Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths
EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
8-16-22
FISHING SEASON CLOSES FEB 28TH, 2023
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First and Foremost: the West side Osprey Management Wildlife Area from Pelican Pt to Shrimp Island and from Christie to Wildcat & above is closed to motorized vehicular traffic.  Signs were burned in the fire, but that doesn’t mean the area suddenly is no longer a wildlife area with motorized vehicles restricted below the border road.  It is ok to walk in from the boarder road until March 15th.  Check USFS topo maps.

8-16-22:  DFW HAS POSTED THE CATCH AND KEEP RECOMMENDATION DUE TO SUMMER WATER QUALITY and HIGHER WATER TEMPS.  Basically, in spite of a trout swimming away, it has a better chance of dying than living until the water cools back down.  A good practice to preserve the fishery for fall is to preserve it in the heat of summer.  

Long hot days but not as hot as it could be.  Winds have been late.  We are predicted to see some thunderstorms return mid week.  With them comes straight-line winds that come up quick and fierce.  The last place you want to be is on the water.  We had 3 back to back low temps in the 30’s.  This is normal for August but it also begins a transition towards fall.  Surface temps probably won’t rise much higher but they can stand still for a while.  This can cool the surface off faster than the depths which can bring the trout up and briefly into the shallows. We have nearly 30ft of water to cool off.  LoL. We brought things up a bit trolling.  From topline to about 10-12ft deep, but there’s still some holding 15-18ft deep for us depending on the day.   The green cloud begins around 6ft deep, consistent in all measurable basins.  So we have to show up below that level.  However, we have had days that toplining over the depths has worked and occasionally we’ve found them in shallower water 6 -12/15ft deep.

We have found them at various depths different times of the morning.  The small gold Thom.Buoy has gotten the most attention for spoons.  Red/gold, copper red, orange and frog patterns (1/6oz speedy shiner) have still remained in the mix.  1 to 3 colors deep for us. Trolling flies: Tui-chub (pearl body), all around best, hot orange and fiery brown.  We are seeing some tui chubs along the shoreline and small clouds beginning to show up here and there.  This is when the smaller rapala’s, plastics and minnow trolling flies can start working.  Fire Tiger has also been productive on occasion. Baby Simon pink, pink/white, orange/copper are also starting to produce

Most all our fish trolling have been caught between 1.5 and 2.8mph.  Depending on the area we use speed to raise and lower our lines around the structures or fish.  Often it can just be a change of speed & a lot of turns to encourage the strikes.  We also caught a couple nice ones on a toplines this week as well as 8-12/14ft deep.  So the trout are still pretty scattered in the water column.  We’ve successfully run quite a few different lures but orange, orange/gold or copper, red/copper or gold, it’s been mostly about hitting the depth but every day we just throw in the top producers & see which one they like best and where they want it.  This week it’s been a bit higher than we were a week ago but if it’s flat, hot and late, we’re dropping down a bit.

We’ve caught fish on the west side off Lake of the Woods and shrimp Island….staying out towards deeper water.  Same off Wildcat Pt to Merrill troll.  Had some gunk.  East side (The Springs to Eagles Nest, Miners Pt, the center of the lake) and middle of the south basin are holding some very nice fish as well but we can run into walls of tui chubs.  Pikes Pt and right out from the jetty has trout moving in and out as well now.

Changes are coming soon, our hint of fall is already in the air.  Now if the ramp fails, we’ll be on kayaks. 

Bring your bait and tackle.  There will be no store at the marina.  Bathrooms were still open on 8-15 & the cleaning sinks and fishy garbage cans were emptied this morning.  Please clean up after yourself at the fish cleaning station…sometimes we clean up after others.  There’s days we just take the fish home to clean.  There is no fuel, showers, laundry, tackle or grocery items available at the recreation area store until further notice.  Hosts have Merrill, Eagle, Christie and Aspen campgrounds open.  Give em a break, they are all we have!! Eagle Lake RV park in Spalding has fuel (gas and diesel) as well as other necessities…like ice cream and soft serve!! LoL.  Nice little store.  However, showers/laundry are reserved for park guests. 

