Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths
EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
FISHING SEASON CLOSES THE LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY 2024
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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. It is closed to all foot traffic and motorized vehicles from 3-15 to 9-15. In between Sept and March, walking access is permitted. Ranchers have a permit for moving cattle. Check USFS topo maps.
9-19-23: Fall temperatures are feeling great even if just a hint! So come prepared, temps will be cooling down in a few days and warming up slightly next week. Surface temps of the lake reacting and mostly holding between 65 and 68F. A “freeze frame” often appears during the transition. It takes a while for 55ft + of water to cool down uniformly. But it’s coming!!
We’re still finding nice limits basically between 12-18ft. Finding a few on toplines and trolling flies this week too, while a buddy found nice limits at 25-30ft deep. I’m only finding chubs at that depth. But the chubs are waning off the walling a bit now. But we do have trout moving and milling around and mixed up with them.
We’ve caught fish in many locations but still leaning to the west side this week off Wildcat Pt area. Running leadcore the most consistent catching depth has been 2.5 to 3.5 colors in the water. We’ve also run the east side. We’ve caught some dandy trout off the east side up to Eagles Nest and Miners, but it’s been on one day and off the next…but it’s a good option. 1/4oz red/gold Thomas Buoyant and 1/6oz gold/red, 1/6oz red/copper. Size didn’t matter 1/4 and 1/6oz. Small silver rapala’s and flicker shad (4M) are knocking out limits, also working well are fire tiger patterns…rapala’s … single or double jointed, little cleo, needlefish and T. Buoyant (best under dark skies or cloud cover so far). White/pearl needlefish, orange/brass or copper 1/6oz speedy shiners, red prism needlefish, white/pearl or white with pink or hint of orange Baby Simons. Rubber minnows are also working as are hootchies. So basically, there’s a lot of lures working right now.
But, if the skies are dark or cloudy, we may need to use something small and white (needlefish and rainbow runners), dark such as black or firetiger or yellow/red dot frog patterns and even a metallic perch color patterns).
Fish move all the time as do the baitfish schools…especially when there’s a change in the weather. We are seeing some fish moving towards the north, but seem to be holding close to deeper water for the moment. They may move up to the Youth Camp at any time but so far, I have not seen a trout up north just yet. The water temps have been about 3 to 4F cooler than the south basin since 8-21. However, they also heat up much faster during the day. The trout don’t seem to care much for the rapid rise and fall just yet.
We do have bait balls on the west side, massive bait balls. Basically from Merrill to Christie in the bay and off AssDragger but over the depths 25 to 45ft of water. We’ve had to wait for the bait to rise….so watch the pelicans. We’ve had a few 2lbers we’ve kept rather than kill by throwing back, but mostly 3 to 4 3/4 +lbs.
The fish are gorging on the new minnows, small (very small) rapala’s can rip some lips. The size of the bait that the trout are feeding on is now quite varied between 1″ and 2-3″. I wouldn’t hesitate to toss in a 2″-2.5″ rapala or flicker shad now. Size won’t matter now.
Most all the hook ups were caught at 1.7 to 2.2mph and up to 2.5mph. We’re approaching water temps that may require a bit faster speeds. Sometimes it matters and a reason we vary the speed often (once we drop to the 50’s we’re moving pretty quick). We’ve covered basically anywhere from 5ft to 20ft depth this week. The best bite has been later in the morning but that changes all the time & one reason we get out early just in case. Make a lot of turns as that helps your lures cover about 10ft more of the water column. Fall is coming sooner than later so get ready. Also, when trolling thru the bait balls, its pretty common to find one on your hook. They mess up the lure function so check your lines periodically and the weeds are increasing (which is a normal fall occurrence). I repeat, check your lines often. Trout are NOT vegetarians.
