Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths

EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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FISHING SEASON ENDS DECEMBER 31, 2017

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7-22-17
 
FISHING REPORT
 
TROLLING:   South basin.  Masses of adult tui chub inundated the east side the last couple of days.  Where we have been doing pretty good on trout the last few weeks, we caught more chubs today than we have all season.  We still caught trout, but the chubs were coming in triples.  Fishing remains slow for many folks but we’re still getting them.  Some days we’re putting in a little more time.  We did have 8 trout this morning, but we also had 15 very large tui chubs.  We left the east side, picked up chubs in the middle as well as the west side although we also had a couple small trout off southern Lake of The Woods.   There are still some fish to be had but they are on the move after the chubs moved into their recent locations.  Our biggest was 3lb 4oz & 21” long.  My best trolling speed the last few days of catching has been 1.7 to 1.9 mph and I am working a column of water no less than 10ft thick, just by speed and turns.  That's one of the sweet spots for the buoyant lure.  It has been critical to keep the right speed for the best action of the lure on the rod tip.  We brought lines up, as well as keeping them at the depth we have been catching trout.  The red/gold buoyant is still my top producer.  The #1 (small) RED DOT frog needlefish and copper/orange #1 needlefish doing well the last few days too, I can run it a little faster.  It's sweet spot has been at 2.2 mph.  Early in the morning I am finding the trout a little higher at 17-22ft deep (3-4 colors of leadcore), while later in the morning I am dropping a couple lines back down to 25 to 33ft deep (5-6 colors of leadcore).  The thermocline remains between 30 and 35ft, but that doesn't always mean that's where the fish are the most active. I have been mostly fishing the east side from Camp Ron McD to the point south of Eagle's Nest and still getting fish.  Today we had quite a few shakers, but still had some nice trout.  There are still some fish on the west side…just more scattered, today we had smaller fish on the west side too.  There are also a few trout just out from the jetty and Aspen Campground as well as between Merrill Campground and Wildcat Pt (the Bermuda Triangle).  Mostly over water 35 to 50ft deep. They aren't all chubs out there but we had more chubs the last couple of days.  The trout will move when the massive schools of adult chubs move in.  So we will be making some scouting trips again next week.  We did head up north last week to check on the chubs and the northern school of spawners.  They were heading back to the south basin depths last Thursday.  It took about a week for them to join up with the others.  Now we will go in search of the bigger trout schools once again.   

We have a lot of zooplankton in the water on the west side as well as scattered minnows.  The zooplankton is thick enough to show up on your scope but I did take a video camera down to some of the clouds showing up, and it wasn't all minnows.  Generally, my rod tip "ticks" when going through minnows, but when it doesn't something is different...that's why I took a camera down.  So we have two things going on on the west side.  The east side clouds on the scope were mostly minnows, although we now have all three stages of tui chub on the east side.   We are already seeing more of a movement of the trout from one side of the lake to the other.  But most of the trout moved a little north, off the south side of Miners Pt and appeared to be very scattered in small pods.
 
Every trout has had to ¾” to 1" minnows in their stomachs this week.  So the tui chub minnows are on the menu at the food court.  We still have the shrimp plankton which is suspended on the thermocline as well, mostly on the west side over the east side.  This week I am also seeing small cinnamon/brown leeches in their stomachs....a first for the east side fish this season. We have lots of food on the menu right now.  I am also finding a handful of trout foraging near the bottom in 30-35ft of water, mostly early in the morning before they move out and suspend but I can find them later once all the boats move out or go in.

It is not uncommon to see trout chasing minnows into the shoreline or shallow rock piles even with higher water temperatures so keep an eye on the surface, if the minnows are boiling, something below is causing it.  Also, watch the pelicans.  If you see a group of pelicans out in the middle of the lake with their heads down, there is only one thing happening…. Trout chasing the minnows up towards the surface.  The pelicans can only reach so far down so there is something pushing the minnows up to them from below.  I generally don't find the trout real deep under the pelicans.  Mostly 10 to 14ft when they are on the chase.   Note that the trout only target the fresh hatch of the season.  The pelicans and grebes DO target the larger school of juvenile chubs (subsequent years) and they feed on the shrimp plankton and it doesn't really have to be as dense as i.  It isn't unusual for these trout to move around the lake depths in summer and we are already seeing some movement from the last few weeks.  

