Not typically how I would start out a fishing report but until further notice all fishing charters have been postponed due to the Dixie Fire burning west of Lake Almanor. I have been reaching out to customers who have trips booked about a week in advance to let them know the circumstances. Things are currently in a holding pattern here as the entire west shore of the lake is under mandatory evacuation, with Chester, the peninsula and east shore being under and evacuation warning. I ran my last charter on Monday July 19th and had a fantastic day that included some great fish and only moderately smoky skies. What followed, that afternoon, once I was off the water was a pretty good indicator it was time to pull the plug. The fire intensity really picked up sending waves of ash falling down on us on the west shore. About 3 pm a combination of dense smoke with thunder clouds above it blacked out the sun to the point that outdoor activities required flashlights to see. Then the rain started, while nice to dampen things down, it turned the ash to mud and also had a massive amount of lightning with it. Nothing I hate more than having to cancel trips, but faced with all these conditions the responsible thing to do for the health and safety of my customers was to begin to notify them and shut down for a while. Hopefully this fire will be stopped and put to bed sooner than later and we can get back to fishing. Stay tuned for updated information. For regular updates check out the social media outlets Facebook and Instagram @bigdaddysguideservice and Twitter @BigTroutGuide I have been posting regular fire info and updates to keep customers, fishermen and lake lovers informed.
Now for the fishing portion of this report. Prior to shutting down the fish at Lake Almanor were getting into a pretty solid summer time pattern. Typical for this time of year, many of the fish that had been focusing on bugs as their main food supply start to turn their attention to pond smelt. The aquatic bug hatches, while still happening, tend to slow down this time of year, the famed Hex Fly hatch is all but over and the idea of fresh meat in the form of pond smelt is am easy transition for the trout. On recent trips my customers have been battling mostly Bows from 2 to 8 pounds, some big Browns to just short of the double digit mark and a few Kings, most in the 2-3 pound range with some topping the 5 pound mark. The bite was a little up and down, some of the days were spectacular numbers, and for those that were keeping fish, quick limits. Other days the bite would start good but die off quickly leaving us to scratch up what we could for the rest of the morning. Fortunately Lake Almanor has a way of providing some pretty awesome results and on most of the slower days I was able to get some folks on some pretty epic Browns. Im looking forward to getting back on the water and back on the fish. Stay tuned.
Hard to believe it is already May this year is flying by. Despite a mild winter and lower lake levels Almanor this spring has not disappointed, fishing overall has been great. That said there have been a few tough days on the water and some where we have had to grind them out but for those that endure the rewards have been sweet. Quality, quality, quality is what Lake Almanor is all about and this year has been no exception, i have been lucky enough to slide the net under several double digit weight fish for customers, a good number of 7, 8 and 9 pounders and more 5 and 6 pound fish than I can count. We had to do a little pivot due to lower than usual water levels to stay on the fish in February and March where most of the catch is made up of Browns feeding on pond smelt. The train kept rolling through "Brown Town" in early April with only a few bows and even fewer salmon showing. As we moved into mid April the Bows re-emerged from their spawning mode and began to show up on the lines with regularity and feasting on the aquatic bug hatches going on all over the lake. Right now it is bug hatches from one end of the lake to the other all of them potentially attracting fish, this could explain the fact that we have been fishing a wide variety of areas around the lake. Last few days out the bite has not been easy with strong winds also playing into the equation. Look for more spring time action as we move through May and into June. Been a while since I had time to update the web site report but as usual check us out on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram @bigdaddysguideservice for the latest updates and see what is going on.
My Fall fishing season (October - November) at Eagle Lake wrapped up the day before Thanksgiving and what a ride it was. A big Thank You to all of my fantastic clients that came on board at Eagle Lake this year. Overall, this season featured some premium Fall trout action for the famed Eagle Lake Rainbows, with both the quantity and quality bringing smiles to faces. Conditions this Fall up at Eagle were generally mild, however, there were a few little bumps in the weather that brought some rain, snow and wind to the lake, sometimes making conditions tough to fish. That said, any precipitation is welcomed at this high desert beauty. This year, as in years past, I ran both fly trolling as well as fly casting trips, with both methods yielding fantastic results on some amazing fish. Eagle Lake has long held the title as a Fall destination for trout enthusiasts and it continues to this day. Deep bodied, hard charging, no quit, big tails, thick and powerful are just a few of the traits that all come together in these fish, then add cold water and an inherent desire to feed up aggressively going intro winter and you have a magical combination that is sure to please any trout angler. This year I also had the opportunity to assist a number of anglers in their quest for the California Heritage Trout Challenge and the Western Native Trout Challenge as the Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout caught in its native waters of Eagle Lake qualifies for both. These programs are extremely cool and if you have not heard about them I encourage you to follow the links above and learn more. Of course, per the usual, the fishing was red hot as I was leaving and continues to be great right now for both boat and shore based anglers. A word of caution, if you are planning a late season trip to Eagle Lake, watch the road conditions as many area roads can be slick and icy this time of year and for the boaters, the dock at the low water ramp is due to be pulled anytime. (generally around December 1) If you would like to get in on this action at Eagle Lake please visit the Reservations Page. Fall 2021 will be here before you know it and I am already filling dates. For me it is back to Lake Almanor to finish up this 2020 fishing season. Tight Lines
Once we got to mid June, big numbers of Hex larva started showing in the stomachs of fish i was cleaning, you got the idea the lake was primed for a big Hex hatch, and so it was. The hatch got going in late June and just kept pumping out yellow bugs, basically through the first two weeks of July then started tapering off through the end of the month, with a few bugs still visible into August. Needless to say, as usual the fish got frothed up and poured into areas that hold the hex beds, which provided us with a captive audience to present out baits to. Morning trips found fish left over from the previous night's hatch in those areas and the afternoon charters got fish moving into those same areas in anticipation of that evening's hatch that had yet to begin.
