Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths
EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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August 12, 2019
CATCH AND KEEP RECOMMENDATION HAS BEEN POSTED BY DFW. THIS IS GENERALLY A WATER QUALITY ISSUE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE TROUT DUE TO HIGHER WATER TEMPS, DISSOLVED OXYGEN AND pH. 3 REQUESTS SENT TO LOCAL DFW AND REDDING OFFICE FOR WATER QUALITY TESTS. NO RESPONSE. Sign is posted on the bulletin board at Eagle Lake Marina. I haven’t seen one at Spalding Marina. DFW “plans on” putting the water tests on their website. I can’t get them until they are posted. I’ve wanted that for decades so I am glad it is coming about, when is the question. LoL
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Funny that DFW has been studying the watershed for over 70 years and still needs more study before they learn anything. LoL. Tax dollars at work?
Trolling: The water temps cooled off slightly but still hovering around 70F during the day. On average, starting out between 68-69F and warming up fast once the sun hits the water. West side, in general, 1F cooler than the east side. The trout dropped down on the east side to 27 to 34ft deep for us and on a calm hot day as deep as 38-40 by late morning. On the west side they remain a bit higher 13 to +-16ft deep and on dropped to 28ft, then 30 to 35ft. For leadcore users, getting to 35ft is between 6 and 7 colors depending on the weight of your lure. If you have enough backing, get that 5 or 6 colors in the water and it will sink like a rock once you let out about 50ft of backing. Lots of line out so hold the strikes with the boat until you get some line on em. Down rigger users easily reach the depth. Regardless of where we fish we are sorting through some chubs but still getting trout. Seeing a few more bait balls out there. That’s a good sign of things to come. On the west side, trout are still mostly on shrimp and shrimp larva with an occasional minnow, finding them on the bottom in 25-35ft of water.
I am also always looking for the spring water gyre which is moving around with a surface temp at around 61-62F today so keep an eye on your temp reading.
We’ve been working for them, still deep around 27-33ft. Orange and red continue to rule for us. Red magic fish scale #1 or #2 needlefish (I take off the flash tail and single hook and add a #8 or #10 treble and tweak the bend just a little, like the needlefish 30-40 years ago were made), Red-dot frog speedy shiner 1/6oz, Thomas Buoyant red/gold 1/4oz got the largest fish as it has all season, working good on the west side. I like Thomas Buoyant Red-dot frog too. The heaviest bounce of the TB lure is at 1.7 to 1.9mph…heavier the bounce the better it works. Sure Catch Red-dog double jointed Lg, orange rainbow runners and orange trolling flies have also caught us trout this week running deep. Minnow imitations such as Berkley watermelon minnows (small), various watermelon lures (I like Sure Catch) small rapala’s are also starting to pick up fish but have also been a bit more location specific.
The minnows around the docks appear to be very small and fewer in numbers but I believe there’s been an increase and I saw a few more that were around 1.5inches so subsequent hatches are now mixing up. Walking the marsh grass shorelines, WOW, they are just hiding out for a while. We have a good hatch of chubs, it’s just a matter of them leaving the safe harbor of the weeds.
We’ve found a few trout out in the middle between Eagle’s Nest and Shrimp Island. The west side is still holding trout as well. Wildcat through Lake of the Woods still providing action. We have a few right out from Merrill Campground and some beginning to move into and off Pikes Pt/Pikes Cove but still lots of chubs to get through. I always troll in circles to find the best direction for the fish as well as changing the depth and speed of the lures. The depth of the trout can vary every day as well as with the sun and wind pattern. They are higher on average on the west side and deeper on the east side. The lake is in summer mode, however, we’re going to watch what happens. The last few years we’ve seen a thermocline form and wash out within a couple weeks. The trout go deep for several days, then come back up for the dissolved oxygen. We’ll see, right now the trout we’re catching are deep for this lake, a bit more like it was before the drought. In the past, 41ft has been the deepest we’ve caught trout, most below that have been chubs and suckers. Once the minnows hit the food court solidly, the trout will be chasing them in any water temps they are found in.
If you’re getting strikes, losing fish my advice is to sharpen your hooks. I sharpen hooks on lures and flies right out of the package and after every fish or two landed. I can’t stress enough about having sharp hooks on short striking fish. We’ve also been holding them with the boat rather than grabbing the rod right away. That’s gotten more fish to the boat than setting immediately.
