Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths

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

Val @ 530 249-1430 or valateaglelake@yahoo.com
 CALL 530 825-3454
September 26, 2016
 You can help by donating via PayPal link on eaglelakeguardians.org!  We are going on an ONLINE fundraising campaign and need all the help we can get!! YOU’RE SUPPORT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! TOTAL INPUT FOR PINE CREEK RESTORATION TO DATE IS $23,500!!!  LETS SEE IF WE CAN DO THAT AGAIN!!  I also believe that CDFW's 27% off the top of any donations to the state Fish and Wildlife is too much of the public's money for administrative costs.  Perhaps that's why they are in bed with other nonprofits.  Had Eagle Lake Guardians donated their $23,500 to CDFW the state would have taken $6345.00 for absolutely nothing.
This allows you to be able to identify which hatchery a branded trout came from and what year it was planted.  FREEZE BRANDING IDENTIFICATION 
6-1-15 NOTICE
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We will keep "motivating" those who signed off on this plan to insure it actually gets accomplished

I help you get set up and dialed in to catch fish using your own toys!

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. 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[3] 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".[4] Individual zooplankton are usually microscopic, but some (such as jellyfish) are larger and visible with the naked eye. More information can be found here
http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Zooplankton http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Zooplankton.aspx  We are seeing the first shrimp spawn and it has exploded in all parts of the lake.
9-26-16: Fishing has been picking up here and there. We have actually done pretty well, although some days we have simply had to wait for the fish to come on.  Mostly for trolling it has been over shallower water from 6 ft to 30ft of water but running our lines 4 to 6 ft deep. Fishing over the west side ledges and outer rock piles. We aren’t catching and releasing double digits, but we are able to catch a few limits consistently.  I always let my lines out over the 45ft of water before I head in towards shore. Some mornings they are out over the depths, other days I won’t find one until I start hitting 20ft of water or sweeping a shallow rocky hump. Once you are in 25ft of water, you’re not far from a rock pile so turn back out until you can see the rock piles. Wildcat Pt to Christie is pretty nasty now, there is a long gravel bar with scattered boulders just about halfway between and scattered rock piles on either side. But the bay is deeper. Watch the water as well as your depth finder. We are seeing a lot of heavy particulate algae strewn throughout the water column along the east side and on 9-25 had increased out in the center of the south basin. It will eventually foul your lines but I haven’t had any problems running my motors through it. I have had clearer water on the west side but some patchy weeds. We do have a fair amount of fish moving around on the west side. Some pods are smaller fish, but others are nice 2 ¼ to 3 ½ lbs with a few in the 4lb range. Christie Bay also has fish. Shore fishermen from the point off the Day Use Area have had some pretty good mornings this week, as long as the winds haven’t blown directly in.  We still have fish between Merrill and Wildcat and a few out from Pikes Pt. I just haven’t had to go much deeper than 4 to 6 ft deep. As the water has gotten cloudier, hot orange has kicked in. That’s pretty normal and coincides with the shrimp spawn. The trout are eating minnows in some areas and shrimp in others (light beige colored goo with the texture of applesauce. It’s still been very inconsistent for some folks…but as long as you keep a line up top. For leadcore, I’m running 1 color in the water. I have had to wait out the bite here and there, but as a rule, once I find them, I don’t leave them…just keep working that area.  The trout are now on the move and scattered, but scattered on the west side where action has been pretty good. A good number (but not all) of fish left the east side in spite of leaving tons of minnows. The fish we have been catching have been loaded with shrimp larva, others loaded with minnows. But it depends on the area. Average fish over 2 lbs, plenty around 3 to 3 1/2lbs & one over 4lbs came in last weekend. Average around 2 ½ lbs which is still a nice trout.

The surface temps in AM have been between 60F and 62F degrees. We could see that rise a little on a warm day, but it hasn’t affected the depth I am catching fish at. Cold overnight temps will keep us cooling down. Spring water pumping out 56 to 59F off Lake of the Woods and a patch north of Pikes Pt and a small patch of Eagle’s Nest. The west side is about 1F lower on average from the east side. We are now pretty well into the fall transition; a few warmer days won’t cause a dramatic increase. But changes can happen quickly…it’s mostly about cloudy water. Generally, the algae’s are microscopic, this year there is a lot of particles ¼” to ½”, roughly in diameter. So far, the west side has been better water just check for weeds periodically.   I always let my lines out over deeper water before heading into the shallow rocks. Nearly every morning I find the first fish in 25ft of water.  Tomorrow may be a different story altogether but I don’t often change that routine. But, two days of doing the same thing in shallow water and upper water column has produced back to back results.  One day they are in, the next day they are out, just a matter of finding them, late morning we were doing well in 25 to 30ft of water. But, my catching depth hasn’t changed….4-6ft deep and as deep as 12ft when conditions apply (I have been using the lures deeper & haven’t had to go any deeper than 2-3 colors

