Eagle Lake Best Fishing Locations Depths

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 South basin.  Fish cleaning sinks and bathrooms have been winterized for the season.  Merrill Campground is now closed.  Eagle Campground is open for now.  Check in with the host.  Generally some outhouses are brought in once the bathrooms and water is turned off and winterized.   I don't advise filling water tanks in RV's and planning on camping.  If camping, bring bottled water and try to keep it from freezing overnight as once the water is turned off, you'll have to bring your own. The low water ramp is still going strong. The dock can be frosty in the morning and it could be removed at any time regardless of normally being removed around Dec 1.  Note that buoys have been removed so be careful out there.  Foggy pond after any moisture falls so it may be pretty common now, especially on a cold clear morning.  

There are still a few nice fish up off the Youth Camp and either side of Pelican Pt there but not in really big numbers. The trout have to work a little harder for food so they are foraging along the shoreline and rock piles.  Some eventually moving back out but staying pretty close to the surface. Surface temps holding in the mid to high 40's. 

My buddies have been finding a handful of fish off Wildcat Pt.  Christie area has been fishing pretty good from shore as well as out and along the ledges towards Wildcat.  Sometimes it is just a matter of timing as to when the fish come in closer to shore or remain out further over deeper water.  We are starting to see more trout returing from the north end of the south basin so there are scattered pods along the west side but they are eager.  
We are seeing the east side between Camp Ron McD and Eagles Nest pick up as well as the ledges off the west side.  Lots of smaller fish off Pikes and towards Camp Ron McD but a few good respectable fish have also been caught.  For trollers they have been mostly hitting trolling flies in brown (various shades of cinnamon), tui chub, orange (burnt and rusty orange), and mustard.  Mostly in the upper 10ft of the water column.  Brown leech was my best under sunny skies and flat water but olive really kicked in by late morning.  Tui Chub fly has been more location specific for me. Red and rust has also gotten attention the west side. I have also gotten fish on various other flies such as olive spruce (yes we troll small flies) and olive wooly buggers.  Rapala's getting some attention, mostly for us it's been about silver/black on sunny days and gold on cloudy days. I really prefer double jointed this time of year.  Double jointed small and medium Red Dog (Sure Catch), for needlefish; perch, red prism, red-dot frog and firetiger depending on the water and sky conditions. #1's best, #2 second best for us.
Some trout are back to foraging the shoreline, back to the minnows and flipping rocks for nymphs, leeches and other aquatics on the gravel bars and ledges very soon.  Firstly, the trout don't care for being beat up by wave action pounding into the shoreline.  They will hold further out.  They will also hold on the leeward side of a point, waiting for wave action to lift and drive any critters out of the rocks.  That's generally where we get them when wading or shorefishing in heavy winds.

If you get a fish, make a circle & see if there is one more before moving on.  The only thing I haven’t changed is my running depth which has been 2 to 6 ft deep.  Occasionally, depending on the depth of water I have dropped one line to around 8 to 10ft even down to 12ft off the deeper water ledges on the west side, but the majority of my fish are coming from my toplines (similar to Jay Fairs topline which are available from Glenn Fair) and running about 140ft behind the boat.  But it is not uncommon to find the trout deeper as well as on top this time of year.  I often find them 17 to 24ft deep at the same time I am catching at 2 to 6 ft deep. 
These trout will change food sources with locations.  The trout get tired of the same old thing too and change back and forth when new food sources become available as with changing locations.  The shrimp larva is now stirred up so the trout will have to work for their food and are very good at taking "opportunity" foods.  Just get something in front of them & they generally will grab at it.
Attractants certainly can’t hurt.   Pro Cure Trophy Trout is my first choice right now. But don’t be afraid to try any other flavor.  Next up for me is generally garlic.

Accesses include the Jetty, Pikes Pt, Circus Grounds, Christie Day Use.  For the east side, there's a parking area just past Camp Ron McD and a long walk to the gravel bar, Eagle's Nest, the Youth Camp/Biology Station (roads suck).  To access any areas of the west side, plan on a walk around 1/2 mile or more.  There are old roads that have been closed to vehicles for decades which make for easier walking.  Rocky Pt out of Bucks Bay is also an access point as long as the water is open. 
For casting feathers (flies and jigs) from shore, black, rust and olive have been my best producers this week.  But we can see white, tan, yellow and chartreuse work under some conditons.
For live bait we generally use nightcrawlers or pieces of them (it is illegal to use minnows, including any caught here at the lake).  Other worms (sometimes redworms kick butt).  Powerbait has earned its place.  Colors can change.  Rainbow covers several colors but we can see these trout shift to red, yellow and purple.  Don't ask me how many jars I have. LoL.
We also often use longer rods, lighter line to get the distance.  Just note that the 4lb line doesn't hold up to abrasion from rocks or weeds well, and trout teeth can damage it very easily.  Use a lighter drag and re-tie your hook after EVERY fish.  Trust me on that for 4 to 6lb lines.  Jig fishing has been doing well...mostly on black/red and brown but the normal small jig colors are olive, brown/rust/cinnamon and black.  We can see yellow and orange do some damage too, mostly a little later in December.  We use the small jigs up here under weighted bobbers.  But in a pinch a regular crapy jig can work too.  If that is all you have in your tackle box & nothing else is working for you, don't hesitate to tie one on.  Quite often we have cast out our second rod with a jig into the waves and let the wave action do the work, just make sure your rod cant get towed out with a fish on it and run, don't walk to set the hook before the fish spits it.  Gone are the 30+ fish days of catch and release but decent limits are possible. 

