Of course we also need more trout planted for the future (this year isn’t it but more than in the last 6 years). It’s been tough fishing for most folks since the massive reduction in numbers throughout the drought (and we continue to be in a drought up here). Even when fishing picks up, the pods thin out quickly. In my opinion, when you continue to catch tui chubs even in December and start finding them early in the season, things are not good. This year there were so many that I was foul hooking more than are biting me. LoL & that’s a bad sign if you ask me. 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. With no grebe nesting for 5 years before 2017, we didn’t have the birds to keep the chubs in check either. I don’t expect to see DFW give us our “normal allotment” of trout planting (180,000) so expect to see reduced numbers again this year. “2018 Allotment: 170,000 “catchables” due to low catch rates [duh, yep those tiny trout get caught alright]; 56,400 planted in spring at around 4 per pound.” direct quote from DFW. So still below our normal allotment by 10K and much smaller fish bait and we didn’t get 70K this spring as indicated earlier by DFW. Fall plant appear to be back to 8-12″ fish which is better. We’ll see. It will take years before this lake gets back to normal. Not sure but I don’t think the right hand knows what the left hand is doing at DFW. LoL But the spring plant was basically Pelican food and they were having a feast at the low water ramp with every truck load. LoL DFW has really screwed this lake up & our biologist is the main reason. Personally, he’s been the worst we have ever experienced. Our normal allotment is 180,000 fish at average 2/per pound, we haven’t seen that number in many years nor have we seen 1/2 lb fish being planted on a regular basis. Planting 4 per pound in spring is planting bait for the birds and pelicans and their chance for survival in this lake at that size is most likely minimal. The tui chub have over run the lake, a thought DFW never considered in the severe reduction of planting and size as well as no grebe nesting from 2012 to 2017. The lake is now almost a foot lower than last year and I believe that any increase in the numbers of trout planted are due to the low numbers of trout in the lake & DFW can’t admit their gross negligence and mistakes when it comes to mismanaging this lake. We might see some larger fish here and there this year, but my guess is that we will see a lot of smaller ones caught this year too. Most I have seen have been between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 lbs with a few rare exceptions of 3 1/2 lb and up to 4.5lb and a couple 5 to 5 1/2’s. 2017 size was down from 2016 as per DFW Creel, so DFW “increasing the size of fish” wasn’t exactly the deal as per the data submitted as we always found the bigger fish and they didn’t run with the smaller fish. We have learned that DFW up here talks through both sides of their mouth and tells people different stories….perhaps they need to write down what they say so they can stay consistent with their inaccurate statements. Total lack of public trust now. Over 5 decades, it hasn’t been unusual to see 5+ lb fish in fall, just because DFW stops creel census and people stay out later catching and releasing certainly doesn’t mean that the big fish were not here. We got em as did others. With the reduced planting there just haven’t been as many. LoL. At one point our allotment was reduced to 75,000 (105,000 fewer), and in 2017 DFW raised it to 123,000 (still 57,000 fewer) but that had a lot to do with the lack of fish being caught by anglers than it did the lake elevation. So we are well blow our normal levels of trout in this lake and it will take many years for any surviving 4 to 5″ trout to become even a pan size let alone a 2 to 3 pounder. Over the reduced planting, by the numbers, this lake is well over 250,000 trout short and a gazzillion chubs over populated. This poor DFW management has caused a loss of tourists and anglers and is what happens when biologists don’t actually spend time on the water or actually fish the lake they mis-manage. I would have said “care for” but that is far from it with our current biologist. No one boat load of average anglers should be lucky to catch one ELT per day let alone 1 in a week in summer. Loss by hundreds of pelicans hanging out at the only ramp where these fish have been being planted isn’t part of the DFW equation. 300 pelicans can do some numbers damage to small dumb trout. Right now our grebe numbers are still very low in comparison to years past (including the no nesting years) and the pelicans are in low numbers too since opening weekend. Should see about 500 or more. That says a lot about the availability of food for the birds and the birds have to see the fish to feed on them. The birds had to follow the boats this summer, rather than the boats following the birds this year. Finally they are able to find minnows in close to chase and feeding on the fall planted trout. I don’t mind saying that a pelican can eat 3 big chubs before it’s full after feeding them some chubs. That’s around 7-9lbs of fish to fill up a 22-24lb bird. I would rather feed them chubs than have them get any trout right now. It isn’t like they care what they eat, just THAT they eat. I don’t mind feeding the birds at all and I really don’t think the anglers can put a dent in the chub population but we are giving it our best efforts until WE feel we have culled the population down to the right numbers. Obviously, we can’t count on DFW to do much. LoL. Without a large or actually a normal amount of predators on this years hatch, our chub population will be….well, out of control for years to come. Anglers will never be capable of depleting or reducing the population for decades. But, we will try for years to come.
