October is here. The storm track is flirting with Northern California; it is hinting that the wet season is not far in the future.
We can see that there are limits to the warm, sunny days. The question becomes — how are we going to use these days?
There is firewood to be split, and the garden needs to be put to bed for the winter. On the other hand, the fishing opportunities don’t get much better than this.
After contemplating this situation, the choice is obvious. The chores will get done in good time; fishing needs to be addressed now.
Once that decision was made, I came up with a plan: Start at the higher elevations while the weather is mild and fish my way down the hill as things get colder and wetter. My first stop on this progression was a day on Lake Davis. The recent reports from my contacts fishing the lake have been quite good.
The water has been cooling off, and the fish are up at the surface and on the bite.
Lake Davis can be a day trip if you start early enough. I spent Sunday fueling the boat, rigging the rods for lake trolling, getting lunches organized and heading for bed early. Monday morning was getting up early, eating breakfast and being on the road by 5:30 a.m.
We were at the ramp by 8 and fishing by 8:30 a.m.
My son and I were met by local guide Ed Dillard. We had been in touch and Ed was going to fish the morning with us. Also launching at the same time was Jon Biaocchi, from Nevada City, who is guiding on the lake this month.
The water temp was 55 degrees, which is prime for trout fishing. Davis has a plentiful trout population based on an extensive planting program and a food chain that allows them to grow rapidly.
I have a depth/fish finder on my boat. During the entire day I did not see one fish on the screen, even when over deep water.
The conclusion from this is, that with the device looking down and no fish visible, the trout were at the top of the water column.
I had the boat rigged for trolling flies near the surface and we had the first rainbow in the boat by 9:30 a.m. The nutrient-rich waters of Lake Davis are stained green with algae. The lake has a reputation of producing fish on lures in the copper-orange-brown-red color range.
The first fish hit an orange tube fly; it was 13 inches. We were keeping fish to eat this trip. Under these circumstances, you keep the first fish in case it is the only one.
Lake Davis has been producing rainbows in the 17- to 20-inch class on a regular basis recently. Once the first fish was in the boat, we were releasing the smaller ones.
The morning produced a few fish but the best action came after the breeze picked up in the afternoon. We ended the day with an additional pair of nice trout, about 18 inches. Each of these is an entrée for three adults.
Based on Ed Dillard’s recommendation, we concentrated on water 20- to 30-feet deep north and east of the island on the lake. In contrast, Jon Baiocchi fishes the shore lines and has his best fishing in the shallows.
This lake has such a good fishery that I believe the difference of opinion is based on each angler using techniques that he is best at. Ed is a troller who runs multiple lines that work well in deeper water. Jon is a fly-fisher who is casting a fly to a specific location. They both are good at putting you on fish at Lake Davis.
The point is that many techniques are working now at Lake Davis and other lakes in the Sierra.
The water fowl are beginning to arrive at the high lakes. The mud hens, or coots, are on the lake in good numbers. They root in the muddy shallows and break the vegetation loose from the bottom.
This has put floating weeds and grasses on the surface, which is annoying to deal with when trolling.
The same condition exists at many of the lakes with extensive weed beds, such as Eagle Lake.
Currently, the nights are cool with temps near freezing in the high country, but by afternoon, shirtsleeves are again the rule. The long-range forecast calls for two more weeks of Indian summer and rain returning at the end of this month.
We still have a window of opportunity. I hope to see you on the water.
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 www.trollingflies.com.