EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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FISHING IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS!!! WE HAVE HAD THE LAKE TO OURSELVES.
Publishers Note: This is the time of year when we can see colder temps and some serious storms (yes please). But we can also see some pretty nice days and some of the best sunrises and sunsets of the entire year. Generally we are blessed with some pretty nice days & even days that the wind doesn’t come up. But when having to plan weeks or months in advance, one doesn’t always get what they want when they want it. Some days winds and a rough lake can prevent many from accessing the water, let alone accessing where they really wanted to fish. So, come prepared if you’re coming a long way. Gear up & be prepared for anything. Despite being able to see high temps reach the 60’s and up to 72F so far in this October, our low temps begin dropping 17F to 22F. Winds add another dimension & wind-chill. When purchasing a portable propane heater be sure to check for “wind proof”. Mr. Heaters don’t cut the mustard with any wind but provide well in sheltered areas. Shore fishermen often pack firewood down but even at the lake side one needs to put it out before leaving. We are still very dry despite cooler temps.
This is the time for fly fishing, float tubing kayaking too. But, from here on out we can have days that we have a tough time accessing the water or the right wind direction for casting too. If I’m tubing or wading I always carry a dry set of clothes (gloves, hat, sweatshirts) in the truck and have needed to use them twice….I didn’t get the reputation as the last one to swim Eagle Lake in December for nothing. As water temps drop, our chances for survival if we fall in or catch a wave wrong get slimmer and slimmer…life jackets will keep you afloat, but will do little else. Pretty soon our chances will drop from minutes to seconds so safety should be on the top of the list for everyone as this lake has been known to claim the lives of the stupid. I have the upmost respect for the water from here to the end of the season….or she will claim me too. (She’s given me several “Mulligan’s” over the decades which I learned from & I may be out of freebies at any time and don’t push my luck…I am not immune). Those in boats with motors: Crafts under human power IE float tubes, kayaks and canoes can be tipped over by your boat wake and remember they have the “right of way”. Please don’t “white wake” us tubers out there or you will possibly create a disaster by drowning someone or creating a situation that you could and should be held accountable for. This includes speeding in the fog. I carry an airhorn on my float tube. I have no problem sounding off for over a minute….this might not get the drivers attention but it sure brings attention to the driver from everyone else out there. I have had to replace it twice in the last three years…from having to use it.
12-4-13 Fishing Report Summary: The south basin survived our first low temp at minus 1F. Our high temp today topped out at 22F & settled in at 20F. Fortunately, a light northerly breeze, just enough to keep a decent ripple on the water, has been blowing. The wind from any direction will be our best friend this week as temps are predicted to be close to zero & we are usually 6F to 8F degrees below what NOAA predicts. Even if we see a flash freeze of the surface during sunrise, chances are it will melt out in 20 to 60 minutes and it doesn't take much wind to push any ice to shore. However, if we do see a low ambient temp close to -10F, the ice sheet will be thicker than skim ice & will take longer to melt out if it even has a chance with another low temp below zero. I am simply being hopeful we survive the rest of the week when it comes to icing up some of the shoreline and shallow bays. We can deal with ice out from shore to some degree before it becomes unfishable. I will be out on the water Thursday as long as I don't get blown off in my float tube. Fishing is AS GOOD AS IT GETS FROM SHORE & BOATS! I was knocking them dead trolling at 18 to 21 ft deep with Sure Catch large double jointed Red-Dog lures trolled at 2.2 to 2.4 & up to 2.7mph south of Miners Pt (Frank Morgan Summit on our map) in 40 to 54 ft of water as well as fly fishing the shallow rock piles and shoreline on the west side of the lake. The trout are now also closer to the surface for trolling top liners (If you don't have a Red Dog try a #2 brass/florescent orange needle fish). ALSO, Berkley's ATOMIC TEASERS (brown/white) knocked off double digits. Sure Catch Red dog has been top producer for all around best trolling. Toplining mini crawlers is also doing the job, naked working better than dodgers/flashers. Brown & olive leech patterns for fly boys being taken all day...brown is steady and releasing double digits is common.
