Of course we also need more trout planted for the future. It’s been tough fishing for most folks since the massive reduction in numbers throughout the drought. In my opinion, when you continue to catch tui chubs in December, things are not good. DFW reduced our stocking so dramatically over the last 5 years that we simply don’t have the numbers of trout we need to keep the tui chubs in check. If we don’t see a rise in 2018, I don’t expect to see DFW give us our “normal allotment” of trout planting so expect to see reduced numbers again this year. Our normal allotment is 180.000 fish, we haven’t seen that number in many years. At one point it was reduced to 75,000 and only in 2017 did DFW raise it to 160,000 but that had a lot to do with the lack of fish being caught by anglers than it did the lake elevation. Loss by hundreds of pelicans hanging out at the only ramp where these fish have been being planted isn’t part of the equation. 300 pelicans can do some numbers damage to small dumb trout.
DFW doesn’t appear to have considered the repercussions of the tui chub adding what appears to be 3 times the biomass in the lake. We are never going to get the chub population culled without doing it ourselves next season. We don’t want to completely kill them all, but they do need to be kept in check now. People don’t come here to catch trophy tui chubs in summer. 20-30 a day was common and often 2 to 4 at a time. This is because they school so densely and when you run lines through the school you can’t help but have all the lines go off.
2016 was the worst year in decades for blue/green algae clouding up the water and decreasing the dissolved oxygen in the lake. We did see a return of the blue/green algae in 2017 and once we cooled down in fall it cleared up a little. I believe we will continue to see this phenomena for years to come. 2017 has been the worst year for massive numbers of monster tui chubs everywhere. We can deal with that. Fewer trout caught by the majority of anglers but others did well last season. The trout were a little bigger this year, but that has more to do with fewer numbers than food supply, the food supply is so dense it fouls your lines. There has been so many tui chubs over the drought years that the reduction of trout couldn’t keep up with their explosive numbers. Same deal with the grebes. Our first hatch of grebes since 2012 so they didn’t have the opportunity to cull the chubs either. Now the “nursery” chubs are too large for the grebes and trout to eat so once these chubs become spawner’s, we are going to see a more massive chub population than we probably ever have. The tui chub do very well in low dissolved oxygen levels and ugly water conditions whereas the trout need a lot of oxygen. The tui chub school in three stages. The adult spawners, the “nursery” which is several years worth of sub adults and juveniles (slow growing fish) and the current year’s hatch. The trout mainly only target the hatch of the year.
For catching the trout this year, we simply had to adapt to the water conditions and loss of dissolved oxygen at levels the trout normally would be at. Adapting to the changing conditions of the lake itself. For me, the trout stayed around 17 to 20ft deep where the water temperatures were 72F, just like 2016. It was 65F at 35ft but all that level got was tui chub all summer long. Of course, all levels got monster tui chubs. The chubs appear to have exploded and probably going to pose a problem in the coming years. We could easily see this problem for years, regardless of water rising in 2017, 2018 doesn’t look like we will come up much at all. The chubs appear on your scope as a massive tight school of fish, the trout have a lot more separation and a lot of single pings. Don’t be fooled by a school of chubs down there.
Eagle Lake is basically drowning in cow crap in the north basins and the water appears brackish, brownish in some locations before finding clearer water. Five Dot moved their cattle out this winter, so hopefully we can get through this winter without 6 months of additional crap for the lake to cover next season. I do believe that it has a lot to do with our blue green algae problem in summer. Over the last few years of drought, trout haven’t moved up much above the Youth Camp. At either end of the lake, the shoreline muck smells worse than ever. Not only waterfowl crap and rotting weeds, the cow crap has added a lot to the mix. It is smellier than I have ever experienced in 5 decades of fall/winter fishing and launching tubes and kayaks, but as long as it is frozen, it isn’t too smelly. Gravel bars aren’t nearly as bad, but any flats along Merrill, Christie, Gallatin and Spalding are pretty putrid. And, apparently we have more of that to look forward to when the water comes back up in the future.
