Fishing Lake Almanor With Bob Kopernik
By Bob Kopernik
Lake Almanor offers excellent fishing for chinook (king) salmon, brown and rainbow trout, plus several sub-species. Most of these fish have been planted as a “catchable size” by the California Department of Fish and Game and the Almanor Fishing Association, along with Kokanee Power. For the past couple of years, the number of fish planted has been approximately 178,000 fish each year! I almost exclusively troll for trout and salmon. Upon reviewing my Fishing Log for the past several years, it indicates that the vast majority of the fish that I catch (or release) are high-quality specimens measuring 17 to 19 inches long. Additionally, there are good populations of smallmouth, largemouth and more recently spotted bass. Whatever your available fishing equipment and interests are, will pretty much dictate how and where you can fish.
If you are limited to a fishing pole, a box of worms and a comfortable lawn chair, there are a number of accessible locations. Pick up a good lake map and ask any of the local sporting goods businesses or local fishermen to mark some of the good fishing locations and ask them to explain how to get there (some locations are a bit tricky to find). If you are on the west shore, stop in at the Plumas Pines Marina Store. I have marked up a lake map, which is available for you to review.
If you have a float tube or small skiff there are quite a few places where you can launch which provide excellent access to prime fishing areas. I would try using a small split shot with an inflated night crawler drifted three or four feet off the bottom. Kast Master lures work exceptionally well and you can always cast the shoreline for bass. Lake Almanor has a “Hex Hatch” which is a Mayfly that hatches sporadically around the lake in late June and early July. One way to find them is to look for an abundance of float tubes working the near shore waters in the late afternoon. Another way is to watch where the seagulls are aggressively feeding just before dusk.
A motorboat opens up endless possibilities and places to fish. Be mindful that we may get strong afternoon winds, which are sometimes dangerous for small boats. There are several very productive spots that can be found by looking for four or five boats anchored in the same area. If you drop anchor a comfortable 60 or 70 feet away from the nearest boat, those fishermen will be more than happy to share information that could help you be more successful. Bait that sometimes works well for salmon is a filet of anchovy tail about 2.5 inches long smeared with a bait scent like Trophy Trout. In late June try drifting a night crawler, mealworm, cricket or combination of the latter two. Later in the summer when the pond smelt are nearly mature, try jigging a white colored jig. Start out fishing near the bottom and work up the water column until you find where the fish are feeding.
If you are set up for trolling either with a lead core line or down riggers, you can troll most any of the shorelines or lake structure. I find the trolling blades with half a night crawler to be very effective. Dodgers and Sling Blades with night crawlers or Needle Fish type lures also work quite well. I almost always start my day fishing 25’ to 30’ deep and if I don’t get any hits I try something a little different.
I tend to believe in the old adage that “Ten percent of the fishermen catch ninety percent of the fish.” Aspiring to be one of those ten percent is what forces me to get up at “Zero Dark Thirty” to go fishing. A few years ago while drifting a mealworm/cricket combination bait just off the bottom, our six-year-old granddaughter hooked and landed (with the help of her dad) a 27” long, seven-pound brown trout. I have been fishing this lake for over 35 years and still haven’t caught a fish that big! But I know that they are there so I keep trying. Note that the DFG has recorded an 18-pound rainbow trout caught right here in Lake Almanor.
Enjoy all of your Lake Almanor experience and stay safe. “Think Big Fish” Bob Kopernik Lucky Grady Fishing Guide Service