Denis Peirce: Wet weather and fishing in the high country |

Denis Peirce: Wet weather and fishing in the high country

Denis Peirce

The onset of hot weather in the valley portends thunder storms in the Sierra. This weekend Saturday is expected to be rainy in the north around Eagle Lake. Early next week showers are predicted for the Truckee area and southward into the higher elevations of the Sierra.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional opener at Eagle Lake near Susanville. Eagle Lake fishing suffered during the drought for a variety of reasons and many anglers stopped going. Eagle has turned around and the fishery is recovering. Each of the last three years the fishing has improved in both quantity and quality. Evidence of that was the number of anglers who turned out last weekend. The Spaulding boat ramp at the northwest end of the lake was in operation with 1.5 feet of water to float your boat. There were over 60 boat trailers in the parking lot for Saturday’s opener. Evaporative water losses will preclude using the ramp this summer. The past few weeks there has been a consistent north wind that stirred up debris and reduced visibility to a couple of feet in the south end.

Guide Robert Muller was on the water all three days. He boated good numbers of fish each day trolling flies. His best success came from the top 10 feet of the water column around the perimeter of the lake early in the day. As the day wore on the fish moved out over deeper water. Robert noted that there are three age classes of trout in the lake, 14 to 16 inch yearling fish at about a pound each. The next class of fish are two and a half to three pound fish which are 19 to 21 inches. These were the most common catch. The four pound and over fish are harder to come by but are there. Robert said his largest of the weekend was over four and a half pounds.

The anglers with the least success were fishing too deep, according to Robert. We are heading for the time when deeper will be better but it was not on the opener. There was an interesting temperature trend. The overnight lows at the lake were 26 degrees Saturday morning, 38 on Sunday and 48 on Monday. Over that time frame the lake surface temp rose from 52 Saturday morning to 66 Sunday afternoon. The surface temp does not extend very far below the surface at this time.

Based on the cleaning of kept fish, the trout have been feeding on shrimp and snails. Most of the anglers were trolling, minnow imitating spoons, grubs and flies.

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Another lake that recently reopened was Oroville. The landlocked salmon fishing in the lake was terrific for a few days after the Department of Fish and Wildlife planted many thousands of salmon smolts at the spillway launch ramp. Somehow the adult salmon knew they were there and converged on the north end of the dam and were feasting on the minnow sized smolts. Consequently the anglers showed up and some of the best salmon fishing of the year commenced. Guide Brett Brady was scouting the lake waiting for guiding to reopen. He said the action was as fast as he had seen on the lake. The adult fish would hit almost anything that was put in front of them. Since then the “bait” has scattered and the concentration of predator fish has dispersed as well.

The Lower Yuba continues to be the place to fish for shad. Last week Bill McCrea fished with guide Chuck Ragan on his jet boat, accessing the river coming up from the Feather. They were site fishing to schools of shad that held hundreds of fish. If you want lots of action catching fish that pull hard, this is one of those opportunities that hopefully come annually. Water conditions have a lot to do with how good each year’s run is and 2020 is an excellent year on the Yuba.

The North Yuba River continues to flow at 1000 cfs below Downieville which is still a bit too high for good fishing. The restrictions on the main stem of the river are set to expire on the last day of May. As the flows continue to fall the fishing will get better. When it opens the upper elevations will have the most fishable flows.

In the Sierra above us Davis Lake continues to fish well. Jackson Meadows is also worth a day of your time.

I called Ken Bretthauer who still manages Webber Lake just off the Henness Pass Road north of Truckee. The lake opened a week ago in time for the holiday weekend. It is now open to the public for day use only. Camping will reopen later this summer. Webber Lake is now managed as a cutthroat trout fishery with some broodstock fish planted last season. If you have not been there put it on your “To Fish” list. Bring a float tube or boat to get out on the lake for best results.

Both Rollins Lake and Scotts Flat are reopening today for launching boats. They have a number of new restrictions that you should read at before you go. Non-motorized boats can start launching at 7:30 a.m. and motorized boats must wait until 9:30 a.m. You must be gone by 7 p.m. when the gates close. If you had hoped to fish the prime hours of dawn or dusk in your motorized boat that will not be allowed at this time.

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

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