EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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JULY 27, 2016
Fishing is so bad this season for trollers covering 6 to 8 miles per day (some 10-13 miles per day) for 0-1 Eagle Lake trout and a ton tui chubs then come on up. Guides working their butts off for a couple fish, & that's a good day. If you want more than a limit in a week of trolling, go elsewhere until better days come around, or try your luck at bobber fishing or just reconnect with the ancient pond. Regardless, very few fish are coming in by the average angler. After a month of the season it hasn't gotten any better. Mostly small planters and a few trout over 2 lbs and a couple around 4lb, but they are in good shape. Not nearly the numbers rising to the hatch as in years past. It appears that it has nothing to do with the trout not biting...ones being caught are full, it does however appear that there are very few trout in the lake to chase. Fly fishing dying off as well and numbers have been very poor this year, basically about 20%-25%. The new name for Eagle Lake has become "THE DEAD SEA". The food supply looks like it finally took over the pond, tui chub are everywhere. The handful of trout that remain have more food than they can eat & the lake water is like trolling through Jello with very limited visibility. Numbers appear very low and the hold over from the last 2 years seems nearly non existent. Note: If the fishing sucks, we don't lie about it. However, no one seems to be alarmed but the long time anglers who spend more time on the water in a month than your average biologist or scientist does in a year.
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.
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
LETS TALK FISHING!
FISHING SEMINAR SATURDAYS AT EAGLE LAKE MARINA PATIO AT 4PM.
I help you get set up and dialed in to catch fish using your own toys!
FISHING REPORT 7-27-16
Thank you for asking if zooplankton is a real word. The answer is YES!
For those who aren’t familiar with the sources of food supply for the trout in Eagle Lake. We have many different organisms that the fishes in the lake feed on besides hatching flies and baitfish. The general term to describe a plethora of different microscopic animals is “zooplankton”. The zooplankton in the lake has several different consistencies. Some of it is jelly like and transparent, the shrimp are coarser and a little gritty, look like the color of applesauce with pepper flakes scattered in it in the stomachs, snails (several different types in the lake) also produce microscopic young, another source is white fine hair like filaments less than ¼” long, smooth soft bodied leech like organism. Often location specific. I don’t claim to know all the specifics or Latin names of all the microscopic creatures in the lake, I do know what I see in the stomachs of the fish, and for whatever it is worth, the trout love all the different types of zooplankton we have in the lake. We have all types, some swim some drift and most suspend on the thermocline of the lake in summer. In our case, most of it is larva or pupae and will change into the critter totally different in appearance. Daphnia or Diaptomus is what my fly boys tell me the transparent goo that’s fouling lines. In the water, it has the consistency of loose jello and the trout (as well as every other species of fish in the lake) feed on it. Tui Chub are considered plankton feeders, have no teeth and small mouths for filter feeding. Trout simply eat, breath and sleep in the thick mass of goo and don’t have to work for any other thing to eat unless they want too. It is one of the highest food sources for protein and lipids and the fish aren’t the only animals feeding on it. There is a lot of information available about zooplankton. Here is Wikipedia definition and below are links to biology and encyclopedia.Zooplankton
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zooplankton are heterotrophic (sometimes detritivorous) plankton. Plankton are organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The word "zooplankton" is derived from the Greek zoon (ζῴον), meaning "animal", and planktos (πλαγκτός), meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Individual zooplankton are usually microscopic, but some (such as jellyfish) are larger and visible with the naked eye. More information can be found here
7-27-16: So far this fishing season has been about as tough as I have ever seen it. The catching has been somewhere between bad and worse. However, a handful fish are coming in, just not for everyone and in very low numbers. The water appears very cloudy and has a very green hue to it. I dropped several different colors of lures and flies down over the side of the boat in full sun and once anything was 30 inches deep, it was no longer visible. Out of everyone who is fishing the lake, the number of trout coming in can be counted on your fingers. On a good day, you might need your toes, that is, if there are minimally 150 anglers fishing.
#1 pearl bikini, #2 red prism needlefish. Red/white or red/nickel lures have gotten a couple fish as have #10 black/red wooly buggers, bumping bottom in 30 to 35 ft of water. We should see grubs turning on. The minnows rising up from the depths looked like small pumpkinseed grubs, that’s where I would start. But, they aren’t working every day. It has been a matter of finding a small group of trout and getting your offering within 6 inches of it. The tui chub minnows are now prolific and increasing. But, a pumpkinseed grub did get a few trout on Tuesday. If the trout just weren’t biting, we wouldn’t have anything at all. Trollers are getting a couple half-hearted strikes here and there but many folks are coming in with nothing or catching some tui chub. Trollers are simply finding a “one hit wonder” here and there and it has been so poor that it hasn’t even been worth the drive from Spalding to launch. I have friends coming up this week & we’re planning only one beach day here. I don’t have plans of taking them fishing here, but that will be their choice.
