EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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FISHING SEASON ENDS DECEMBER 31, 2017
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SEE 2013 THRU 2016 CREEL DATA HERE. WHEN DFW CHECKS YOUR FISH WEIGHT AND LENGTH AND ASKS QUESTIONS OF HOW LONG YOU FISHED.
SEE TROUT PLANTINIG AND MARKINGS FOR YEARS PLANTED HERE. 100% OF THE PLANTED FISH ARE NOW MARKED BY FIN OR TAIL TRIMMING.
TROLLING: South basin. Finally!! Low ambient temps finally dropping into the 30’s!! The surface temps are gradually responding. Seeing more surface temps in the high 60’sF this week (67-69F). We are on our way to fall. We always see a brief warm up after the first cooler fronts move thru but they generally don’t change things to drastically once it starts. Usually, these fish begin moving so we may have to start chasing them pretty soon and they will be scattered and in smaller pods for a while. They will come up in the water column and eventually they will begin to move in and out from the shoreline more frequently once we see surface temps drop to around 65F. I have found trout in water as shallow as 15-18ft and around 7-8ft deep but not on an all-day basis just yet. But I will keep running a top water line from now on.
The key for me for catching the trout the last few days has been running water between 18 to 38ft deep running lines at 10-12ft. I am keeping a top line in now and it has caught fish the last few days too. My best fish have been higher in the water column. Others are still finding some action at 17 to 21ft deep. This week we are having luck on Fire Tiger, brook trout and gold/orange, blue/nickel Rapala’s, flicker shad, some Rebels, and some needlefish and speedy shiners (red/gold and blue/nickel). The red/gold buoyant is also still producing for me and the purple/green back has picked up a few the last few days. We picked up our first fishes since the first week of July on a Jay Fair topline with a tui chub minnow fly. It wasn’t the hot rod but it was good for a couple of fish the last few days. Once the fly stopped getting attention I ran a rapala off the same line which landed the biggest fish of the day. Fighting some weeds off Wildcat Pt through Lake of the Woods, most all the west side and middle of the south basin. But check your lines periodically, there are some subsurface weeds too. Mud hens moved in to the west side from the north ends the last couple of weeks.
Cooler ambient temps are going to change things up a little later this week and weekend. So be prepared to bring lines up and if you aren't catching over the depths any longer, move in to shallower water and shallower depths for your lines!! It's coming and we are going to have to follow the trout on their fall move pretty soon!! We are also finding action straight out from the ramp and Pike’s Pt, but we have to find the big cloud of minnows before finding the trout, once outside the bait fish there are still big tui chub. Our depth has been running two colors of leadcore 8-12ft deep consistently. Get too deep or in too deep of water and you will find more chubs.
The east side continues to be mostly chubs right now. A few trout south of Miners and off Black Mt
The trout continue to pound the fresh hatch of chubs so it has been a matter of finding the masses of little bait fish rather than targeting the larger schools of subsequent years of small chubs. The minnows are moving a little every day. Some days they are compressed to the bottom, other days in clouds 20-30ft thick. I have gone a little deeper to the compressed minnows on the bottom here and there. It has only been a matter of getting out of the adult chubs which has been the most difficult aspect of catching trout. Early I am running lines at 2 colors of leadcore in the water and lines just a bit higher. I am still getting trout on the red/gold Thomas Buoyant 1/4 oz lure which has been my deadliest lure this season. This week I began running fire tiger patterns and that has worked well, especially under a cloudy sky in the morning, but it also worked under full sun. The watermelon yellow metallic #2 needlefish and copper/orange and fire tiger #2 needlefish are still working. Copper/orange Baby Simon is still in my line up. I am still trolling pretty slow at 1.7 to 1.9 mph but it keeps the buoyant lure, baby Simon and needlefish as well as the rapala’s bouncing my rod and as long as my rod tip is bouncing and I am inside the chub line, I’m getting trout. Once we see surface temps drop a little more, I will be speeding up in what I call the “fast water” when surface temps drop a little more but my best catching speed has still be a little on the slow side for me. I’m going to scout the lake this week & run more trolling flies here and there. I’ll let you all know what I find. We are just beginning to see some changes.