Shore Fishing:  Water is solidly to 70+F, however a cold morning can cool off the shallow shoreline water faster than the depths.  We need about 5F drop in surface temps before we’ll see fish move in tight, other than briefly. This isn’t the best time to shore fish.  Fall will be here sooner than later. Night crawlers, jigs under bobber’s, meal worms can also work well.  These trout will come in shallow in late summer for the minnows once the minnows are in bigger schools. Watch the water, we’ve seen the minnows boil & beach themselves when under trout attack.  Casting small spinners or pink/nickel cast-masters through the boil can be deadly.  Spinners generally prefer ed…small panther martins black with yellow dots or yellow black dot.  Power-bait and even marshmallows work can work to keep your bait off the bottom. Casting lures can be productive in summer for accidental trout.  LoL  But may need some distance after sunrise….but watch the water cuz trout can be unpredictable and come in at mid morning to mid afternoon!!  Cast Masters seem to be a top producer for casting from shore. Best to wait until fall for better catching but it isn’t unheard of to catch a trout from shore under the hottest conditions if the bait is holding close to shore.  My friends have proved that….they don’t limit out but they usually catch casting a pink or red cast master.  Later in summer that might change to blue/nickel

Fly Fishing:  Note: The Osprey Management Area is closed to vehicles. One must walk from the border road. Get caught, pay the piper but you could experience more.  There’s a lot of locals post Whaleback fire folks who don’t know the area is closed, as well as driving ATV or UTV’s on the lake shore and in the water.  But every map has shown that for the last 40years or more, google is not an excuse.  We are hoping the signage will be going back up with some weed abatement this year.  So, on that note….just boat in, that’s the legal way until walking in is permitted after Sept 15th.  It’s really unbelievable how many vehicles are breaking the laws and causing needless damage.  Especially those from Spalding driving to Pelican Pt and into Slough Pt, Shrimp Island etc.  Absolutely a shame to see.  But when a sting comes around, you could find yourself in a bit of a legal conundrum.

We are having some hatches but these fish usually can’t resist small creepy crawlers such as bead head nymphs or small size 10/12 woolly buggers or leech patterns.  Scuds, shrimp, leeches, midges (olive and black zebra), mayfly and chironomid emergers are also good.  Burnt orange or hot orange small woolly buggers.  Brown w/b with burnt orange tail. We use a lot of size 10’s and 12’s for woolly buggers.  Mostly the outer rock piles are producing but that will begin to fade around 67-68F water temps.  We are starting to see some tui chubs hatch so keep an eye on stomach contents….these trout prefer small dumb baitfish over those accustomed to being prey.  That’s when small (very small) rapala’s and small tui chub trolling flies begin getting attention.  DFW posted the catch and keep recommendation on 7-13 in order to preserve the fishery over the summer poor water quality conditions and low dissolved oxygen.  Please volunteer not to catch and release or wait till fall.  We lose a lot of fish in summer from releasing.

 
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With reduced trout planting and smaller trout the drought years, the tui chub have explosively reproduced and have pretty much taken over the lake in 2017.   Yes, we have caught them in fall and winter months but mostly they are deeper than the trout & we don’t have to get that depth to get to the trout.  I am not sure if they are surviving my release.  ;-/ It’s going to take a heck of a lot of trout to put  a meager dent in the minnow population and the stage two tui chubs are too big and protected by guardian chubs and the trout rarely even target the 5 to 7″ chubs.  Fewer and smaller trout in this lake is not the answer.   Now with improved artificial spawning showing a stronger fish, we should see better growth rates and more eager minnow eaters.  We did get some extra trout in 2021 due to other lakes not being able to be planted and hatcheries running out of room…that was a bonus.  As with nature, some foods dwindle and others take off in changing conditions of the lake.  The trout change their diet, often by choice and availability rather than necessity.  The level at which they lay in the heat of the summer as been a necessity the last few years for dissolved oxygen rather than cooler water temps. Since 2017 we’ve had a brief thermocline form up, then just washes out and the trout have come up into 72F water just for enough oxygen.   2022 did the same thing in mid July. Our trout have evolved to sustain warmer water temps which have been natural in this lake in summer months, however, it can also have it’s affect on them after a long battle at the end of the line.  Releasing trout in summer has always not been a good idea.  DFW posted the catch and keep recommendation in early June, so there’s some issues.  Wait until we cool off come fall.  I have also caught Tahoe Suckers and Red Sides to 20″ but release these special fish alive, they are a critical part of the lake for cleaning things up.
They don’t compete & we need as many vacuums in the pond as possible. The algae has taken it’s toll on the lake the last few years.  Eagle Lake Guardians are currently working on that issue.  When a problem occurs, generally it’s later in summer.  The lake is being extensively watched and monitored this season by the State water board and clean water teams.  The only current posting for caution has been Spalding area and bay.  If the State finds any issues, we’ll be sure to let you know.  At this time the monitoring of the lake will proceed as planned. (Of course it has been supposed to be monitored as per grazing plans by USFS, however that doesn’t appear to be the case)  Volunteers now involved and trained….and the State will take the credit.  LoL.

