EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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JULY 29, 2015
AN 8 PACK OF VAL’S SELECTION OF BASIC LEECH PATTERNS ARE AVAILABLE AT EAGLE LAKE MARINA STORE Arctic Fox will be having more Eagle Lake patterns soon! Look for the "minnow" series of colors coming soon!
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
DOWNLOAD THIS 72 PAGE FILE. Finally! Eagle Lake Guardians assisted in financing some of the studies that went into this report AND the brook trout eradication this summer through Trout Unlimited!! HELP GUARDIANS CONTINUE TO HELP RESTORE PINE CREEK BY DONATING AT www.eaglelakeguardians.org
We will keep "motivating" those who signed off on this plan to insure it actually gets accomplished
EAGLE LAKE GENERAL STORE AND BAR IN SPALDING IS NOW OPEN.
7-29-15: Lake temp & conditions: The surface temp on the west side off Lake of the Woods has been starting out at 68/69F & ending around 71-72F on a warm afternoon. The east side still holding closer to 70F in the morning and a few spots hit 72F by afternoon. We can see a 2-3F rise on a hot, calm afternoon and we can somewhat lower temps on a cooler day. The thermolclines don’t change as fast by far. There has been globular algae between Wildcat Pt and lower Lake of the Woods but further up towards Shrimp wasn’t bad. Also off Black Mt & patches north of Eagles Nest. Just spotty weeds here and there, including the middle of the basin (where we still have trout chasing minnows). Just check lines periodically if you haven’t had a strike in a while.
Tui chubs are hatching. Period. The trout are chasing them. Period. Small family groups of speckled dace near the surface as well as tui chub & probably a few red-side shiner minnows as well. The red-side shiners (some say sucker) also spawn in the lake, but the numbers are much smaller. Regardless, small minnow imitations are working well for troller’s. The pelicans are moving scads of bait around but the only way they can get close to and feed on the baitfish that are suspended over the deep water is if the trout are pushing that particular school of bait fish up to them. The pelicans can only dive around 3 ft maybe 4 at the most so if they are feeding on minnows, they have help getting them. My topline has been great under certain conditions, & only early in the morning. For leadcore trollers I have come up to 3 colors early in the morning, but still doing most the damage at 4 to 5 colors IN the water 18 to 25ft after mid morning & under clear sunny skies I am running a bit deeper and a little slower the last few days. (I use 18lb leadcore. 12 and 15lb don’t have the same sink rate & you may need a lot more out in the water to get the same depths as I so with 18lb and make lots of zig-zags & lazy turns so your line is working a column of water & the speed and action of your lures or bait changes ever so slightly. I am finding a few trout in 30ft of water but mostly I’m still fishing over 40-50ft in spite of fish being a little higher in the water column for me under certain conditions. We still need to cool down some before the trout will move in and up on a regular basis. I slowed down my speed a little from 2.5 to 3.2 mph to 1.8 to 2.5 mph. The fishing has been a little tougher the last few days. We have been getting them, but we have been working for them and changing a few things like speed to get them. It’s really been all about trolling as the baitfish and trout are on the move & the pelicans show you where they both are at the same time. They are not easy to follow in real-time. Then clear , calm, hot days drop everything down. Bait fishing under bobbers is doing okay but basically, you have to wait for the trout to come to you. However, the bait fishing has been a little better the last few days but not as hot as it can be.
One day one lure kills em, the next day they are looking at something else. But for us, the Simon lures are still getting the most attention. For trolling flies, it’s been about minnow imitations. Florescent orange has caught a few, but the reds are out fishing orange for us this week when it comes to color. Baby Simon Wobblers in white/red and nickel/red have been doing the most damage on a regular basis, Tasmanian Devil’s and Sure Catch Watermelon and Red-Dog med single as well as Rainbow Runners in orange and white and Cop Car #1 needlefish this week
The bait fishing bite is slowly beginning to show up off Eagle’s Nest & The Springs has a few trout milling around now too. Lake of the Woods is still holding trout….some days in on the ledges and on other days out further over the deep flats. On warm, bright, sunny days and flat water when the trout lay low & out of the sun, bait fishing can do pretty well. Trollers have had to get a little deeper on a clear sunny day, especially mid to late morning. The deepest trout we have caught was around 32ft deep. In spite of a few trout being caught shallower here and there, most all our nice solid trout are still coming from 18 to 25ft regularly but change things up & drop down a little after the sun has been on the water for a couple hours. Freelining & slip bobbers finding a little action above 30ft deep…depths of trout can change slightly every day. Heat and flat water will drive them down, but mostly, they still remain above 30’. We have a warm couple of days before our chance for thunderstorms shows up again. But after that, we could begin seeing hints of fall.