The Red/Gold Buoyant lures have done me very well this season.  Today was not an exception.   #1 RED DOT FROG needlefish has been holding it's own the last few days and doing a little better every day (Remember that CA or Western Toad explosion last week).  Other lures getting attention have been orange/copper needlefish #1, brass and red such as Jakes and Sm Zrays.  The #1 red/prism (smaller than #2) has also got attention, more than #2.  For the needlefish....start out with #1's.  Cop-Car, Black/white, pearl bikini had all gotten a look this week.  We will be able to go up in size in a few weeks, but right now, it's about small when it comes to toads or minnow imitations.  Watermelon grubs are also getting looked at but it has been mostly all lure action for me.  Some berkley minnows are also starting to get attention in smoke and shad.  
 
When the trout start on the minnows, they are looking for the fresh hatch of the season.  That's why it can be critical to use smaller sized needlefish, lures and rapala's early in the hatch. Once the minnows are larger (the following year), they join up with a different group which I call stage 2 tui chub nursery.  That’s several years’ worth of minnows from 4 to 8" long which are guarded by sub adults (10" to 13" long) who rush the predator trout like a linebacker.  The trout don’t generally target the larger minnows, but they pound the very small fresh hatch…. generally, charging in and eating them head first. They are the easiest ones for the trout to focus on. The trout can become directional for trollers in the clouds of baitfish.  Always make circles and go all directions and see what minnows you are working.  We often find one direction catching fish and the others not a bite.  Just know that right now, not every cloud you see on your scope is minnows, or the right minnows for finding trout.   It will come soon.
 
The trout won’t generally go to 40ft or below due to low dissolved oxygen, regardless of the water temps being cooler,  so don’t target the chubs down there or that’s what you will catch (lots of chubs at 6 colors of leadcore and lower so far).  You will get a lot of short strikes (small mouths on chubs). We can find trout mostly no deeper than 38ft in summer, but mostly holding between 28 and 32ft deep. It depends a lot on the conditions of the water.  For the most part, the dissolved oxygen drops too low below 40ft to sustain a trout long, while tui chubs are regularly found in lower O2 levels, the trout are generally not.  Tui Chubs do take trollers but for the most part, they have small mouths and can't normally take in a large lure.  We can get a lot of line rubs when dragging lines through them too and line ticks going thru the minnows.
  
We also have Lahontan red-sided shiners (look like a sucker) and Tahoe suckers that also spawn in the lake (mostly over the springs).  The suckers numbers are much smaller than the tui chub.   Without big numbers of predators, once the tui chubs are big enough, their numbers substantially increase. Tui Chub live over 30yrs, while trout come and go.  Tui Chubs are pretty easy to determine on your fish finder and very east to know what you have on the line.  The fight good, but always straight down beside the boat. 
 
Out of Spalding.: Surface temps 72F to 74F on average today.   There hasn't been much action going on at the Youth Camp or Pelican Pt this week since surface temps rocketed to the extremes.  But we should have a good food supply for fall when water temps cool back down in fall and hopefully we still have a little water left. LoL.  Until then, the depths of the south basin is going to be where the majority of the trout will be for a while longer. 
 
We do have new tules quite a way out from the old tule line…basically at last year’s low water line is the new tule line.  At least, it’s going to be a little different tule line once we do get water back (and we will get that water and we are making a lot of progress on getting the Super Ditch filled in and water back to the creek channel starting this summer).  So the future is promising and I won’t let this project fail to bring back the north basins habitat.  I have always said, start fixing the problem and Mother Nature will respond.  If we can get some tui chub spawning up off Troxel Pt this summer, we could see some trout move up there in fall, but it was a bust up north since the lake opened.
 