I expect we’ll catch some 3 -4+ pound fish this fall and through Dec, but I also think we will see more 1 1/2- 2lb this season. I’ve had quite a few over 3 and several well over 4lb. We normally always see some larger fish late in the season and that never changed. Perhaps only what DFW checks in their limited time and single location. I no longer allow DFW to check my fish so I don’t pad the results. Last fall’s plant fared well though the winter. Actually most of the fish at the trap were from that planting. We did see some decent fish come up, but the majority were smaller. 2017: a little over 1700 trout up to Pine Creek trap on a good water year. 2018 a Miracle March and only a little over 1300 fish sorted and around 100+ allowed upstream (DFW changed that number given to 250 on 6-29). In years past we cleaned out 7-10K fish in the system so they wouldn’t perish when flows stopped and historically 3000-5000 were sorted and another 7-10K removed back to the lake by volunteers so they wouldn’t perish when the creek stopped flowing. This is no longer done and rescues are no longer in the DFW strategy. Do the math. DFW thinks 1700 fish is a big run….LoL, the newbies don’t have a clue of the past numbers during the run. I totally believe that DFW is the responsible party for the low catch rates, low planting allotment, low tourism rates (due to low catch rates) and lack of fair opportunities for the average angler to catch a fish let alone a limit. Yet, DFW says they have improved the fishing….at least through one side of their mouth, the other side says the opposite. So DFW biologist Paul Divine isn’t believable at any statement at this point in my book. Eagle Lake trout are planted in larger numbers everywhere but Eagle Lake. GMO E.L. Trout that is. The trout are sterilized at fertilization before being reared and planted in other lakes & reservoirs. So you are catching and eating GMO fish in every other lake but this one. LoL.
Nature can’t straighten out a man made problem of the tui chubs so chances are that the balance of the biomass isn’t going to happen without angler intervention for years to come. And we are killing as many as we catch at this point. Birds gotta eat too and they wouldn’t be following boats and watching rods if they weren’t hungry. I don’t believe they can see through the cloudy green water we have had in 2018 to find their prey and only a few osprey remained after the spawn. People don’t come here to catch trophy tui chubs in summer. 20-30chubs a day was common in 2017 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. But the pelicans are fast at picking them up right away. Nothing is going to waste. We don’t have the osprey we had in the past either and the eagles are also fewer. Our resident eagles remain but no migrants stayed long at all. Loons also in small numbers. Between reduced planting, cloudy green water, more than the fishing has been affected by DFW.
Tui chubs are very easy to determine on your scope. They school in three distinct groups and generally well below the depth that the trout need where there is more dissolved oxygen (often scoping below 40ft). Adult spawner’s, the nursery (several years worth, generally protected by several sub adults), and young of the year. I call them by stages. Stage 1, 2 and 3. Tui chubs don’t need the amount of dissolved oxygen that the trout do and are often much deeper in zones where the dissolved oxygen is too low to sustain the trout and stack up from top to bottom in many cases. This is a common occurrence in summer when the lake stratifies. So far in 2018 we haven’t stratified significantly so the trout are going to be found in higher dissolved 02 ranges again this summer. Seeing a lot of bait out there now. I would rather see single fish in a spread on my scope than masses and by watching that I have been doing well at catching. No skunks in my boat but there have been days I have worked hard for them.