Tui chub adult schools generally show differently on the scope than the trout do. Trout are more solo images whereas the tui chub stack up as a big blob 7 to 47ft deep. Trout will mostly show singles, doubles but rarely in massive stacked schools (40ft thick) and at depths where O2 is too low…such as below 40ft in this lake until mixing gets going in fall/winter as temps drop and it’s all the same and these trout head to shallows over depths …. That begins around 65F surface temp. With fewer grebes for predators (avian flu last fall/winter really took a toll on the grebes) and a massive hatch this year of chubs, I’m hoping this year doesn’t bite us in the butt in a few years. But we are seeing a good hatch of baby grebes from what remains so that is definitely a blessing. We’ve seen a lot of 4’s so that’s really good.
Leadcore: 2 1/2 to 3 colors IN the water depending on speed. Speeds varied this week, but all in all 1.7 to 2.5mph It can vary just a little but yesterday was best at 15ft or 3 colors at the reel, day before just a bit more, and the following day a bit higher. LoL. 21-25ft deep bought us a big tui chub but it fought well. LoL.
Trout remain scattered on the west side, depends on where the birds are holding. Wildcat to Christie has been fishing pretty good, but often a later morning bite that finishes up the limits. East side has trout but getting thru the chub walls are challenging but it’s a mixed bag of big trout and tui chubs on the east side and locations change daily and by the hour and willingness of the trout milling around. This is actually a signal for fall.
I have had several one hit wonder colors for lures…. Copper/red, rainbow trout patterns, perch colors. Baby Simon’s nickel/chartreuse and orange. Orange goldfish. Flicker shad from a kayak has been deadly (2″ rainbow trout or silver 5M & it gets right to the depth under drag). Fire-tiger under the right conditions. The trout still seem to be leaning towards something with red or orange & gold/brass on it for trolling. BUT, I ALWAYS KEEP WHAT HAS BEEN WORKING IN THE WATER AT THE CATCHING DEPTH BECAUSE…EVERY TIME IT’S PAID OFF AND FILLED THE BOAT.
Bait fishing under bobbers has been slow since the drought years hit. Mostly, folks are switching to bobbering nymphs from fly rods, which is more successful since the drought. I do think it has a lot to do with the food supply and the dissolved oxygen keeping the trout moving around. Plus the leech population has suffered from the drought. Funny what a fish knows…they don’t deplete a natural food source like humans do. LoL. That has happened every year the lake is below 5097ft (Jay Fair and I were part of a curiosity study in the 90’s in which the lake had dropped to 5097 and our job was flipping rocks and monitoring belly scraps for leeches. We found that loss of habitat affected the leeches at 5097ft…and that’s about when the bait bite shut down. Might consider bringing bait up to troller depths or freeline and babysit the drift. I’ll be trolling.
Also something to note for weekend warriors. Bandwidth and cellular internet. When all the campers show up, cell signal and internet goes way down. The whole lake is affected by this so you’re not alone and your phone isn’t broken. Stop and enjoy the outdoors, fishing, friends and conversations around the campfire! It’s okay to be free from your devices. Calls work, but loading doesn’t. It’s not your phone….it’s our towers being over loaded. This affects my ability to receive data such as texts. Might get something days later or not at all.
Eagle Lake RV park has off sight cabins too so be sure to contact them at 530 825-3133. Kenworthy’s have 2 large homes for rent 209 470-2350 or 209 810-3024; If you’re a property owner renting your cabin out, let me know. I won’t advertise for realtors for free but I’ll help the individual property owner. Also check the Eagle Lake CA facebook page, I see some individuals have some cabins. New number for Bob Williams cabins 530 919-3995. There are a couple realtor’s taking on a handful of cabins. You can text or email me for some phone numbers. I’m not the cabin rental business. If you have a cabin listed for vacation rental, perhaps you or your realtor should advertise these to those coming up to the lake. Campers, the Eagle Lake Marina Store is open their number is 530 825-3454. They now have fishing licenses available. We are fortunate to have a crew running things that have been here for years & know what Eagle Lakers need. Just give em time…things don’t always work after two winters down. And infrastructure they need to get back to normal is still being worked out. We just want them back next year too.