I have no problem with a little culling of the tui chub population no matter what DFW might say or think. Our lake is over loaded and with fewer trout to eat the current hatch, we are going to see exponential number of tui chub. Over the last 5 years we have not had baby grebes to feed either so at least, this year we had the first baby grebes since 2012 but that isn’t going to help cull the stage 2 “nursery” tui chubs that are 5 to 12 inches long. Yes, I am culling when I catch 1 or 20 and I will do it again next year. The chubs are massive in size for their species and way over populated. There are a gazillion (in other words, a billion wasn’t enough) to take the place of those culled this year. This massive population will surely begin to compete for the food for the trout if not kept in check.
In spite of a fairly good water year and creeks flowing in spring, there wasn’t a lot of trout in the tributaries in 2017. We’ll see what 2018 brings but without imprinting any planters here by Pine Creek, I don’t expect to see the numbers. At this point (Feb 10) I don’t see Pine Creek flowing more than a dribble, which is less than a trickle. That won’t be enough water for any fish to make it to the trap for egg collection. DFW had to electroshock on a great water year due to not having the numbers of trout in the tributaries as they expected. No trout have been imprinted near Pine Creek for years, they were lucky that the fresh flowing water attracted any trout at all in 2017.
There were a lot of disappointed anglers out there for 2017 season (2016, 2015, 2014…). Even though some of the fish being caught are larger, there is no consistency in numbers. They are few and far between for many folks. A buddy calculated from the planting numbers by DFW that we are around 250,000 trout short of our normal planting allotment. Thanks DFW. ALSO, NOTE THAT NEARLY EVERY FISH HAS BEEN MUTILATED BY FIN TRIMMING. MOST HAVE ONLY ONE FIN LEFT IF ANY. TAILS ARE SPLIT OR HEAVILY NOTCHED. THANKS AGAIN DFW. ONE FIN TRIM IS OK AND IN NO WAY ARE ANY “GROWING BACK”. REMOVING ALL THE FINS IS CONSISTENT WITH MUTILATION AND HARMFUL TO THE FISH. GO BACK TO FREEZE BRANDING THE TROUT NOT MUTILATING THEM. WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS CAUSING THESE FISH NOT TO BE ABLE TO FEED CORRECTLY. I HAVE RECEIVED TONS OF COMPLAINTS FROM ANGLERS.
As long as Eagle Lake and Pine Creek watershed is the cash cow for a few thousand bucks for grazing, the millions of dollars lost income and business for Lassen County means nothing. Perhaps the Lassen Pack of wolves will take care of these cows for us! LoL! They have a taste for beef & I don’t have a problem with that. Cows run slower than deer, antelope or elk. Eagle Lake and Pine Creek are considered as separate entities….unfortunately, therein lies the problem. One can not survive without the other and the trout need both to survive. Eagle Lake appears to have been sold out to the lowest bidder…water is the new gold in CA and the state doesn’t care where it comes from as long as it benefits the few and not the natural habitat it was destined for. But we won’t stop putting the blame in the rightful place folks. Forget about eating fish, start eating more beef but you might want to see what is in it first. No beef is tested for heavy metals. Organic means nothing. All beef is considered organic if kept on a farm pasture or open range without testing. Yep, you spend more for organic but get nothing more. Check your sources. LoL! Cloud seeded water heading south is used to grow crops that aren’t tested either. And that cloud seeded water is what is being sucked up by the vegetation as well as the cattle. Ever wonder why Alzheimers and Autism has increased substantially in the last 20-30 years? I don’t. We have been being poisoned for years and don’t know it….we’re not supposed to. LoL. Agenda 21. Look it up, it’s part of the plan to kill humans and decrease the human population without us knowing about it. LoL.
We had a lot of water in Pine Creek Valley, some that is still locked away from the lake. Meadows to be restored in “flood plains” that didn’t exsist prior to 1977 as per the major hydrology study performed for the Eagle Lake Basin Plan by Vail and Associates are all for grazing (as per page 21 of the draft meadow restoration), not the fish or the lake. That 1970’s study didn’t say what the powers that be wanted it to say so it has no references in any current data used.
