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Peirce: Climb high for a better bite

Denis Peirce
Fishing columnist

The warm weather continues to hold on in the Sacramento Valley. Water temps at foothill reservoirs are well up in the 70-degree range. Up the hill in the Truckee area, Stampede is in the high 60s in the morning rising into the low 70s by afternoon.

All this adds up to slow fishing, unless you get up to the highest elevations in the central Sierra.

Kokanee anglers are having a tough time. Many of the fish have begun to change to their spawning colors and developing hooked jaws. The fish are still in deep water but they are difficult to catch. What we need are nights that dip down to freezing to cool things off. The fall cooling will get the fishing back on track.

Up at Eagle Lake the fall transition has begun. Over Labor Day weekend, a cold front came through and night time lows got down into the 30-degree range. This was enough to drop the water surface temps to the mid 60s. This past week saw warmer nights but the water has not come back up appreciably.

This coming week is expected to again feature cooling temps that will get the water to continue to cool.

The effect on the fishing has been negative in the short run. The fish which had been in predictable locations and depths in the south end of the lake are now moving north. I spoke with guide Tom Noxon (www.fishtravelersguideservice.com). He said that catching is not as predictable as it was a week ago. There are trout moving up into the “middle lake” and they are more shallow and more scattered than they were in late August.

Tom says that ” the key to locating feeding fish is to locate schools of tui chub minnows. A reliable indicator is bird activity. The grebes are working over the minnows simultaneously with the trout chasing them from below.”

During the past week the most consistent area for working birds has been Pelican Point and the Youth Camp. A lack of working birds does not preclude feeding trout.

Tom mentioned that for the past couple days that he has seen trout rolling on the surface at first light. At full light the fish suspend in the water column over 10 to 20 feet of water. When suspended the trout will tend to segregate with smaller fish higher and larger fish deeper.

There has been a prolific spawn of tui chub minnows again this year. The sizes range from half inch “guppy” size up to 3 inches in length. The chub schools can be tight to shore cover or suspended in deep water. Colors of the minnows range from gray to brown to olive depending on the color of the structure they are found near.

The water level is down this year again. At this time all of the launch ramps are serviceable. Noxon warned that between the ramp at Lake Spaulding and the 5 mph buoy off shore there is a shallow shoal. It is composed of sand and mud rather than rock but keep your motor up to be on the safe side.

There are periodic dredging efforts at all of the developed ramps that should keep them open through the season.

Currently there is very little broken off weed in the lake. Once the coots return to the lake the weed problem will become an issue. When the coots root around the bottom they break the grass loose and it floats to the surface. One partial solution is to run a “Wiggle Fin Action Disc” on your line a couple inches above your lure. The disc does a fair job of knocking the grass away from your hook.

Noxon looks for a good cold front to move through, before the bulk of the fish population move to the food rich north end of Eagle Lake. Once that happens the fall fishing that Eagle Lake is known for, will begin in earnest. Currently you can have good days fishing at Eagle, but the following day the same depth, location, and lure may not produce fish.

That is the definition of the fall transition at Eagle Lake.

On the Klamath/Trinity system, salmon are continuing to move out of the salt water. The Indian netting operations are close to finishing for the season. We have a full moon coming up on the 15th. Full moons and their resulting major tide changes, usually bring a lot of fish into the estuary and up the river. River temps are dropping very slowly. As of last weekend, morning water temps were 67 degrees.

There are some steelhead in the middle Trinity around the Deloma area. The half pounder steelhead have moved up to the Orleans area on the Klamath. A little more cooling is what we need.

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 dpeirce@theunion.com.


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