’t mean they are gone for good. Water temps remain below 60F & trout will move back in. Wooly buggers & leech patterns. Orange (florescent to burnt orange) was getting the most attention, very small brown leech was my second best. If fish are rolling on the surface in large numbers I will have an olive or grey # 10 or #12 or #14 (depending on hook manufacturers) midge under an indicator. For the little flies, toe-biters, scuds (brassy orange, orange or light olive), shrimp & snail patterns (black peacock or dark grey).
For those wading. I can’t stress enough about fishing the water well before you walk in it. I approach my area 30ft above the water line. Once I am where I want to be I will cast my line & drop my fly 6 to 10 feet in the water from shore. If you walk within 20ft of the shoreline chances are good that the fish saw you & left before you saw them. I use a full floating line when wading & a slow to medium sink tip from my float tube or kayak. I do always carry a full floating line & rod all set up which gives me plenty of options & less re-rigging time.
See below for tips and suggestions particular to fishing this lake all season long.
TIPS FOR METHODS OF FISHING TO ASSIST IN SETTING UP FOR THE NEXT FISHING SEASON. ALSO SEE TIPS AND TRICKS
TIPS FOR LEADCORE TROLLERS: I zig-zag and troll in circles out away from the ledges (Reason for zigzags & circles: Making my line work a column of water rather than just one depth as well as changes the action of the lures). I also work the contours of the bottom in shallow water using the same technique. As you make a turn, the inside line drops several feet and flutters down (when a clip is used, action is different when tied directly on the line) while the outside line picks up speed and comes up several feet in depth. Depending on my speed, that column of water I’m working can be up to 15 ft. For leadcore users, I have never had to go deeper than 6 colors. I only put 5-6 colors on my reels & backing to the reel. The sink rate of leadcore depends on your trolling speed and lure weight. I can easily hang up on the bottom at 42ft with 5 colors in the water at 1.2 to 1.3 mph and hang up one color in 12-14ft at the same low speed. If you don’t have a trolling speed indicator. Most Smartphone GPS apps have speed on them. Our fish can get directional for trollers so I always troll in circles, east to west, west to east, north to south and south to north. Generally I find the “direction of the day (or hour in some cases) & work it until I wear it out.
For leadcore line, I only use 18lb as it is more controllable for depth and easier to splice over time and catching bottom a lot. Suffix brand is tough as it gets, but isn’t user friendly for inline splicing, especially in the field, but using a long sewing needle helps greatly for threading the leader and backing into the Dacron sheath of the leadcore). Also, I use “fire line” for my backing for many reasons but toughness and diameter are key factors, floating properties are another.
Leadcore users: We have come up to topline level. To run your leadcore like I do a topline you simply have to add 50 to 75 ft or more of leader & run one color in the water (that can be 1 ½ to 1 ¾ colors off your reel & depending on your speed.) I run four lines, The two outside lines are Jay Fair toplines & my inside lines are my leadcores. Running my leadcores shorter allows me to make sharper turns without having my lines cross over each other. You need to be at least 100ft behind the boat to successfully catch a lot of trout near the surface and on a spooky day we have ended up 150ft behind the boat to get them to bite. Average trolling speed for us this week was 2.2 to 2.7 mph .
TIPS FOR DOWNRIGGER USERS: To successfully troll a trolling fly from a down rigger you need to put your line a little deeper into the clip so it takes more effort for the fish to pop off. The key to hooking fish on a fly is setting the hook instantly & don’t allow any slack in the line bringing him in. If you don’t sink the hook, you haven’t sunk the barb in his lip. Rod unloading picks up a little of the slack in the belly of the line but not always enough to solidly sink the barb. If there is one complaint I hear from downrigger users trolling flies, it is that they can’t get that many fish to the boat before they spit the hook. It only takes a little change up to stick the fish solidly. Also, don’t continue to troll. On flies, typically you only hook the fish in the lip or by the skin of the lip. Dragging the fish while reeling it in helps tear the skin & open a hole for the hook to slip out of. Been there, done that.