That brings us up to current days on the lake. There are still a few bug hatches that continue out on the lake but not nearly the bug load that is seen in spring and early summer. The bulk of the trout have transitioned back to their other favorite food source, the pond smelt. Pond smelt prefer the deeper cooler waters of the lake and therefore tend to pack up in areas along the east shore and peninsula. These have been the productive areas the last couple of weeks as cruising Browns and Bows hunt down the schools of smelt and gorge themselves. Considering the time of year and the warmer water and air temps, we have been having some spectacular results on mostly Rainbows up to 6+ pounds as well as Browns running anywhere from 3 to 8 pounds. There have been a few small salmon in the mix, these are the two year old
fish which will mature for next year, although our first fish of the morning several days ago was a 23 inch class salmon which put up a fantastic fight. It looks like this late summer bite will continue with the fish hanging deeper until things start to cool down next month.
There are only a few days left available this month and a hand full of open days in September to get in on this Almanor action. Starting in late September/ early October I will be firing up the popular fall Eagle Lake trips and will be splitting my time in October between Almanor and Eagle. Don't miss your chance to get in on some of this exciting Trophy Trout fishing. Contact us today to reserve your dates.
The lake level continues to rise along with the water temperatures as we move deeper into spring. Large bug hatches continue at a variety of locations around the lake drawing fish into those areas to feast. We continue to be shut down due to Plumas County orders, but hope to be up and running charters soon. In an effort to be ready to go when things open back up we have been keeping close tabs on the fish and the bite. Check out the video below to see some action from a recent outing.
Well things continue to be pretty well shut down but the lakes are open to fishing. During the shut down I have continued to monitor the conditions and the fish so that when things do open back up we will be right back on it. Check out the video below to get an idea of how things went.
Following my last posting on 4/17/20 (about an hour after I left the office) the closing of the Canyon Dam Boat Ramp at Lake Almanor was reversed with stunning speed. A quick recap; The US Forest Service put out a press release on 4/15/20 stating the facility would be completely closed with access being blocked off. On the afternoon of 4/16/20 the dock was pulled out of the water and concrete barricades with signage were placed across the access roadway entrance. Friday morning 4/17/20 at approximately 11:30 am it was announced that the boat launch facility on Almanor's south west corner would be re-opened. The dock was placed back in the water and the concrete barricades were moved off to the side of the road.
How did things progress so quickly? Well from my understanding several key people and groups were involved and need to be thanked for their attention to this matter. The Plumas County Sheriffs Dept. and Sheriff Todd Johns, Plumas County Supervisor Sherrie Thrall, Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce, Shane Starr of Congressman Doug LaMalfa's office and the US Forest Service. On the afternoon of 4/17/20 the barricades were removed and the dock re-set in the water but there will be some noticeable changes.
The bathroom facilities will remain locked and off limits as they have been for several weeks and from this point forward there will be a Plumas County Sheriff deputy stationed in the parking lot to ensure activities go smoothly. Having the deputy on duty will hopefully prevent the problems that prompted the closure such as the heavy out of town traffic, overnight camping and trash and litter being left behind. Again thank you to Sheriff Todd Johns for recognizing the importance of this resource and providing the means to keep it open. That said, if problems arise, the facility could again face a total closure. Remember for the quickest updates please like and follow our social media outlets @bigdaddysguideservice on Facebook and Instagram.
The public access boat launches along Lake Almanor's western shores have been closed down by the US Forest Service. The announcement came in a press release on 4/15/20 from the Lassen National Forest and on 4/16/20 the facilities were officially closed, the dock at Canyon Dam was pulled and the road barricaded with concrete blocks and signs. For how long is a bit unclear at this time. The sign pictured below says through the end of this month, the wording in the press release says until the stay at home orders are lifted.