In the shallower north basins it’s much shallower but more visual as a carpet of chubs in early summer and is a good way to observe how they school when they move from point A to point B. Over the drought years, the northern spawner’s had one year that they didn’t know where to go or what to do in the south basin (2013) but ever since then they learned from the southern spawner’s what to do & where to go. Now so prolific it’s pathetic! And since the grebes didn’t have any young to feed from 2012 to 2016 and the trout numbers were reduced the chub had fewer predators to keep their numbers in check and thus the population exploded. We still don’t have the numbers of grebes for 2018 that we would normally see so we’ll see more chubs survive to juvenile nursery stage this season. The trout mainly target the young of the year, not so much the nursery of subsequent years. Only a few trout had a minnow 4″ long. Mostly because in the “nursery” school, the guardians keep the trout in check by running out of the school and hitting the trout like a linebacker. Bamm! The trout don’t even normally like to hang out with the chubs but often just on the outside of a big school or quite a bit above them. We often have to get through the chubs to find the trout though. And NOTE: you can smell the tui chub in the air. They do release a gas when transpiring and in dense numbers it’s very obvious. The minnows of the year are very “smelly” so in late summer and early fall, follow your nose & you’ll find the trout. Am I culling chubs? You bet I am. 4-6inch trout aren’t going to eat a 4 to 6″ tui chub and unless the adult chubs are within a few feet of the surface, the pelicans can’t catch em. LoL. Here we go again.
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 summer 2017 and once we cooled down in fall it cleared up a little. We did start off clearer in 2017 with influx of 5ft of water than we have been for several years, but it didn’t last. Lots of nutrient flow in every year, lots of nutrients from the shoreline grazing were covered up with water. The lake remains much lower than normal yet the grazing numbers have not changed. I believe we will continue to see this phenomena for years to come. As of 2018 the lake water has been very cloudy and greening up before opening weekend arrived. Nothing has changed. Visibility greatly reduced in all basin compared to 2017 season at the same time of year and after complaints, LNF posted a warning sign at the low water ramp at Gallatin. Adjust to conditions. The trout were a little bigger in 2017 (mostly the larger fish come in Sept/October) but fewer in numbers, that has more to do with fewer numbers of trout than food supply, the food supply is so dense it fouls your lines, downrigger’s and can even foul water pump intakes so always check that and flush your motors regularly. There is no doubt fewer anglers on the lake and fewer visitors during the season. People want to catch fish, not spend a lot of money for little to nothing. This comes from the old timers who haven’t been here for several years and their reasons why. I have also been contacted by people who camp here and this year they are staying here but fishing other local lakes. If you follow my report and do what I do, you will catch fish too. The lake is fishing different that it has in the past, you’ll have to adapt to the changing conditions in the heat of the summer and search as we do for a small pod of trout here and there. Those of us that are spend more time on the water than most visitors, are use to this adaptation. It will take years, maybe 5-10+ for this lake to recover under it’s current management by DFW and LNF. We need some fresh perspectives before this lake returns to it’s former glory.
For catching the trout last year, we simply had to adapt to the water conditions and loss of dissolved oxygen at levels the trout normally would be at. For me, the trout stayed around 17 to 20ft deep where the water temperatures were 72F, just like 2016. 2018 I’m finding more trout 12 to 18ft deep and as low as 24ft. Much deeper & it’s going to be chubs. Of course, all levels got monster tui chubs, on just about every lure or fly made, due to their stacking nature in summer. The chubs are probably going to pose a problem in the coming years. Birds gotta eat but they need floaters not sinkers. LoL.