Wild turkey jigs are probably the #1 color for jig fishing from shore (see tips below), brown & olive #2 and on days when the water is cloudy, yellow and/or white can be the only color working on overcast & windy days. For the lazy shore fishermen, we have simply cast a jig out under a bobber & set the rod down between some rocks & set the drag loose...waves help jig it but we have tossed it in in a ripple and even flat water and have had fish take it....just be sure to get to your rod & tighten up a little & set the hook.
For dough bait (powerbait type floating bait) orange, chartreuse are pretty standard but "garlic" flavor is taken steadily. Dough baits can be used alone or in combination with a nightcrawler. Also, small marshmallows do the same thing....& sometimes the marshmallows are taken over anything else when fished about 18-24 inches above the bottom.
Our group of tubers (fly fishing) have been nailing double digits....16 to 25+ catch & release daily...and MY best day this week was 58 (barbless) released 15 to 22 inches long, topping out my 30 fish day the day before. The funniest thing I think happened was catching fish that stole my fly the day before (I tie with a little trademark in each fly so I know it's mine). Plus, I'm finding other peoples jigs in some lips too. It's just been great fishing....actually, phenominal is more like it.
Mostly the fish we are releasing are 1.8 to 2.5 lbs but 25% were 2.5.lb to 4.49lb and plenty of 2 3/4 to 3lb. Just a matter of finding the pods that are moving around. This has been the best fishing/catching and releasing for several years. The incoming storm and some wind could drive the fish out from shore briefly, but they will come back and the upcoming weekend appears to be clear and cold so far.
The west side between Christie all the way up to Slough Pt is HOT!! AM temps dropping could ice over some of the shallow bays. I'm working the area between the end of Lake of the Woods to Christie. It hasn't really mattered where. But I can tell you that I am fly casting from my float tube as I can't walk the rocks to wade. The best fly has been my hairy brown leech and smaller brown hairy nymphs (about 5/8" long). The trout are foraging on a plethora of little critters and bugs when the come in to the shoreline. From caddis, mayfly, damsel & dragonflies to tiny toe-biters & baby leeches with a snail or 10 depending on the rock pile. It really hasn't mattered whay you have thrown at them, but smaller has been a lot better than larger..
Ok. Here we go, the last month of the fishing season! This is the time of year the diehards can't resist. Niether can I.
SHORE FISHING & FLOAT TUBING ACCESSES: The Jetty and Pikes Pt at Eagle Lake Marina. Access near the new low water ramp, also access at the old Aspen ramp. The Circus Grounds, Christie Day Use Area and for the adventurous ones Wildcat Pt. The Springs north of Camp Ronald McDonald on the east side of the south basin and further north is Eagles Nest on your way to the Youth Camp and Biology Station via dirt roads. Northern Basins: Rocky Pt, the Youth Camp/Biology Station (via highway 139). No matter where you launch a tube, pontoon or other individual craft you will have to drag it, wheel it or carry it to the lake shore. Exception: Eagles Nest, the Youth Camp, Miners Pt, on the east side, Wildcat Pt south side entrance.
NOTE: Lock your fly rods in their rod holders if you aren't tending one or the other. Lesson learned decades ago. Buddy Stu found that out but was able to retrieve his rod by the tip before it sunk & landed the fish that tried to steal it! Been there, done that! Now that strap is locked for a reason!! Fish are fat, fiesty & on the feed all day long. We are stuffing a big trout for Thanksgiving....come on up & get your own "turkey" to stuff. Lead core trollers our best number of colors has been 3- 4 to the water (#18) & even up to 5. 4 colors has been the best. All in all, all methods of fishing have been great....boats and float tubers have the advantage, but fishing close to and from shore picked up last weekend and has only gotten better. The wind has affected the ability to get out at times, but winds look like they will settle down a little this weekend.