At least, the current reports don’t refer to it but it was a hell of a detailed study for the time. Just didn’t reflect using Eagle Lake inflow to promote grazing over the health of the lake and tributaries. It didn’t fit the agenda. But it’s high time that Eagle Lake, Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout and Pine Creek start taking priority over a few bucks in intensive cattle grazing. This county and our state is losing millions of dollars in revenue just so the ranchers get cheap feed, free water and the feds get a few thousand dollars so they get a “sale” on the books. At the expense of the lake, fish and businesses. We are currently assisting in restoration of Pine Creek watershed. Projects begin this summer to restore flow by filling the Super Ditch that has robbed the watershed for decades. Awaiting an update.
The drought didn’t cause all our problems, they began long before the drought. There are many players who benefit with the demise of Pine Creek and the lake. Unfortunately, some of these players are also in charge of the restoration….the fox in the hen house needs to be kept in check. Nasty job but if no one does it, it won’t get done. We are certainly willing to do the job no one else wants. It’s about the lake, watershed and trout, it’s all one system, not separate. We are tired of hearing complaints from those who choose nothing to do with helping the lake and trout which both need water to survive. Pine Creek is our number 1 tributary, trout spawning creek and has been destroyed over the decades. We have always aimed at getting the three elements rejoined, no matter what the personal cost is.
There is only one local nonprofit that has gone into battle for Eagle Lake’s water to support a native spawn and restore the lake levels. Unfortunately, the battle for Eagle Lake was a political battle of which one has to be willing to do in Lassen County. Why Lassen resists helping Eagle Lake that once provided for a lot of income to the county for a few thousand dollars in grazing fees is beyond me. In its current condition, it isn’t the public draw it once was….and that needs to change. We have some plans up our sleeves, but we have learned not to detail our plan until it is done or some how, some way, something gets tainted. Our definition is simple…save the lake and it will return to it’s former glory as will the local businesses and economy as well as promote for a natural spawn. Eagle Lake Rainbow trout, Pine Creek watershed and Eagle Lake are fractured and the USFS doesn’t appear to want to put it back together. As long as the scientists and biologists don’t see the trout, creek and lake at its entirety and only see it as separate, Eagle Lake may be in serious trouble. And if no flood plains exsited historically, there is only one reason to create them now. Grazing. Already the Conservation Plan is being violated. Not only the water but the free passage of the trout in Pine Creek to migrate upstream at their own choosing was restricted by DFW as DFW needed every ripe hen for artificial egg collection that they could trap. Only after getting every ripe hen out of circulation did DFW reopen the gate….then let all the males go up and only a handful of females that were not spawn ready. Pine Creek was flowing Dec 16th but the gates were not opened for any fish passage until mid February. That is not allowing the free will passage. DFW had no way of knowing if there were any fish in the creek at that time so after I questioned them about numbers, they installed a camera, not a counter. LoL. In this day and age, they should know exactly how many fish made free passage. We are still at a critical point when it comes to the native spawn. Don’t believe what you might be told, unless it comes from Eagle Lake Guardians. We hear some real, let’s just say, interesting things coming from others. At least it’s good for a laugh.
Pine Creek and Eagle Lake should be restored for the lake and the fish, not restored to enhance more grazing. That’s what seems to be killing the lake from nutrients and removing water from the watershed. I believe I got my point across so far but we are constantly keeping an eye on things. Words matter in draft plans, tell me the restoration is for enhanced grazing & I will jump right down your throat! It’s not about the cows, it’s got to be about the fish and we are the only ones doing that. There is only one way to save the businesses and livelihood of the resort communities, lake and trout, that is to restore the hard won drainage to Pine Creek, move the cattle up, drill some wells that flow into tanks for water for cows, power them with solar panels and give the lake back to it’s watershed. Restoration of Pine Creek is essential to establishing a native spawn as well as getting the lake elevation back….but only a spawn is the driving factor…a minimal spawn at that. But, what if they don’t have a healthy lake to come home to. With one good water year, it’s now about restoring grazing and feed, not the fish or the lake. It all works together. Climate change, climate manipulation, less snow pack come into play, but on what should have been a good water year, we are still 9ft down from our prime, and over 3ft below what scientists determined was good for the fish. Eagle Lake Guardians have helped defeat the potential listing of an endangered species for our trout. This was our main goal. Unfortunately, the scientists are only looking at the trout, creek and lake as different things when historically, it all worked together as one. We have seen data manipulated as well. Perhaps, this is where the barrier to restoring anything is. As long as the agenda is to graze cattle for penny’s and lose millions in the economy and stress the lake and trout, we are screwed. The trout have to make it back to the lake and, that has happened but only in the same year they went up to spawn. Other telemetry tags have been found in the dry creek bed after the creek stops flowing…the creek has to stop flowing before the cattle are allowed in to graze. So the sooner the creek stops, the sooner the grazing starts. The more water locked upstream raises the water temps sooner than normal and that in itself stops the fish. Our first tag found was near the A1 bridge, another near the Spalding bridge, two others from fish that returned to the lake the same year. The ones found in the creek were from fish that tried to get back but ran out of flow before making it to the lake. So getting them back to the lake is going to require longer flows….and they might bring the minnows with them rather than head to uncharted waters 20 miles upstream from 44. Looks like we may have to go after the water again.