Inflow from the creeks undoubtedly brings in nutrients from the massive cattle grazing and feed the algae once the lake water starts warming up and days get longer. Since the lake is lesser in volume and nutrients stayed the same (no reduction in numbers of cattle, just a big reduction in the lake) I believe is the reason the blue green algae is worse than in years of higher water levels. The lake just doesn’t seem to be able to absorb and digest the nutrients fast enough now. 2016/2017 5Dot had a few thousand cattle grazing all winter off 139 at an average of 10 craps per cow per day…then the water came up 5ft and covered all that crap. Google how much a cow craps per day. 10 times on average, up to 15 times per day. We’ll be dealing with that fertilizer for years. Poundage from 150-200 cows … 9750 to 1300lbs per day and in a closed system!! No Wonder WE are GREEN!! The dissolved 02 has been dropping below 22ft in summer (that’s what blue/green algae does) to levels that won’t sustain the trout for more than a few minutes so in spite of cooler temperatures deeper, the trout need the oxygen and are now regularly living in water temps above 70F during the summer months. This year we don’t even have many birds that stayed past the spawn. They need to see in the water to hunt too. Only a few osprey, our resident eagles, fewer grebes (Clark’s, Western and Eared). Either we support the cattle industry or the lake and fishery. At this point, I don’t think the two can co-exist until water levels are allowed to refill. The lake has been suffering for years, Pine Creek for decades of decimation and diversion (86 water impounds in 40 miles of creek as per USFS documentation, & they don’t like having to give some of that back to the lake after decades of removing it from the watershed). Along with Pine Creek, so went the native spawn and restoration is limited by funding. Perhaps a new petition will put a fire under the butts of those dragging their feet for non-other than grazing. Along with DFW manipulating any free passage upstream until the spawn is over and managing days and numbers allowed, only makes for another predetermined out come in regards to any native spawn. Which hasn’t even been discussed regarding any current restoration projects. DFW took eggs from every ripe hen trapped at the trap that they could get. Opened the gate for free passage at first flow, then only 2 nights during the peak once the fish entered the system from the lake, and then once DFW was done collecting the eggs and the water warmed up, flow slowed down and the trout were no longer interested in heading upstream did they open the gates so the fish had free passage…back to the lake as water temps rose to 70F by mid April. But several didn’t make it as the creek began drying up…which only took a matter of hours. Quite a few were observed near the A1 and Spalding bridges trying to get back. Those we watched, didn’t make it as flows only took hours to end. Maybe this lake and OUR trout needs to take precedence for a few years. They do what they want regardless of the lake, fish or local economy. We’ll see who gets notified when the brook trout are chemically killed in upper Pine Creek and if any local wells are tested for any chemical contamination considering that they all say they are improving the ground water by impounding water for cattle. Lake Davis? Noted that Pine Creek water flows underground? Well’s? We’ll be meeting with Lahontan Water Quality Control Board soon & get this shit straightened out.
5 Dot moved their cattle out for this winter, but ranging quite a few near the old Stones Ranch and highway 139 this summer. The nutrients being more concentrated in a lower lake elevation seems to have caused the nasty cloudy conditions. I do believe that it has a lot to do with our blue green algae problem in summer the last few years. Over the last few years of drought, masses of trout haven’t moved up much above the Youth Camp and the north side of Pelican Pt, even in fall to late fall. The cattle were west of Spalding Road. We’ll see how that goes. But they aren’t supposed to be at the north ends of the lake trampling the lake shore or lake bottom. This rule has been neglected and not enforced for many years. Public awareness is critical to this enforcement as the agencies only care about one thing….and that hasn’t appeared to be the lake or fishery which is the livelihood of Lassen County. If grazing helped prevent catastrophic wildfires it certainly didn’t help Spalding out during the Whaleback Fire now did it? Only one rancher does it right, that’s McClellan Ranch.
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 and 2018 actually had fewer. DFW had to electro-shock on a great water year due to not having the numbers of trout in the tributaries as they expected and started doing the same plan in 2018 until the miracle March got Pine Creek flowing. 2018 we had around 1300 + fish coming up Pine Creek during this years spawn plus around 100 that passed through upstream shortly before the water flow dropped off and heated up (100 was reported to us by Paul Divine DFW, his boss Andrew Jensen corrected that number to 250). We had roughly 1700ish come up in 2017, around 1500 in 2018. DFW utilized every fish every chance they had. A far cry from the thousands we used to see in the tributaries. No trout have been imprinted near Pine Creek for years (not planted due to low water levels and the only access at the Spalding ramp in which the channel to the lake isn’t deep enough or holds enough water to get them to move out before running out of oxygen). They were lucky that the fresh flowing water attracted any trout at all. Stones hasn’t had enough water for planting so until that area gets more water, it’s doubtful there will be many if any trout in the north basin for a while. These trout would swim up a garden hose if fresh water was flowing in it, but they have to smell it in the the lake before they know it’s there. In comparison, it was normal to clean out and rescue 7000-10,000 fish in Pine Creek, 1700-2500 in Papoose and Merrill when the lake was at her peak. Now we are lucky to see 1300-1700 in Pine Creek and up to 200 in Papoose and Merrill. It was not uncommon to clean out several thousand from the small tributaries along 139 either. To me, that is a direct result of fewer fish in the lake and crappy water conditions. Dramatic difference & probably relative to why catch rates for the average anglers were way down from historic ones. Some bigger fish, but so few and far between for the public at large.