Following orders that came down in late March the USFS posted signs at the facility as well as locking the bathroom facilities, how ever they continued to allow boats to be launched and people to access the parking lot to fish the surrounding shore lines. I was told by a high ranking USFS official who I will not name, "It is our goal to keep access open for the locals so they have a place to launch their boats and an avenue to get outside and recreate during these times" He went on to say that they would be monitoring the situation and if things got out of hand they would take further steps to close off access. The three things in particular that he indicated they would be looking for were, 1) Large crowds of out of the area people not heeding the Plumas County travel restrictions, social distancing guidelines and trying to camp in the parking lot, 2) Vandalism of their locked bathroom facilities, and 3) Garbage and trash being left and accumulating at the site. Well in the last several weeks the launch at Canyon Dam has seen at least two of those three concerns violated. The parking lot has been packed with out of town rigs from the Bay Area, Sacramento and Reno as well as all of the surrounding counties. Multiple people had set up camps in the parking lots in recent weeks, some going as far as to have campfires right in the middle of the parking lots. I have opted to omit the pictures of these people. Garbage was also an issue, people leaving everything from pizza boxes to alcohol bottles to remnants of fireworks and even whole bags of trash. At this time I am not aware of any vandalism of the bathrooms.
So this is where we are left, Canyon Dam boat ramp as well as the USFS west shore launch are closed at least through the end of this month and maybe longer. I will continue to monitor the situation at the lake and post changes here, as well as on my social media outlets on Facebook and Instagram. Stay safe and healthy and once we are clear of this it will be back to our regularly scheduled program.
Many of my customers have opted to move their trips to the fall, some are waiting to see how things go before they choose a future date and some have canceled all together. A few groups, understanding that conditions like these are very impactful to a small business, have instructed me to keep their deposits and they would be paying full price for their future trips. I’m almost at a loss for words, and all I can say is THANK YOU while striving to put on the best show I can when they come on board the next time. Like I said I am blessed with world-class long-time clientele. Many of these people frequent the boat with their friends and family multiple times throughout the season and certainly rise above the level of “customer”, I consider them good friends and part of my extended fishing family. We celebrate birthdays, graduations, bachelor parties, family vacations, first fish, personal best fish and a host of other big life events on board the boat together and I am honored to be part of it. Again, it really doesn’t seem like enough but Thank you.
Prior to the shut down we were experiencing some pretty good fishing here at Lake Almanor for a mix of quality Browns and Bows. The lower lake level along with the unstable weather patterns made the shallow fishing program a little bit challenging, however with a few adaptations we were able to stay on the fish. During the time we are shutdown, I will continue to monitor the fish and conditions at the lake to be ready the second we are cleared to resume operations.
So, what is happening now? Fishing as a form of outside recreation is still open, but please if you do go out remember to be on your best behavior per all these new guidelines. Basically, fish by yourself or in groups made up of only people living with you under the same roof and maintain a safe distance from other people not in your immediate household. Most, if not all, of the recreation sites have been closed by their controlling agencies, USFS and PGE, which in most cases up here wasn’t hard to do, as many of them at elevation are still snowed in from recent storms. Others that are accessible have had services like bathrooms and trash receptacles locked up or removed. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this but if you do visit one of these areas please respect the closed facilities and take your trash with you. Things like overcrowding and litter will get the attention of the authorities and could lead to even more restrictions. Please do not travel from other areas into Plumas County, things are starting to tighten up and in the last several days people have been checked as to their place of residence and asked to leave. I’m not going to go into all the details recently released by our county officials, but the bottom line is if you don’t live in Plumas County don’t come to Plumas County. We will be happy to again share our beautiful area with everyone once this stuff blows over.
Behind the scenes there is still plenty going on. Shipping out orders and fulfilling gift certificates for future fishing trips from the Online Store, talking with customers and booking charters for the summer and fall months. I have never been so “caught up” on paperwork. Lol. If you would like to discuss conditions or a future trip please don’t hesitate to reach out. Remember one of the best ways to keep up to date fast is follow us through our social media on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you again for your continued support, once we are clear of this garbage it will be game on and I look forward to seeing you on the water.
Spring has sprung, or has it, here at Lake Almanor. Calm warming waters with sunny days and mild afternoons sure might have you thinking that. In fact about the only clue that it still might be winter is the cool morning temperatures ranging in the mid to high 20's and the fairly cool water temperatures still hovering in the upper 30's getting as high as the low 40's at the surface under flat sunny conditions. The fish have been actively feeding on Almanor's pond smelt population. Recent trips have produced good numbers of a mix of Browns and Bows from 2 to nearly 9 pounds, with the vast majority of the fish falling in the 3 to 4 pound range. The bite has been lighting up at various areas around the lake as the hungry trout push up and gorge themselves on the bait fish. We have been hooking fish at places like the East Shore, Hamilton Branch and both sides of the peninsula on a variety of minnow imitating baits. This is pretty much textbook winter fish activity, fish spread out hunting food all over the lake and feeding basically from the surface to the bottom depending on the location. This is the beginning of what is sure to be another fantastic trophy trout season here at Lake Almanor. Now is a great time to take advantage of the unseasonably nice weather and get in on some of the best winter trout fishing northern California has to offer, limited dates are available. Don't miss your chance, contact us today (530) 370-1001 or through the web site at www.bigdaddyfishing.com and to keep up on the most current events remember to follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram and YouTube) @bigdaddysguideservice.
I look forward to seeing you on the water
Watch below as we release some "Almanor Gold"
Capt. Bryan Roccucci
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