Denis Peirce: Hot? Cast your luck at higher elevations |

Denis Peirce: Hot? Cast your luck at higher elevations

The best trout fishing reports I have received in the recent past have come from anglers fishing at high elevations.

Peter Bauer, a friend from Gardinerville Nev., has spent a lot of time in the last couple weeks walking into back country lakes. Last week, he went up Highway 108, Sonora Pass, and fished lakes between 7,000 and 8,000 feet.

At these elevations the surface temperatures range from the high 50s up to 60 degrees, ideal trout feeding temps. The other factors in his success are that the lakes are not car accessible and he is an experienced fly angler.

Another similar report came from the Mother Lode Fly Shop in Sonora (209) 532-8600). A pair of their customers returned from Kirman Lake on the Sierra east slope off Hwy 108. They brought in photos of cutthroats up to the 20 inch size from the lake near 7,200 feet.

The anglers packed in float tubes and spent the night to be on the water at dawn. The most productive flies were Jay Fair’s Wiggle Tail nymphs and Matuka streamers.

As the waters at lower elevations have climbed above the prime high 50s you can still find great conditions by going higher. There is a moderating temperature factor in the high country. As a rule of thumb, when the Sacramento Valley reaches triple digits, the high Sierra will get afternoon thundershowers. These rains keep the high elevations from getting too warm.

So if you want to fish lakes, for trout near the surface, your best bet is to take one of the trans-Sierra highways and look for lakes above 7,000 feet.

The best passes for this are south of Hwy 50 in the central Sierra. My most recent report from Eagle Lake reported the best fishing very early in the day. At the crack of dawn the trout can be at the 10 foot depth, but they retreat to the 30-35 foot range by the time the sun gets on the water.

The water temps were up to 73 at the north end of the lake and 69 degrees at the surface in the south. The bite is not wide open but fair numbers of 2- to 3-pound fish have been landed. According to Bob Aguilar’s guide service (530) 825-3581), red & white needlefish, as well as red/green frog pattern lures, have been working.

Most of the reports from Lake Almanor have not been good since the end of the Hex hatch over a week ago. Water surface temps are in the low 70s. The one good report comes from guide Doug Di Angelo. He has been concentrating his efforts near the “intake tower” that moves the water to the Butt Lake powerhouse. The major drafting

of water began with the last heat wave.

The big currents that terminate at the intake tower have concentrated much of the food chain in this area. Doug has continued to do well by being on the water before first light and fishing deep with jigs and bait. Doug expects that the focus of good fishing on Lake Almanor will switch to the Hamilton Branch within two weeks. This will be brought on when cold water will be introduced in large quantity through the Hamilton Branch powerhouse from high elevation lakes.

This is an annual event for water transport. The Hamilton branch will get water 14 degrees cooler than lake surface temps. This will concentrate most of the cold water fish to this arm of the lake.

Up at Stampede Reservoir near Truckee I have heard mixed reports. By this time of year the kokanee are keyed in on the thermocline, at a narrow depth band. Lately the kokanee have been scattered from 35 feet down to 70.

It is noteworthy that the fish are not segregated by age class either. There are both large and small fish at all depths. The speculation is that the lake has not stratified in a normal manner. For the rainbow angler the best results have come in the river arm at 20 to 25 feet deep.


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

Fish planting schedule

If conditions permit, the following lakes, reservoirs and ponds, listed by county, will be restocked with catchable-size trout from Department of Fish and Game hatcheries.

Week of July 16

Alpine County ” Alpine Lake, Blue Lake Lower, Blue Lake Upper, Caples Lake, Union Reservoir

Amador County ” Bear River Reservoir Lower, Silver Lake

Butte County ” Butte Creek Big

El Dorado County ” Echo Lake Lower

Nevada County ” Boca Reservoir, Fuller Lake, Jackson Meadows Reservoir, Prosser Reservoir

Plumas County ” Feather River North Fork Almanor, Hamilton Branch Creek, Warner Creek

Sierra County ” Gold Lake, Stampede Reservoir

Tehama County ” Deer Creek

Salmon count

Red Bluff Diversion Dam salmon count for the last three days:

July 15 ” 23

July 14 ” 18

July 13 ” 8

Year to date 2007 ” 2124 salmon

Year to date 2006 ” 1303 salmon

* We are printing the salmon counts at Red Bluff as a indicator of the valley salmon run in general. Salmon fishing on the Sacramento River reopened Monday. Check the regulations for the stretch of river that you are going to fish.

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