EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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OUR GOAL IS TO HELP YOU CATCH FISH USING YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT AND BOAT. TIPS ON SET UPS AND TECHNIQUES, LOCATIONS AND MORE.
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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
8-26-14 Fishing Report Summary: As expected, we are seeing a change since surface temps remain below 70F. Change has come to the fishing as well. We went from catching tons of trout at 24 to 32 ft deep to catching more in the upper 5 ft of the water column in a matter of three days. The surface temps dropped last week to 67 on the west side and 68’s on the east side and has gotten the attention of some of the trout. I still had fish just below 20ft deep on Friday but we had a change up over the weekend. Nearly every trout we caught the last two days was about 5 ft deep trolling. Saturday brown or cinnamon leech trolling flies were still hot, but by Sunday the trout were on florescent orange (jay fair’s “Hot Orange” ruled the top water bite. We released 20 nice trout 16 to 22 inches long the last two days. The trout are still out in deep water but the active bite has come up the water column. My partner & I ran lures at all levels and the deepest solo fish was at 18ft. The best lures for us were orange (red prism) needlefish, small #1 black/pearl was hot after sunrise and speedy shiners all trolled between 2.5 and 2.8 mph. We ran the trolling flies pretty fast too and they still got hammered. But the trolling flies in the upper 5 ft of water 35 to 60+ ft deep was where the fish were. We started out just north of the jetty at Eagle Lake Marina and trolled towards The Springs and Eagles Nest. We stayed well out towards the middle of the lake.
The last three days I have covered most areas of the lake. There are fish on the west side but the schools are still a bit scattered & most all the trout were still in water deeper than 30ft in spite of being active in the upper 5 ft of the water column. It won’t be long, we will see more fish move in shallower water. The water is a bit on the cloudy side compared to last week, which is probably why the florescent orange flies kicked into gear on the toplines. We pretty much caught trout everywhere, it was a matter of finding the active biters & stop paying attention to the fish finder. Typically, you won’t scope fish right below your motor when trolling so surface artifact doesn’t even catch my attention.
The masses that were on the east side appear to be separating into smaller pods now and moving further out to the middle of the lake. The Springs was still holding a few pods, most moved out to 50+ ft of water and up closer to Eagles Nest. Most of our best top line action was out in the middle of the lake and it hasn’t been too directional either. We did encounter more weeds on the surface which had us checking our lines a little more often, but it still isn’t too bad out there.
The west side had spotty schools of trout but we did release several off Lake of the Woods in 35-49ft of water. Brown leeches were favored there on Sunday but orange was the one on Monday and Tuesday. Despite releasing several 17” fish there on Sunday, the average size was a bit smaller than that out in the middle of the basin. The deep water between Merrill Campground and Pikes Pt was also holding a few pods of trout.
The other lures that have gotten attention for us this week are #1 black/white needlefish (shad) is doing very well, Berkley Gulp 2 ½ inch black shad and watermelon/pearl artificial minnows, black/silver 1 1/2" rapala’s (gold/black when skies are overcast), tui chub minnow, cinnamon and brown trolling flies but the best on Monday and Tuesday was florescent orange (jay Fair and Arctic Fox brands are working). Krokadile in hammered brass/orange, frog and florescent orange speedy shiners, Sure Catch medium double jointed Red-Dog, single large Goldie Locks. #2 FireTiger needlefish lights up when the skies are cloudy
Leadcore users: We have come up to topline level. To run your leadcore like I do a topline you simply have to add 50 to 75 ft of leader & run one color in the water. You need to be at least 100ft behind the boat to successfully catch a lot of trout near the surface. I try to run my leads about 20ft shorter than my toplines (135-150ft back for toplines) so I don’t cross lines on a turn. Average trolling speed for us this week was 2.3 to 2.8 mph for lures, 1.8 to 2.2 mph for trolling flies, but when we mix the two, we stay at lure speed & the flies continue to work fine…better than the lures for us.
TIPS FOR LEADCORE: 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). 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.