We are still working a ton of fish off the west side off Wildcat Pt and Lake of the Woods & weaving in and out off the ledges. The trout are just pounding minnows. The east side is also experiencing a minnow hatch and moving pods of trout. The east side off Black Mt, Eagles Nest and The Springs is holding a lot of trout and I generally work that a little later in AM if I have too. I have mostly been off Lake of the Woods and all the way up to Shrimp Island. If I have too, I simply troll across the depths towards Eagles Nest and the east side & catch a lot of trout out there. Watch the pelicans out on the water & you will find the baitfish & most likely a nice fat trout. They are generally off their roosts after sunrise & that’s when you will see them begin to increase in numbers to 20 or more in a group. It hasn’t mattered where I have started fishing as we have trout in many locations and no water is really a waste of time. It’s been mostly about being in pursuit & trolling speed. Change it up till you find the right combination. The tui chub hatch is pretty much going to happen at the same time everywhere. And we pretty much have trout everywhere we have tui chub minnows hatching. This will continue for several weeks & it looks like it’s another good year, which means fat trout & they are fat. These trout don’t necessarily take a lazy worm under a bobber when on the move, however, trolling nightcrawler’s has held its own.
We are seeing a few adult tui chub being caught, basically that means you are probably below the trout & need to bring your line up a little. There are also some trout closer to the ramp. Pikes Pt and the deeper water out from it towards Merrill Campground has always held trout this time of year. There are a lot of weed beds around the ledges of Pikes Pt & that’s where I find trout chasing the tui chub minnows when the bite has gone off for me everywhere else. I am not releasing trout this time of year with surface temps are at 70F. I stopped releasing when it hit 68F as that is when most of the fish brought to the boat were already beginning to bleed from the gills. You can’t fight these fish to death this time of year and expect them to survive.
TROLLING: Depth: (last 5 days) It’s been all over the place for me depending on where & what I am fishing near. The trout have been around 18 to 25ft deep in general the last few days and later I have gone as deep as 32ft. We have also caught between 12 and 16FT deep when following the pelicans & baitfish but they are hard to keep up with. The topline has been up and down, but I still run one that’s good for a fish before sunrise and as long as you are working the rod tip, you will eventually get a jerk back.
BEST TROLLING SPEED has been 2.5 to 3.2 mph however, I have slowed down a little with the flat water, waxing full moon and clear sunny skies. I also troll flies slower than lures & my toplines are always flies. Don’t try to split the difference in speed to run both at the same time, then neither one will be working its best. I vary my trolling speed & make sharp turns on my zig zags & change it up all the time no matter what I am using. I always have more than 100ft of line behind me & often 150ft +. These trout are NOT hungry; there is a ton of free food for them that they don’t have to work hard to get. They have no reason to even bite us, so it’s basically a matter of making them mad enough to strike. For those who don’t know how fast they are trolling, try using your smartphone GPS or get a free “speedometer” app.
BEST LURES: Red/white and Red/nickel Baby Simon Wobblers has taken more fish the last few days than other lures. But the others are still getting some attention. This week one lure has worked one day & another the next day, only the Baby Simon has been consistent. The lures we have also been running have been as follows, Single Sure Catch Red-dog (med), Watermelon (medium), Pink/green Tasmanian Devil (small), Speedy Shiner (flo orange), white and orange rainbow runners the last few days. Next up for us has been Red Magic Fish Scale prism #1, #1 Cop Car, silver prism, Sure Catch Gator and Sure Catch Watermelon. 50/50 flo orange/pearl and pearl bikini, #1 Fire Tiger & perch patterns have been good under overcast skies. Rainbow Runners (orange & white). Jay Fair Speical or Arctic Fox hot orange and tui chub minnow trolling flies worked for us at the same depths as the lures this week but the lures are ruling at the faster speeds. Rapala’s (baby ones) generally kick into gear once the trout start working bait balls but for the first few weeks of the hatch, it’s pretty critical to stay on the small side for minnow imitations and lures and since the fish seem to be on deep pinks to cranberry reds, I would probably throw that one in before any other. Orange/gold, Gold/Black and Silver/black rapala’s have been the overall standards, however the rainbow trout has earned its place among them as has florescent orange. Berkley Gulp minnows in pearl/watermelon and black shad are my go to plastic in small to begin with 2 ¾ inches long (available at Marina store). I often use an action disc with those or hook through the side & run it crippled. Pumpkin Seed grubs or minnows are also a favorite once the tui chubs start hatching. Whatever minnow pattern you choose to run, keep it on the smaller side for now, we can size up in a few weeks. The trout know when a particular size is out of place in the natural world…& the trout only target the hatch of the year. Later in summer we can up size to 3 inch long but until then, the baby sizes work best. This is also the time of year when lures with blue and brown (damsels?) on them can surprise you. When you start seeing the damsels flying, that’s the time to use them. (PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS ILLEGAL TO USE MINNOWS AS BAIT IN THIS LAKE, INCLUDING THE ONES YOU CATCH HERE).