Complaints from fin trimming to catching should go to the local department of fish and wildlife biologist in charge of managing this lake. Just because our low number of anglers are catching some fish, it isn’t the masses we would normally see.  Gone are the days of 30-50 fish C&R.  Paul Divine Biologist:  Paul.Divine@wildlife.ca.gov  530 254-6363, Redding office Supervisor: Andrew Jensen Andrew.Jensen@wildlife.ca.gov 530 225-2300  SEE TROUT PLANTING AND MARKINGS FOR YEARS PLANTED HERE.  100% OF THE PLANTED FISH ARE NOW MARKED BY FIN TRIMMING.  No contingency plan, over population of tui chub and no plan for those either.  God forbid what this year will bring after the chubs spawn.  Quite a few fish had no fins at all, just his tail to maneuver.  Sad case.  We have caught hundreds of these mutilated fish this year in particular. Plus a lot of split tails.  Last fall, lots of dorsal fin and 1-3 missing anterior and pelvic fins missing.  The dorsal fin trim or mutilation may be a brood stock trim.  We have been known to get some old broodstock fish planted in fall as they are from eggs collected here at the lake.  We don’t receive the second generation anything or sterilized triploids.  If it was anglers marking, there would not be so many and most are all very close to the same size.  If it is DFW (see fin trimming note from DFW), I would say they are mostly mutilating these fish now and freeze branding was much better for the fish.  If you get a nice one that you may want to have mounted, good luck as it will be somewhat mutilated when it comes to the fins and tails.  Not a trophy trout to be proud of, that’s certain.  15 years ago we had a fly fishing group that would trim or notch fins/tails for 3 days of fishing.  This group hasn’t been here for a long time.  Personally, I don’t know any angler here that mutilates our trout.  DFW won’t admit to it but definitely marks fish planted every year.  Does one escape marking? On occasion.   This is being done so that in the future, a native (native spawn) fish may be fully finned. LoL  probably decades from now or not in our lifetime.  Cows come before native spawn, lake elevation and water quality issues apparently.   In the mean time, the hatchery raised/farmed fish might just swim in circles.  LoL.  Freeze branding didn’t handicap the fish like cutting off an arm two or their “legs”  LoL.  But when a fish only has a tail to use, that can prohibit some typical feeding patterns in this lake.  Like rock flipping and rooting out the snails from the gravel bars.

Trout come and go with catching and mortality of release during the fishing season as this is a hatchery maintained lake.  Adult Tui chub have no predators except pelicans if they can see them in shallower water and the chubs live over 32 years.  They stay in the lake regardless and rarely close enough to the surface for the pelicans or eagles and are very wary of the osprey.  The young of the year have only pelicans, grebes, loons, seagulls, terns and a few other birds to worry about, but the trout had always kept them in check until the severely reduced planting allotments kicked in.  The juvenile chubs have very few predators but the pelicans can get on them during certain times of the year.  Pelicans can only reach 3 to 4 ft down, so they have to target shallower fish. The trout mainly only target the hatch of the current year, although only rarely we encounter a 4-5″ chub in the belly of a fish over 5 lbs.  Tui chub are now highly concentrated in the lake.  They are often found in low dissolved oxygen range in the lake and the bottom of the stacked school is often below 40ft, they aren’t nearly as affected by low DO or algae blooms as the trout are.  Our trout are rarely below 40ft even on the warmest of waters.  The dissolved oxygen is generally too low to hold them.  Chubs don’t need as much as the trout do.  Note that chubs are in the super family of carp.  That tells ya something right there.  And the way they school, they can blacken your scope. They are a protective species of their own, even though they don’t run in the same schools.  The adult spawner’s protect the juveniles and the juveniles protect the young of the year and separate again in fall.  They appear to be well over populated and   Do chubs eat their young even though they go into a protective mode? Yes, when opportunity knocks. But the chubs are not a predator species, have no teeth and smaller mouths, in general, plankton feeders so they can compete with the trout for food sources.