Most of the trout have been between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 lbs with a couple over 4lbs and some under 2 lbs. Some smaller fish showing up on the west side and intermingling with some of the larger fish. So mixed bags are coming in. On the east side, size of the trout were over 2lbs, on average 2.5lbs and even a few over 3 and a couple over 4lb. But we didn’t get any shakers on the east side. I switch lures on one rod but I don’t generally take out what has worked and by doing so, it’s pretty much the one that will get the fish in the boat once they come on again. The chub are mixed in the water column right now.
Lures and Trolling flies, What is working for us? Orange Jay Fair and Arctic Fox trolling flies have worked, original Jay Fair Special, olive leeches/wooly buggers, peacock, brown (cinnamon) leech patterns and burnt orange are ones we’ve caught a few on, All Around Best has also done a little damage. Large Sure Catch Red-dog (double jointed) has been working as has red magic fish scale #1 and #2 needlefish. If it’s gold with red or orange on it, or copper with some orange it’s been catching for us. Red/gold 1/4″ Thomas Buoyant has been the one getting the bigger fish in the boat and has been #1 on the west side, Red Dog #2. Red dot frog speedy shiners and Thomas Buoyants also working. Various lures with orange and gold or copper and even white/pearl and orange rainbow runners. Watermelon has been up and down for us. But, mostly it’s been a matter of being at the active feeding depth at the right time. We’re seeing a few bait balls but the masses of minnows haven’t ventured out to the depths just yet. …They will, there is a ton of them, they are just holding in the marsh grasses and shallows. When they first hit the food court it can be critical to go with small minnow imitations at first. Once these bait fish rise, small rapala’s will turn on (Perch and German Brown seem to usually be the first to catch, but gold, silver and orange are standards). Hit and misses, Gold red-dot Z-ray and Jake’s gold red 1/4oz, cop car needlefish (will turn on soon), (#2), bikini, red-head pearl (50/50 bar) copper red-head needlefish & perch spoons. Pink (watermelon) has also been doing a little damage periodically, mostly on the east side for me. So we have a lot of options to choose from. But the one rule I follow religiously, don’t take out what has been working for every long, you may not know when the bite comes back on. The red magic fishscale needlefish, Double Jointed Sure Catch Red Dog, red-gold 1/4oz Thomas Buoyant, red-dot frog….those stay in the water for me.
Right now, most of the trout are still feeding on shrimp larva that’s suspended on a minor thermocline but the minnow meals are just about ready to pop.
On the west side ledges most I have cleaned have been feeding on adult shrimp as well as larva and a few leeches, but the minnows will begin to show up there too, most of the minnows venturing out have remained pretty deep. We have fish on both the east and west sides of the lake, Pikes Pt and Miners Pt. I work both sides just to change up and stay on fish, either side of the lake is producing. The minnows that are rarely targeted by the trout show up as a blob of little fish with a couple medium fish in the tight school….that’s the nursery, and generally just catch chubs around them. Young of the year show up as a cloud or a cloudy narrow stream. The trout can get lazy when filter feeding on shrimp larva but that’s when orange rules the catching, once the minnows hit the food court the trout get into the chase and chances are good we’ll be catching them on several other lures.
Locations: From The Springs to Eagle’s Nest has some fish...mostly outside the ledge but it changes daily. Miners Pt was holding some scattered trout. Pikes Pt has some scattered trout too but lot’s of chubs right now as well as well as out from Merrill Campground. I’ll keep checking it. On the east side I’ve had the most success off the south edge of Miners Pt south side to just north of Eagle’s Nest to the point south of Eagle’s Nest. The bay out from Camp Ronald McDonald is also holding some trout. The west side run from AssDragger (south of Wildcat) north all up towards Shrimp is still producing trout for us.
As a rule of thumb, once the bite goes off or slows down for a while, always keep at least one of what was working early in the water. What worked early (lure and depth) will work again once the bite comes back on or you find a new pod of fish to work. Stage two juveniles chubs (the nursery) show up as a ton of small fish with a few medium fish within the dense school. These are showing in small groups here and there…mostly between 15 and 35ft and rarely targeted by the trout. I am beginning to see more clouds of young of the year chubs on a daily basis this week.