As water temps rise, trout will head down. Mostly around the 30’ depth, plus or minus 2ft. With surface temps 71-72F and rising, we can see them drop down as low as 38ft but rarely below 40F.
The Springs looked to be pretty cleaned out of trout this week. A place to start but I would be moving a little further north off Eagles Nest as the water warms up this week. If you are using bait and slip bobbers off The Springs on the east side, start out covering the depths between 27 and 33ft. As we heat up this week, we can see them drop to 35 to 38ft deep so keep that in mind. Trolling we have caught fish anywhere between 17 and 30ft. We do have a few trout foraging close to the bottom in 20 to 35ft of water (second ledge) on the west side of Lake of the Woods of which I have checked out twice this week. I have my line literally ticking through massive schools of tui chub minnows & I am catching nothing but tui chub minnows. There hasn’t been any large schools of trout in the baitfish on the west side just yet, only grebes and pelicans.
The pelicans are out in the middle pounding, what else but tui chub minnows. However, there hasn’t been many trout below them…only chubs. But, if there is a trout, chances are it will be close to minnows right now. Most everything you see on your scope below 40ft will be tui chub, the massive schools blacken your scope between 7 and 48ft and the 5ft thick layer you see around or below 40ft are tui chub too. They do put up a good battle, but unlike trout, they head for the bottom rather than out like a trout and spin up your line something fierce. It’s pretty easy to determine the species before seeing the fish simply by the way the fish fights. We know this because we catch them there or pull up a hook with chub scales on it. Trout are pretty much always above 35ft regardless of water temps, it’s about the dissolved oxygen. The red-side shiners have a tendency to run out, then down, then out and up again repeatedly. By the fight one would think it behaves like a trout. Ones I have caught in the past have been anywhere from 3 lbs to 7 lbs (7lbs was around 27 inches long and battled for over 30 minutes) and was released without removing from the water. It was beautiful yellow green back with modeling and a burgundy stripe down the sides. (I often see them swim up to my float tube and they must be wondering “My, what a big toad you are” LoL.
Yes, the pelicans are eating minnows. The minnows are about ½ inch to 1” long, were in different size groups of anywhere from 100 to 500+ individuals. I could see them rising like ghosts up from about 18” down as they appeared through the cloudy water to the surface to investigate the boat. They looked just like pumpkinseed grubs. As they parted ways, they had joined up into a larger school and in the thousands. Massive clouds of baitfish on the west side off Lake of the Woods, in two miles I counted 8 trout rising in 100yd radius of the boat. Some of the bait balls were 20ft thick and 100ft long, some were smaller and less dense and mostly in water 25 to 45ft deep.
We had expected to see much better fishing for the average anglers coming up. It is what it is, and it hasn’t been a very good fishing season. Bobber guides trolling and trolling guides bobber fishing. This lake seems upside down. We had been hoping that the poor fishing and conditions would have changed by now. But now, going on two months into the season, greenish cloudy water and the fishing hasn’t improved. Just hit a couple one day & not the next, there has been no consistency yet. It is not a matter of too much food in the lake, this lake has always had more food than the fish could eat. It’s appearing to me that there are a few trout left in the lake…not a matter of not biting. It’s not unusual to have a tough day here and there on this pond, but it’s unheard of that two months pass & only a few hundred fish have come in and that’s pushing it. This lake appears to have some serious problems; we’ve never seen the water have such a greenish hue. The food supply seems to have overtaken the lake. The trout that are being caught at 2-3+ pounds look very healthy and the few coming in are full of minnows, others empty. But the numbers are down dramatically this season. Something seems very different this year. In the north basins, you can’t see bottom in 3 feet of water. If we can’t see, the trout can’t see well either. There are many things that can be affecting the fishing….but personally, I don’t see that many trout. I would love to say that the fishing is great, but the trout have been very hard to come by for the masses.
Surface temps on the rise at 71-72F on the east side from The Springs to Eagle’s Nest and Black Mt. We can easily see that come up to 74F with continued heat. The west side generally about 1F cooler than the east side. Cooler water at 59F +- leaning towards the middle of the lake and the east side on 7-22. Springs still keeping surface temps in some areas between 56 and 63F near Wildcat. The other species don’t rise to the hatch or bust minnows on the surface so anything rolling or causing nervous water is normally a trout….but we aren’t seeing the number of rollers out there either.