Attractants certainly can’t hurt. I haven’t had to use them this week, but once our green water turns to brown, I will. It’s coming and could begin this week. Pro Cure Trophy Trout is my first choice right now. But don’t be afraid to try any other flavor. We can literally smell the tui chub out there. They release a gas when they breath and in such massive numbers, you can’t miss em. So that natural tui chub smell in the water may washout any tui chub scent right now.
I have been scouting up north this week but so far, the water temps are still too warm for the trout but there is a lot of food there when the trout do begin to move. Trout haven’t moved into the shallows just yet. We need to see solid surface temps around 64F-65F and we may see that by the middle to the end of this week. I’ll be checking on it. We already had some trout off the south side of Miners Pt holding in 18-24ft of water but they will wait to move up until the water further north cools down just a little more.
For me, I do better trolling into the sun and with the wind. Once the sun is high enough in the sky, the fish will face away from it so I troll in the direction that my offering is coming “at” the trout, not from behind. Wind and waves create a current…trout will normally face the current so I prefer trolling with the wind, therefore my offering is once again, coming at them, not from behind. The wind can speed up your troll, no doubt about it. I use a kicker motor for trolling so I often simply put it in reverse just to slow down in heavier winds. It’s the flat calm water that is often the most difficult to fish late morning and early afternoon. I also set my depthfinder on true sonar. I can see if the trout are facing up or down with the archs. And trust me, the trout don’t always look up.
WHAT ELSE TO USE: Fire Tiger patterns have really kicked in for us this week. Mostly rapala’s but we’ve run the #2 needlefish too. The Brook trout pattern also worked. Perch patterns can do well, tamer than fire tiger yet still has orange brassy hues and darker greens. Seems that the splash of orange with any shade of green has helped. 1/4 oz Red/Gold Thomas Buoyant, the orange one is working periodically for us too. Red/gold Thomas “fighting fish” at 3/8oz got a lot of attention today (little Phoebe very similar). Red anything has been doing pretty well but to me, it’s been about the hammered or scaled finished lures throwing light over the flat lures. Blue speedy shiners have done pretty well this week. Red/copper or red/gold speedy shiners are also working for some folks. The #2 blue/purple needlefish (not the UV although the UV would probably also get some attention) should work too. Blue’s have been better out in the middle than on the west side and purple/green combinations have also picked up a few this week.. As a note; I tweak the bend slightly on my needlefish and change the hook to a #10 treble…basically going back to the 30-year-old style of needlefish…too much bend and it will twist in the water. It doesn’t take much tweaking. Gold/orange, fire tiger, brook trout rapala's have caught a few too this week. Orange/copper and orange nickel Baby Simons also remain in our line up. Trolling flies will start picking up fish once the water starts cooling down a little. More orange should be picking up once we see the water temps cool down a little more. We had our first fly action on 9-12 on the Jay Fair tui chub pattern.
Generally, we can get away with using flashers later in the season when the tui chub minnows are in large schools, but they are better in fall when the clarity of the water drops to around 2 to 4 ft and our color turns to brown from this dismal pea green. We could see this begin soon. If you do like to use flashers, dodgers or other blades, shorten up your leader. These fish can come up behind a flasher in fall fast…real fast. If your leader is too long, you get lots of strikes but no fish hooked. That’s because they miss your offering and hit the flasher. 14” is about all you need, no more than 22-24". If you use 3 to 4 ft of leader from flashers or dodgers, 9 out of 10 times they pass up your offering and it your flasher. LoL.