TUI CHUB INSIGHTS:   The chubs scope differently than the trout do and are pretty easy to determine on your screen.  Generally, they stack up and are very thick in zones of the lake that have dissolved oxygen levels too low to support trout.  When spawning in the depths in early summer, they can also form a 5ft thick layer just above the bottom in 30-40+ft of water.  Mostly, any large stacked school  or blob of fish that the top is at 7ft and the bottom is at 47f+t are NOT trout. We caught some chubs 22″ long in 2016 and again in late July 2017, my biggest in 2018 has been 21″, 2019 20″.  Huge monsters for chubs so they are doing very well….maybe too well considering the biomass and fewer trout being planted.  With a little more spawning habitat back for the chubs up north, we saw another prolific hatch of chubs up in the northern basins this year.  I believe their population density is going to bite us in the ass if it hasn’t already.  I see this becoming a very bad problem for this lake now.  People don’t come here to catch trophy tui chubs.  Catching them will become very prolific in late July and August and quite possibly through Sept. This has happened again 2019. They resist arrest quite well, but you know when you have a chub over a trout pretty quickly. Chub dive deep and fight you under the boat, are tail thusters opposed to head shakers.  Chubs don’t stay on top and cross from side to side, stay pretty much in the line straight behind the boat.  Trout will stay out and up higher, run side to side, charge the boat after figuring out that peeling out line isn’t working.  Then, once at the boat, the battle really begins.
 
Tui chubs are in 3 separate and distinct schools.  Here’s how I classify them.  Stage 1: Adult spawner’s. We have two schools.  One school spawns in the northern basins and the other doesn’t leave the south basin.  During the dry years up north, we had one year of lower spawning rates due to habitat loss & the northern spawner’s not knowing where to go to spawn in the south basin.  But the next year they had it figured out and our tui chub spawn took off with a vengeance.  We had little to no grebe nesting 2011-2016 so the tui chubs had very few predators to keep the young of the year in check for 4+ years.  These are now all in stage 2 juveniles and rarely targeted by trout, too large for a grebe and now very wary to pelicans.  Stage 2: The nursery or juvenile population. (Several years worth that are protected by sub adults I call guardians).  I have seen these “guardians” rush out of the school and slam a passing trout like a linebacker.  Which is pretty brazen for a fish with no teeth, little to nothing protecting their brain, and half the size.  But numbers count and generally there is more than one guardian rushing the trout.  Stage 3: Young of the year.  This is what the trout target.  When the adults spawn they can form a thick line protecting the beds before they disperse.  Once the young of the year complete the hatching cycle (which can last through August/September and begin in May) we can see the schools of stage 1 and 2 form walls protecting the young of the year minnows.  Generally we will see the minnows in closer to the shoreline, the nursery juveniles outside of the young of the year and the adult spawner’s outside of the nursery.  It really is something to see.  I call it “walling up” and it generally begins around late August/Sept just as there is a hint of fall in the air.  It appears to me that the walling up is the chubs way of protecting their species from the trout.  If we have chubs in those numbers, the trout either find their way into the young of the year schools, or they move on to a different food source until the chubs disperse and relax. We can literally smell the tui chubs when near massive numbers.  As they transpire, they release a gas, especially the young of the year when in dense schools.  So follow your nose come late summer and fall.  Look for pelicans in large groups as well as a boiling on the surface.  Out over the depths, the trout push the minnows up to within reach of the pelicans.  So we often follow the birds when we see that.  2017 and 2018, the pelicans are following us.
 
