Thank you to everyone that has come onboard over these last 25 years. 2022 was another great season and I am looking forward to having you onboard in 2023. Stay tuned, some exciting things are coming in 2023.
Winter fishing has always been special at Lake Almanor, one of the few lakes, at a higher elevation in the sierras that is relatively accessible. Many hearty anglers flock to its waters during the colder months in hopes of doing battle with some of Almanor's famous trout. Fishing the "off season" colder months does take a bit of pre-trip planning and preparation, things such as gear, clothing and travel routes in and out of the Almanor basin all should get extra attention. To promote success, you need to pick and choose you days wisely, learning to fish the "weather windows" between fronts and storms when conditions can more on the favorable side is key. On those days Almanor can be magical, calm waters with stunning views of the surrounding hills and Mt. Lassen clad in their wintery veil. 12/7/22 was one of those days.
The Canyon Dam Boat Ramp facility becomes crucial during the winter months as it is the only public access on the entire lake that is both open and maintained during winter or at least it used to be. Obviously, the facility provides access for people to launch boats, however the road and parking lot also provide key access to shore-based anglers at a prime time to intercept cruising trout as they slide in and out of the coves to the north and south. Bird watchers also frequent the facility, it gets them closer to the water and provides a good point to view their feathered friends.
There is an important economic component also associated with users having Canyon Dam to access the lake. Many of the users travel from out of town and while in and going through our communities they bring recreation dollars into local businesses. Many businesses in the area opt to run on the seasonal model, and close down during the winter, but to the ones that stay open year-round these dollars are vital. Visitors may eat in restaurants, purchase fuel and supplies or even stay in local lodging establishments.
On 12/7/22 I was traveling north to Oregon when i received a call from someone who had driven several hours to Almanor intending to launch a boat and fish, only to find that access was not available. Several feet of snow covered the access road and a nice berm had been built up by the Cal Trans plows working Hwy 89. He had done his due diligence in planning the trip, he checked the weather as well as the road situation and was prepared for the conditions. He also checked to see that Canyon Dam would be open. Discouraged, he left and returned home. Below you will see several screen grabs from the Almanor Ranger District's web site indicating Canyon Dam is open and useable.
A little back story and history: for many years going back the Canyon Dam facility was maintained by the Plumas County Road Department plow operators. Each year the Almanor Ranger District would sign and provide a contract to the county to maintain the access road, boat ramp and parking lot. Beginning last year that did not happen, instead they let the snow stack up for several weeks to the point that no plow truck would be capable of breaking through. Finally, the USFS bought in a large loader to open things back up. As of this writing there was several feet of snow covering the road from multiple storms that were about 5 days apart and the latest storm is currently adding what will most likely be additional feet of snow to that, all but guaranteeing it will again take the intervention of heavy equipment to open the facility back up.
If you have an interest in this as a user, potential user, local business or anyone who cares about local recreation, please use the contact information below to contact the USFS. Tell them to keep Canyon Dam Boat Ramp facility open, maintain the access road and parking lot so the public can have access to Lake Almanor.
Almanor Ranger District (530) 258-2141
Lassen National Forest Supervisors Office (530) 257-2151
A little Fall fishing wrap up from the waters of Lake Almanor. (side note: As I am writing this report, I am watching snow coming down out the window of my office.) The Fall schedule was a little different this round, than in the past 25 years. Declining water levels at Eagle Lake made launching difficult for most and impossible for larger deep draft vessels, that said, i would not be fishing Eagle Lake this season. No Eagle meant all Almanor and despite lower-than-average water levels along with algae blooms, for the most part Almanor produced, and as it is known to do, produced some exceptional quality fish.
As the water temps cool in the Fall and the aquatic bug activity slows down, fish turn their focus to the pond smelt in the lake. The Japanese Pond Smelt or Wakasagi will remain the fish's primary food source throughout Winter and into Spring. Targeting this fish becomes a game of "find the bait find the fish" and can happen just about anywhere in the lake this time of year. During the month of October, we spent a lot of time in the west basin working areas along the peninsula and west shore as well as a few trips way up north. The bait can be found at almost any depth and depending on circumstances and fish activity we were able to catch fish from the surface all the way to the bottom, sometimes in 30 plus feet of water and others in water less than 10 feet deep. In November the deeper waters of the east shore were productive, but it is Fall fishing in the Sierras, so you know I had to run some gear in the shallows along the east side as well as up north for some beautiful Rainbows. Areas around the peninsula also heated up in late November as fish moved into feed on bait that had staged there. Lately the east shore has continued to produce. Working the rocky shoreline just up from the dam and snag point has been producing fish.
"Match the hatch" is a saying you hear, and it always makes sense to try and imitate what the fish are keyed in on. Soft plastics do a great job of mimicking the bait fish and they are usually one of my go-to baits. Flies are also a good option in the Fall and Winter and definitely hooked their share of fish. i spent most of the time slow trolling these baits, again keeping an eye on what level the fish were targeting the bait fish at. With fronts moving in and out as they tend to do this time of year slow trolling may not always be an option due to the wind. I save the fast hardware for those days when you need more speed to maintain boat control. We had the best results again with patterns that looked more "bait fishy", the blue and silver, whites and cop cars all hit fish.
On the lake condition side of things i am cautiously optimistic. The Almanor basin began receiving good precipitation in the form of both rain and snow in November, a trend which has carried into December, including today. These storms have spurred a more than 6-inch rise in lake level in just one week's time, with more happening now and another system due in the end of this week. If you are coming to the area, be prepared road and water conditions can change quickly.
2022 marks the end of my 25th season guiding trips here in the Northern Sierras and plans for the 2023 season are already underway with some exciting new things coming at you, so stay tuned. Remember it is never too early to book your upcoming fishing trips and as they say. "the early bird gets the worm" especially if you have specific dates in mind. For some of the latest and most up to date information, pictures and videos please be sure to follow along on social media, Facebook and Instagram
I look forward to seeing you on the water.
Capt. Bryan Roccucci
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