WHAT ELSE TO USE:  Besides the 1/4 oz Red/Gold buoyantMetallic #1 watermelon needlefish got bit  #1 RED DOT FROG needlefish has been doing pretty good for the last few days too.  For orange: #1 Red/prism or #1 copper/orange needlefish this week.  As a note; I tweak the bend slightly and change the hook to a #10 treble…basically going back to the 30-year-old style of needlefish…too much bend and it will twist in the water.  It doesn’t take much tweaking.  Pink/pearl Baby Simons, and orange/gold Mack’s Wedding Rings have also gotten fish.  Trolling flies in tui chub and small minnow patterns have gotten a few fish between Merrill and Wildcat Pt.  I haven't had a look yet on a brown leech but a handful of fish have taken the small green wooly bugger.  If you don't have a speed indicator in your boat use your smartphone's gps.  There are plenty of free GPS apps that show speed.  Mix it up, one day they are at a slower speed, the next day a faster speed.
 
Perch patterns can do well, tamer than firetiger yet still has orange brassy hues and darker greens.  Time to think about using the smallest countdown rapala’s now too, green back.  We can graduate to larger ones later towards Sept, but there is a reason the marina store stocks a large selection of the small rapala’s…that’s what the trout are looking for.
 
Generally, we can get away with using flashers later in the season when the tui chub minnows are in large schools, but they are better in fall when the clarity of the water drops to around 2 to 4 ft.  If you do like to use flashers, shorten up your leader.  We are beginning to see some cloudy water issues starting around 17ft deep so when all else fails, give it a shot.  These fish can come up behind a flasher in fall fast…real fast.  If your leader is too long, you get lots of strikes but no fish hooked.  That’s because they miss your offering and hit the flasher.  14” is about all you need, no more than 22-24".  If you use 3 to 4 ft of leader from flashers or dodgers, 9 out of 10 times they pass up your offering and it your flasher.  LoL. You get the strikes but don’t hook the fish.  Attractants can also help.  Garlic seems to be a favorite, Krill, trophy trout next up.  If you have sunscreen on your hands or used any type of hair product before heading out on the lake such as a gel or fragrant oil on your hands, you may need to cover up your scent on bait. I use stick sunscreens, that way I don't get it on my hands and don't have to worry about touching any bait, lure or fly.  But sunscreen and hair products are a fish repellent. 
 
TROLLING FLIES:   The Jay Fair tui chub minnow and Arctic Fox tui chub and red-side trolling fly is starting to get attention and should be only getting better.  It would be my first fly in the water for trolling flies right now and it won't be long before I will be running those consistently, but this summer has been more about metal at the depths than flies and with the greenish hue to the water, red has been my top producer for a color.  Flies will be on top again once fall begins. The Brown/cinnamon leech is my go to fly for naturals and is something that generally gets attention on the West side....sometimes the shade of brown can make a difference but so far, not enticing a lot of fish. Sometimes black/red or black/green leech patterns or dubbed wooly buggers can work well too. Don't discount smaller flies for topline trolling, especially burnt orange, brown or olive wooly buggers when the fish are busting the surface.  Smaller versions are available at Eagle Lake Marina, ask at the counter as they are in the case along with Jay Fair wiggle tails (wiggle tails are slightly weighted) and various other flies.  They have a very good selection of flies; just ask to see what they have.  Sometimes these fish prefer a snack over a meal.  
 
GRUBS: Generally, the same colors of grubs work as trolling flies.  One of the grubs I really like is a pumpkin seed, but it’s beige with a hint of orange and smaller than most.  Berkley, sometimes called a jigging grub 1 ½”.  Hard to find but can be found online or Sportsman’s Warehouse, it's not the amber one you see labeled as pumkin seed by other manufacturers.  Orange, watermelon, brown, rootbeer, black are good to start out with before going to the crazies…but we can find some crazier colors to work when nothing else does.  Motor oil has had its moments on this lake. Trolled slow and hooked correctly, the grubs have a nice wiggle, but on faster trolls a wiggle disc or dodger will give it some needed action.  Berkley minnows are also a good choice.  Black shad or water melon pearl have been the favorites but smoke and shad made its debut on the lake last year and it did pretty well when the fishing was tough and during the first minnow feasting.  These come scented in the package (bring a ziplock just in case you damage the packaging.)
 
STILL FISHING FROM ANCHOR:  Bait fishing under slip bobbers is beginning to take hold the last few days on the east side near The Springs.  Green Powerbait has also gotten some fish.  It has been a matter of being in the right place at the right time.  Mostly only very early in the morning.  It's been pretty tough fishing regardless.   I always liked seeing trollers around me when I baitfish (as long as they don’t run over my lines), it seems to move the fish to the bait when the bite has gone off.  Mostly quite a few chubs were caught the last couple of days.  That will change before too long, hopefully for the best.