Some days we work a little longer or harder but all in all, fishing continues to be quite good, trollers just have to follow the fish. Nightcrawlers under slip bobbers is still catching a few fish early in the morning but they are starting the scatter a bit and be active higher in the water column for the anchored bait fishermen and using a freeline again will cover the water column while the trout go up and down for the next few weeks. The Springs has been good intermittently. Adult tui chubs moving in and moving trout out but mostly, trollers can still find them out a ways off shore. Trollers are doing well for a longer period of time. The fish remain deep but we are finding more higher in the water column over the bait balls. It’s time to see a movement back to the west side but the fish are still lingering out in the depths where they can pick and choose their level.
The beauty of fishing Eagle Lake is that it changes and our trout migrate around the lake. Food sources intermingle but there are differences in the west side and east side. I wouldn’t change what isn’t broken just yet. I will keep half my lines deep & half up top. But, we are seeing early hints of fall . The bitter cherry’s foliage has already turned yellow coming up from A1. We still have plenty of time for more heat before we cool down & the masses of trout won’t do anything drastic too soon.
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. 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.
The grey background of the sky from the high clouds can make a difference on how and what a fish sees from below. For me, if florescent orange isn’t working (Florescent orange is the best all around color for fishing in Eagle Lake), Fire-Tiger (yellows) seems to be the best change up as well as something dark such as a cinnamon or dark brown or black leech trolling fly (or grub) or a black/nickel needlefish. We are also running some attractant which seems to keep the fish holding on longer to set the hook. Mike’s Garlic Lunker Lotion has been working great for us on both bait and lures. It has been a dependable replacement for Eagle Claw’s “garlic gravy that had long be favored by our trout. The time is nearing when we will have to use something for the trout to smell, they won’t be able to see more than 7 ft once the lake cools down below 65F on the surface.
Shore fishing isn’t the best this time of year. But, it’s getting close to the time where a rouge trout or two may come in close & chase minnows. Once the water temperatures drop to the mid to high 60’s shore fishing will begin to get better. Until then, one needs to be able to access water deeper than 30 ft. There are only a couple of places that one can access the deeper waters. They all require a walk. The area just north of Camp Ronald McDonald to The Springs is good water but a good hike as well. The point off Christie Day Use (far left looking down from the parking lot) drops off to water 24ft and deeper right off the tip of the submerged rocky point. Eagles Nest has a access to the point towards The Springs, but don’t just go making your own road just because you can due to low water.
Fall is just around the corner & our trout know it whether we do or not. As the sun begins shifting back to the south and our days are getting shorter the trout routinely gather out in the middle of the south basin for a feast of minnows before they split up and head in to forage the shoreline, rocky ledges and points. Since the tui chub minnows are prolific this year (compared to last year) the trout will follow.
When the clarity of this lake goes out the door using flashers and/or dodgers begins to work well. I find a lot of folks running flashers/dodgers using long leaders (3ft or so) and they complain about getting a lot of strikes but not being able to hook a fish. On Eagle Lake, too long of leaders can buy you a lot of strikes on your blades without hooking up a fish. Our trout are fast. They come up to investigate the flashers so fast that they pass your offering and strike your flasher. If you find yourself in that predicament, shorten up your leaders to 14” and see what happens. I am not fond of heavy hardware but it can out fish the normal methods certain times of the year, especially when the lake begins to cool down for fall. .
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.
DOWNRIGGER TIPS FOR FLIES: Running trolling flies off downriggers can be done but set the hook ASAP & stop the boat. You can’t normally get a skin hooked fish to the boat while continuing to troll & dragging it along at or above 1 mph. If there is one complaint I hear often from downrigger users who don’t want to stop trolling or put all the lines back in the water, it is about getting a fish to the boat once he bit the fly. Nature of the beast. The skin tears and a nice big buttonhole opens up & with one shake of the head, the fly is out. Don’t give the fish any slack line, but don’t drag him all over the lake either. Use a lighter drag too. Results will be in the bag rather than “the one that got away”. My partner learned his lesson. The fish don’t always track true to the boat and will cross other lines and you end up with a mess & normally lose the fish. Stop trolling, bring in the empty lines & get the fish to the boat. ALSO, IF YOU ARE TROLLING FLIES FROM DOWNRIGGERS, SET THE LINE DEEPER INTO THE CLIP SO IT TAKES MORE EFFORT TO RELEASE THE LINE. This will help set the hook.