By not listing the trout, we have less red tape to get and keep projects moving forward. Trout Unlimited has hired a facilitator in order to keep DFW and USFS moving…Where it began about the fish, it’s ending in grazing. So something has to change. We may see a native spawn, but without a lake, what’s the point? As long as this lake is below 5100ft elevation, the trout in the lake are threatened. Every report shows that. It wasn’t all from the drought. Mother Nature will respond once the attitude of the water diverter’s change. The lake had been robbed for decades and as water levels dropped, the robbing didn’t stop. So some changes were in order. We aim to keep the changes coming, regardless….even if we have to sue to get it.
Where are the massive numbers of trout in the lake? I hear from many people who have said 2016 had been the worst fishing season they have experienced in decades and 2017 fishing season shaping up to be the same. Even though it picked up a little by late Sept and October last season, it hasn’t been phenomenal 30-60fish days out there. Consider yourself lucky to get a fish or two in 5-6 hours and don’t count on a big one. I have a second request in for creel data of catch rates per angler last season of which I have finally received the data from DFW biologist Paul Divine after additional request. Catch rate down, anglers down, but fish slightly larger.
Too bad people can’t catch what they used to. Many thinking it’s a waste of time and money to come up, fish for 12 hours in two days and be lucky to catch one! Campgrounds with lots of empty spaces, stores struggling, Stones Landing resort still closed. Well, folks, I am certain that if the quality of the fishing was like it was in the past, more people would be here fishing. Unfortunately, other lakes have better fishing so folks are going where they can have fun. We have had better fishing, but the last two years has been, well, not very good.
A 3 to 4 pounder hasn’t been uncommon in fall/winter for the drought years either. We have photos online to prove that point. But the bigger fish meat quality isn’t nearly as good as the smaller 2 to 3 pounders. I would rather see folks catch limits of 2 to 3 lb fish than to spend a weekend or two weeks than catch 1 or none. I think this lake has some serious problems. I know there are a lot of unhappy anglers. We had to learn from last years nasty conditions. Trout stay in warmer water if there isn’t an ample supply of dissolved oxygen where it is cooler, perish when released when surface temps and water temps where they reside are over 70F and red with gold hammered lures show up in green water better than any other historically good color on this lake. But still, working for our limits.
With fewer fish in all the tributaries this year, the fishing season panned out to be pretty poor for a lot of folks over the season. Others doing better. Spending a week or two here for poor fishing isn’t what made this lake famous. Lots of big fish did. In spite a few larger fish, there numbers are way down. Personally, I have done well but I had to adapt to conditions, work a pod and move on to find another. The only consistent thing I have done is stay higher in the water column and use red/gold lures to show up against the green water. Last year was tough and the lake was hard on the fish. I see how many we didn’t have in the southern tributaries and a reduction of numbers in Pine Creek compared to normal water years. DFW needed 3.1 million eggs and after over 2 months of good flow in Pine Creek only got 1.3 million and had to resort to electroshocking in the lake to get that extra .3mil. That is a pathetic number of eggs for the resources used to get there. DFW is really screwing this lake over. Blocking fish from upstream passage for the native spawn than letting them head up too late in their desire. DFW has been pretty pathetic when it comes to maintaining this lake the last few years. Perhaps the biologist needs to move on and be replaced….that would be a good start. We’ll see what happens in spring of 2018 but I have no doubts that we will continue to see fewer fish in the tributaries, just because we don’t have the numbers of fish we need.
