Denis Peirce: ‘Dog days of summer’ still offer fishing options |

Denis Peirce: ‘Dog days of summer’ still offer fishing options

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

We are definitely in the dog days of summer, with air temps over 100 degrees. Foothill lakes are breaking above the 80 degree mark at the surface, but with some consideration there are still places to fish.

When it comes to trout, there is a maxim that “cold water scatters fish and warm water concentrates them.” During the winter, trout are comfortable just about anywhere and they can be difficult to find.

Conversely, in the summer there are limited locales with cool water and the trout congregate there.

A classic example of this is Lake Almanor above Chico in the Sierra. Almanor is a large, relatively shallow lake.

This time of year, trout fishermen are drawn to the “Hamilton Branch.” This is a cove of the lake where the Hamilton Branch of the Feather River enters the lake and is 10 degrees cooler than Almanor. Trout pack into this area and it is a famous fishing spot for late summer. Other spots are where underwater springs feed in water.

Boats anchor over these and consistently catch trout. Find the right temperature and you will find the trout.

We are fortunate to have a number of lakes that have cool water even during August in a drought year.

Lake Englebright fits this description. It gets filled from Bullards Bar via canal and pipeline with the back end of the lake being quite cool. This time of the year you will find the trout and the anglers back there. The waterskiers will be found in the lower and warmer end of the lake.

Fuller Lake receives its water from the bottom of Bowman Lake and it is consistently a good trout fishery through out the summer. Fuller is small enough to be cool throughout the lake and does not have the trout concentrated in just a few places.

Because of the cool water, it is regularly planted with trout.

Another cool water lake is Lower Scotts Flat. It is below the upper lake and much cooler. There is limited shore access but getting out onto the lake with a float tube or kayak is a real advantage.

This little lake stays full and the trout can be found under the overhanging brush along the shoreline looking for bugs.

The outflowing water from the bottom of Jackson Meadows Reservoir is another example. It flows down a short stretch of river channel into Milton Lake.

Milton was drained and dredged a number of years ago and is an excellent trout fishery. It is another small diversion lake, sending water under English Mountain to Bowman Lake. Milton is a special regulation water limited to artificial lures with a maximum size limit of 12 inches if you keep a trout.

Even during the heat of summer, decent trout water is available in our area if you think in terms of finding cold water.

The other option is to fish for warm water species. Recently Tom Page, owner of the Reel Angler’s Fly Shop, fished an evening at the Thermolito After Bay west of Oroville.

It is the warm water diversion pool for irrigation water coming from Lake Oroville. Lake Oroville is quite low but the After Bay has been kept at full pool this year.

Tom did well fishing top water flies close to the tules. The best combination for him was to fish the shady side of a tule line and to cast parallel to line rather than to it. The top water action was good into the evening.

Tom’s other warm water trip was to the Sacramento River below Colusa. There is a population of resident stripers in the river.

Most anglers fish stripers here during the spring spawning run and do not realize that some of these fish do not migrate back down through the delta.

Tom did well along rip rap banks and next to structure that would break the river flow, such as downed trees.

So, yes, there are opportunities to fish even in the Dog Days of Summer.

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 p.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at

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