EAGLE LAKE FISHING REPORT
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FISHING SEASON ENDS DECEMBER 31, 2017
EAGLE LAKE GENERAL STORE IN SPALDING IS OPEN.
May 27, 2017
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TROLLING: South basin. Well, we did have a few fish caught opening day, but I wouldn’t say it was the best opener and it could have made last year’s opening day actually look good.
The shore fishing was nearly nonexistent. Some little fish off Pikes, one respectable of Christie. Wildcat Pt fishing wasn’t worth the drive out according to my buddies out there.
Finally, some of my other boys picked up a few fish off Eagle’s Nest on black/silver rapala’s right on top, trolling rapala speed of around 3mph. Running between 3 and 5 ft deep for the most part but over the deeper water 40+ft. They didn’t start catching until after noon, once there was a little wind on the water. We could see the black/white shad powerbait minnow work if the rapala’s were getting attention, perhaps the black/white needlefish. But, it could be another one hit wonder season so be prepared to through the box at them. For the most part, the more natural colors patterns worked best over the clear water than did the bright colors.
A few fish were caught earlier, but it was a tough day for most folks out there. I got attention on a cinnamon leech but the orange didn’t do anything. Tomorrow is another day.
Further north up by the Youth Camp/Biology Station and south side of Pelican Pt reports were poor and surface temps were high. Trollers didn’t do too much and neither did my expert fly fishermen who worked every point and rock on the south side of Pelican. The water was very flat this morning and it could have been that we needed some wind on the water for the bite to kick in…if you have fish on your scope in trout range (6 to 30ft deep), don’t leave them. The chubs appeared to be on the deep side today …. Mostly what I saw was below 40ft. Pass em by. I only saw one trout in the shallows where I could see bottom in 12 ft between Christie and Wildcat. But, I did see a few trout midging around 9am over the ledges 25 to 45ft deep. They were barely dimpling the surface of the water for about 20 minutes. So watch for what looks like nervous water on the surface and head for it.
It is not unusual for these fish to be scattered opening weekend. They go from no boats on the water for months to being inundated on one day. Trollers in the shallows can move them in a heartbeat when their skits out from all the noise underwater. They should acclimate to the noise, but they will most likely remain scattered until the heat of summer drives them to their summer haunts. We do have higher surface temperatures this year than in years past for early in the season.
The fish I am scoping have been in small pods and very scattered. Some as high as 6 to 7 ft deep to 17 to 22ft deep later in the morning. The water was very clear this morning. The slightly rising surface temps might push the upper zone of fish down a foot or two by mid to late morning, but a breeze or wind generally brings them back up again. Typically, running a line in the upper 6-10ft of the water column will pay off until surface temps reach 68F so I always keep one in the water, even in summer when surface temps rise above that.
There are some areas that have spotty algae and weeds on the surface but all in all, there's a lot of nice water and it’s been clearer than the past few years. The challenge to fishing this lake is that our trout are migratory by nature and move from place to place, sometimes overnight. It is very typical for them to be scattered early in the season. Not a lot of surface activity on the hatches but some here and there. I imagine they are feasting on suspended zooplankton at deeper depths....keep at least one lure/trolling fly in florescent orange down there as these are perfect water temps for the shrimp to spawn and it suspends on the thermoclines.
I don't think we will have to go too deep to get them early. Probably stay in the upper 10ft of the water column even if they move out. But it isn't uncommon at all to find them deeper later in the morning 21-24ft....not often much deeper but we’ll have to see where they are active. On the east side off Eagle's Nest 28 to 30ft deep late in the morning can find some nice fish...especially drowning a crawler from a bobber. I generally stagger lines on the east side this time of year as Usually fish at depths below 40ft are tui chub and they stack up on your scope and can blacken your screen. They school differently than the trout and can live in much lower levels of dissolved oxygen. They will either show up as a thick line of stack fish 5 to 6 ft thick or be stacked up on your scope between 7 and 47+ft in the south basin. It’s the 40- 47ft+ depths that determine they’re chubs, chances are good it's not trout. Been there, done that. We have a lot more tui chubs now than we have seen historically. Trout come and go, ours live about 12 years, tui chub live over 30 years have no predators as adults. They will begin spawning in a few weeks if they aren’t already getting the urge.
Out of Spalding.: Surface temps shot up to 67F on 5-26. There wasn’t much action going on at the Youth Camp or Pelican Pt opening day. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few fish still there, they could have just gone down and laid on the bottom with all the pressure and boats. I wouldn’t just blow the area off as fishless yet. I would bounce the bottom with a brown or black leech in 15 to 35ft of water if I found nothing up top or in shallower water. With water temps already at 67F+ I think the fish that were in the shallows are high tailing it to cooler water. Hopefully they will have water left in fall.