Right now still fishing using nightcrawlers under slip bobbers (with ProCure “trophy trout” or Garlic attractant) in 45-50ft of water off The Springs to Eagles Nest is still probably your best chance at catching a trout even though the numbers are small. But you will catch several tui chub along with them. The numbers of fish that were there earlier are thinning down, perhaps having been fished out the last few weeks so stay on the move. Hopefully, the heat will bring more trout into the depths. The larger fish we are catching here and there are beautiful but not coming in in every angler’s creel. Basically, a boat with 3-4 anglers should consider themselves lucky if they get one or two to the boat in 5 to 7 hours of fishing & they best have a couple two-rod stamps because they will need two rods per anglers for that 1 to 2 trout.
Shrimp Island has a few trout but the last time we trolled Lake of the Woods it was loaded with chubs and a few small planters, but the minnows are going to get thicker so hopefully it won’t be long before a trout or two finds them. I did pick up one trout off Lake of the Woods on a small tui chub trolling fly on Friday but the east side seems to be holding more trout than the west side.
Be prepared to spend long hours fishing with few results if trolling. We know that a lot of trollers don’t bother or like bobber fishing or consider it a method more for children learning the basics. But, if you want to increase your odds of getting one, you may have to do things you don’t really like doing. So bring up your bait rods so you have a choice to fish, cut bait or just watch your prop spin. Regardless, no matter what, you’re going to have to put your time in and go to bait fishing for a while as well as troll. In spite of a couple fish coming in 3 to 4 lbs, many anglers are coming in empty or only a small fish or two per boat, and not every boat gets one. A way to look at it is this, hours spent, miles trolled and number fish caught. Trollers can run 12 miles for a handful of shakers or bobber fish for a couple decent fish. Save your money or take your chances. So far we have been wasting our time as well as our money here at the lake. Bait fishing under slip bobbers also requires one to put in some time, move around a couple of times & you might catch your limit….if you’re lucky and have enough rods in the water. But the days of double digits and picking and choosing like the last few years (actually, the last few decades) are no longer here. Fewer fish, too much food supply and massive amounts of tui chub and perhaps something else.
For leadcore users it’s been mostly 5 to 6 colors after sunrise but we have been as high as 2 1/2 to 3 ½ colors too. In a pinch, if bait fishing under bobbers is too boring for you, thread a nightcrawler on and sauce it up & troll it. It has been good for a fish here and there for trolling. The Jay Fair Special and a black or dark brown leech trolling fly has had some attention. I have been running a minnow pattern (live minnows are illegal to use on this lake) and finally found some trout to take it. For lures, it remains “one hit wonder” week and at depths between 25 and 33ft deep depending on time of day. As water temps rise, we can often see them drop a little as the thermoclines tighten up. Throw the box at them. Pink and chartreuse rainbow runners have been working periodically. It certainly won’t hurt to throw other lures at them, as there hasn’t really been any consistency to catching other than a lot of nothing. Trolling speeds have varied. Mostly running 2.2 to 2.5 mph, however it also depends on the lure.
The trout rising don’t generally take a worm or lure. They are targeting the fly emergers and rising zooplankton (the transparent goo sticking to your lures, lines and downriggers) and finally a few minnows. We have been able to count only a handful rising here and there. You can target these fish using a spinning rod. You need a small weighted bobber and 2-3lb test leader to get into the eye of the small hooks. Midges, Caddis, chironomid’s and mayflies are our main hatches but it’s not as easy to create a slightly UV transparent piece of goo with a tiny head. The trout take the emerging nymphs just under the surface as they morph into the fly. Which one to use depends on the time of day, what is on top, and some in sizes as small as #18-20 hooks….you need light 2 to 3 lb test line just to get it through the eye of the tiny hooks. We do have minnows out in the middle of the lake now. Once in a while the rising trout will take a small Panther Martin spinner or mini cast master, but they won’t touch a worm. I did get attention on a small tui chub fly I tie for fly fishing. It’s less than an inch long. The larger trolling flies didn’t get the attention so it’s critical to go small for a while. It won’t be long before the larger flies will work if there are any trout left to take them.
We are seeing zooplankton still hanging up on our lines and swivels, but not quite as bad since the last few days of 25 to 30 mph wind. So if you see that transparent goo on your line, lightly pinch your line when reeling in to clean it off.
Our water is unusually cloudy and visibility is very poor compared to our normal clarity. Yellow is a color we have always used in fall when our water temps drop from summer, microscopic algae’s die off and our water gets very cloudy. The lake has been more green and cloudy than I have ever seen it. Trollers have to use something that will show up, leave a scent trail or make some noise before a trout will take notice. But, take note that not all still fishermen are pulling in limits one after the other either in spite of a handful of decent trout. The masses aren’t catching many trout.