I always suggest running a freeline.  No weight just the weight of the worm.  Give it a toss, leave your bail open and make sure your line doesn't hold up in your guides, let it drift naturally for several minutes, eventually it will sink to the bottom.  But on the way down, it covers the water column in a natural way.  I generally start out with a 5 to 7 minute drop, then relocate.  It is more feasible in water deeper than 35ft than it is in water shallower.  2-3 minute drop in water shallower than 30-35ft. This can be critical when working the ledge.  Stagger bobbers mostly between 25 and 30ft deep, some as deep as 32-33ft.  The east side fish generally can be active deeper or over deeper water than those on the west side. Find the ledges and look for the pods.   It is not unusual to find them in shallower water (30 to 35ft deep) and close to the bottom if trollers pressure them out over the deeper water.…especially early in the morning before the sun gets too high.  Trollers using downriggers can also move fish right to the bait fishermen.
 
SHORE FISHING:  Not producing much at all so far this season but the trout are beginning to school up over the depths.  We are seeing more fish on the east side ledges between The Springs and Eagles Nest.  Today we found several in that location and depth and minnows were one of the food sources but there is still plenty of shrimp plankton out there that the trout are filter feeding on.  The shore fishing hasn’t done real well this season and now we need to be able to reach deeper water.   Now that the trout are chasing the first minnows, shore fishing off the east side ledge may improve over the next few weeks...we really need to cool off just a tad bit before the trout will come in closer.  The ledge is still reachable with a good cast and shoot for the depth around 25-30ft.  If your bobber doesn't stand up, bring it in and set it a little higher until you get that bait about 2ft from the bottom.  I suggest minnie crawlers or a half or third of a nightcrawler over the whole worm right now.  Sometimes smaller is better.  Powerbait has also held its own for bait.  Green or beige.

FLY FISHING:  Small flies hatching early but the number are lower.  Midges of various Chironies are hatching during the morning (#16 to #18 and #20-#22).  Black caddis, spinner & minnow mayflies later and some blue darners (damsels) later in the morning.  Access areas by boat as surface temps in the mid 70’s are keeping the trout out over deeper water, but they are rising.  Some are after the meager hatch of flies while others are targeting a small school of mini minnows. If you see minnows boiling, chances are good that there is a reason….if it isn’t a grebe, it’s a trout.  Best to wait for fall now.

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All lake elevations are also posted on Lake Conditions page going back to 2010 so it is easy for you to compare.  All launch ramp photos are posted in the 2017 ramp album for you to view.  All surface temps for areas are also located on Lake Conditions, even though I add a few here. 
 
Thousands of cows grazing along highway 139 thru mid January so we can safely assume some heavy nutrient loading as the water is gradually coming up covering all the cow patties.  We believe that the heavy nutrients led to our massive blue/green algae problem last season.  Rotting weeds from recently being covered in water contribute to the nitrate loading too.  I doubt I will waste much time scouting the north basin early this season but we hope the fall produces some migration of trout if the tui chub minnows are prolific. The north basins were dry for a long time and it will take a little time to get the food supply back.
 
Plenty of folks didn't believe me about the silt and water pump problems in the low water conditions in the shallow basins.  But they do now, crustaceans really eat up an impellor pretty quick.  So just be watchful, this isn't the best lake to have your motor seize up or overheat.  Once or twice isn't the killer, it's the repeated launching day after day that can get you.  So we are doing better than the last 4 years, but we now below 5096.03ft elevation on the pond.  I'll still be launching down south at the low water ramp this season. 

In spite of seeing a few larger fish in 2016 season, the numbers of fish caught were dramatically decreased. For the first time in my 55 years, the lake was green and massively cloudy all 2016 season.  So far 2017 we have seen clearer water up until mid July when the green hue began getting more obvious.  Fewer trout caught early in the season but once they moved into the depths we starting seeing a few more being caught.   Not everyone is catching fish so we’ve just been lucky the last few weeks.  Some of us finding 2 to 4lbers.  