There is plenty of aquatics, flies, snails and even the damsels and dragon flies were mating and dropping eggs in the water today. The water was full of life. The flies are probably the most plentiful….on that note, don’t breathe through your mouth, several species were hatching at the same time and they were crawling all over me. I had more mosquitos down south in the morning than up north but the Youth Camp area was loaded.
We do have new tules quite a way out from the old tule line, once they rise above the surface (in a few weeks) we will see a new tule line and hopefully by fall, we will still have a little water in them. I believe we have some areas that will provide for some minor grebe nesting. The tui chub should do well spawning this summer so fall might be productive, pending launching feasiblity. Even though some of the new tules are spindly, there are thick patches and should have a couple of feet of water under a nest in August when they hatch. 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.
WHAT TO USE: Well, orange is always a good color to start with, but it didn’t do that well today. I always start out with one aggressive color and one passive color and see what happens. The water being very clear in the upper 10ft could make a difference. For us, it was the more passive colors of lures and flies that finally got some attention.
For orange: Red/prism needlefish, Florescent orange Sure Catch in Red-Dog or Goldie Locks (available at Eagle Lake Marina and Eagle Lake General Store), trolling flies in florescent orange or Jay Fairs Hot One (it’s a little darker). I got attention on a brown/cinnamon leech over the orange. Generally for sizes it’s been a large Red-Dog (medium double jointed or Large single), I like the single Goldie Locks Sure Catch in medium size and I would be tempted to throw a large Sure Catch “shad” at them since they hit the black/silver rapala’s today, as well as black/white needlefish or a Berkley shad minnow. We do have other fish in the lake that spawn, not all the minnows are tui chubs so we could have seen an influx of Redside shiners or Tahoe suckers.
Little Cleo's (1/8oz drops 5 to 6 ft deep at 2mph; 1/4oz drops to about 7-8ft at 2mph (orange/gold and orange/silver have been catching me fish on other lakes with similar temps and depths of fish). We do have a good toad population so Red-Dot frog patterns would be my next lure color in the water and I consider it to be more passive. Lures with some red on them did fairly well last year when the normal lures didn’t. FYI. Firetiger patterns do well in overcast conditions or cloudier water but it’s an aggressive color and it didn’t fare well today. Baby Simon lures have done well up here too. Mostly combinations of orange or pinks have caught us the most fish the last couple years, but other colors have worked under different conditions.
I don't use many natural minnow imitations until the tui chub minnows begin to hatch later in summer, but a few of my buddy’s caught some fish on black/silver rapala’s running on toplines after noon once the wind was up a bit and at 3 to 3.2 mph. Florescent orange and German brown rapala's got attention early in the season last year, firetiger and German brown double jointed had their moments. We may have to throw the tackle box at them again this year. Never seen so many days of "one hit wonders" than we did last year. Z-Rays: Red-dot gold has been a good lure, I generally troll these at 2.8 mph....keep the rod tip dancing. Little Cleos, Pheobies, Z-Rays, SureCatch and rapala's all keep your rod tip dancing at the right speed. No dancing at any speed indicates a fouled hook and with spotty surface weeds and algae, it’s a good idea to check your line when you go through some. We generally speed up over slowing down our troll. I like 2.5 to 2.8mph but I have often had to ramp that up a bit to 3.2 to 3.4. So vary your speed, you will find a sweet spot. Normally, this lake is a pretty fast troll for anything but nightcrawlers. If you use a dodger, shorten up your leader up here. Wiggle discs ahead of grubs or trolling flies work well.
Trolling threaded nightcrawlers is also an Eagle Lake standard. When all else fails, troll the live bait. Generally, we can get away with using flashers later in the season when the chubs hatch. If you do like to use flashers, shorten up your leader. 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. 3 to 4 ft of leader & 9 out of 10 times they pass it up before hitting the flasher. LoL. Attractants can also help. I generally use attractants in cloudier water, but they have proven themselves up here. 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. This can be a critical tactic in clear water.
TROLLING FLIES: The Brown/cinnamon leech bought the strikes today over the orange. Olive leeches can do well off Pikes Pt and off Wildcat Pt sometimes as do black/red leech patterns or dubbed wooly buggers. Don't discount smaller flies for trolling, especially burnt orange, brown or olive wooly buggers. 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. Hard to find but can be found online. 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. 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 on a faster troll. Berkley minnows are also a good choice. Black shad or water melon pearl have been the favorites but smoke made its debut on the lake last year and it did pretty well.