NOTE: Overcast skies can change things up. As a general rule of thumb; If clouds are dark, I use lures with yellow, red or pearl or black such as in Sure Catch Gator or Fire Tiger or cop car needlefish. If clouds are lighter, I use dark lures with black or dark olive on them and dark brown or olive trolling flies to help show up against the lighter background the fish are looking up through. Sometimes, conditions make one thing work over another than might have done well the day before under different conditions. It’s all about how the fish will see your offering.
Lazy turns and zigzagging allows my leadcore line to work a column of water rather than just one depth, it also works a wider berth. At some point, I am going to drop that line right in front of a trout & he won’t be able to resist it. That’s why it’s critical for trollers to alter their speed as well as their direction. These fish can get directional too, especially in late morning & afternoon. As a rule of thumb, by mid morning the fish are facing away from the sun and towards the wind. This often determines the direction I troll. I troll with the wind. I put my trolling motor in reverse at idle speed & it slows me right down to where I want to be. I can run a lot of lines without crossing them. It is a matter of depth and distance behind the boat to keep the lines from interfering with each other. Line types also play a role in that. But you should be able to easily have 4 rods in the water without trouble if you have that many people fishing.
TROLLING FLIES: . Jay Fair’s Tui Chub minnow trolling fly is getting attention on my topline the last few days as has Arctic Fox’s Tui Chub and Lahontan red-side. The Jay Fair Special trolling fly will be next in the water. A splash of red has been getting a lot of attention.
GRUBS AND OTHER PLASTICS: Orange, watermelon, brown & root-beer have been working as long as they have been run with an action disc or dodger. It’s been all about wobble & lots of it so far this season. Berkley Gulp minnows in watermelon/pearl and black shad (under 3 inches long to start) began working the last few days as well.
DEPTH FINDER TIPS: 1) 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 & can nearly blacken your screen. They can also form a line about 5 ft thick around or just below 40ft. The trout are going to show up at regular steady depths, generally not below 35ft & 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…they may not be trout. 2) When you see a straight line on your scope of what appear to be fish from the lake bottom to the surface, it’s the line of gas bubbles bubbling up (methane as when captured it does ignite (don’t ask). When using Fish ID, your scope will show fish stacked up, on true sonar you can see the difference. Springs can straight line wide but crown out (a density change) between 10 & 15 ft above their origin which generally is a small divot on the bottom, methane wells also show a small divot. Some springs can be found by surface temperature changes depending on conditions and depths. The conductivity of the water can also cause a lot of “artifact” to show up on your screen which is easily remedied by turning your sensitivity down. This also decreases the false fish readings. I prefer using true sonar over Fish ID as it prevents being fooled by false readings.
BAIT FISHING UNDER SLIP BOBBERS: A free lined night crawler off Eagles Nest has done ok but further south towards The Springs is holding a few more fish and the west side is holding a lot. Allow it to cover the water column down to about 21-24ft (6-8 minute drift before relocating). If I were to set a slip bobber to one depth, I would probably shoot for 21 to 30ft deep while the heat is with us. On a warm day & depending on the baitfish we can see them as deep as 30ft, and plus or minus 5ft is generally my only change ups. Trout can be caught at any level in this lake and I never set every line at the same depth until one over the other is indicated. I always keep one line higher than the rest & every day a different depth can be the best one. The tui chub are generally caught deeper than the trout, but they also inhabit the upper level and they run in dense schools. But mostly the trout will settle in to a routine & will stay at a particular level as summer draws on. Right now the bait fishing under bobber isn’t slaying the dragon as it has in the past but it is catching a few.