There were a lot of disappointed anglers out there for 2017 season (2016, 2015, 2014…). Even though some of the fish being caught were larger, there is no consistency in numbers. They have been few and far between for many folks. 2018 season was very poor for the average angler until water began to cool off. 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. MANY 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. Every time a fish is handled through the spawn another trim is performed. I HAVE RECEIVED TONS OF COMPLAINTS FROM ANGLERS REGARDING FIN-LESS FISH. I’VE CAUGHT HUNDREDS, GUIDES HAVE CAUGHT HUNDREDS WHICH IS WAY TO MANY TO HAVE SAY A GROUP OF ANGLERS CUTTING ALL THE FINS OFF. DFW DENIES TRIMMING EVERYTHING AND SAYS ALL THE TAIL TRIMS GROW BACK. LOL. Although they submit the trimming fact sheets and always trim fins and tails at the trap or any fish they spawn or handle. I was told a long time ago that DFW will never admit to trimming all the fins off. Just ask one. hahaha MOST ANGLERS DON’T MUTILATE AND RELEASE…AND IF THEY DO, THEY AREN’T TRULY ANGLERS. AND IT ISN’T JUST AN ANOMALY, IT’S MUTILATION to continue to mark a single fish every time it’s handled. We did have a fly fishing group that came up and trimmed fins on every fish they caught. Although this particular group hasn’t been up in years, I seriously doubt they are responsible for several thousand fish in 3 days fishing. LoL. Chances are that the markings are to determine hatchery fish from an native fish in the future. But so far any native spawn restoration hasn’t been being funded by state or federal agencies. Questions/Complaints: Paul Divine 530 254-6363 Paul.Divine@wildlife.ca.gov AND Andrew Jensen in Redding office at 530 225-2300 email@example.com are those who you should file complaints with.
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, business and property values 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. That’s the chances one takes when open ranging for profit. 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 and left a deposit of at least 10 craps a day per cow…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. Pine Creek is the lake’s ONLY tributary capable of feeding the lake substantial flows to replace evaporation and raise the lake elevation. Pine Creek water shed belongs to Eagle Lake, not the cattle industry responsible for high nutrient loading and taking water from the lake. Funny that the fish habitat hasn’t been discussed within current restoration projects. 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 Alzheimer’s and Autism has increased substantially in the last 20-30 years? I don’t. Aluminum isn’t the heavy metal being tested for and since we have no mining up here, mercury levels are always lower. So, perhaps we need DFW to add aluminum testing of the fishes flesh. We have been being poisoned for years (crops from Delta water once it gets there) 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. Stack em and Pack em. Nobody will be allowed to live outside a bit city. Thank God I’ll be dead (hopefully) before that happens. LoL.
We had a lot of water in Pine Creek Valley this spring. But slowly some of the impounds (IE super ditch) has been blocked off from taking water off Pine Creek so they say. It will not be filled in yet, and it will still take local drainage to some degree. Meadows to be restored in “flood plains” to cool the water down. That makes a lot of sense while it bakes in the full sun due to few if any willows survived after being planted in the heat of summer in a dry zone. I’m still looking for restoration projects that assist the native spawn. So far DFW and Lassen RAC hasn’t funded any restoration projects that funding has been requested for. So, TU is looking for funding elsewhere. 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.
But, finally referenced once so they still have a copy or they used ours online. 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 of the USFS to sell us out to the cattlemen so it was conveniently lost by the county and LNF…but I highly doubt they knew other copies existed so we scanned it and posted it online on Guardians. 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, the lake 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. So more wolves the less attractive it is for the cattle ranchers. We are currently assisting in restoration of Pine Creek watershed. Apparently, Guardians have been some of the only groups that have funded anything for restoration, despite being told we are standing in the way. Guardians are about the native spawn and creek restoration to restore that native spawn. We have put funding towards that where others have not. So don’t believe what you hear. Progress is slow. CRMP has been working on restoring Pine Creek “riparian” habitat (under riparian water rights they can take as much water as they want) but there has been very little done to restore FISH habitat and the LAKE quality NEVER comes into play. This needs to be changed. We need a wet El Nino year. With massive rains, heavy flows, blow those holes in the diversions and flush the creeks out into their channels & to the lake. With the high water temps off Southern CA in August, we are hoping they creep up to the north coast. If and when they do, we’ll see some magic happen.