TROLLING FLIES: The Jay Fair tui chub minnow and Arctic Fox tui chub and red-side trolling fly is starting to get attention and should be only getting better as time goes on. It would be my first fly in the water for trolling flies right now. Trolling fly colors and patterns can vary with location and what structures you’re working. The Brown/cinnamon leech is my go to fly for naturals and is something that generally gets attention on the West side first....sometimes the shade of brown can make a difference and we finally got some attention on the cinnamon leech this week on the west side but not a lot. Orange will start kicking in once we see surface temps in the low 60’s when the shrimp and scuds begin to change colors. Don't discount smaller flies for topline trolling this fall, especially burnt orange, brown or olive wooly buggers when the fish are busting the surface. Smaller versions are available at Eagle Lake Marina, ask at the counter as they are in the case along with Jay Fair wiggle tails, translucent (wiggle tails are slightly weighted) and various other flies. They have a very good selection of flies; just ask to see what they have. Sometimes these fish prefer a snack over a meal. It won’t be long before the flies start kicking into gear again and our trolling speeds pick up but we really need to see the water temps cool down just a little more.
GRUBS: Generally, the same colors of grubs work as trolling flies but the grubs and flies haven’t quite turned on yet. Fall may change that. One of the grubs I really like is a pumpkin seed, but it’s beige with a hint of orange and smaller than most. Berkley, sometimes called a jigging grub 1 ½”. Hard to find but can be found online or Sportsman’s Warehouse, it's not the amber one you see labeled as pumpkin seed by other manufacturers. Orange, watermelon, brown, root-beer, black are good to start out with before going to the crazies…but we can find some crazier colors to work when nothing else does. Pearl or white in this cloudy water could pay off and we will continue to see cloudy water, it will just change from pea green to brown. Trolled slow and hooked correctly, the grubs have a nice wiggle, but on faster trolls a wiggle disc or dodger will give it some needed action. Berkley minnows are also a good choice. Black shad or water melon pearl have been the favorites but smoke and shad made its debut on the lake last year and it did pretty. These come scented in the package (bring a ziplock just in case you damage the packaging.) Note that the watermelon pearl is nearly a dead ringer for the chub minnows. We run those “crippled”. Hook down the center and out the side. It really hasn’t been a grub summer, similar to trolling flies. But it will turn on again once surface temps drop and we are starting to see some positive changes for fall.
STILL FISHING FROM ANCHOR: Bait fishing under slip bobbers has been spotty all season. A lot more chubs inundating the best old bait holes (well every bit of water I have covered over 40ft deep). Bobber fishermen have been struggling. Green Powerbait has gotten some fish (we have also used marshmallows for floating worms…trout like the sugar believe it or not). It has been a matter of being in the right place at the right time. We have found most of our fish higher in the water column this week. I always liked seeing trollers around me when I baitfish (as long as they don’t run over my lines), it seems to move the fish to the bait when the bite has gone off. Mostly quite a few chubs were caught the last couple of weeks. This lake isn’t fishing as good or as predictable as it normally has. This will change once we start cooling down a little more and the trout become more mobile and active.
SHORE FISHING: Not producing much at all so far this season but we have seen a few trout come in from shore this week. The trout are beginning to move around and we are starting to see some brief minnow chasing in close along Christie Day Use’s rocky point to the west of the parking lot but it hasn’t lasted before the trout have moved out of range. Once we see surface temps steadily lower at 64-65F they will stay just a little longer. At 61F and lower they will come in frequently. Right now it’s still too warm of water to keep them there. Give it another week or two. Christie to Wildcat area still has quite a few weeds in the water which makes for difficult shore fishing or wading and fly fishing. If shore fishing is all you can do, watch the water, you will see tiny minnows jumping here and there. The depth off the rocky ledge off Christie is 24 to 28ft deep and nearly straight up and down at the tip. There is plenty of 10 to 12 ft water off the side of the point. If trout are chasing minnows in close you need to shallow up your bobber. Off the tip of the point I would stagger bobbers between 12 and 20ft. If the bobber doesn’t stand up after taking line down, bring it in, slide the knot down a few feet and try over again until you get it set for the depth. I generally do this before baiting up, once I get the depth down, then I bait up.
