Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths

Copyright Protected and Registered by Valerie Aubrey. 
Permission to copy and re-publish must be given by the Author.

 R u Mobile? WeR2!! Text and send photos to
Val @ 530 249-1430 or
MAY 15, 2016



 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.
This allows you to be able to identify which hatchery a branded trout came from and what year it was planted.  FREEZE BRANDING IDENTIFICATION 
6-1-15 NOTICE
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

Well, the 2016 fishing season is just about here.  As we all know, opening weekends have given us a wide variety of weather.  The morning may start out sunny and warm and end with a massive thunderstorm.  We have also seen a wintery storm pass through leaving a few inches of snow on the ground….often collapsing a few tents in the campground.  So, my advice is to be prepared for just about anything.  Rain gear, gloves and head protection as well as summer clothes and sunscreen.  Late May is normally much warmer in the Valley than it is up here.  It is still our springtime and weather patterns can be unpredictable.  Summer settles in in July.  One thing I can tell you is that since we actually got a little moisture this winter, the bugs are already beginning to get pretty thick.  Most of them bite.  So bring bug spray for camp.
The lake is less than 6 inches above last year’s elevation so I expect the fishing AND launching to be very similar to last year.  A good rain storm can add a little more.  The lake meets the grass line but has yet to inundate any tules for grebe nesting at the north ends but the green of the grasses and a splash of a wildflower here and there are nice to see.  We need to get back to 2012 levels before we will have successful grebe nesting habitat.  I would not recommend using Rocky Pt ramp with other than a small fishing boat, remember that it was shallow last year and even if the lake were to come up 8 inches, it is still going to be pretty shallow and we will still see wave terraces and shallow shoals that have built up & not been leveled yet.   It will be better earlier than later in the I was able to get within a half mile of Rocky Pt last fall coming in from the south.  The ramps at Spalding and Stones are still unusable.  We gained nearly 4 ft of cement at the Gallatin low water ramp…. hopefully that transcends into a little longer stretch before our trailers wheels drop off the end of the cement.  Regardless, we should see better launching this fall than last fall. 
The lake didn’t ice over long this last winter.  That allows the organisms in the lake to have a head start at producing a plethora of food for the fish.  As it did last season…. which produced fat trout early in the season whereas if the lake is iced over for several months, the trout tend to be leaner early in the season.  That said, I expect to see a lot of 17-18-inch-long fatties but I also hope to see quite a few 19-20-inch fish once we find the pods. DFW will have planted little hatchery fish at the low water ramp and generally off Christie.  These fresh fish won’t get too far away from where they were dumped in but boat traffic will get them moving around.  The further away from these locations you can get, the bigger fish you will find.  We had a great fishing season last year, and this one is shaping up to be as good if not better.
I expect to see an early tui chub minnow hatch again this year.  Not a bad thing as the tui chub minnows provide a lot of food for the trout, grebes and pelicans.  Last season was the best hatch of tui chubs in three years prior (and it attracted more grebes to come in once they hit the food court.  The shrimp larva is also going to be massive and really kicks into gear when surface temps reach 59-60F.  Last year it was nearly like trolling through Jell-O once it got going. Leeches seem to be doing ok but nothing special exception is that the Youth Camp/Biology Station had a prolific leech hatch.  I do feel that the leeches do better with more water and more habitable areas which are and have been high and dry for several years.  But they are still a viable food source…even a treat and always an opportunity.  I consider the leeches (especially the brownish predator leeches), an opportunity food for the trout.  If a trout sees it and has an opportunity to take it, he will…just because it’s there and very familiar and natural.  When the fishing is tough, the brown leech pattern trolling flies have always been the one to save the day & put fish in the boat.  Jay Fairs “all around best” may not be as good all the time, but it has its best days under overcast skies and in cloudy water. 
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.  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.  My main theory is that the attractants cover up the human scent….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...mostly in fall....tui chub flavors then kick in.
FISHING FROM BOATS AND TROLLING:  If we are lucky, surface temps of the lake will remain in the mid to high 50’s once opening weekend approaches.  As long as our ambient temps remain cooler and skies remain cloudy, it will keep the water temps from shooting up too quickly.  Surface temps in the 50’s to low 60’s is what I call fast water; faster trolling speeds will trigger more strikes than low and slow.  One thing to remember, the lake will not have seen boats for several months, once the armada launches there will be a lot of noise in the water compared to what the fish have been accustomed to for months.  Saturday, opening day, is generally great fishing for all….but Sunday can be much different.  The fish tend to scatter, pod up in smaller groups and head to structure or more quiet locations until they acclimate to the boat traffic. Some simply go deeper but they can get touchy for trollers, but the fishing pressure can also trigger a pretty aggressive deep frenzy because they’re just a little pissed off.  Generally, the early bite will be between 4 and 6 ft deepBut, once these fish get stirred up, it isn’t unusual to see them drop down to 30 to 35ft deep over 40 to 50ft of water.  Pretty much, following them down….10-12ft, then 18 to 24ft then 30-35ft.  I generally have my lines running slightly different depths but I always run a Jay Fair topline and it always catches fish.  I also run my leadcores so I can drop them down deeper as the trout begin to drop. I normally work deep to shallow and back out again depending on what other boats are doing. Lots of turns and zigzags. If that didn’t work out or I find only small fish, I would head to the east side where I know I still have some shade on the water for a while.  I really don’t think it will take us long to find some nice quality fish.