My fishing partner and I are already planning on fishing other lakes in between fishing this one.
If we don’t see the lake rise more than a few inches, we will be back to levels of 2016 by late summer. I do expect to see higher surface temps by opening weekend and a sooner than later blue-green algae bloom for 2018. We really need this lake back to normal levels before we see her clear up significantly. After 50 + years of great fishing and lots of big fish, we have found other lakes with better catch rates and big fish. This year we caught plenty of 5 to 7 lb rainbows elsewhere. Countless other people have contacted me regarding camping here but fishing other lakes. Why not, I am & I live here!! But I do have to keep some secrets!! We have spent the winter and spring months fishing on lakes within about 1 1/2 hours from here and really having a ball. I do have friends that want to fish a couple time a week and I will oblige them here at Eagle but I just don’t see the numbers of fish that we normally had after severe cuts in planting.
At higher water levels, the catch and keep recommendation had been posted for years during summer which was highly supported. Not posting it in critical times such as blue green algae blooms (since that may become our new normal) I have always believed that we lose fish during certain conditions. Was DFW wrong then, or wrong now? I have had a lot of other people comment similarly about that. General consensus: DFW lost support for many things as well as losing respect of many anglers. As long as we are paying high prices for licenses, we are going to catch and release. I have gone barbless or micro barb hooks and NEVER remove a fish from the water to release it and avoid playing it out and never take a picture of a fish out of the water that I release. We are seeing some dead fish on the bottom in the clearer shallower water. Not sure if these are released fish or just dead fish for no other reason. But we have seen fly fishermen in the area. As a note, I never take a fish out of the water if I am planning to release it. They just don’t do well. But, DFW doesn’t care what you do and won’t compensate the yearly allotment to compensate. At one time, with higher water levels, our yearly allotment of hatchery trout was 250,000. That was reduced to 180,000 sometime in the early1990’s. Since the drought, our lowest number was 75,000 and catch rates dropped severely the last few years. In 2017 (our best water year since 2011) we regained a little at 160,000 but at 3 to a pound for the most part. So we are still short on the trout population in this lake. Since it is based on biomass and tui chub population exploded (note that DFW has no clue as to how many chubs are in the lake when assessing “biomass” LoL) more trout might not be the answer. The answer may lie in the reduction of or culling of chubs.
Without the lake at prime elevations (5106ft is considered full, 5100 is considered the lowest for the health of the fish), our watershed and our special trout are put back together, we have nothing. We still have impounded water on Pine Creek and the green slime algae hasn’t exactly left. We would have probably come up an extra 2-3 ft had the impounds and springs been transferred to the lake. What is it worth to you? It is worth everything to me. It’s environmental & yes a political aspect as well, one has to be willing to step on a few toes to save the lake and make some waves, press the DFW and LNF on all counts affecting this lake and our trout. We will step on more than that if we have to & proved that a long time ago. And, we aren’t done just yet. I have watched the climate change and tracked it for over 14years. It does have something to do with it but 86 impounds and water diversions on our main spawning and feeder creek has had devastating affects all for just one or two ranchers at most for cattle…and instead of less, more are planned. Sound familiar IE National Geographic Water and Power series, Monterey Agreement, Agenda 21 and privatizing public resources is here. Federal Gov might own the lake but the State owns the water. However PG&E has been manipulating our weather for many decades by cloud seeding for Lake Almanor and Lake Shasta, again, Monterey Agreement and sending every drop of water out. This has reduced our snow pack as well as our local moisture. So it’s not all Mother Nature’s cycle. We have a man made problem. Regardless of having a fair water year, the lake is still below all recommended levels for the health of the lake, vegetation and trout. Losing Eagle Lake and blaming it on climate change is mute when the climate is being manipulated to begin with. Eagle Lake isn’t saved yet.