The water level is very close to last fall, perhaps only a few inches higher water so be very careful. One can be in 45-50ft of water one minute and 2-3 ft the next second…and folks, these are 100 to 200 even 300 yards from shore. Watch your depth finder, as soon as you see the depth come up to the 30ft level, turn back out as a rock pile isn’t too far away at that point. When the light is right and we have a little ripple, it is easier to see the water color change where the rocks are. My best areas on the west side have still been south and just north of Shrimp and south of Wildcat.   Lake of the Woods is getting more fish coming in every day…so far 1 ½ lbs to 3lbs but numbers appear to be increasing. Somewhat scattered pods & we have to find them every day. Often ¼ to ½ mile from where we left them the day before.  We are seeing a few more fish moving north of Miners Pt and into the Youth Camp/Biology Station but I don’t advise anyone who isn’t familiar with the rock piles to even attempt getting there. Those of us that know the area can still not be too careful.

DEPTHS AND BEST LURES/GRUBS/TROLLING FLIES: Our best action has come from trolling toplines around 4-6ft deep over all depths of water (for leadcore 1 color solidly in the water) but we also caught fish at 12ft deep this week. Mostly on brown/cinnamon leech, tui chub minnow and florescent orange trolling flies. Pumkinseed, amber, orange and watermelon grubs have gotten looked at this week. I wouldn’t hesitate to use an orange grub right now. My best speeds have been between 1.8 and 2.5 mph. So vary your speed and make a lot of zigzags in, out. In a pinch and as a rule, always speed up rather than slow down to a crawl for trolling here. For leadcore, speed changes your depth rate as does using lighter 12, 15 or micro lead lines. One reason I use 18lb is that it is always easy to run a splice through for leader, day after day, rock after rock and year after year. Once you hook up a few rocks or heavy fish, the lighter leadcore lines braided covering cinches to the lead & making a nice splice is impossible to perform a threaded splice once it’s tight and a nail knot is only a temporary patch but can get you through the day.   I never break a splice on a rock pile, but a nail knot will break nearly every time.
LURES: Baby Simon pink/pearl and pink nickel, copper/orange and orange/pearl this week.  #1 metallic perch, #2 copper/orange, #1 nickel/pearl prism needlefish turning a head or two. So far, Baby Simon has been looked at several days in a row and any combination as long as it had pink or orange on it. With the trout now on shrimp, orange will be a good color to run. Once we see our water clarity go to brown, yellow/orange combinations and lures such as firetiger or frog generally begin to get some fish. While our water was green this summer, nickel or silver flash seemed to cut through the cloudiness better than any other bling. However, when our water gets brown and cloudy we often see brass or gold kick in. So keep that in mind this week.
I would be brightening up on my rapala’s now. Gold/orange, brook trout would be my first choice in the water right now. Note on rapala’s…all the fish caught have been on the upper hooks as the trout have been pounding the minnows head-on rather than from behind. A time for using brighter colors is here. We are already seeing our water go from green to brownish hue…but that’s normal and we can deal with.  We will have to show up.  To end the short strikes on needlefish and other small lures I have changed out the single hook for a treble. #10 on small lures, #8 on larger lures. 

TROLLING FLIES: Artic Fox tui chub or redside (pearl body, traditional fly) and Jay Fair cinnamon leech or hot orange. Note: keep your hooks sharp…I have even sharpened hooks right out of the package.