Many of us from Spalding and Stones head to our familiar waters off Pelican Pt and the Youth Camp/Biology Station.  Since the lake is much lower than it should be, this run from Gallatin around Miners Pt rock piles and the various unmarked rock piles north of Miners, to the south of Pelican and out from the Youth Camp/Biology are still hazardous for anyone unfamiliar with the territory.  It is still hazardous for those of us that know the area!!  Thinking one knows every unmarked rock pile can get you in trouble too.  I have over 300 rock piles marked & the minute I think I have them all is the moment I am in trouble.  Fish can be found much closer to the ramp for novices and experienced Eagle Lake anglers.  From the ramp, just head to the east side Springs or Eagles Nest or the west side near Wildcat or Shrimp Island and start fishing.  Chances are, it won’t take you long to find them.
Personally, I will be in my float tube or kayak fly fishing off the west side.  I expect to find a few foraging in 2 to 4 ft of water early but I doubt they will stay long before moving out to the first ledge that drops from 10 to 15 ft of water but still in the 4 to 6 ft depth.  If they aren’t there, I will bounce the bottom in 8 to 12 ft of water.  It will also depend on how many trollers are working the area.  They can actually work to our benefit by moving fish to us and pushing them in close to the shoreline….closer than boats can safely get.  Once the sun is up (if it isn’t overcast) we may see the trout move out over the depths an laying at 30-35ft in 40- 49ft of water but their active level will probably remain in the upper 10ft of the water column for a while in the morning.  Once the trout are pressured by all the boats and sonars pinging away, they will try to honker down.   
Remember, tui chub scope differently on your depth finder.  They generally stack up between 7 and 47ft.  They can also show up as a 5 to 7 ft thick mass on the bottom.  As we head into summer, the dissolved oxygen bottoms out to levels unfavorable for the trout below 40ft & just about everything caught at that level and below is a tui chub and often a cherished Tahoe sucker or red-side shiner that looks like a sucker. (please release these long living fish safely so they can continue to produce food for the trout). 
We had a new lure hit the lake last year called Baby Simons.  They were deadly early last season, mostly ones with a little red or dark pink on them and were available at Eagle Lake Marina store at Gallatin.  Nickel or brass didn’t seem to matter in these lures. Orange ones worked ok, but the pink or red ones were hot.  If you bother to notice, the paint is UV.  Some just have ears painted, others a full side…both worked well.  UV paints (all colors, not just green) and UV fly materials are proving to be very good on this lake, but the trick lies in small and less is better than more.  I mix my own UV fly dubbing with just a small amount of UV material.  These out fished the flies tied with all UV material by 10 to 1, easily.  I doubt that the I am imitating literally glow in the dark to a fish, they simply flash a little UV when turned to the light correctly.  That info is basically for those of us who tie, rather than buy…less is better than more.  I save the bait fish imitations for when the tui chub suspend and hit the food court.
Good old florescent orange (Red Prism by name) #2 needlefish is my favorite but nearly any combination (pearl, nickel or brass) with orange can work fine.  Pearl bikinis have been known to work early in the season too…brass back is my first choice early in the season.  I tweak the bend slightly and always have a swivel protecting the spool.  Too much bend will spin.  Frog patterns (usually red-dot) also work early in the season….often location specific.  We have a highly underrated western toad and small frog population along the flat grassy shorelines.   Medium single and double jointed Sure Catch “red dog” also did quite well last season whereas the large size had been the size of choice for years prior. Smaller size lures worked pretty well last year. Large single Sure Catch Red-dogs finally started picking up more fish in fall.  Fire Tiger and perch work well under partly to mostly cloudy skies.  Speedy shiners (brass/orange combos and frog patterns) and orange rapala’s also caught fish early in the season.  To me, gold or brass lures work best in spring and once the tui chub minnows hatch, nickel or chrome kicks in.  Once the lake begins to cool in fall, brass and gold seem to cut through the cloudiness further than nickel or chrome. 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.  I use a barrel swivel to attach my leader to the line, but use a naked spring clip for the lure.  Note: the spring clips need changing once sprung.  I really don’t care for snap swivels as they have more tendency to attract weeds or just a small piece of grass that cause them to spin.  But swivels are a must.  The clips all tend to catch weeds and grass so you do need to check them periodically.  Other small lures such as Rainbow runners and little Cleo’s also work.  If there is a constant, it would be trolling your offering relatively fast.
TROLLING FLIES AND GRUBS;  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 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.  Jay has a new “electric” pattern out this year.  The plain “no action” method works well on the drag…. just don’t wait to set the hook.  It’s important to check the flies periodically.  If the feathers get twisted around the hook, it doesn’t have the same action.  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 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.  Minnow imitations I reserve for when the trout start pounding minnows just a little later in the season.  Bloody, slightly UV leeches were hot for me last season…just that little splash of red to dark pink.  Olive is next if those don’t work out…but I will always have a shade of cinnamon to brown leech pattern in the water.  Often, the browner the better.   
For grub trollers, generally 3” grubs are the ones most taken…until the tui chub minnows hit the food court, then 2 ½” can come in handy.  Colors vary.  The best selections are brown, root beer, orange and watermelon.  Later in the season other colors come into play such as pumpkinseed, minnow imitations, white (mostly location specific) black and motor oil colors. Some folks run these behind action 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 sideways.  3” is a good stopping point & a bobber knot makes a good sliding stopper.  Other folks run them behind dodgers.  As a dodger tip, run a short leader to the grub no longer than 14” from the dodger.  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.