For now I’ll be sticking with gold/red and red/gold colors & throw in a little copper on the buoyants, have some needlefish & flicker shad or rapala’s too. Sure catch lures at the ready. Metallic watermelon needlefish can work as well as T. Buoyants if that’s what you have in the box. For some reason, the gold/red and red/copper & gold/red Thomas Buoyant works best for me in the greenish tint to the water. They have worked well under overcast skies and choppy stirred up water. I carry both sizes at all times. Sure Catch Red-dog (medium DJ) or small red-prism needlefish, white/prism needlefish, red-dot frog, perch also seems to do well (especially through tui chub bait balls).
For trolling flies, No brainer…tui chub minnow or redside shiner/sucker minnow, orange, olive, brown. All around best, cinnamon or darker brown or black (smidge of red) leech patterns if overcast are the standards (we do run trolling flies of downriggers (use small action disc) and leadcore). Colors will depend on water color and visibility and cloud cover/clear sky. Orange is pretty much an Eagle Lake standard. Red has been good for drought years and low water, tui chub or minnow patterns are seasonal & it’s the season now. All around best is great for overcast skies and cloudy water conditions.
Rapala’s can hold their own quite often and now is a good time to run small raps…shoot for silver black, fire tiger, gold/black, rainbow trout and German brown…1 1/2″. My favorite stick is the flicker shad over rapala’s 4M and 5M. True diving depths, rattles and slow ascend. Rainbow Trout, silver and fire tiger are my faves. Don’t hesitate wondering if a Rainbow Runner will work. These can hold their own out there. White, orange, red…even black.
You can waist a lot of time chasing fish you see on the depth finder or visuals but if you aren’t using what they are rising for, it’s all for not…all I do is keep my lines at the biting depth…even through the lulls in the bite. That’s where you will find the next fish.
There’s still plenty of rock piles that are natural and not marked or buoyed. GPS maps don’t have all the humps and bumps that pop out of nowhere. Just be careful if you venture to new waters. I mark high spots all the time. I have over 400 rock piles marked & still marking and I don’t have them all.
SHORE/FLY FISHING: Shore fishing hasn’t produced too well but water temps are starting to cool down some. But we’re going to be seeing a change now which may bring fish in closer for the morning run. Casting lures can work from shore too. Cast-masters seem to do well and fly pretty far on a cast. Good old reliable night crawlers and power bait can also do some damage. Small jigs (olive and rust best for early season, black/red later season). Shore fishing will pick up pretty soon, as the trout have also been known to come in and pound minnows along the quiet shoreline when you least expect it. Minnows can be suicidal and beach themselves to escape trout …. so its always advisable to watch the water no matter what. I keep my eye on the birds too….count them. They often can get minnows roiling along shore….but if the birds are up or resting, there’s something else chasing the bait….3 guesses and the first two don’t count as my dad would say. The trout are living in the same water temps out from shore, so it can be a matter of timing. But in general, water temps need to drop to 65-68F and lower, solidly before we start seeing some movement into the shallows on a more frequent basis. It’s coming but we can also see it hold in place for a couple weeks & sorta freeze frame. But it will be a good fall regardless.
Fly Fishing: Depending on location, olive, brown, black woolly buggers or jigs. Orange and olive scuds, may-fly imitations, midges (black/olive/grey and various nymphs work well. We use small minnow imitations (#8) from a tube or kayak and if timing is right, pound em. It all depends on the water temps & what the food supply is doing. Fly fishing will turn back on once water temps begin to drop for fall. DFW has posted the catch and keep recommendation to preserve the fishery thru the heat of the summer months. But when fall drops in, our fish are going to be big this season. It’s coming…still need a boat to access the outer rock piles. Stay tuned.
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.