SHORE FISHING TIPS:
If you are coming up to fly fish by wading first, I can’t tell you how important it is to fish the water before you step into it. When I could wade, I would stand back 20-30 ft (as closer will move the fish away) flip out several double-hauls & land my fly 3 to 5 ft from the edge of the shore. I have caught my largest fish doing that. Now, since I can’t walk well, I use my float tube & I cast as close to the shoreline as possible & shoot for 3 to 5 ft from land…..Friday morning I caught and released 3 trout (that were the larger 20-23 inchers) doing that before sunrise.
Nightcrawlers or powerbait….or nightcrawlers and powerbait work very well from shore and are probably the two best baits to consider using. Casting small jigs is also a top producing method of catching fish from shore. Brown, olive and black are the basics, but wild turkey (darker grey) has been #1 for decades for the jig tiers. Yellow and white turn on later in November and can be the ticket in December. For longer casts use weighted or water filled bobbers. We not only do that but also use longer rods 8-8 ½ ft long for extra distance. In some of the accessible areas of the lake, it can be critical to get distance, especially later in the morning or in the afternoon when the trout move out….mostly just out of reach from shore with normal tackle & rods shorter than 6 ½ ft long. FYI on that. The jigs we use are much smaller than the traditional crappy jigs, however in a pinch, they can work ok. The small jigs are available locally, Susanville Chester among other sporting goods stores.
Bobbers VS bottom fishing: It is possible to fish from the bottom up. Use an egg singer rather than split-shot so when a touchy trout picks up your inflated crawler or floating dough bait (powerbait) there is less resistance. We have a lot of areas of soft mud, sand and weed beds that make it easy to slowly retrieve that line. However, we also have more rocky ledges and gravel bars that hang up a sinker & slow retrieves make that worse. If you are bottom fishing around rocks & bring your line in, bring it in fast to keep your singer above the rocky bottom. Depending on conditions of the day (wind especially) and the location I am shore fishing, I often set up a deep running bobber and let my weight rest on the bottom (bobber on its side or tipped) & float my bait up from that. This way, the bobber helps keep the line “up” & I still crank in fast…..but I don’t lose a lot of tackle anymore having put these techniques into practice. Use the wind for a drift & relocate as needed to keep the drift going. We also use jigs in the wind. Wild turkey grey is probably the best all round color but olive, brown, black and orange are our normals. Yellow comes into play when skies are darkened with clouds and the water stirred up from the wind.
FLY FISHING/FLOAT TUBING BASICS: #12 & #10 Nymphs. Orange, brown and olive.. From my float tube I prefer using a sink tip…10ft medium sink (3 to 4” per/second). This line allows me to cast into shore or on top of a shallow rock pile and work the contours down. I can sink it to 15ft deep if needed or ride the upper 1ft of the water column. For wading, I use my full floating line & use double wire hooks or bead-head nymphs/leeches to get the depth needed to work the rock pile up. Come fall/winter months my spring arsenal is still in my go to compartment but I add some olive/white minnow imitations, orange & light olive scuds (water temps dropping) and some oddball wooly buggers. Some days I need a little flashier body while other days my “plain Jane” drab olive or brown are the ticket. The new UV material is proving itself in browns, black and darker olive colors. It depends on the sky, water color and temperature but the new UV dubbing makes a beautiful fly. As the water begins to warm up to around 65F on the surface, I have been known to use #16 to #22 olive or dark brown midges under indicators. For the most part, if I use an indicator I use a plastic bubble type like thingamabobbers. I poke a small hole in the top & fill it with water which keeps a neutral buoyancy & still rides on the surface. I prefer the loop attachment of the thingamabobbers over winding around an O-ring or threading. It’s easy to put on and stays in place as well as being easy to remove with no tippet damage. In big waves, the water fill method flows smoothly and with the water it also adds some weight for casting when the wind comes up. Whereas the high riding air bobber or Styrofoam jumps around with not only the wave action but the wind as well. If that’s what you want, by all means use your preference. All I do is tell you why I do or don’t use a certain product. Regardless, it’s really only a matter of control. As a rule, I really don’t care for “bobber fishing” & calling it fly fishing. But you can catch a lot of fish if that’s what you like to do but it’s not as much fun for me as teasing a trout into a strike. I don’t really care about reeling in a fish, it’s all about the tease and the strike while holding my line!!!