Bait under bobbers: The bait bite really hasn’t been on hard the last few years. This has a lot to do with the lack of a dominate thermocline. If that’s what you have to do or want to do, stagger the water column between 24 and 36ft deep. Usually tending a freeline can cover a swath of the water column if the trout are scattered in depth. A few folks have caught a couple dunking worms, but not always filling the boat limits and getting quite a few chubs. Consider using some orange or beige power bait with a smaller nightcrawler (or half of a nightcrawler or mini crawler) or just by itself. It has been known to hold it’s own for fishing here. Wildcat Pt/west side: I would start out in 25 to 35ft of water and go down. That’s where the trout have been flipping rocks and eating adult shrimp by the masses. FYI. On the east side, the trout are still eating the larva and a few minnows. Starting out in around 40ft of water near the ledge, then work your way out to deeper water.
From shore: The standards are basic night crawlers, power bait or jigs under bobber’s. Even meal worms can entice these trout. For jigs, typically small ones in olive, cinnamon, orange or brown…pretty soon small minnow patterns will work. Casting lures, spinners and spoons can also be productive but more so when the trout start chasing minnows, and the minnows are boiling on the surface, casting a small spinner through the mass can be deadly (generally black-yellow dot or yellow-black dot). Casting red/nickel or red/gold Cast Masters has also been a good go to. Shoreline waters heat up faster than the main body of water during the day, this will eventually move the minnows out over deeper water. It won’t be long before we’ll see trout coming in for minnows in the morning hours, so we’re always looking for them. There are only a few places along the shoreline where one can cast to water deeper than 6-8ft deep and as time goes on and water heats up, shore fishing generally subsides and picks up again as fall begins to appear. The point bordering the north side of Pikes Cove, which is the most southeastern point of Pikes Pt (access from Marina low water ramp parking area). There’s a nice weed bed on the bottom there. The ledge north of Camp Ronald McDonald that runs from about 1/2 mile north of Camp Ron McD to beyond The Springs (below the water tower). The ledge is still accessible with a good cast from shore due to the lake remaining relatively low. One can also traverse the steep bank below the water tank. Getting down isn’t that hard, getting back up is a bit more of a challenge. Shore anglers just below Eagle’s Nest can also do ok in summer as well as The Springs. Christie has been holding some smaller fish and few fishermen, timing isn’t predictable yet. From the rocky point northwest of the parking area, it’s a quick drop off the end of the rocks to 24-27ft of water. I would walk out and cast as far as possible from shore. As summer months come on strong, it’s best to use a boat or kayak to access the deeper water. But if that’s all you can do, by all means give it a shot! It isn’t unusual to see trout push the minnows so close to shore the minnows beach themselves. But it’s not there just yet. Keep an eye on the minnows, pelicans and grebes (of which we have low numbers of so far compared to years past).
Fly Fishing: Midges, (brassy olive) shrimp, scuds and brown leeches. The fish I have cleaned have still had a few of them in their bellies but not as many as earlier in the season. The aquatics are there for the taking. Shrimp larva has been more prolific the last couple weeks. We are seeing more dragonflies and blue darners out on the water now as well as moth’s. Caddis and chironomids still hatching a little but not in the numbers they were earlier this season. It also depends on time of day and location. Mayflies have been doing pretty well, later hatch better than earlier hatch. Be prepared with a sink tip or sinking line though, we’re going pretty deep right now but I suspect we’ll see some changes that will bring the trout up higher, rather than down deeper in the coming weeks. Shrimp continue reproducing all summer and into fall and more “applesauce” is in the trout bellies while they get lazy and filter feed. Seems to be a more prolific food source over the deeper water where it’s suspended where as in shallower water. Whereas, the fish working the structure in water less than 35ft deep seem to be working the bottom. Timing not really predictable.
Always prepare for the worst & accept the best regarding the weather. Thunderstorms are normal, passing showers are normal and the winds picking up in the late morning or early afternoon are all normal for summer. But, if your graphite rods begin humming or singing, you know there’s a lot of static electricity in the air and it’s best to lay them down in the boat rather than sticking them up in the air. Remember that a boat on the water is the highest point when lightening strikes. The best thing is to just head in and get off the water. When beaching your boat off the campgrounds, consider that the winds change the lake elevation from PM to the next morning. Fore and aft anchors and a long rope to shore is a good idea. Tarps are always good to bring. So come prepared for cool mornings, warm days, chances for t-storms and lots of mosquito’s and gnats!! We are seeing yellow jackets and wasps increase. If you’re allergic, be sure you have your medication with you.
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. 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. This is being done so that in the future, a native (native spawn) fish may be fully finned. LoL probably decades from now. 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. 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. 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. 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 in late summer 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 small mouths.