Denis Peirce: Englebright offers locals short trip to satisfy fishing fix |

Denis Peirce: Englebright offers locals short trip to satisfy fishing fix

These last days of summer continue to be warm. I have lived through enough years here in the foothills to know that the wet season will arrive and the time is now to get your outdoor projects wrapped up.

This mind-set was in direct conflict with a 14-year-old boy’s weekend boredom and desire to go fishing.

The compromise solution was a Sunday afternoon canoe trip to Englebright Lake. We spent most of our time throwing a fly-and-bubble for small bass and pan fish around the houseboats in Skipper’s Cove.

If you fish the rig slowly you can get some action. Weed beds are the most productive areas. In the clear water you can watch the fish follow the fly. When you stop the retrieve and let the fly fall, the fish will move down with it. As you bring it in again they will follow it as it rises. It was not like a trip to Eagle Lake, but it got me off the hook for an afternoon on the water.

I have received a number of inquiries from readers wanting more info on fishing Englebright. This lake is a flooded narrow canyon that does not get drawn down like Oroville and Shasta. It fluctuates daily as much as 5 feet. Its level is based on when hydropower is generated up stream. The outflow is supposed to be constant and cool below the dam to maintain the salmon and steelhead fishery.

The incoming water from Bullards Bar is cold. During the summer this draws the trout to the upper end of the lake. The narrow and deep nature of the geography allows for the lower lake to have a warm water fishery as the cold water sinks. The trout fishing is best at this time of the year above the “No Ski” buoys. The bass and pan fish inhabit the lower lake.

The angler I know who fishes Englebright regularly is Hal McVey of Rough and Ready. He prefers to troll for trout and fishes from the buoys all the way up to the river current at the top of the lake.

His typical rigs will be a fly rod with a sinking line, long leader, an Action Disc and a trolling fly. He also uses conventional rods with Apex, Needle Fish or Rapalas. The most productive depth for him is often 3 to 10 feet below the surface while long lining. He is also equipped with a downrigger enabling him to fish deeper.

One of his most valuable tools is a combined depth and temperature meter. This gives him digital reading of the water temp down through the water column. It allows him to target the depth that holds the prime trout water temps (54 to 58 degrees). It also shows him the depth of the thermocline.

Another part of Hal’s formula is to be on the water at first light when the trout are likely to be higher in the water column and there is less boat traffic to spook them.

Last week, Hal fished three hours in the early morning and caught four browns all about 12 inches. His most notable catch was a 15-inch kokanee caught at 15 feet on a UV Pink trolling fly. The fish was fat and chrome bright without any spawning colors in evidence. This was his first ever kokanee from this lake. If my memory serves me the DF&G might have planted kokanee many years ago. My best guess is that this one some how made its way down from Bullard’s Bar as a juvenile.

When the surface temps are cool in the winter the DF&G plants the lake regularly. By summer these trout have moved to the upper lake.

Currently the water skiers are very active on the lake. But as we move into fall the water will cool, the fish will get on the bite and the water skiers will go into hibernation.

Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union 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. He may be reached via e-mail at

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