I believe we will see some of a return of the blue/green algae this summer (look at the shoreline near the low water ramp).  The water had a greener hue on 7-7 than it has been all season and by 7-19 it was very obvious along the shoreline.  Dissolved oxygen in 2016 dropped below sustainable levels for trout below 22ft deep.  Could be why I have been catching most of my fish 17-23ft deep in spite of having high surface temps and a thermocline at 30-35ft.  In August of 2016 I took a video camera down into the water column and was totally amazed as to the water quality being so poor.  At that time DFW chose not to perform more water testing.  I expect to see similar condition’s this season in spite of getting a little water back in the lake; 99% of that water is going to bring heavy nutrients from covering up millions of cow patties left in the north basins from grazing along the lake thru mid-January as well as from Pine Creek.  We have just started to see the increase in the blue/green algae in mid July so we'll wait and see what August brings.

We saw a lot fewer trout in the tributaries this spring than in years past.  I was more amazed by what I didn’t see than from what I did see.  Papoose creek had up to a couple hundred, Merrill Creek just a handful.  Both of these tributaries have traditionally had well over a thousand fish in them, even in years with less water we have seen 1700 to over 2000 in them.  Pine Creek finally drafted around 1200+ over 6 weeks not all were spawners but DFW had to close the gate and prevent free passage upstream for a while, until they got every ripe hen they could which was in violation of the conservation plan for free passage for the native spawn so it was manipulated again this year.  Then had to resort to electro-shocking in the lake for as many more as they could get.  I don't believe they got their entire target number of eggs.  It took well over a month of flow before any trout had come up Pine Creek and DFW had to work through the first week of May.  Pine Creek started flowing in mid Dec and continued to trickle through the winter under the ice.  Generally, eggs collected that late in the season aren't generally as viable as earlier eggs.  Time will tell but we are seeing a lot fewer fish than we have in years past...absolutely no doubt about that.  Many of the fish that did get to go upstream late in the flows,  stayed between the A1 bridge and Spalding bridge….then flows receded quickly stranding quite a few in low water and low DO.  It is always a waste of resources to prevent the fish from heading upstream the moment they want to go.  Holding them back several weeks only leads to a predetermined outcome.  Water temps shoot up quickly in slower flows and eggs can’t generally hatch, reduced flow strands not only the spawners but the fry as well.  Result is not natural when restricted by humans for their own convenience.  One of my major beefs with DFW and the biologists who do what THEY want, not what the fish are telling them. 

Don’t complain to the stores or marinas about the fishing and fish, you need to complain to the local department of fish and wildlife biologist in charge of managing this lake.  530 254-6363 Paul Divine.  SEE TROUT PLANTINIG AND MARKINGS FOR YEARS PLANTED HERE.  100% OF THE PLANTED FISH ARE NOW MARKED BY FIN OR TAIL TRIMMING. 
 
We are seeing a lot of trout with several fins missing.  We have caught quite a few fish that were missing 3 fins or more and quite a few with split tails.  I certainly hope that anglers aren't trimming more fins when catching and releasing than DFW is by marking.  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.

Trout come and go with catching and mortality of release in the summer months. Tui chub (other than the hatch of the season) have no predators and live over 32years.  They stay in the lake regardless. Tui chub are highly concentrated in the depths of the south basin, leaving little room for much else.  Many have been spawning up north and concentrate off the Youth Camp before heading back down south.  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 they spawn, they blanket the bottom, often 4-5ft thick, they also do this to protect the hatching eggs…mostly on the west side. We caught some chubs 22" long in 2016.  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, I think we will see another prolific hatch.  I believe their population density is going to bite us in the ass if it hasn’t already.
 
Various zooplanktons have also become very prolific to the point of fowling lines and downriggers...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.  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.  Over 50 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 soft.  Everyone wants to catch a big fish, but the quality of the meat is not nearly as good as smaller fish.  Consider that.  I rarely keep a fish over 4lbs as to me, it is a waste if it doesn't eat as good as a smaller fish...most of us consider them to be "smokers".   
 
Content of this website is copyright protected 2003-2017 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 50 years of fishing Eagle Lake and nearly 30 years of living here full time.  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...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 m.  Our explanation from BOS was "No one will know when you are all gone".  So we don't believe everything that Lassen County says.  That is the honest to God truth and there are still many of us old timers around that know that.
 
 

 

2017-07-22