STILL FISHING FROM ANCHOR: 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. Stagger bobbers. Fish I have scoped below 7-8ft have been holding at 17 to 22ft deep and as deep as 24. That doesn't mean that they are real active at that depth. The east side fish generally can be active deeper than those on the west side early in the season. Find the ledges and look for the pods. I saw quite a bit of empty water before finding the pods on the east side, so we're going to have to look for the pods....or hope they swim by eventually. On the west side from Wildcat Pt Slough Pt we can find them in shallower water but closer to the bottom. Today, most everything was out over deeper water even though the fish that were caught weren’t very deep.
SHORE FISHING: Anywhere there is rocks, you probably won't get too many weeds on your line or hang up on reeling in. But in some areas, one will have to have a good cast to get out of the weeds. A few weeds along shore off Pikes Pt, Christie and any flat shoreline. The shore fishing didn’t do too well opening day, but there was a lot of pressure on the lake today. Surface temps are still within a fairly good range for shore. It will depend on how much pressure they get too. Trollers out from the shore fishermen can easily move the fish back in close at odd times of the day as long as water temps stay below 65F.
FLY FISHING: Lots of small flies hatching early. Mosquitos, Midges and various Chronies (#16 to #18) early and spinner & minnow mayflies later. If wading, along a weedy shoreline, you may have to use an indicator to keep your fly from dropping into the weeds and fouling. If you walk out to 3 ft of water or more, you probably will be outside most of the nasty, weedy stuff and into the rocks and areas that have had water over the last few years. The historic moss beds are doing well out in 6ft of water or more along the west shoreline. Leech patterns are generally my go to fly pattern over the moss beds & gravel bars.
From the east side, the ledge that drops from 12 to 40+ft deep is further out than it was over the last few years. So it will take a good cast to get over that deeper water this year. We do have fish moving in tight and shallow right now, but how long they keep doing that will depend on keeping the surface temps from rising over 65F. The fish have been moving out over deeper water, but I'm still seeing a lot holding 7 to 10ft deep even after mid-morning. Some have dropped 17 to 22ft deep later. Good Luck out there, we’re gonna need all we can get!!
The Eagle Lake Marina store has a very good selection of flies behind the counter, just ask. Jay Fair Wiggle Tails are there too (wiggle tails are weighted, good for drifting in tube or kayaks when there is a breeze).
Good Luck out there, we’re gonna need all we can get!!
All lake elevations are also posted on Lake Conditions page going back to 2012 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 after seeing water temps rising an only starting to see a few fish off Spalding once reaching 7 to 8 ft of water. As water temps rise, the fish will move towards the Youth Camp which was already beginning to happen on 5-10-17. It was pretty clear of surface weeds closer to the Youth Camp but there were still a few scattered about. Anything can happen but a week of warmer weather will cause water temps to rise in the shallows really quick. We are already seeing patches of algae on the surface out of Spalding along the airstrip towards Rocky Pt but there were still some clearer channels further out. We could see it increase if the next few days are warm and water temps rise higher. It’s a catch 22.
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. So just be watchful, this isn't the best lake to have your motor seize up or overheat on early in the season when winds and cool weather are still prevalent. 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 still below 5097ft 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. I requested the creel data from DFW but Paul Divine had not compiled last year’s data by April 2017 and I still have not received the info. For the first time in my 55 years, the lake was green and massively cloudy all 2016 season. Dissolved oxygen dropping below sustainable levels for trout below 22ft deep. I took a video camera down into the water column and was totally amazed as to the water quality. 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. I do see some blue/green algae forming along the shoreline, but so far the water has been clearer than I have seen it in a while. I expect to get through opening weekend clearer but once the green hue comes back and visibility drops, we will know what is going on and try to adapt to it. Cautiously optimistic, but we haven't even started yet. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks. We have seen a lot fewer trout in the tributaries. Papoose creek has 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. Pine Creek finally drafted a little over 1000, 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. 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. Generally eggs collected that late in the season aren't as viable as earlier eggs. Time will tell. SEE TROUT PLANTINIG AND MARKINGS FOR YEARS PLANTED HERE. 100% OF THE PLANTED FISH ARE NOW MARKED BY FIN OR TAIL TRIMMING.
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. 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. 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. I expect to see my scope very cluttered with tui chub in 2017 season.
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. 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. 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.