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 and the main water source for Eagle Lake, 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. Eagle Lake Guardians have been saving some money up in order to take the matter to a higher level. This year is it.
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. $$$$ for the cattle industry? Buddies? In its current condition, it isn’t the public draw it once was…fishing has been poor for many folks for several and that needs to change. Even if DFW plants more trout, it will be years before they are sufficient for catching, especially when planted at 1/4lb or less. 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. Once this community is joined together to help the whole lake, things will begin to look up. We’ll be posting an update soon. 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. So only one store/RV park is open in Spalding (at our peak, 3 stores). Stones has RV sites available but the store and restaurant remain closed. No restaurant in Spalding (had 2 at our peak). One local guide working (and working other lakes as well) when 7 had been our norm. 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. Unfortunately, DFW thinks this is good management and great public opportunity for catching ELrT. LoL. The only ones they are convincing of that is themselves. General public knows different.
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. All of our documentation, financials and updates on restoration or lack there of, is posted on Guardians website and open books, meeting agendas, minutes are all freely available. The electro-shocking for removal of the brook trout in upper Pine Creek has only curtailed numbers briefly and was stopped, I believe it will need to be chemically treated which will take out all the fish and probably most of the food supply temporarily. I am certain that if this process is done, there will be public meetings for input, a half dozen EIR type reports/analysis (years worth) and if it is done it most likely will not be done while water is still flowing into the lake. This lake is not like Davis where the tributaries continue to flow but the ground water does. Ours stop surface flow for many months, although the ground water would be of a concern since all our drinking water is from wells, including the water district in Spalding which is the most tested water supply at Eagle Lake. We’ll see if DFW holds public comment on the chemical treatment when it comes. And I will insure that new tests will include any other contaminants.
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, county, lake and trout, that is to restore the drainage to Pine Creek. 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? We will post all communications on Facebook.
With one good water year, it’s now about restoring grazing and feed, not the fish habitat or the lake? It all works together. Climate change, climate manipulation, impounding water to prevent it from coming to the lake as nature designed, 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 5ft below what scientists determined was good for the fish. Funny that Climate Manipulation in the US (west and east) is never part of the Climate discussion yet probably has the biggest effect on it. We peaked at 6.4″ lower than last year 20 days earlier. If it is warm and wet, cloud seeding doesn’t work. So bring on the warm heavy rains. Note that there have been little to no water testing for contamination or nutrient loading in many years. We’ll be posting that info too.
Eagle Lake Guardians have helped defeat the potential listing of an endangered species for our trout. This was our main goal although the rumors around town were that we wanted to list the trout. The petitions were never about anyone wanting the listing of the trout, they were done in order to get Pine Creek restoration moving forward and ignored since 1995. Intent on original petition was to get water back to the lake and to allow the native spawn for the gene pool after decades of manipulation of the fish…all after CRMP screwed things up. 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 has been. As long as the agenda is to graze cattle for penny’s and lose millions in the economy and stress the lake and trout and increase the tui chubs to explosive levels, we are screwed. The trout have to make it back to the lake and, that has happened but mainly in the same year they went up to spawn. Some, but no large numbers of trout have “possibly” returned the following year but only in single digits. Other telemetry tags have been found in the dry creek bed after the creek stops flowing. The more water locked upstream raises the water temps sooner than normal and that in itself stops the fish from moving further up. 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 they were tagged. 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. The newer PIT tags are small capsules inserted under the skin near the dorsal fin so most people who don’t fillet their fish don’t find them until after they cook the trout. Don’t worry, they are harmless when cooked and actually may retain information so keep them and send them to local DFW, or bring them with you when you get back up, give them to Karen or myself and we’ll make sure they get to the right people. Getting the the trout back to the lake in the same year is going to require longer flows. And I have no doubt that will require another study. LoL. Personally, I think these fish just want to get upstream, spawn and come back in the same year. Anything that gets above 44 (rarely) would have to stay until the following season….and they might bring the minnows with them rather than head to uncharted waters 20 miles upstream from 44. The creek needs to flow cooler and longer to the lake. The minnows need water to survive long enough to make it to the estuary where there would be plenty of protection, food and cover if the lake was back to normal. The water that is slowed down to improve grazing warms up too fast. Of course the flows are dependent on what winter and spring brings. That’s a no brainer. If weather manipulation wasn’t occurring, would we have better snow pack in our watershed or at the lake? We’ll never know because the weather manipulator’s won’t be stopping anytime soon.
