Stalking the Eagle Lake rainbow
Article and photos by Jon
05/09/12 -- Eagle Lake’s low water level has reduced much-needed habitat for trout and birds that rely on the tule reeds for food and cover. Even the angler is affected.
I was reviewing some past articles and came across this one I wrote in October of 2007 after a successful day of fly-fishing. The game of stalking the Eagle Lake rainbow in the north lake is now gone since the tules are mostly high and dry. Someday the water levels will return to normal, and when they do you can expect a day like we had below:
Our good friend Tony was camped out in the north lake for a 4-day fish out; he had found the fish and they where only a mile away from his camp. He called Saturday night and invited Battling Bob and myself for a mid-morning to early afternoon bite that was going on in the tules. We left the house in Graeagle early Sunday morning; it was cold out, as low as 16 degrees. By 9 a.m. we were in Tony's boat that sat camouflaged amongst the tule reeds and headed for the hunting grounds.
The conditions were unreal for sight fishing, like bone fishing on the flats of the South Pacific Ocean. This was trout stalking at its finest. We anchored in 5-6 feet of crystal clear water, it was sunny, bright, and not a puff of wind to be had. You could spot the large trout coming in at 70 feet away. Their dark backs and shadows really stuck out against the white sandy bottom of the north lake. The fish cruised for aquatic beetles, and dragonfly larva swimming about in the surreal world of the tules.
Sometimes you would be tracking a fish far off the boat when out of the blue a large trout would just appear 30 feet off the boat. They have ghost like characters of nature. Some spooked when cast near but many came to your bug if they saw it; often you would strip your fly aggressively until a fish turned and chased after it. Then by adjusting to your normal swim strip of the dragonfly, the fish would suck it down like it was a natural. One nice toad Dad caught was so close that Tony and I spotted the fish grabbing the fly then told Dad to set the hook! If this was a paid trip, I would have tipped the captain $200. Tony's eyes and coaching was a thing of beauty.
With a simple olive mohair wooley bugger that has a short marabou tail and no hackle (but very fat and heavy) in a size 10, we hooked 11 fish in a little less than three hours. The rainbows averaged 3.4 pounds and 22 inches.
The trout here have been on the small side since the lake has been low for the past few years. Once that lake fills up a bit we will have some very large trout in the 4, 5, and 6 pound range again.
Dad was in
his glory as Tony sighted the fish for him and then cast to the target. All
Dad had to do was fool that rainbow into sucking down his bug and setting the
hook. For me it was such a special day, one I might not see for years -- It was
that good. By the time we got
off the water around 1 p.m. it was 62 degrees and very warm, shortly after that the
wind picked up out of the west south/west and the sight game was gone.
After a terrific lunch provided by Tony, we headed for home with 10.5 pounds of flaming orange meat of the Eagle lake rainbow -- hands down the best-tasting trout on the planet. Dad and I just could not stop smiling the whole way home, even the drive down Hwy. 395 was special with that warm autumn sun on the face and those fall colors glowing in the distance. After eating a fresh deboned fillet that had been cooked with a Panko, olive oil, and bacon bits coating, we hunkered down for bed with dreams of stalking trout again at Eagle Lake. The lake’s natural beauty and the stunning rainbow trout will forever haunt me. I am speechless at the wonders I have seen.
Jon Baiocchi is a professional fly-fishing guide with years of experience on Eagle Lake and nearly all of the lakes and streams in the Northern Sierras. He can be reached at baiocchistroutfitters.com.
More Fly Fishing News
Orvis fly-fishing/kayak demo set for Kutras Pond
10/15/14 -- Hutch Hutchinson, Southwest Representaive for Orvis, will be in Redding Sunday, October 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Kutras Pond, Park Marina Drive in Redding along with the Jackson’s Kayak Fishing... Full Story
The Forbidding Lake
10/14/14 -- Eagle Lake of Lassen County in northeastern California is the most intriguing and majestic lake I have ever been to. The name alone in a loose conversation with other fly anglers makes my... Full Story
Fall season off to a good start at Lake Davis
09/17/14 -- Conditions at Lake Davis continue to improve, catch rates and strikes have been on the upswing using a wide variety of techniques. The aggressive fall bite is starting to really kick in; the best fishing... Full Story
Spring madness at Pyramid Lake
03/22/14 –Spring-time at Pyramid Lake in Nevada is known for fantastic and productive fishing off the many beaches, as Lahontan Cutthroat are gearing up for the spawn, and roaming the shoreline in huge pods. I’ve never fished... Full Story
Spring Time on the Middle Fork Feather River
03/04/14 -- The words unique and magnificent best describes the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Feather River. The head waters begin in the mountains surrounding the 4th highest dry lake bed in North America; the Sierra... Full Story
The Yuba River Skwala Stonefly Hatch
02/05/14 -- Dry fly fishing on the Lower Yuba River during winter can be phenomenal, productive, and so much fun! For those fly anglers who simply cannot wait for the warmer months of late spring and summer, the Yuba fulfills... Full Story
An Ancient Inland Sea
12/18/13 -- Pyramid Lake is located 35 miles North of Reno, Nevada on the Piute Indian reservation. This ancient lake, along with the Piute Indians, has been around since the beginning of time. This beautiful sea has only one inflow... Full Story
Manzanita Lake: Study Hall for Fly Anglers
07/13/13 -- I’ve probably learned more about fly fishing for trout by watching them refuse my presentations than by any other method. The immediate feedback of an observed refusal lets you know that, from the trout's... Full Story
Winter Fly Fishing TipsBy Jay Clark
01/11/13 -- Sitting here in the midst of a January cold spell, my mind wanders to the river and thoughts of wet wading on a hot August afternoon. But alas, the reality is those days are a ways off and the urge to fish is... Full Story
Top Ten flies for stillwaterBy Jon Baiocchi
11/10/12 -- Stillwater fishing has progressed at a rapid pace in the last decade. Techniques, rods, lines, and even the players on the field have gone in different directions to hone their craft. It has almost become personal... Full Story