As long as restoration for cattle grazing continues, the trout won’t be listed…but I highly doubt that USFWS knows what is happening….little has to do with trout and most of it is about retaining grazing. That restoration was the critical part of keeping the trout off the listing. The first two pages were about USFS and State employees having immunity from past poor decision making regarding Pine Creek (in which well over 80 water projects exist with only 7 permitted), We’ll see if that still stands after more poor decision making in contrast to the conservation plan. The last impound was finished around 2005…our last year of good water was 2005/2006 and we have lost water in the lake ever since. The critical part is getting the fish and minnows back to the lake before the creek dries up and water temperatures spike.
It appears that TU may have fallen for the CRMP mentality of the ranchers on the board and using old government tactics. We may need to replace the CRMP group that has been around too long, done too little and simply abided by the wishes of the few rather than the many or the health of the lake. CRMP has been about as worthless as tits on a boar. Also as a note, “TU and CRMP didn’t have the Pine Creek organism study performed by Western US protocol and it needs to be done over again” is a direct quote from DFW biologist Paul Divine. At least UNR still has the samples so it can be done but needs more funding. Grant money will be used for that. DFW biologist Paul Divine told us that when he asked if we would be willing to fund another study. Unbelievable? No that’s just something normal for Eagle Lake. Professional screw ups,. Over the decades, CRMP has caused more of our problems than they have ever fixed, this is why people showed up at their meeting. CRMP has very little support locally, known only for cattle grazing over fish habitat. I had a discussion with Trout Unlimited recently about the plan and other things that were not in the best interest of the lake and trout. We hope there are amendments to the plan and a better way of restoring Pine Creek than adding more impounds for livestock grazing. If you want to be a part of the solution to Eagle Lake, then Eagle Lake Guardians is who you need to donate too. All our donations go directly to Eagle Lake & Pine Creek Restoration or quite possibly legal council or legal action to save the lake. Guardians is the only local nonprofit whose donations go ONLY to support Eagle Lake and no other pockets, projects or lakes…just this one. And, we are working behind the lines but we aren’t afraid to flank these folks either. More to come on that issue. Some one has to do this job folks, it isn’t pretty but it has to be done. One fair water year isn’t going to cut the mustard. The lake needs to be at an elevation no lower than 5100ft before it isn’t considered detrimental to the trout….or local economy. So in spite of somethings going well, more work needs to be done.
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 their native waters.
Eagle Lake Fishing Report on “Best Fishing Locations and Depths”
FISHING ACCESSES, TOPO MAPS Note that USFS has a new app for quad and topo maps. I believe you are given the option to purchase them through the app. I love having the maps available on my phone no matter if I have signal or not.
EAGLE LAKE ACCESSES, QUAD MAPS AND TOPO MAPS: USFS QUAD MAPS OF OPEN ROADS AROUND THE EAGLE LAKE AREA: 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. All these maps have the access roads pretty well lined out for you to access say, Wildcat Point (Pikes Pt Quad and Topo) or the Youth Camp from Gallatin (Gallatin Quad and Topo). On the larger maps, one can enlarge a specific area and crop and print the selected area on regular paper. NOTE: I SAVED THESE TO MY IPHONE AND I HAVE THEM WITH ME MOST EVERYWHERE, helpful in names of places over Google or other maps/gps apps
(popular drive to see wildlife; County Road 105 & ends at USFS 21)
ZOOM IN You can also zoom up and crop specific areas of these maps to print. I personally did this myself to use to compare to other maps I had when bumpin’ along the dirt roads & believe it or not, there was some very good information on all these maps. USGS has just about everything you could ever need or want for maps…. Hunters might just benefit very well from downloading some of these maps and satellite images.
LNF HAS NEW ROAD MAPS OUT NOW ON THEIR WEBSITE.
2015 CONSERVATION PLAN DFW blocking the free passage of fish migrating up Pine Creek in spring 2017 so they could collect eggs out of every ripe hen entering the system constitutes a violation of this signed agreement. Next season will will be sure to use social media and expose DFW’s violations of this agreed plan and expose the massive mutilations of our trout.
Copyright 2004-2018 By Valerie Aubrey, Eagle Lake Fishing