Hopefully we begin to see fishing pick up for the masses, but it’s been a very tough season and we suspect there is more to the story. However, DFW has not even been on the lake for water quality tests yet and they don’t test for anything other than dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity and dropping a white reflective plate called a secchi dish to determine clarity. For now, my best advice for this week is to shoot for the east side, be prepared to fish different methods and put your time in. Unfortunately, a lot of folks are coming in empty on a daily basis. We tell it like it is, we don’t embellish or lie about good or bad fishing. It is what it is. Unfortunately, the public gets a lot of mis-information online or no information which may get them to come up once, but it certainly doesn’t help get them back. We believe that if folks know what they are going to be dealing with, at least they will give it another try and come back. If they are lied to, they won’t return. It’s basic human nature. Perhaps that is why we have thousands of viewers…besides giving them the best opportunities to catch trout. I have NEVER claimed to be any type of authority on Eagle Lake, regardless of what is said behind my back. My viewers know that. But, I personally believe we have trouble in Paradise and simply hope it doesn’t last all season long. We will know more in the coming weeks.
Personally, I think a combination of things happened. Reduced planting and perhaps it has a lot to do with catching and releasing 10’s of thousands of fish over the last few years. Bonus fish planting was disconinued in 2013. We have a few trout; we just don’t seem to have the numbers we did have. We need DFW to actually conduct a test on and in the lake. If 10 anglers can release even a meager year of 1000 fish, that’s 10,000 a year. Even put another way, what if 10,000 anglers over the season release 5 fish during their vacation…there’s 50,000. Now multiply that by 3 years…. 150,000 fish. Now we are talking numbers and low estimates at that. DFW needs to catch (not trap or shock) a dozen trout (if they can) on a line, fight them normally, release them into a net cage in suitable depths where dissolved 02 is fine, let them sit for 2 to 3 days and see what happens (however I would also want to see a reputable, outside person unaffiliated with DFW view the result of lifting the net). My guess is that the results would not be good. Trapping and electro-shocking a few hundred fish for the spawn isn’t the 10’s of thousands that aren’t here. Something seems wrong in Paradise folks whether DFW thinks so or not, perhaps they need to get on the water and try fishing.
I saw a lot more surface weeds and grasses off Eagle’s Nest and Black Mountain on Friday. I have caught more trout on the east side the last couple of weeks. Regardless, fishing has continued to be abnormally slow and we have had a hard time finding water without tui chub…if it’s not chubs, it’s dead water & nothing on the scope but the methane bubbles that stretch from the bottom to the top and springs not holding any fish. But, on a daily basis, we can count them on our fingers, rarely needing our toes. The average angler should consider themselves to be very lucky if they can get a limit let alone a couple of strikes in a few days of fishing (36 miles of trolling or minimally 10 different spots to bait fish. A very BIG difference from the last few years. One thing I have noticed is that the trout we are catching don’t have a lot of fight to them after the first few minutes and exhaust quickly. Some bleeding from the gills upon reaching the boat. Had a few 3 ½ lb trout that didn’t even feel like a fish, one took one 20ft run after seeing the boat and was on its side nearly dead and in the net seconds later. But, what do I know? Something simply does not seem right with the lake this year and changes for the better haven’t come.
FLY FISHING, FLOAT TUBING/KAYAKING:
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. The road into Wildcat Pt was ok but still had a few nasty spots to get through. Deep ruts carved out last winter so stay on the high side. However, you can no longer launch a trailered boat from the beach anymore. If you do get caught, it could cost you in excess of $300. The handicap walkway at Christie is a disaster waiting to happen. If you aren’t disabled, you may be after you walk down. I stay off to the side as there are way too many trip hazards on the walkway.
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. There is room to offload and allow others to launch if you get off to the south side of the turnaround, unless a 40ft motorhome is trying to launch a boat. 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. However, it is illegal to drive a vihicle to the edge of the water to launch. It may cost you a few hundred dollars & you won't see any law enforcement. 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. We often see people drive right to the water, just know that is illegal & you could be cited. The ramp area is protected by all but north and west winds. So it often doesn't look as rough as it is out there beyond the protection of the point to the southwest. But, when bigger boats are coming in because of the wind, take the message that it's no place for a kayak when boats are already being blow off the lake.
If we don’t see water in the coming years and the government continues to refuse to keep the boat launching going I can certainly see safety issues if only kayaks and tubes can launch in the future. Small crafts don’t have the time to get back to shore (at 2 to 5 mph) before the winds and waves cause extremely dangerous conditions.
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 over shallow water, 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 and you missed him. 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.
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 and particularly off Pikes Pt. I also have florescent orange wooly buggers just in case.
Our trout don’t often hit dry flies on this lake, except for carpenter ant imitations early in the season, 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 #14-16 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 on flat water. 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 slow 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 on warm 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 if casting over bobber fishing with indicators. You won’t double digit fish 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.
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.
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