Denis Peirce: Fourth of July anglers have good choices |

Denis Peirce: Fourth of July anglers have good choices

The Fourth of July holiday is upon us again. A pattern is emerging in response to the high fuel prices. Anglers are still taking fishing trips but they are much more likely to stay for a number of days at their destination rather than make more frequent short duration trips. I expect that this weekend should see good numbers of fishermen out on the water.

There are a number of good opportunities available to foothill anglers. The lakes at higher elevation should produce well if you can figure out the right depth to fish. Brett Brady (Bare Bones Guide Service) fished Jackson Meadows a week ago. Brett’s customers did well on rainbows between 13 and 18 inches. He used night crawlers, Gulp Jigging Grubs and Arctic Fox Tube Flies all behind dodgers. The key to his success was the depth that he was fishing. Brett used a down rigger to keep his lures at 25 to 30 feet in a water depth of 35 feet. Brett watched many other anglers long-line trolling and using lead core that were not at the depth and were not catching fish.

The trout would come to the surface in low light conditions at dawn and dusk to feed. During the day light hours they went deep and would not respond to offerings above their zone. This weekend the preferred depth may be different depending on conditions. Yet the principle that trout are selective to the depth at which they are looking for food will be the determining factor in lakes. If others are catching fish and you are not, change depth before changing your lure.

The annual hexagenia mayfly hatch has been under way at Lake Almanor since the middle of June. Years ago I heard the rule that in drought years you have the best hex hatches. This year is no exception to that rule.

Yesterday I spoke with Tom from the Lake Almanor Fly Fishing Company. Both Lake Almanor and near by Butt Lake are producing a very prolific hatches between 7:30 p.m. and dark. The action can start in the morning and go through the day if you target the correct depths. The best locations are large submerged mud flats that end at a ledge dropping off rapidly into deep water. During the day the fish are at depth in the cool water. If a hex nymph or reasonable facsimile comes their way, they will bite. When the hatch kicks into gear in the evening, the fish will move up on to the warm flats to feed on the abundant insects. Look for the action to last through the holiday into mid July.

Ed Everhart fished Camp Far West a week ago for bass and did much better than I would have guessed. My preconceived notion was that the amount of water skiing activity would put the bass off the bite until well after dark. The wave action puts significant mud lines around the shore line and the bass were working this edge looking for food. The key was to find a mud line adjacent to deep water. Mud lines on shallow flats did not produce. Mud lines on steeply sloping points were the hot spots. The active smaller bass occupied water 16 to 18 feet down. The quality fish were in the 25 foot zone below the thermocline. The bass would hold at their preferred depth but could be enticed up to a crawdad or shad imitation worked along the transition of clear and cloudy water. The water skiers did not seem to keep the bass from biting.

My top choice for this coming weekend is the North Yuba River. There are 30 to 40 miles of river paralleling Highway 49 providing a solitary fishing experience if you look hard enough. The water is in good shape. Ralph Wood (C&R Guide Service) reported that a wide variety of dry flies are working. Ants, Humpies, Elk Hair Caddis and Little Yellow Sallies are all good bets. Start with a size No. 14. There is no dominant hatch that the fish are keying on. The smaller fish have moved out of the deeper holes to feed in the shallow riffles and tail outs. Ralph says that the majority of shallow water fish are 8 to 12 inches long. The larger fish have not been in evidence beyond the deep holes. He looks for them to begin feeding in shallow water in the near future.

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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