STILL FISHING UNDER BOBBERS: Bait fishing has been catching a mixed bag of tui chub and trout and I have found tui chub as high as 8-12ft and all the way down to 35ft. But now the trout are on the move and trolling is beginning to produce more limits…no need to go too deep now. Keep your bait above 6ft & see what happens. The trout have been light biters on bait. If you are getting bit and losing fish, don’t leave as long of a tail on the worm. Often I have had to thread the entire worm on with NO tail to stick them.   I do like having some wiggly squiggly off the end of a hook, but don’t lose to many before changing tactics. Mini Crawlers often work when the trout are loading up on a lot of different feeds…sometimes they just want a snack over a meal. (downsize hook to #8 straight eye hook for minnies). If you are using bait and slip bobbers, your chances are probably better off now on the west side off Wildcat or off Christie. We have a few smaller trout off Pikes Pt. But you will do better in shallower water now.
SHORE FISHING: It will probably be touch and go for a while, but some nice limits came in from Christie today. This can also be just a matter of timing, but we do have a pretty decent school of trout cruising that area now. Pike’s Pt and the Jetty are probably not too far behind. There are still folks fishing from shore on the east side. Note that driving along the shoreline to the Springs from Eagles Nest is not a road and you could be cited by law enforcement. FYI on that, 3 vehicles this last weekend. Only a handful of trout are being caught on the east side, although there are always resident trout that don’t leave. The Youth Camp is seeing a few more fish moving in and out. Mostly a matter of timing. Not everyone is limiting, but you could catch a fish there now. Again, this could just be a matter of days before we see more consistency from shore. Since the lake never really had thermoclines form up this summer, I don’t expect to see the shrimp larva suspend on a thermocline and keep fish out over the depths like last year. They are cruising the boulevard right now.
All in all, the old tried and true Eagle Lake tactics and normal Eagle Lake tackle are still what has been getting attention of a trout and they are seasonably on time for shallower water and shallower depths. We can still have a day that we are throwing the tackle box at them but sticking to the old tried and true Eagle Lake lures, grubs and flies should always be first. We are at the point that size of minnow imitations won’t really matter now…as there are all sizes now in this year’s hatch but don’t exceed 3 ½ inches long. The trout are mostly only interested in just the current seasons hatch…the dumb ones. AND, as a tip, the trout are eating them all head first….so I often look to see what directions the minnows are facing and generally that dictates the best direction to troll…I want my offering to come AT a trout, not from behind it. Make a lot of turns too….that helps your trolling line cover a section of the water column without having to let line out or bring line in to achieve a certain depth. A little attractant is also recommended. ProCure trophy trout has still been working as an attractant and is still my number 1 go to attractant while garlic is my #2. If using minnow pattern softbaits & working the bait balls, Tui Chub flavor is my choice if I have it on hand.
So we have had a few good days of fishing, but won’t know how or if it holds for another week or two. But, the good news is, that it is getting a little better now that the trout have more dissolved 02 and cooler water. Let’s hope we are off to better fall fishing than we have had since day one. Oh, we have had a good day here and there this season, but that didn’t transpire into a good week or a good month at any time. Just passing flukes or a lucky day
Note: Most people set their fish finders on “Fish ID” thinking it helps.  What I have found is that many people don’t actually read their instructions or know how to read the screen or what they are actually seeing. If there is a dark line, it has to be a fish. Ok, you fish the lines, I will fish the arch’s & see what happens. Fish don’t generally hold or rest at a 45 degree angle. If you do the math, some would be 4 to 5 ft long! Regardless, Fish ID will fool you every time!!  We have so much artifact in this water that fish ID produces a lot of false readings. Conductivity of the lake has risen in the last 5 years, dissolved solids increased and gas bubbles always show up as fish as do the birds swimming underwater. I really don’t know any professional guide that runs full Fish ID because of the false readings. A methane well shows up as a massive line of fish from the bottom to the top & when set on Fish ID and every air bubble shows up as a fish picture as well. Fish show up as true arch’s, not straight or diagonal lines with no taper on true sonar.  The dark arch is unmistakable among the straighter lines. Clear up your screen clutter by decreasing sensitivity and gain, it will surprise you to find out that you have been fishing massive artifact and only around a few true fish…if they are as thick as what you see on your screen, you would be foul hooking or dragging lines over their backs.  Springs generally “crown” above the bottom and the gases run straight up from top to bottom above the crown. The bubbles aren’t oxygen, when collecting it it will light up just fine and flashes…don’t attempt unless you want to get burned! One can waste a lot of time fishing for air bubbles, methane and artifacts/noise (straight lines, horizontal or diagonal & no taper like the arch’s). Took a few years to figure out that the conductivity of the lake, density of the algae’s, spring water, thermoclines and zooplankton cause a lot of marks on a graph that aren’t actually fish. Just because your screen shows a picture of a fish, doesn’t mean there is actually a fish there. True sonar is the only way to determine what is real vs what is false readings. The darker arch’s are unmistakable compared to the straight lines…. notice that even the pros on TV don’t use fish ID on their sonar. There is a reason, pros don’t have the luxury of working for false readings of fish that “aren’t biting”…I have never caught a bubble! Believe it or not. Just know that I hear from a lot of folks out there with screens full of “fish” & once I train them on what they are seeing on their depth finders up here, they stop wasting time & eventually see that it works better. This isn’t your typical fresh water lake. If you like seeing fish pictures, feel free to keep using Fish ID if it makes you feel better. 