Sunny days vs overcast days generally require a little change up and lures with a splash of yellow, gold or maze can show up better from the fish’s perspective.  Fire tiger color patterns have been pretty productive lures under overcast conditions or when the lake clarity is poor.  Black is also one of my first choices for overcast skies as is a red-dot frog pattern with just a splash of yellow.  Water clarity and conditions always apply. 
Trolling nightcrawlers has been an Eagle Lake standard forever.  They had a couple of years that they didn’t produce as well as normal, but last season they worked better than they did 2 seasons before.  Nightcrawlers basically imitate the leeches commonly found in the lake.  I have only found two locations where snail leeches 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.  Jay Fair wiggle tails, Val’s Eagle Lake Leech patterns and others work just fine for trolling for touchy fish, they just aren’t marketed as such.  Minnow or baitfish imitations don’t work as well as they will a little later in the season.  Once the tui chub minnows begin to hatch it is critical to match the size once they hit the food court.  This generally lasts 3 weeks or so before any size will work.  We may even find a tui chub spawn has already happened & we may see minnows still connected to the egg sacks in some of these early season trout.
If there was one thing that constantly got attention for trollers, it was trolling fast.  My best speeds averaged 3 mph with occasional speeds up to 4 mph and as slow as 2.  My fastest fish was getting from point A to point B at 7mph (full throttle on my kicker) while leaving lines in the water….so nothing is unheard of on this lake.  It’s always better to speed up than slow down.  Crawlers usually require slower speeds, just be sure it doesn’t spin dramatically if going fast.  It works.
The east side of the lake can fish a little different than the west side.  It has less structure but more obvious springs.  It is not unusual to find trout at 30ft deep using nightcrawlers under slip bobbers late in the morning or early afternoon off Eagle’s Nest or The Springs over 40+ ft of water.  These fish tend to be lazy and drop down just to get away from the fishing pressure above.  They don’t generally hit for trollers at 30ft deep real early in the morning, but they have been known to find that lazy worm.  Regardless, the fish will feel the fishing pressure and hear all the boat motors and could easily drop down.
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 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   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.
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.  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.  One person contacted me and said he didn’t see any law enforcement so he was surprised when he received his ticket…so where his friends.  There are camera’s where they need to be to capture your vehicle and license plate, you don’t have to see anyone, they will see you after the fact.  I personally encountered an armed Forest Service ranger on a mountain bike patrolling the area.  I commend their efforts for protecting the shoreline during the low water.  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 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.
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.  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.
As long as water temps are below 64F, shore fishing is generally pretty good.  It can, however, be a matter of timing.  Sometimes the fish aren’t in close real early.  They can come in at 10AM before the afternoon sun drives them out over the depths and come back in close again towards evening. Wind can also be a determining factor as is boat and trolling traffic.  With all the boats launching off Pike’s Pt, the trout usually head just around the corner and towards Pikes Cove if traffic is busy…sometimes tucking into the point near the cove.
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.  I use a lot of small streamers, leeches, damsels, nymphs and wooly buggers in all different shades and colors.  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 names of all the hatching bugs besides the obvious caddis, mayfly 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.
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.  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 & drive out to park.  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.  Often it’s easier to simply head towards shore, get out and walk the craft back along the shoreline. 
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, 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.  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.
I will start out using my special toe-bitter beetle imitation (dark brown wiggle dubbing on #12 and #10 standard nymph sproat hook) and a cinnamon leech pattern.  The colors I like early in the season vary.  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 & early in the season.  I also have florescent orange wooly buggers just in case.  If water temps remain below 60F, the shrimp and scuds will still have an orange or brassy hue to them.  A small, brassy olive wooly bugger can be deadly on the west side rock piles.  Mostly, the shrimp and scuds turn from olive to orange when water temps are below 60F.  They get more olive as the temps warm up for summer, then by fall as water temps drop again they turn orange again.  Weird but probably one reason orange is one of top producing colors on this lake.
Our trout don’t often hit dry flies on this lake, 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 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.  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 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 already, but it will really kick into gear once we begin seeing warmer 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, but you won’t double digit 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.
I will be adding to this report as we get closer to opening weekend.  Until then, get packed up & get your gear ready to fish!
Lake Conditions  for water temps & Lake elevation by date
Ramp Conditions for launch ramp info.
Tips and Tricksfor 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 their native waters.
2004-2016 © 




Made by www.GoWebSiteShop.com