Shore fishermen often just have to wait for the pod to swim by. The trout typically come in in small numbers. For example pairs and up to 5 or 6 at a time. But, they can all stop at the same point, ledge or rock pile and pretty soon you have 15 to 20 in a relatively small area. Tubers launching: I always cast into my silt trail as I am getting out & getting my lines in the water. I also always cast to shore and can't tell you how many fish lay in 6 to 12 inches of water. For those wading, fish the water before you walk in it (stand back about 20ft & drop a fly about 3 to 6 ft from shore & see what happens. I can tell you that I generally catch my first fish of the day doing that. Oh, there are conditions that do keep the fish from coming in close .... depending on which way the wind blows.....whitecaps. The trout will hold on the leeward side of a point or rock pile & at what depth depends on the size of the whitecaps but I typically find them in 12 ft of water and more. They are a lazy animal at heart & really don't care to put out a lot of effort to keep from being beat up in the rocks....& other choices and deeper water are never far away.
If I were going out trolling & it was foggy when I got on the water, I would simply get out of the ramp area let out my lines & head east towards the Springs and Eagles Nest. If weather and wind allowed, I would head to Frank Morgan Summit (south tip of Miners Pt) and stick to water deeper than 20 ft (I really like 45 to 54) drop out my lead cores to 4 colors with a Red Dog on one, an orange/brass French Frye on the other and brown leeches off our top lines (two people of course). I would work all sorts of depths trolling but it's been steadily producing. It's not unusual to catch fish deep when others are catching them in shallow water or from shore.
TIPS FOR JIG FISHING (fitting for all) FROM SHORE: We need to have long casts from shore to be able to access these fish when they begin moving out from shore. We use 8 1/2 ft long or longer rods. We add BB's or split shots to small weighted bobbers by pushing them into the styrofoam to add extra weight ...just don't weight your bobber down to the point it sinks below the surface but it sure helps. Waders or wearing hip boots can help get an extra 15 to 30 ft further too. The best jigs are small 3/64 to 3/32 and made from wild turkey marabou ....red hooks. If the water is really stirred up, yellow jigs have really knocked them dead. Usually 4 lb test leader is the lightest one should go, tippet material can be good to use for leaders to jigs.
It has taken a while to get the trout back into a shoreline cruising routine but despite there still being a ton of shrimp plankton out in the depths, some trout are begining to come in closer to shore. The shore fishing and fly fishing has been pretty slow this fall but there were several reasons, all discussed prior. But, now that the water temps are in the mid to high 40's, a good number of trout are moving within reach. It took long enough!! On thing that regularly moves the trout out and down are heavy waves. Power Bait (dough bait) has worked well for shore fishing. Best colors can vary but garlic flavor is a pale yellow & is probably a good one to start with (the shrimp plankton are similar color), florescent orange (adult shrimp & scuds) or rainbow. Green has been a good color this year & red has had its moments. We use to use small marshmellows....which I keep in my shore fishing tackle box to this day. Note: when bottom fishing, bring your line in fast to keep from hanging up on the rocks unless you are fishing the mud flat.
I saw more tui chub minnows in shallower water this week than I have seen them in weeks. But I have noticed the winds affect them too & that they move out to deeper water & to the bottom. Mostly the stage "two" chubs but that's a good sign that the babies will be coming back in close soon.
This lake has been fishing a little different than other years but she's finally getting back on track. We had a mild fall, but we are now seeing our low temps drop below zero and high temps just below or just above freezing. I'm just hoping the water remains liquid when our low temps drop to levels we normally see in January!! Eagle Lake Road has some icy spots dropping into the basin & we have a coupld days this week that we could see a squall pass thru..
This is the time of year I do a lot of updating direct so you might see more errors & typos....but that's because I am actually fishing, catching & braving the cold temps in order to bring you an accurate fishing report. I figure that you're smart enough to figure it out!