By not listing the trout, we have less red tape to get and keep projects moving forward. Where it began is about the fish, it’s ending in grazing. Funding requests so far denied. Maybe it’s the plan that needs changed for funding to be secured? So something has to change. We may see a native spawn decades from now, but without a lake, what’s the point? Supposedly, the “restoration” for the native spawn has been going on since 1986 & all they did was mess it up worse than it was. LoL As long as this lake is below 5100ft elevation, the trout in the lake are threatened. Every report shows that, & every agency knows that, but has done nothing. 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. We aim to keep the changes coming, regardless….even if we have to sue to get it.
Too bad people can’t catch what they used to, if they could they would be here in spite of only one ramp to serve this lake. DFW really screwed this lake up by severely reducing the trout population, increasing the tui chub population and not conducting water quality testing regularly. Many thinking it’s a waste of time and money to come up, fish for 38 hours with 5 rods in the water and be lucky to catch one! Campgrounds with lots of empty spaces, store struggling, no food & Stones Landing restaurant, bar and store 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. 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 great quality 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 or released over deep water once they expel their air bladder. If they sink to the bottom, they can’t recover their oxygen. It was never about the food supply, the food supply has over taken the lake.
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.
My fishing partner and I are already planning on fishing other lakes in between fishing this one, including the 2018 fishing season. Almanor is pumping out some big numbers of 5 to 9lb trout this spring! Antelope is also a very good fishery. But, check regulations for Almanor on how much fish one should eat. We are used to good meat here at Eagle, so Almanor trout don’t cut the mustard for most of us.
Blue green algae a new normal for Eagle Lake fishes
. We have always had a little of it, but the last few years it has been extreme for us. We really need this lake back to normal levels before we see her clear up significantly. After 55 + 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!! I’m just glad I had so many years of Eagle Lake before she ended up in the condition she is in now and Mother Nature isn’t the only culprit.
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. Most of us have lost all respect for DFW locally. 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. They just don’t do well. But, DFW doesn’t seem to care what you do and won’t compensate the yearly allotment to compensate for loses. 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 early 1990’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 120,000 but at 3 to a pound for the most part and in 2018 4 to 5 per pound. 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 as per all the studies), our watershed and our special trout are put back together, we have nothing. We need to get Stones Landing ramp back online (only water will help) so we can once again see Mariners Resort open up for business again. 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 since I lived here year round. 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. Headway is slowing being made. 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 potentially 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 or good 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. AND THAT is never a part of the climate discussion. Of course the trout and native spawn aren’t part of the creek restoration projects yet either. LoL. Eagle Lake isn’t saved yet. Eagle Lake Guardians are still working on issues and another plan that if we disclose it, the pool will be tainted so we’ll leave it at that.
But, slowly, the impounds are going, wells were coming but no longer appear to be being considered. 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. Pine Creek has to flow, flush and keep flowing. Fish need water to spawn. Perhaps more petitions to list the trout will need to be filed in the future. If there is no spawn after several more years and restoration projects don’t get funded, then the trout are basically screwed. 31 years of “restoration” by CRMP to restore a native spawn and not much to show for it but intensive grazing. And they wonder why no one up here respects CRMP. LoL.
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 abide 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, CRMP leaders haven’t even been on Eagle Lake or ever fished it. Also, worked out of the Honey Lake Irrigation District….which is about more water for other uses. Unbelievable? No that’s just something normal for Eagle Lake. Professional screw ups that don’t see the repercussions of there actions. As a note; I will not talk to DFW without recording every conversation now. Over the decades, CRMP has caused more of our problems than they have ever fixed, this is why people showed up at their meeting and were disgusted with their runaround BS. 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. More to come on that issue. Some one has to do this job folks, it isn’t pretty but it has to be done. We are thankful that we have a lot of support from the anglers and visitors. 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, others are not. And of upmost concern is enforcement of the signed conservation plan that federal and state agencies have appeared to be violating and not telling anyone. Yes, folks, we are watching every move whether we say it or not.
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. There are also some very good topo map apps that work when out of cell signal. One is free (maps not as detailed as the pay for version which is older maps with greater detail).
(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