So far the “nursery” chubs are still along the east side ledge from Camp Ron McD to beyond The Springs, adults further out, but as the water cools down we should see them move out and the smaller minnows come back in. The ledge is still reachable with a good cast. I suggest minnie crawlers or a half or third of a nightcrawler over the whole worm right now. Sometimes smaller is better. Powerbait has also held its own for bait. Green or beige. Water filled bobber or a slightly larger bobber with heavier weight will be needed to get the distance. We also often use longer rods, lighter line to get the distance. Just note that the 4lb line doesn't hold up to abrasion well, and trout teeth can damage it very easily. Use a lighter drag and re-tie your hook after EVERY fish. Trust me on that for 4 to 6lb lines.
FLY FISHING: Best to wait for fall now but we will begin seeing some brief foraging in close pretty soon. It won’t last all day until the water temps drop later this fall. Once we cool down a bit, the trout will come closer to the surface for longer durations of time. Little to no hatches taking place but we have seen a meager caddis hatch off the south side of Pelican Pt, but no fish up there just yet. Some sporadic hatches along the weeds and tules off the west side. Surface activity has been more about small groups of minnows than any bugs on the water in the south basin. We need to see 65F or less as a surface temp before we see trout higher in the water column and cruise in closer to shore on a regular basis. If that’s what you do, I would start out using small minnow patterns on a medium sink tip line. Just a slight cooling down & we will start seeing some changes. I plan on about 3 weeks before I launch my tube & see what is out there….but I really want to see the water temps cool down a few more degrees before I go out in my tube and test the waters so to speak.
LESSON ON TUI CHUBS. Masses of adult tui chub inundated the depths of pretty much the entire south basin. More “stage 2” nursery chubs moved into the ledge on the east side and remain there for now and several schools scattered about the lake. I have caught more chubs trolling than ever before. Little, big and in between on just about everything I threw out there. We have a ton of tui chub on both sides of the lake, in the middle and just about everywhere you go and we can’t always avoid running into them between trout schools. They are staging up in their three distinctive schools. Adults (Stage 1) stack up from 7 to 47ft on your scope, the “nursery” (stage 2) which show up as a blob of little fish with a few larger fish inside) and this year’s hatch (Stage 3) a massive cloud on your screen. You want the small minnows to fish around for trout. The trout generally don’t want anything to do with the adult chubs or the nursery chubs (which have sub adults as guardians who literally rush out of the massive school if they see a trout and hit it like a linebacker, pretty aggressive tactic for a fish with no teeth!). I have seen this behavior time and time again from my float tube. Pretty amazing and one reason the trout don’t want to bother with the “nursery” chubs. I’m not a fan of Fish ID but it helps when determining which tui chub minnows you are seeing on the screen. The nursery schools show a ton of little fish and a few medium fish on ID. The fresh hatch shows up as a fuzzy cloud with one or two big fish in it...that's the one I am looking for. They are the easiest ones for the trout to focus on and slower to react than the older minnows from years past. Regardless, we gotta get out of the adult chubs and nursery chubs before we find the trout. Tui Chubs are often found at lower DO levels and they do take trollers. I really don't care what you do with the ones you catch. We will not be able to put a dent in the population even if we gill every one we catch. Birds gotta eat & I would rather feed them chubs than little trout. Tui Chub live over 30yrs, while trout come and go, our trout max out around 12 years if not caught. There are plenty of tui chub to replace the big spawners, no doubt about that & tonnage backing them up.
All lake elevations are also posted on Lake Conditions page going back to 2010 so it is easy for you to compare. All launch ramp photos are posted in the 2017 ramp album for you to view. All surface temps for areas are also located on Lake Conditions, even though I add a few here.