In my tube I keep on the move & keep the casts towards shore going, even though I may not leave the area I am fishing, I am making circles in my tube just as I would in my boat. It’s more about a Hybrid form of fly fishing that incorporates all the casting and stripping techniques as well as some trolling methods. If you run a full floating line from a tube you often need a heavier fly, it’s the nature of the beast unless you anchor, you drift faster than you think. I have specific lengths of leadcore line that I loop onto my floater to make it a sink tip if I need a quick conversion. I have never liked using full sinking lines. No matter what, the full sink lines have a large belly form between rod and fly. Our trout are such gentle slurper’s that by the time the fish pulls the belly out of the line enough for you to see or feel on the rod, it’s too late to set the hook, the fish is gone. If you sink your floating line down from the top of the water, the body of the line remains on the surface which allows you to use the line as an indicator & you will catch more fish than you even knew were biting at you. Uniform sinking lines do just that, sink. No matter what the advertisements say, the uniform sinking line has a droop or belly to it under the water. NOTE: RETIE YOUR FLY AFTER EVERY TWO FISH OR NUMBER THREE FISH WILL STEAL IT FROM YOU….just trust me on that!! Also, keep your hooks sharp…I sharpen hooks after every other fish and keep my sharpener close by at all times.
The beauty of fishing Eagle Lake is that it changes with the seasons and our trout migrate around the lake. Food sources intermingle but there are differences in the west side and east side. The trout will remain in the depths for a while longer but they will be active higher in the water column now. On a hot flat water afternoon we might find a few between 18 and 21 ft deep but the best catching will be in the upper 10ft of the water column. Only rouge trout will venture into the shoreline while surface temps are warm but once we see surface temps drop to 65F and below we will see some major changes occur. At 61-60F visibility will go out the door and attractants will become relatively necessary. Avoid setting anchor over a mass of fish that drop below 47ft deep….chances are they are tui chub, not trout.
GENERAL TIPS FOR TROLLING
FOR THE LURES we use a loop knot or a small clip to attach the lures which seems to give it more action in the water during speed changes and especially on turns (where 80% of your fish will come from). I prefer black small spring steel clips over snap clips & I haven’t lost a lure or fish yet, As a tip, the heavier hooks on many of the lures need sharpened after every two fish. If you keep getting strikes without getting a fish to the boat, chances are your hook is dull….been there & done that. Sharp hooks catch more fish. I always like to say, “Mr Sneaky Trout, meet Mr Sharp Hook and try that again!”. It can mean all the difference between fishing and catching those light biting trout. It’s critical on my float tube fly fishing.
Action discs help give the flies and grubs movement if you aren’t holding your rod & working the marabou, hair or plastic yourself. I personally prefer the smaller action disc because of the heavy drag of the discs to begin with. AND I run it close to the fly or grub rather than 3” or more above. The further up the line from the fly the action disc is, the further it travels laterally. Oh it has nice movement but it can also foul other lines if it travels too far. I run the smaller disc right ahead of the fly…it gives it a subtle wiggle rather than a rapid twitch which is often needed on flat water. When the bite comes back on again, chances are what worked earlier will work again. I have found that there are some days that you can have too much movement in a lure or fly and a plain old dead drag or seductive wiggle is what gets the strikes. There is a new action disc in development which should out next season.