Quite often we use attractants. Garlic is probably the most taken, liquid krill is another that has worked well. Other trout attractants have also worked. Tui Chub is seasonal, & a good time to start is now. I never apply it to all the bait until I know it hasn’t become a fish repellent on any particular day. Flat water, sunshine & rising water temps dropped the trout down just a bit & sometimes between bites, they are more apt to take a lazy crawler than to chase a lure when they are down there getting out of the sunlight & being lazy. I always run a free-line, however it is a line that has to be run with an open bail and needs tending so it doesn’t drop to the bottom or pick up a tui chub instead of a trout. If the water is flat calm, I often just drift rather than anchor if I don’t have a bunch of lines in the water or boats to avoid. Free lining is not using any weight and letting the worm drift down naturally. I do use a small #12 or #14 (#16 if I can find them) 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. I don’t want my bait to spin, I want it to swim on a slow retrieve. Bait fishing will pick up very soon. Remember, that the stores carry mini crawlers for a reason. Sometimes these trout prefer a snack over a meal.
No matter whether you’re trolling or bait fishing, it’s about the depth. This week, I only caught them higher in the water column early, after sunrise it was mostly all between 18 and 25ft deep in water 40 to 50+ft deep. I stagger my bobbers just as I stagger the water column with my trolling lines & I always run a free line to cover the upper sections.
SHORE FISHING is not on right now and probably won’t turn on till fall. The deepest water a shore angler can access is off the gravel bar at The Springs or Eagle’s Nest & off Pikes Pt (by Pikes Cove is the deepest access) near the marina. The point below Christie Campground can get you to 20-24ft deep this year with a good cast beyond the submerged rocks of the point. The best bet now will be the deeper water where the ledges drop off to 30+ feet of water & hope the trout move the tiny bait fish close enough to reach. Pikes Pt can hold fish all year and can fire up when the trollers are finding them. Access to Wildcat Pt is dryer but any trout are further out. 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. Trout move along the shoreline all the time and it’s often just a matter of timing, your best chance will be over deeper, cooler water right now. This area can provide pretty fair shore fishing even in the heat of summer. The Youth Camp/Biology Station hasn’t been good so far at all this season but that will change for fall. I will be up there next week sizing up the tui chub spawn up there. It’s always been a nursery for tui chub minnows but normally the trout wait till the water temps drop before moving up there.
KAYAKING, FLOAT TUBING & FLY FISHING: Once the trout vacated the shallows, they were gone. Since, the water temps are holding around 70F+ it makes for tough fishing in shallow water. Once we see surface temps begin to drop to 68F and lower, we will know that fall is on its way. Really, we don’t have a lot of summer left anyway & I think we will see an early fall. I did launch of Wildcat & had action trolling minnow imitation flies over the depths. One can fish any method from a tube or kayak, it’s not just for fly fishing and at least one can access the deeper water & ledges. As long as you can hit the depth of the trout which has been anywhere from 5 ft deep to 24ft deep you have a good chance of catching one. But until the water temps cool off for fall fishing in close and over shallow rock piles will be a waste of time…5F will make a big difference. We can, however target the early morning rise to the hatch but this is the time of year that our water temps can severely affect safely releasing the trout. I personally have stopped releasing until surface temps cool down for fall. We can usually catch good number of trout running midges under indicators; however, the stress from the warm water temps has affected catch and release fishing during summer. This lake is like none other. The alkalinity can adversely affect our trout under certain conditions and warm water is just one big indicator.
The best flies have been small minnow patterns, wooly buggers & brown leech patterns are probably my best most bitten flies on this lake all around, olive is the next deadliest & when they get on olive, they are looking for something specific. Orange (florescent to burnt orange) wooly buggers & wiggle tails were getting the most attention this week in tight and shallow and olive wooly buggers have had their days. 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). We are rapidly heading to summer mode & good conditions won’t return until fall.
For those wading. (Fall through December is the best time when the fish stay in close). I can’t stress enough about fishing the water well before you walk in it. Some of my biggest fish have come out of 6 to 8 inches of water a few feet out from an undisturbed shoreline. I approach my area 30ft above the water line as to not startle any fish that might be there. 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, 30ft or more makes a difference. 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. Full sinking lines can belly out to much to feel the subtle slurps before the fish is long gone.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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. The larger size discs tend to travel laterally more than the smaller discs. 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.
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.
BAIT FISHING TIPS
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 th