GENERAL LATE SEASON TIPS:
Shore fishermen & wading fly fishermen. The best tip I can give you is that you need to fish the water before you walk into it. I'm casting 5 to 10 ft from shore (stand back about 20ft & drop your fly in about 5-10 ft from shore....take a good presentation over a longer cast. Do this for 20 ft in both directions.& see what happens.
Trolling: Sure Catch single and double jointed Red-dog (florescent orange), rapala’s … 2 ½ inch (minnow imitations) pearl/black or pearl/watermelon color combination) lures and small spoons are still working best at 18 to 21 ft deep. Needlefish in Florescent orange/brass back, pearl, cop car, black/pearl shad, firetiger (rough water or overcast days) are good bets. Tui Chub trolling flies working in a little shallower 15 to 30 ft around 12 ft deep early, but shortly after sunrise, the best bite for us has been out in the depths. Toplines working better now too.
Float-tubing/Fly Fishing: Don’t expect to find fly fishing the same right now as it has been in the past....but it has picked up since the water temps dropped below 50F. The lake is fishing a little different than we are used to for this time of year. But we are finding a good tubing bite & a short wading bite. I will be out this weekend, hell or high water, cold or foggy, windy or calm. I expect to do well.
There were some surface weeds that I could avoid with my lines off Wildcat, but I still checked periodically if there was a slight drag on my line in the rod holder. We have plenty of fish in Christie Bay (between wildcat Pt and the Day Use Area) but making them bite was the hard part. A good storm & cloudier water will help. When I am working the shallow water and rock piles on my tube (3 to 6ft deep), I am normally “bouncing bottom” or very close to it. I will paddle against the wind to get my line down and occasionally add a split shot if I need to go deeper. Also, I have been known to reel backwards if I am on a fast drift and let the tip sink. Sometimes we need a little weight on a fly, even with sinking line in a wind drift situation. Beadheads (as in my basic 4 pak available at the marina) provide weight (and bobble-head affect in the wind) and Jay Fair “wiggle tails” are lead wrapped bodies (unseen under the swimming hackle) which sink as well. When working a rock pile, I try not to get right on top of it if I can help it, but position myself to cast on top & fish the top and drop off before getting on top and working the ledges down. I use sink tips, even convert my full floating line with a specified number of inches in length depending on the depth I need to sink down to. This also allows me to cast to a shallow 1-2 ft rock pile & strip out before sinking to the bottom & hanging up…..sinking flies don’t allow for that whereas the right line and manipulation does. Many expert fly fisherman can be humbled on Eagle Lake as she doesn’t always fish the same as any other lake. We have to get things down & often have to bounce our flies (leeches, wooly buggers, scuds and others) off the bottom when fishing shallow water. And, we often find ourselves “bobber fishing” under indicators & just waiting for a fish to swim by. When water temps drop to the 50’s, our shrimp and scuds begin to turn orange…real orange. As they morph, they are in various shades of light olive.
I love fishing the west side from Christie to Wildcat and towards Lake of the Woods… and having that as one of my easy accesses. I often have to cover the territory before I find the fish but it’s beautiful water. I have a cart for other accesses as it can be hundreds of yards to the water down the trails. The access to the east side is from a parking area just past Camp Ronald McDonald or a few miles up the road and down into Eagles Nest…about 45 minute drive from Camp Ronald McD on Gallatin Road.