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.
Action discs help give the flies and grubs movement if you aren’t holding your rod & working the marabou, hair or plastic yourself. I personally prefer the smaller action disc because of the heavy drag of the discs to begin with. AND I run it close to the fly or grub rather than 3” or more above. The further up the line from the fly the action disc is, the further it travels laterally. Oh it has nice movement but it can also foul other lines if it travels too far. I run the smaller disc right ahead of the fly…it gives it a subtle wiggle rather than a rapid twitch which is often needed on flat water. When the bite comes back on again, chances are what worked earlier will work again. I have found that there are some days that you can have too much movement in a lure or fly and a plain old dead drag or seductive wiggle is what gets the strikes.
BAIT UNDER BOBBERS: Still fishing bait under bobbers is still getting a few but the fish have come up in the water column a little the last few days so I would be freelining and tending that rod with great care. Relocate after about 12 minute drift. The deep bobber bite hasn’t been “on” the last few days.
Attractants can help. Garlic has traditionally been good, krill second, trout gravy third and tui chub scent should be on your list now that the tui chub minnow are on the menu big time. Mikes Lunker Lotion’s are proving to do quite well. Tui Chub flavors are also good this time of year. I don’t always use an attractant on every bait or lure in the water just in case I have a day that it becomes a repellent. In that case, I use rubber or vinyl gloves to handle my bait…thus keeping my scent off the worm to begin with. FYI on that. Also note that attractants can go bad or sour if left in the sun or heat for long periods. I generally store mine in the refrigerator (ice chest but put in ziplock baggie) or at least in a cool dark spot when I store it for the day.
GENERAL TIPS & LAKE FAVORITES
Bait fishing. NO MINNOWS ARE ALLOWED TO BE USED AS BAIT IN EAGLE LAKE. INCLUDING MINNOWS CAUGHT IN THE LAKE. I can guarantee you that if you bring a bucket of minnows up from the valley to use as bait, you will be found out and turned in. Will the imported minnows live in Eagle Lake? Well, let’s just say that we certainly don’t want to find out as if they did survive and reproduce the entire balance of the lake will change and it will no longer be the lake it is. It could ruin the lake as we know it….forever. So NO Minnows!!!!
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 and green but the pale garlic flavor has really done well since hitting the market. Our trout don’t generally look at salmon eggs but they have looked at marshmallows. Various attractants are also advisable, Pro Cure has a good selection. Garlic is a favorite and most anything for trout. But, tui chub flavor of attractant won’t do as well until late summer when the trout begin pounding the fresh hatch of tui chub minnows. We don’t recommend releasing fish that swallowed the hook. It is not like the days of the past when hooks were made out of cheap steel. Now hooks are all high carbon steel and lazar or chemically sharpened. These hooks cut a hole in the fishes stomach much easier and don’t rust out as fast. The fish I have cleaned that have survived have massive scar tissue around their stomachs and in generally poor health despite surviving.
If there was one noticeable difference in the lake last year, it was the visibility. The best I could see the bottom looking over the side of the boat was 12ft but most of the season it was around 6 to 7 ft. In years past I have been able to see bottom at 25ft deep and regularly 12 to 15 ft. That is a big difference in clarity. Windy days and temperature changes have a direct and immediate effect on the clarity as do clouds. That’s when things change.
For rod set ups for trolling and bait fishing see Tips and Tricks. Need help while you are here? Come by the Marina during my seminar & I’ll help you set up your leadcore and show you how to splice your leader and backing into it or set up slip bobber rods and show you a trick for a perfect cast every time.