When fishing, I try to avoid the stacking adult tui chub as well as the nursery chub.  Generally the trout will be further away from the chubs or outside and above the chub school.  If you’re in the chubs, that’s all you’re going to catch.  Easy to determine on your line. Personally, I don’t really care what you do with them, they provide food for the trout for winter, but I think we need more trout to keep the young of the year in check. Once in the juvenile grouping, the trout don’t generally even attempt to eat them.  We have a lot of chubs.  You’ll see what I mean pretty soon.  2017 and 2018 I could troll 7 miles one direction and catch chubs 4 at a time.  A waste of time.  We never used to catch them trolling, only on bait under bobbers.  So when trolling and catching tui chub 4 at a time? Can’t drag a line for more than a few minutes before a chub is on? Can’t get 4 lines in the water before a chub takes the first two in the water?  What does that tell you? LoL.  We also have Tahoe suckers (grayish with darker back, small nodes on the lower fins).  Seasonally they can be modeled green back with reddish stripe, late summer they can be a little more on the yellowish green back.  A treasure and rarely seen by anglers.   Please release these in good condition if you catch them as their numbers are low and they are a special species to this lake that don’t complete with the trout. Speckled dace (a minnow that only grows up to remain a minnow).   Generally seen taking harbor near the transom of an anchored boat and various sizes from small to 1- 1 1/2 inches at most.  Mostly in family units from smaller to larger and 50-100+ individuals is a big bunch. 
 
Various zoo-plankton’s and other microscopic food sources have also become very prolific to the point of fowling lines and down rigger’s…and when thick enough, can plug jet pumps.   The biggest change in the fishing occurred in less than one year.  From catching and releasing tons (20-40+ per day) of 2-3+ lb fish to being lucky to get one or two was a dramatic shift in Eagle Lake in less than one year.  Finding trout in the middle of summer at 17 to 20ft deep at 73F water temps is pretty unnatural but that’s where they were in 2016-2018 when surface temps were above 70F.  We may have seen some 4+lb fish but their numbers being caught were few and far between…lots of 2 to 3 ½ lbs as usual.  This fall we have seen a handful over 5lb but on average, be happy with a 3 1/2lb.   Over 55 years of eating these trout, the best quality of meat comes from a 2-3lb trout.  Meat of the bigger trout of 4 +lbs is generally grainy, mealy and softer.  Everyone wants to catch a big fish, but the quality of the meat is not nearly as good as smaller fish.  I rarely keep a fish over 4lbs for eating myself unless it’s damaged or water quality issues prevent me from wanting to release it.  To me, it is a waste if it doesn’t eat as good as a smaller fish but I will smoke it.  In warm water months, it’s not unusual to see meat that’s softer in a few fish.  Note that under new regulations, one can’t fillet fish on the boat even if bringing back all the carcasses and guts to throw away to avoid long waits at the fish cleaning sink.  I’ve been pulling my boat out and filleting in the boat in the parking lot when lines are long or simply come home to clean em.  Bypass so to speak. By the way, creel census is completely volunteer.  One doesn’t HAVE to have their fish measured or weighed.
 
© Content of this website is copyright protected 2003-2022 by Valerie Aubrey. Any reuse of the content must simply be authorized by asking.  Unauthorized use or lack of crediting content will be considered for legal action.  We often see our report summarized in other publications with no credit to where the info came from.  As a note, I do leave in some spelling, grammar and punctuation errors in and seeing them in other publications is a dead giveaway.  LoL! Opinions on this site are not necessarily the opinions of our sponsors or people we work with.  Our opinions are based on over 55 years of fishing Eagle Lake and nearly 30 years of living here full time and fishing several days a week till the end of December.  Through the El Nino’s of getting 24ft of snowfall and through several droughts.  We have been there and done that.  We know that a lot of the local county info on the lake elevation in the past has been doctored due in part to not having an official actually checking lake elevations in the 1990’s.  In 1993 200 residents of Spalding witnessed the lake rising nearly 8ft from the local snowfall of 24ft over that winter.  Despite our efforts when the lake chart was updated a few years later with incorrect numbers “to make the chart look historically accurate” not actually accurate, it remains inaccurate during those years as there was no water master.  Our explanation from BOS was “No one will know when you are all gone”.  So we don’t believe everything that Lassen County says nor other government agencies.  That is the honest to God truth and there are still many of us old timers around that know that.