Off Christie, you have shallow rock piles as well as flat gravel/mud with several patches of hydrilla and other weeds that gradually drop into water up to 45 ft deep. If you don’t have a depth finder on your tube or kayak you are at a loss. That shoreline appears as though it’s a mud flat but it’s loaded with rock piles, ledges and shear drop offs to 20 to 40 ft and a lot of weed beds (including hydrilla). A side finder shows you when the fish come up (generally during heavy winds) as well as when they go down (flat water). It also shows you fish you can’t see that might be right in front of you. I have my side finder set at the furthest distance of 120ft. At first I figured why should I see that far if I can’t cast that far. But it’s the distance that is critical when it comes to the behavior. I have seen plenty of days that the trout come right up to you, look at you & throw a tail slap of water in your face (very good aim by the way) or grab at a fly that’s just dangling below a rod you aren’t actually even fishing at the time and times when they are at close range between 8 and 20ft & you just drop a fly in the zone & set your hook. But it’s the days they don’t come within 90-120 ft from you that you have to know about….long lining a fly & basically trolling it become the only way to get close enough. It happens more now than you might think, especially on flat water and sunny days. It is a great addition to a tube or kayak…spend the extra $10-$15 for the side finder and buy Lithium batteries. The higher quality batteries not only last longer but they are resistant to cold temperatures. Alkaline batteries don’t hold up in the cold and last about 14 hours. Lithium batteries get around 60 hours for my unit & I always unplug the power cable as the ON button is easy to turn on accidentally.
As we head into the end of the fishing season we can see plenty of frozen fog form on the lake. Often visibility can be reduced to 100ft or less on the water. Once you lose sight of the shoreline in a float tube or kayak you can end up in a bad situation. A compass is your best friend and most smart phones have that app. A compass is better by far than a GPS for staying on course manually. There is too much time delay via GPS signal return at slow speeds (cell signal can be spotty in some areas) and it can have you going in circles or the wrong direction before you know it. Also note for boaters, that there is a 10mph speed limit on the water when the fog settles in and float tubes might absorb radar detection. Kayaks not so much. Regardless, we don’t need any accidents this time of year.
Wading: We have short windows that allow for successful wading now, but it isn’t like it was in the old days when they stayed there all day long. For the last few years these fish have routinely moved out and down to the first ledges from shore that drop to around 10 to 12 ft (as water levels decreased), windy days especially. The trout are holding close in quiet waters & shallow on the rock piles. You have to cover a lot of shoreline because once you catch a few, you will move the rest one way or another. As long is there is some clarity for sight fishing them, that turned on as well. Rather than seeing a nice pod (small group of 10 to 20 trout) come into the shallows, the pod scatters out and we are seeing 2 to 3 together foraging…spook one, you spook them all. Wind is generally what determines where you go. For tips on that, never cast with the wind, always cast parallel to it & have the wind carry your line away from your face. You will be amazed at how easy that is. Trout are generally on the leeward side of a point waiting to ambush any prey being driven off the rocky ledges by heavy waves.
If you plan on walking and wading and expect great days of fishing, you will find one.. Bring a float-tube or yak & you are in business and will catch more fish all day long than just trying from shore.
Popular areas are where there is parking. Pike’s Pt (marina) can deliver but crowded at times. Also a good cast will land you in 20-24 ft of water. Christie Day Use to Wildcat Pt is some dandy shoreline but looks like mud flats from the parking area. This area is nothing but rocky ledges & gravel bars with a lot of weed beds along the steeper ledges. There are places that you can spit to 11 ft of water, & areas you can nearly walk ½ mile out on from shore. I had to learn how to successfully fish that area & don’t always expect weekend warriors to be able to catch and release big numbers of trout. If you are lucky, you will find a limit. Circus Grounds are now a flat mud bar that extends well away from shore. Water deeper than 4 to 5 ft in that area is well out of range of a good cast from shore.
Another access that still requires a good walk is just past Camp Ronald McDonald and accesses and nice gravel bar (head north not south) and depths to 20+ ft deep with a good cast. West and southwest winds inundate the east side shoreline with large waves. No matter what, check the wind direction as that should determine where you go from shore….it does me, especially when fly fishing/float tubing.