Attractants can help, especially as we head into fall and our clarity decreases. Garlic has traditionally been good, krill second, trout gravy third and tui chub scent should be on your list now that the tui chub minnow are on the menu big time. Mikes Lunker Lotion’s are proving to do quite well. Tui Chub flavors are also good this time of year. I don’t always use an attractant on every bait or lure in the water just in case I have a day that it becomes a repellent. In that case, I use rubber or vinyl gloves to handle my bait…thus keeping my scent off the worm to begin with. FYI on that. Also note that attractants can go bad or sour if left in the sun or heat for long periods. I generally store mine in the refrigerator (ice chest but put in ziplock baggie) or at least in a cool dark spot when I store it for the day.
GENERAL LAKE FAVORITES
Bait fishing. NO MINNOWS ARE ALLOWED TO BE USED AS BAIT IN EAGLE LAKE. INCLUDING MINNOWS CAUGHT IN THE LAKE. I can guarantee you that if you bring a bucket of minnows up from the valley to use as bait, you will be found out and turned in. Will the imported minnows live in Eagle Lake? Well, let’s just say that we certainly don’t want to find out as if they did survive and reproduce the entire balance of the lake will change and it will no longer be the lake it is. It could ruin the lake as we know it….forever. So NO Minnows!!!!
If I went bait fishing from an anchored boat right now I would tend to hit shallow water. Keep my line up around 3 to 4 ft from the surface.
It is not unusual to find a nice lazy trout at 30ft deep off the east side between The Springs and Black Mt at any time of the fishing season. The fish that reside at that depth are generally fat and lazy & make you find them, rather than just swim by your bait in fall. They don’t always chase trollers at that depth, but they have been known to take that nice juicy nightcrawler that just sits there wiggling. Attractants can help, but don’t put it on every bait in the water until you know it’s working better than not using it. We have trout off Wildcat all the way up the west side and holding in mostly shallower water early in the morning….but they are moving back out later in AM.
There are several options for bait. Nightcrawlers (threaded on the hook) are probably the best bait going. I prefer to have some mini crawlers handy as sometimes these trout don’t want a meal but just a snack….small over large has always been better. Powerbait type products I refer to as dough baits have also worked well on our hatchery trout. Rainbow probably covers the most popular colors of orange, pink/red and green but the pale garlic flavor has really done well since hitting the market. Our trout don’t generally look at salmon eggs but they have looked at marshmallows. Various attractants are also advisable, Pro Cure has a good selection. Garlic is a favorite and most anything for trout. But, tui chub flavor of attractant won’t do as well until late summer when the trout begin pounding the fresh hatch of tui chub minnows. We don’t recommend releasing fish that swallowed the hook. It is not like the days of the past when hooks were made out of cheap steel. Now hooks are all high carbon steel and lazar or chemically sharpened. These hooks cut a hole in the fishes stomach much easier and don’t rust out as fast. The fish I have cleaned that have survived have massive scar tissue around their stomachs and in generally poor health despite surviving.
USFS QUAD MAPS OF OPEN ROADS AROUND THE EAGLE LAKE AREA: Note a new Smartphone app for USFS maps is out.
The links below go to maps saved from Lassen National Forest website. Any questions you have should be directed to Eagle Lake Ranger Station staff. I am only providing them for quick access for our viewers. More information on road closures in the Forest is available on their website. There are new maps coming out for road closure, multi-vehicle use roads etc. We will replace those for you next season. Until then, you can find them on Lassen National Forest website. I saved them to my iphone and can use them anywhere, anytime, with or without cell signal.
GALLATIN QUAD MAP LINK
PIKES POINT & THE WEST SIDE SOUTH BASIN QUAD MAP LINK
EAGLE LAKE SPALDING QUAD MAP LINK
TROXEL QUAD MAP LINK
CHAMPS FLAT QUAD MAP LINK
See Lake Conditions for water temps
See Ramp Conditions for launch ramp info.
See Tips and Tricks for ideas & set ups dialed in for fishing Eagle Lake. Most methods are covered. We make no claims of knowing everything about Eagle Lake, but we do know a lot about catching Eagle Lake trout in
ALL EAGLE LAKE, ALL THE TIME