Ice out opens up high country lakes
March 29, 2013
The high country lakes continue to open up. Last week the ice came off Davis Lake. There are a couple of opinions regarding getting on the water as soon as ice out occurs. Some have the opinion that being there as soon as possible will get you good results and others who prefer to wait a week or two for things to settle down. I have come around to the second view.
Typically ice out is associated with wind. It is not just the sun that melts the ice, rather it is the mixing by wind of the relatively warm water below that finishes the process. Water is most dense at 39 degrees.
The bottom of very deep lakes like Tahoe will be close to this temperature. Wind will mix the lake water to a consistent temperature at ice out. It’s after a week or more that the sun will begin to take effect and trout begin to start feeding again.
On Davis Lake. the ice fishing can be quite good before ice out.
The first fish species to respond well to anglers efforts is mackinaw. I mentioned Rick Kennedy’s trip to Stampede Reservoir in last week’s column. Since then a number of reports have come my way.
The largest mack reported so far has been a 19-plus pound specimen. The water temps for the last two weeks have been 39 degrees at the surface before dawn rising to 42 degrees by midday.
The best bite has been at the bottom in 40 to 60 feet of water. Dan Grass of Grass Valley was there Monday and picked up a pair of macks in the 5 to 6 pound range.
The encouraging news from Stampede is the kokanee. John Minnus from Truckee targeted them last week and picked up a 10 inch fish. For this time of the year, 10 inches is quite good. This is before their plankton food source begins to flourish and the kokanee begin their spring time growth. John predicts 14 inch fish by early June.
Dan Grass had his boat down by the left side of the dam and the kokanee were so thick that his fish finder registered a depth of 25 feet in water 120 feet deep. On the periphery of this school he saw marks indicating large fish just below the school.
There were fish breaking the surface that he attributed to mackinaw coming up to the kokanee school and driving them to the surface.
Look for the trout fishing to pick up at Stampede as the water warms into the mid 40s on a consistent basis
Pyramid Lake in Nevada has been fishing well. Fly anglers fishing from shore with midge patterns suspended below floats have been producing good results. The most consistent action has been from dawn until 9 a.m..
There are still fish to be caught throughout the day. Peter Bauer was there last week and fished a two fly rig of “Snow Cone” midges.
Snow Cone flies have white beads as the head. He fished a No. 8 and a No. 12 midge a foot apart and on that day all four of his fish took the No. 8 purple fly.
The most popular place was the Pelican Point beach which produced fish for most anglers. The rocks to the south of the Pelican launch ramp also provided some action.
After lunch, Peter went south and caught his last fish at the Blockhouse. He also noted that there were no pelicans at the North Nets which indicated to him that the trout were not there in good numbers yet.
Lake Almanor has been fishing well for trollers targeting the shallows for brown trout. The pond smelt have been spawning in the rocky shallows and the trout are close to shore feeding on them.
The most productive areas are steep shorelines featuring rock the size if basketballs. Look for the smallmouth bite to take off in the next couple weeks.
Bass anglers are doing well in the foothill impoundments. This is the spring pre-spawn bite. The rain last week melted some snow and doubled the Oroville inflow to 10,000 cubic flow per second. This dropped the water temps back below 50 degrees.
Since then the temps have recovered to 54 degrees which is in the lower range of prime bass fishing.
The temperature drop caused the fish to respond best to slow finesse styles of fishing. But with the warming water the reaction bite is coming back. The other factor that insures a good bite is a rising water level. The lake is within 40 feet of full.
A report came my way from the Afterbay near Oroville. The north basin produced poor results trolling for steelhead/trout recently. On the same day an angler fishing the south basin along the rock wall did well on holdover fish in the 2 to 3 pound range.
The Feather River near Oroville has 1,770 cfs flowing through town. These high flows preclude good shore fishing in the low flow stretch. Total flows in the high flow are 2,010 cfs which is good for wading anglers. The spring steelhead are in the river and near the islands in the high flow anglers have been picking up fish in water 5 to 6 feet deep below the riffles.
I have been bass fishing the local farm ponds. Water temps have broken through the 60 degree mark and the bite was good on soft plastics as well as spinner baits.
Englebright was on the trout plant schedule this week. I did not get confirmation that this occurred.
The Gold Country Fly Fishers will hold their next meeting Tuesday at the Ponderosa Building, park at gate No. 2. Doug Ouellette will be the guest speaker on the topic of east side lake fishing. He will cover 5 Dot Reservoir, Eagle, Davis and Frenchman’s Lakes. All interested persons are welcome to attend. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at http://www.fineflies.com.