Typical Fish behavior related to wind: Heavy winds have pushed the trout, zooplankton and minnows out to deeper water with gusts over 15 mph , the fish have not come back in close yet…at least for me…in some areas, the depths are not as far as you think & those are the first to move back but they will be scattered. The trout will hang out on a leeward side of a shoal or point for a while as waves drive food over the ledges and over the side but once the whole body of water is moving, its more work than it’s worth & they move out where it doesn’t matter if they get bounced around and drift with the current…there is nothing to run in to. I don’t advise being out in the middle of the south basin when there is 4 to 5 ft swells…been there, done that this week & the theme song from Gilligan’s Island was running thru my head….occasionally out loud!
We had a major zooplankton (shrimp) spawn that has lasted for weeks now. Every fish we caught this last week was loaded with “applesauce with eyeballs” & little else but a handful of larger orange shrimp no longer than ½”. In other areas. This “goo” was concentrated out in the middle of the basin and every trout I cleaned this week was loaded with it. Chances are that it will continue for a while, but that’s good for the fish. In other areas the minnows were on the menu IE Pikes Pt and the east side off Eagle’s Nest and The Springs. If there has been one consistent trolling fly color that has been getting attention for me it continues to be dark brown with copper flash….it’s so dark brown it’s almost black….but next to black it’s brown. Copper flash out catches just plain pearl….but I mix things up. Arctic Fox has the darkest brown leech trolling fly resembling it on the market.
We always run our J Fair toplines but with our other two rods (leadcore) we work different depths & different lures and flies. But, the tried and true toplines are always first in the water and I don’t change from what has been catching fish consistently. They continue to rule the day running brown leech patterns. There isn’t any secret to trolling flies. They are just like any other lure but require a hard hook set to sink the barb or you lose most of them at the boat. On downriggers put the line deeper into the clip so it requires a little more tug to release…that will help set the hook initially & your rod unloading with finish it off….but keep the fish on the rod, not the reel. One other tip is that you can’t run a tight drag using flies….just tight enough to gain line when the fish gives it and loose enough that when the fish wants to take some, he can. Once an Eagle Lake Trout realizes it’s hooked they have a tendency to charge the boat….fast….you have to keep up with them as they are intending to put slack in the line (pulling on it didn’t work). If you lose the tension on the rod, your chances of losing the fish increase.
Trolling nightcrawlers slow (0.5 mph) and shallow (5 ft below the surface) has been the best depth just as trolling for most everything else. Don’t fear using a harness or worm rig such as Uncle Larry’s (black perch and perch colors have been consistent). We’re going to have to enable all the tricks in the bag this fall as water conditions will remain cloudy compared to the past. Nightcrawlers also leave a nice scent which helps. Just remember when driving up here don’t leave your worms in the boat or back of the truck as they will be frozen by the time you get here. Bait and/or using attractants helps. However, I don’t use attractant on everything I put in the water at one time as I have found that there are days it can become a repellent too.
Lures: Firetiger color scheme on lures has been pretty productive when nothing else seems to work. A splash of yellow has been pretty good this year as opposed to years past for being “steady” and a splash of green has been unusually attractive to them this season. Needlefish in pearl, cop-car, florescent orange/pearl back, fire tiger and black in #1 and #2 sizes, Sure Catch Red-dog picking up again in med and large (has outfished needlefish for several years now)…the single model has worked pretty well this year but the double jointed has ruled the pack for several years now. Rainbow runners in pearl will get attention as will other small lures. Pearl is going to be the most visible and darker colors IE black/brown will show up out of contrast. I have been trolling flies and lures faster than normal to get grabbed. Generally I run 1.2 to 1.8 mph unless I’m turning out of the rock and pulling my lines up over them….which at 3.5 miles per hour caught the other 3 lb trout in 5 ft of water. Flashers and dodgers begin to pick up by getting that flash and movement that at least can trigger a head turn from a nearby predatory trout. Shorten leaders for these trout to around 14”. Much longer results in the trout coming up behind it so fast it misses your bait and hits your blades. Symptom of a leader that’s too long is lots of strikes and few hook ups. Flashers and dodgers need to be trolled much slower than lures.