Historical Best Bets and Why and Why Not’s: Eagle Lake has seasons. It’s all about water temperatures, thermalclines and solstices. Florescent orange has always been a great color for lures, grubs and trolling flies at any time of the year. This is because it is a perfectly natural color of food in our lake. When water temperatures are below 60F, the shrimp and scuds change color from various shades of olive/bronze to orange/olive. Once water temps begin to rise above 60F, the orange begins to fade to light olive/bronze & the warmer the water gets the darker olive they become. At water temps between 61F and 65F, the shrimp “spawn”. This leaves heavy clouds of zooplankton in the lake. These clouds can get suspended at a certain depth in summer as the lake stratifies but the trout can simply sit still in the cloud of zooplankton eating and breathing in the same motion…they are filter feeders when the concentrations are dense. In the early part of the season, I definitely use florescent orange nymphs when fly fishing and/or trolling. But, as summer comes on, I generally run brown leech patterns (another totally natural food in the lake), and olive wooly buggers.
Come summer when the first of the seasons tui chub minnows hatch out I begin using some blades and beads. Kokanee Killers (wedding ring) and French Frye (orange/green) lures are my go to “lures” when the lake changes for summer. Florescent orange lures such as Large Red-dog or needlefish remain in the top of the list as the water temps on the bottom remain cooler than the surface…although we won’t find too many trout below 35 ft deep in the heat of the summer. This is due to dissolved oxygen being too low or nonexistent below that level. We will scope fish below the DO line, however, the tui chub don’t require as much DO as the trout and are often found at 45 to 47 ft deep when stacked up.
Lures: Sure Catch lures (available at Eagle Lake Marina) have out fished needlefish on this lake but needlefish are on a comeback year this season. They come in many color combinations and back flash. The double jointed have great action but never discount the single blade. If there is a trick to running these lures it is to troll them faster than slower. The best trolling speed for us has been between 2.2 and 2.4 mph but mix it up as it can change day by day and by the area of the lake you are fishing.
Needlefish: Fire tiger, florescent orange combinations and red dot and yellow dot frog have been the best overall for early season catching. We have a highly overlooked frog and western toad population …..but the trout don’t overlook it. Not too often does the plainer yellow dot frog pattern work as well, but it has had it’s moments. Nickel and pearl bikini’s have held a position for years too.
When fish are pounding the surface I often run a flatfish (#5 or #7) fast so it’s skittering on the surface. My best color has been frog patterns & black. These have produced massive strikes when nothing else has worked for rolling trout. Key factor: Smaller rather than larger size. Casting rooster tails in black/yellow can also draw strikes from the rising trout during that time. Generally the best has been black and yellow combinations but throw in a cloudy day and the yellow with red dots turns on.
Rapala’s in florescent orange (broke back 2 ¾ to 3”) can work great early in the season but leave the silver and gold in the box until later in summer and fall.
I prefer using trolling flies but I am not afraid to put something else on the end of my line. However, I am opposed to using bait & generally only bait fish when on a meat hunt for friends during the hottest time of the summer when the trout linger between 25 and 30ft deep. Bait fishing and releasing trout that swallowed the hook is NOT an option in my boat. If you are catching small ½ pounders, then move locations. The larger trout will not be with the shakers until they have too in the heat of the summer.
But, bait works, nightcrawlers are our mainstay and imitate our naturally occurring leech population. Trolling nightcrawlers also works. They can be deadly behind an Uncle Larry’s black perch or perch color combo. Some people like to see a “twist” of the crawler when trolling. That can produce some strikes but if you are intending to imitate a large leech, well, they don’t twist or spin in nature. You should run them slow at about ½ mile per hour for trolling. If using flashers or behind a dodger or worm rig using ½ of a crawler has proven deadly. I like using whole worms so if I want it smaller I generally use mini-crawlers & downsize my hook to #8. Using a worm threader is our preferred baiting method for still fishing under bobbers as well as trolling. Live minnows (even the ones in the lake) are illegal to be used as bait for fishing. Using corn has had its moments over the last two years. However we find more people using it to chum than using it as bait. CHUMMING IS ILLEGAL ON EAGLE LAKE.
Other lures can be productive as well. There is always something new coming out & it never hurts to try something new when the bite is tough. Sometimes you have to simply get it in their face & trick them into striking. Other times you have to be as natural as possible….for me, that natural is always a cinnamon or brown leech…second go to, black leech. These are as natural as you can get in this lake early in the season. The trout will always take a leech, but often can depend on the presentation as well as location. White or bone colored leech patterns, for me, are location specific…. These represent flatworms that we have in some locations. Pumpkinseed with beige tails can work great along the biology station and Wildcat Pt.