See what the video shows of the water column, it’s critical for anglers. The videos have been shared on social media so many anglers already know what they are dealing with considering the green cloudy water and can now adapt to it. In several hours of underwater video, only one live fish has shown up. LoL. There are always dead fish on the bottom of every lake…we got those too. However, this lake has been highly underserved by DFW the last several years….and THAT doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. Yes, the fish are fat, the lake is full of excess food. The trout are also few and far between for the average anglers.   We need some trout in this lake as the tui chub are well on their way to taking over the lake.   
We need DFW to actually conduct regular water tests on and in the lake as well as a catch and release survival study for spring, summer and fall. If 10 anglers can release even a meager year of 1000 fish, that’s 10,000 a year.  Prior to 2008, water tests were done every week! Now lucky to get a few tests a season & THAT didn’t even start until July 29th this year. I believe that our catching and releasing over the the last few years has also had an effect. I don’t think these fish survive well, especially when our water is warm and dissolved oxygen depleted below 20-25ft deep. Let’s say this, 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. Reduced planting allotment of nearly 50% over the last 3 years has also taken its toll. This was supposed to make for larger fish but has resulted in dwindling numbers of trout as well as allowing the food supply to take over the lake.  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).  Due to more than one circumstance, I don’t trust DFW….they don’t spend any time on the water, just the book….this lake isn’t a “by the book” lake.  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 of trout that don’t appear to be here.   Other folks also note that all season has not produced well, very few trout have risen, even to the massive hatches in June/July.  Something seems wrong in Paradise folks whether DFW thinks so or not, perhaps they need to get on the water and try fishing or minimally run several hundred miles of water with a scope set properly.…that of which they do neither. 
Personally, I don’t seem to see the number of trout I should be seeing in the lake, it’s not about fish biting or we wouldn’t be getting anything at all. But when we are still extremely lucky to see 25 to 30 fish come in on a good day, something doesn’t seem right. Fortunately, I do have an underwater camera which actually shows how green and cloudy the water column is and I will continue to shoot footage so anglers know how and what to adapt to to catch fish. I did see dead trout on the bottom in 45 to 70ft of water off Eagle’s Nest. I wasn’t alarmed for the time of the drift and the number of dead trout counted on the bottom considering it was a 13-minute drift of around 150ft and seven dead trout in the field of view with visible light (about 3 ft wide).  Also, there is a lot of sediment that covers bodies and just a trout tail is obvious.  But, to me, it does warrant a longer drift and in several different areas.  I did see several stainless steel boat mounted ladders and railing as well as rods and reels on the bottom though! All looked brand new sticking out of the foot of silt on the bottom like they were just dropped there. LoL I will look for Pastor Rick’s rod next time! And No, I haven’t found any lost glasses lately! Lol!
FLY FISHING, FLOAT TUBING/KAYAKING:   Change is coming on.  Brown leech and minnow imitation (Val's maribou minnows as both).  On 9-20 we found a good bite in the shallow rock piles before the trout moved out to deeper water.  Even over the depths, the trout were mostly still 4-6ft deep.
The marina store has a very nice selection of float tubing and fly fishing flies behind the counter so be sure to ask.   The water is 70F. So far this season has not been worth the effort it takes to tube or kayak.  We will have to wait until mid to late fall to see if anything changes, however  3 months of poor fishing/catching doesn't translate into suddenly changing by fall.   I don't advise catching and releasing while water temps are high.  I use a lot of small streamers, leeches, damsels, nymphs and wooly buggers in all different shades and colors. Some caddis, boatman, backswimmers and other nymphs.  I catch and release as many fish as I normally want to using that method.  I don’t make any claims of being the best fly fisher person on the lake or memorize the latin names of all the hatching bugs besides the obvious caddis, mayfly, damsels, dragonflies and midges...and a short but seasonal carpenter ant hatch, mostly on the east side for the large ants.  I do have fly specialists that I refer people to.  For me, it has always been about small wet nymphs, creepy crawlers, leeches and beetles living in the rocks, gravel bars and weeds….I turn over a lot of rocks and observe and mostly #10 and #12 hooks. 
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.  THERE IS ZERO HANDICAP ACCESSIBLITY FOR SHORE FISHING OR LAUNCHING PERSONAL CRAFTS.
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.  (C) Val


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