Rapala’s or other minnow imitations are also dependable from here on out. Colors can change up just as lures can. A good selection includes black/silver, gold/black and double jointed. We don’t use them over 3” in length generally as the trout prefer the smaller ones over the larger sizes. It’s all about the current seasons hatch of tui chub minnows. The minnows have an olive back with bronze hues with white/silver bellies. There are times when the brighter colors work IE orange. But if I was limited as to what I could buy, I would stay with the olive, black and gold first.
Berkley Gulp Black shad or watermelon/pearl 2 ½ inch long minnows run crippled (double swivel recommended and trolled slower…around 1.2 to 1.5 mph) have picked up fish this week too. These are scented and are my first “go to” plastic when I need it this time of year. (Run a #6 hook down the back & slightly out the side for cripple affect). Color is going to be more critical under overcast skies.
Trolling Flies and plastic grubs: Cinnamon or brown leeches. Jay Fair and Arctic Fox work well. Sometimes the shade of brown can make a difference and for me it is darker brown than lighter right now (if it didn’t matter I wouldn’t have 24 different brown leech patterns in my personal stash). The tui chub minnow patterns and Lahontan Redside (A.F) also work great from now to the end of the season. I have run florescent orange this week with only two strikes in two days but the fish weren’t hitting much of anything. But, I know these trout will turn on to it pretty soon. There have been many overcast and stormy days that yellow with a splash of orange (Jay Fair All Around Best) has done the trick when nothing else has. Grubs: Colors generally coincide with the flies although we often find that a chartreuse tail on a grub can make a difference this time of year. Brown, amber, root-beer, orange and watermelon are the most commonly used grubs but have a few with brighter tails and solid white and solid black can rule the day but not always the entire week.
Fly Fishing: Float tubing/Kayak/pontoon/prams: Standard flies and colors include brown, black/red, black/peacock, burnt orange and olive wooly buggers and leech patterns in size 10 and 12 are pretty standard. Sizes actually vary between manufactures so I go smaller over larger. I also tie up some small minnow patterns and various color combinations into oranges and gold’s. By the way, these trout sure like the hairy dubbing and swimming hackles. Shrimp and scud patterns (same difference) light olive and orange….orange is the best color when water temps are below 60F…as they are now and will be throughout the rest of the season.
We can battle some wind out there but no matter what, sometimes the winds do cause a fast drift. Personally, I really don’t care for uniform sinking fly lines for catching a lot of fish here at Eagle. They tend to belly out. These trout can hammer a fly but mostly they are very light slurper’s. If you wait to feel the strike, it’s too late. The trout has already felt the hook & split the scene. I switched to a sink tip two decades ago. I can let that sink to over 20’ if I have to and I can cast it into a 1-2 ft rock pile & strip it out. I always use my line as an indicator and by seeing that slight wake change of the line and setting the hook before I ever feel it on my rod tip has caught more fish. It also allows for bottom bouncing in 8 to 10 ft of water when the trout move off the shallow shoals and rock piles to slightly deeper water to feed off the bottom. If the wind comes up & I’m drifting back to the truck I tie on flies with a little more weight than the double wire hooks I use for most all my patterns ( I use double wire hooks for less but some added weight. Wet them & they will sink like a rock, just not as fast which allows me to use my sink tip to cast to a roller in 1-2 ft of water. My flies on the market are bead heads & that’s where I start. Jay Fair wiggle tails are lead wrapped. I freely admit that one day my flies are the ticket and the next day it’s all about Jay Fair wiggle tails. So you can only imagine how many flies I carry on my float tube at any given time!!
When water temps drop below 60F, the shrimp and scuds begin to turn orange just as shrimp do when you cook them. I also tie up orange wooly buggers and nymphs (even scuds) in various shades from burnt orange to florescent orange. I have not found a commercially available scud as orange as our shrimp get…if they kick that up a notch or two, they would work much better on this lake. If not using dubbing for my wooly buggers I’m using Jay Fairs swimming hackle for my hackle.