Thousands of cows grazing along highway 139 thru mid January so we can safely assume some heavy nutrient loading has occurred. We believe that the heavy nutrients led to our massive blue/green algae problem last season. Rotting weeds from recently being covered in water contribute to the nitrate loading too. I doubt I will waste much time scouting the north basin early this season but we hope the fall produces some migration of trout if the tui chub minnows are prolific. The north basins were dry for a long time and it will take a little time to get the food supply back.
In spite of seeing a few larger fish in 2016 season, the numbers of fish caught were dramatically decreased. For the first time in my 55 years, the lake was green and massively cloudy all 2016 season. So far 2017 we have seen clearer water up until mid July when the green hue began getting more obvious. Visibility around 2-3ft now as August wanes to Sept.
I believe we are seeing the return of the blue/green algae this summer (look at the shoreline near the low water ramp). The water had a greener hue on 7-25 than it has been all season and is very obvious along the shoreline. Dissolved oxygen in 2016 dropped below sustainable levels for trout below 22ft deep. Could be why I have been catching most of my fish 17-23ft deep in spite of having high surface temps. In August of 2016 I took a video camera down into the water column and was totally amazed as to the water quality being so poor. At that time DFW chose not to perform more water testing and has not conducted any water tests in 2017 and don't expect to until later in Sept. We are not well represented by DFW anymore. Smaller hatchery fish at 3 to a pound were common from the cold water hatchery that our fall plant comes from, but 3 to a pound from our spring plant hatchery is a lot smaller than our historic normal of 2 to a pound. With reduced trout planting a smaller trout the last few years, the tui chub have expedentially reproduced and have pretty much taken over the lake in 2017. Personally, I think we need to get rid of several million chubs or they will be competing for the food for the trout. This happened at a lake in Oregon this year. OFW ended up netting several thousand pounds of chubs every day for several weeks just to balance the population as their trophy trout fishery tanked due to too many chubs eating the food up.
We saw a lot fewer trout in the tributaries this spring than in years past. I was more amazed by what I didn’t see than from what I did see. Papoose creek had up to a couple hundred, Merrill Creek just a handful. Both of these tributaries have traditionally had well over a thousand fish in them, even in years with less water we have seen 1700 to over 2000 in them. Pine Creek finally drafted around 1200+ over 6 weeks not all were spawners but DFW had to close the gate and prevent free passage upstream for a while, until they got every ripe hen they could which was in violation of the conservation plan for free passage for the native spawn so it was manipulated again this year. Then had to resort to electro-shocking in the lake for as many more as they could get. DFW wanted and expected to get 3.1 million eggs and after many weeks of good flow in all the main tributaries had to electroshock in the lake and still only got 1.3 million eggs. Hello? And they don't see a problem? LoL. It took well over a month of flow before any trout had come up Pine Creek and DFW had to work through the first week of May. Pine Creek started flowing in mid Dec and continued to trickle through the winter under the ice. Generally, eggs collected that late in the season aren't generally as viable as earlier eggs. Time will tell but we are seeing a lot fewer fish than we have in years past...absolutely no doubt about that. Many of the fish that did get to go upstream late in the flows, stayed between the A1 bridge and Spalding bridge….then flows receded quickly stranding quite a few in low water and low DO. It is always a waste of resources to prevent the fish from heading upstream the moment they want to go. Holding them back several weeks only leads to a predetermined outcome. Water temps shoot up quickly in slower flows and eggs can’t generally hatch, reduced flow strands not only the spawners but the fry as well. Result is not natural when restricted by humans for their own convenience. One of my major beefs with DFW and the biologists who do what THEY want, not what the fish are telling them.
Don’t complain to the stores or marinas about the fishing and fish, you need to complain to the local department of fish and wildlife biologist in charge of managing this lake. 530 254-6363 Paul Divine. SEE TROUT PLANTINIG AND MARKINGS FOR YEARS PLANTED HERE. 100% OF THE PLANTED FISH ARE NOW MARKED BY FIN OR TAIL TRIMMING. We are about 250,000 trout short from reduced planting in the last 4 years. No contingency plan, over population of tui chub and no plan for those either. God forbid what next year will bring.