Grubs: For the most part, we run grubs behind action discs (dodgers later in summer towards fall). There are two disc sizes now. I prefer the smaller one as it tracks better behind the boat and have less drag. Start about 3” above the grub. The further the disc is from the grub, the further it swings from side to side. This can foul other lines if you aren’t careful. In spring, using a dodger can be productive but dodgers are more productive beginning in late summer and fall when the trout begin pounding the fresh hatch of tui chub minnows. Using flashers is also more productive later in the season rather than in early season. Best colors are brown, rootbeer, watermelon, motor oil, white, orange, black and pumpkin seed. As a note, our black leeches have been more prolific in the bellies of our trout last season.
Later in summer I start using more minnow imitations, Berkley Gulp minnows in watermelon/pearl and black shad 2 ½” (when the minnows just hit the food court in August/Sept and 3” after that time . Black/peacock is my “sleeper” color….when nothing else is getting attention on a clear day. Overcast days and/or cloudy water can change things up. I don’t pack a lot of yellow or chartreuse patterns, but they are in my tackle box for a reason & have saved my butt on many overcast mornings and in cloudy water situations. Olive works great on to-water trolling in summer when the damsel and dragonflies begin to hatch. When top water trolling, I have been known to run my float tubing flies….much smaller than trolling flies. These fish love “hairy” bodies and rubber legs. Just because it isn’t “dubbed” a trolling fly, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Mine are on size 10 and 12 3X and 4X hooks and the smallest offering I have trolled is a #22 olive beadhead midge…especially in big waves.
SHORE FISHING: Shore fishing has subsided while water temps peek. We can see the trout move in for the fresh hatch of minnows but generally a little later in towards fall. Watch the surface of the water. When minnows are boiling, something is after them and it isn’t always the birds. But it’s the time of year that the trout will probably be holding out in deeper, cooler water until fall. Early is always better than later for shore fishing, but these trout can come in at unpredictable times as water temps rise.
Nighcrawlers under bobbers work. Dough bait (powerbait type products) have been great the last few years. Typical colors of orange or green (rainbow covers several colors) and the pale “garlic” flavor have been the best….but, every year it seems that an oddball color is the ticket for a few weeks, then it changes….thus, I believe I have every color of that stuff made in my shore fishing tackle box!!!
To get extra distance on a cast from shore I prefer using 8ft rods and have been known to use a water filled bobber or add some weight to a Styrofoam bobber by pushing in some bb split shots or shotgun shell bb’s into the body. A little extra weight can go a long way. Be careful not to over load your bobber though!
FLY FISHING WILL RETURN AS SOON AS SURFACE TEMPERATURES DROP IN FALL. I will get my tube back out as soon as I see 65F surface temp and lower.
USFS QUAD MAPS OF OPEN ROADS AROUND THE EAGLE LAKE AREA: Note a new Smartphone app for USFS maps is out.
The links below go to maps saved from Lassen National Forest website. Any questions you have should be directed to Eagle Lake Ranger Station staff. I am only providing them for quick access for our viewers. More information on road closures in the Forest is available on their website. There are new maps coming out for road closure, multi-vehicle use roads etc. We will replace those for you next season. Until then, you can find them on Lassen National Forest website. I saved them to my iphone and can use them anywhere, anytime, with or without cell signal.
GALLATIN QUAD MAP LINK
PIKES POINT & THE WEST SIDE SOUTH BASIN QUAD MAP LINK
EAGLE LAKE SPALDING QUAD MAP LINK
TROXEL QUAD MAP LINK
CHAMPS FLAT QUAD MAP LINK
See Lake Conditions for water temps
See Ramp Conditions for launch ramp info.
See Tips and Tricks for ideas & set ups dialed in for fishing Eagle Lake. Most methods are covered. We make no claims of knowing everything about Eagle Lake, but we do know a lot about catching Eagle Lake trout in
ALL EAGLE LAKE, ALL THE TIME