Overall, brown leeches are an “opportunity” fly for me. If I get it in front of a trout, he generally takes the opportunity to grab it. However, olive has long been a good color between Christie Day Use to and around Wildcat Pt to about half way thru Lake of the Woods towards Shrimp Island….then it goes to brown. I run two rods off my tube. One is always dragging (trolling) while I cast and tend the other. (and yes, double hook-ups come frequently if I can’t get my second line in when fighting a fish on the other and in November I can’t even leave a fly dragging on the surface just below my rod (technically not even fishing that rod, just keeping my line from slipping back into the reel by gravity when the action is too fast. I also have what I call my AADD flies. Just what the name implies. These have a lot of flash. My favorite AADD’s are in copper/orange and gold/olive but I do a lot of experimentation and development of flies and I mix dubbings and other materials. Not because I want to, but because these fish are always changing their minds on what they will take.
We do have flatworms in this lake. These are basically sort of bone white with burnt orange hues down their backs. These I HAVE found to be location specific. Wildcat and the biology station in particular. The zooplankton from these is stringy and white.
The snails and shrimp are doing very considering the lake condition. Our trout can be bottom feeders on both. When the trout are flipping rocks over (sign of that is a very sore that is highly visible on the lower jaw) and sucking up all the living creatures that are exposed, they aren’t looking up. I literally have to club them on the back of the head to get them to look at me and strike out of frustration rather than for food.
I highly recommend tubers and yakers to have depth/side finders. It took me many years to learn how to fish the accessible areas. Off Christie (very popular but people complain that they don’t catch many) to Wildcat Pt there are hydrilla beds, shallow shoals, humps and bumps that drop from two to four feet on top to 40 ft and holes next to the shoreline that drop to 8 to 11 ft surrounded by 4 to 5 ft ledges. Without a depth finder you don’t know how deep you are, if you are over the weed beds or humps and bumps. It’s critical to know your depth and structure. The side finder is indispensible. See a fish 14 to 20 ft away, cast a line close & you will be surprised how many you hook up. My Fishing Buddy is ideal as I can scan up to 120ft away in any direction. I usually have it pointed at my dragging line but I can point it towards shore, towards rock piles or in front of me. It also tells me when the fish come back up after dropping down for a while. Winds always bring these fish to the surface. Note: I always have a bird count because they also show up on your side finder.
Tui Chub FYI: We have three stages of tui chubs in the lake. Stage #1 is this seasons spawn which continues thru late summer. Stage #2 tui chubs are juveniles 3 to 10 inches long. Stage #3 is all adults & all over 12 inches long. Stage #2 shows up on your scope as a cloud of bait with a few “small” fish IDed inside it. Mostly these hold close to the bottom in 12 to 35 ft of water but often we see them adrift over the depths on a hot calm day holding between 7 and 20ft deep. The trout don’t normally target the larger stage 2 tui chubs…even though we can find trout relatively close…but there will always be grebes who do eat the larger minnows. Be it that they might be to large to be prey for the smaller trout or protected by the larger sub adult chubs, I rarely find a larger bait fish in the stomach of a trout…always the fresh hatch. This is one reason it’s important to start off with small imitation minnows like Berkley Gulp Alive (Black Shad or Watermelon Pearl no larger than 2 ½ inch at first…then no larger than 3”. The adults and sub adult tui chubs protect the newly hatched minnows in layers. A very interesting fish to observe….learn from it. It is ALL ABOUT THE FRESH HATCH OF TUI CHUBS WHEN IT COMES TO THE TROUT. I am not kidding when I say “keep your nose in the air”. Tui chubs release a gas when breathing & in large numbers (such as the schools of new minnows) you can actually “smell” them. Follow your nose.
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