FLY FISHING:   The fly fishing has had some good days of catching a few to other days of working hard for one.  It has mostly been about a matter of timing.  Some days the fish just haven't come in close until later in the day.  This is one reason I love having my float tube or kayak rather than wading from shore.  I can always access the fish.  Rusty brown leech  and olive nymphs were my best colors along the shoreline this week.  Olive wooly buggers (#10 or 12's).  Don't hesitate to tie on something small like a prince, hare's ear or pheasant tail nymph.  Most of my fish have been eating various small critters and only a couple have had minnows in their bellies. You have to cover some ground to catch a few off Lake of the Woods and Shrimp but we are seeing some action.  
I was out tubing this week and did well.  Jig fishermen did well too. Wading is going to take getting out beyond the new tule beds in order to get a line out but it is doable. In some areas there's drop offs that can fill your waders up and its no fun to have to hold your elbows up for hours just to keep dry.  There are a few pockets of open accessible water off Christie, but mostly just need to get a line out beyond them. We still have a few rock piles and points without tules, but it’s going to have to take some work getting to them.  It’s not going to be like years past from Christie to Wildcat or along the Circus Grounds or Lake of the Woods, we have a whole new weed line.  But, once we see higher water levels, this habitat will prove beneficial!! I like having my options, that’s why I like my float tube or kayak.  I can get in close and shallow but I can also follow the fish out when they go. That's how I get to double digits...follow the fish.  I can reach deeper water when I have to.

The new tules off Spalding are very difficult to access through the soft mud along the shoreline.  The old tules are still high and dry but we have seen some reseeding and migration of the tules.  This will be great in the future.  The water is still very brackish above Pelican too.  Yes, we have a handful of fish.  Float tubers can't launch well through the mud and kayakers have a lot of weedy water to cover.  But our future in the coming years is looking up. 
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 has occurred and they remain there in 2017 so cow poop city coming our way again for 2018.  We believe that the heavy nutrients led to our massive blue/green algae problem last season and it won't be going away now.  Rotting weeds from recently being covered in water contribute to the nitrate loading too. The north basins were dry for a long time and it will take a little time to get the food supply back.
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.  Visibility around 2-3ft now as August waned to Sept. By October we began to see some clearer water again and poof, November we were cloudy again.  But it's normal to see cloudier water in Nov/Dec.

With reduced trout planting a smaller trout the last few years, the tui chub have expedentially reproduced and have pretty much taken over the lake in 2017.  It's going to take a heck of a lot of trout to put  a meager dent in the minnow population and the stage two tui chubs are too big and protected by gardian chubs and the trout rarely even target the 5 to 7" chubs.  Personally, I think we need to get rid of several million chubs or they will be competing for the food for the trout. A 7 to 10" trout isn't going to eat a 4 to 7" chub.  This happened at a lake in Oregon this year.  OFW ended up netting several thousand pounds of chubs every day for several weeks just to balance the population as their trophy trout fishery tanked due to too many chubs eating the food up.

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 so we haven't really had a native spawn so far for this season. DFW needed 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.  DFW wanted and expected to get 3.1 million eggs and after many weeks of good flow in all the main tributaries had to electroshock in the lake and still only got 1.3 million eggs.  Hello?  And they don't see a problem?  LoL.  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.  They are wasting resourses and money trying to get the trout to spawn above highway 44 when all the natural spawning that HAS occured from the trout heading upstream from the lake in spring has been below that level. 

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 about 250,000 trout short from reduced planting in the last 5 years.  No contingency plan, over population of tui chub and no plan for those either.  God forbid what next year will bring.
We are seeing a lot of trout with several fins removed.  We have caught quite a few fish that were missing 3 fins or more and quite a few with split tails. DFW is marking after every time they handle a fish for the spawn or plant it.  One fish had no fins, just his tail to manuvery.  Sad case.  We have caught hundreds of these mutilated fish this year in particular. If it was anglers, there would not be so many and most are all very close to the same size.  If it is DFW (see fin trimming note from DFW), I would say they are mostly mutilating these fish now and freeze branding was much better for the fish.  If you get a nice one that you may want to have mounted, good luck as it will be somewhat mutilated when it comes to the fins and tails.  Not a trophy trout to be proud of, that's certain.  This is being done so that in the future, a native (native spawn) fish may be fully finned.  In the mean time, the hatchery raised/farmed fish might just swim in circles.  LoL.  DFW should go back to freeze branding the fish.  This was much better for the fish.  At least the fish had fins and a full tail.

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 now 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.  Mostly, any school of fish that the top is at 7ft and the bottom is at 47ft are NOT trout. We caught some chubs 22" long in 2016 and again in late July 2017.  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, we had another prolific hatch.  I believe their population density is going to bite us in the ass if it hasn’t already.  They're over populated, competing with the fewer trout and we don't have the numbers of trout or grebes to control the future population.  I have no idea if the ones I am catching survive my release.  LoL! I seee this becoming a very bad problem for this lake now.  People don't come here to catch trophy tui chubs.
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.