We are seeing a lot of trout with several fins removed. We have caught quite a few fish that were missing 3 fins or more and quite a few with split tails. I certainly hope that anglers aren't trimming more fins when catching and releasing than DFW is by marking. If it is DFW, I would say they are mostly mutilating these fish now. If you get a nice one that you may want to have mounted, good luck as it will be somewhat mutilated when it comes to the fins and tails. This is being done so that in the future, a native (native spawn) fish may be fully finned. In the mean time, the hatchery raised/farmed fish might just swim in circles. LoL.
Trout come and go with catching and mortality of release in the summer months. Tui chub (other than the hatch of the season) have no predators and live over 32years. They stay in the lake regardless. Tui chub are now highly concentrated in the depths of the south basin, leaving little room for much else. Many have been spawning up north and concentrate off the Youth Camp before heading back down south but they are inundating the depths as of 7-20. The chubs scope differently than the trout do and are pretty easy to determine on your screen. Generally, they stack up and are very thick in zones of the lake that have dissolved oxygen levels too low to support trout. Mostly, any school of fish that the top is at 7ft and the bottom is at 47ft are NOT trout. We caught some chubs 22" long in 2016 and again in late July 2017. Huge monsters for chubs so they are doing very well....maybe too well considering the biomass and fewer trout being planted. With a little more spawning habitat back for the chubs, I think we will see another prolific hatch. I believe their population density is going to bite us in the ass if it hasn’t already. They're over populated, competing with the fewer trout and we don't have the numbers of trout or grebes to control the future population. I have no idea if the ones I am catching survive my release. LoL! I seee this becoming a very bad problem for this lake now. People don't come here to catch trophy tui chubs but that's what we are finding.
Various zooplanktons have also become very prolific to the point of fowling lines and downriggers...and when thick enough, can plug jet pumps. The biggest change in the fishing occurred in less than one year. From catching and releasing tons (20-40+ per day) of 2-3+ lb fish to being lucky to get one or two was a dramatic shift in Eagle Lake in less than one year. We may have seen some 4+lb fish but their numbers being caught were few and far between…lots of 2 to 3 ½ lbs as usual. Over 50 years of eating these trout, the best quality of meat comes from a 2-3lb trout. Meat of the bigger trout of 4 +lbs is generally grainy, mealy and soft. Everyone wants to catch a big fish, but the quality of the meat is not nearly as good as smaller fish. Consider that. I rarely keep a fish over 4lbs as to me, it is a waste if it doesn't eat as good as a smaller fish...most of us consider them to be "smokers".
Content of this website is copyright protected 2003-2017 by Valerie Aubrey. Any reuse of the content must simply be authorized by asking. Unauthorized use or lack of crediting content will be considered for legal action. We often see our report summarized in other publications with no credit to where the info came from. As a note, I do leave in some spelling, grammar and punctuation errors in and seeing them in other publications is a dead giveaway. LoL! Opinions on this site are not necessarily the opinions of our sponsors or people we work with. Our opinions are based on over 50 years of fishing Eagle Lake and nearly 30 years of living here full time. Through the El Nino's of getting 24ft of snowfall and through several droughts. We have been there and done that. We know that a lot of the local county info on the lake elevation in the past has been doctored due in part to not having an official actually checking lake elevations in the 1990's...1993 200 residents of Spalding witnessed the lake rising nearly 8ft from the local snowfall of 24ft over that winter. Despite our efforts when the lake chart was updated a few years later with incorrect numbers "to make the chart look historically accurate" not actually accurate, it remains inaccurate during those years as there was no water m. Our explanation from BOS was "No one will know when you are all gone". So we don't believe everything that Lassen County says. That is the honest to God truth and there are still many of us old timers around that know that.