Vals Fishing Report

Eagle Lake - Susanville, CA (Lassen County)

by Val and Randy Aubrey

Ramp Conditions
Lake Elevation: 5099 ft on 7-5-08 (Taken at Stones Landing)

Spalding Marina: The first ramp as you come into the Spalding Marina is fine for launching at this time. The shoal straight out registered 2.9 feet deep. Big outboards: trim it up, you too I/O units. Water pump impellers don't care for the gritty silt kicked up by prop wash and dragging keels. Those folks traveling past Pelican Point from or to Spalding, don't cut too close to the buoy at the tip of the point....swing that wide by a few hundred feet east.

Eagle Lake Marina: Getting worse every day. Several boulders are scattered about as you go out or come in or go out. As a precaution I would keep my out-drive up a little while leaving the dock. Problems are happening already for larger deeper drafting boats!!!

Stones Landing: The south side of the ramp (right side looking down from the top) is pretty shallow for larger fishing boats but fine for smaller ones. There are several good size rocks laying on the bottom and directly out from the ramp. The north side (left looking down) is deeper and at the end of the dock there was a solid four feet of water.

Lake Surface Temperature, Clarity & Water Quality
Official CDFG Water Test Information

North Basin: 71 F from 69; pH Level: 9.58 on 8-8-08; Dissolved O2: 84%@ 5 ft
Middle Basin: 71 F from 70; pH Level: 9.56; Dissolved O2: 83% to 92%
South Basin: 70 F to 20 ft, 68 to 69 F between 20 and 30 ft; pH Level: 9.36 to 9.39 from 30 to 0 ft
(respectively); Dissolved O2 72 to 75 % above 30 ft. O2 at 50 ft 2? percent.

CDFG finally posted the Voluntary Catch and Keep Recommendation on 8-8-08

Algae and Surface Weed Locations

The lake is in pretty good shape. However, this is the time of year when we start seeing more surface weeds in some areas. There were a few places off Wildcat Point that were pretty weedy....trollers check your lines if you troll through it.

The "Reel" Weather
Some folks wanted me to let you all know that there are plenty of campsites available despite what the new reservation agency website says.

HOT, HOT, HOT.... We are seeing our first temperatures in the mid 90's since May and they are expected to stay with us for the next few days. Winds are predicted to be light and variable as a high pressure system moves through the area. This heat will raise the water temps and keep the fish in the south basin for a while longer. We are taking one step back from the early fall that was progressing well....but it won't last.

NOTE FOR NEWCOMERS TO OUR WEBSITE: Just so you know, I don't believe in guessing when I am not on the pond for myself for a few days....even though our network is fishing. One thing we do that is different from most of the guides is having the ability to be extremely successful using ALL methods of fishing this lake. Some folks like to bobber fish and others troll leadcore or down-riggers or fly fish. We mastered them all over a lifetime (several in fact) of fishing this lake, and we use all the methods seasonally (which is why one has to be an ambidextrous fisher person to be regularly successful on this lake in any conditions on any given day). That is why we can offer the total Eagle Lake fishing experience like no one else. We have our own world up here that our viewers have coined the term (for this website) as "Virtual Eagle Lake" where you don't have to wait two weeks to find out how the fishing was then. We are about as close to a "reel" time fishing report as you can get. We accept the title, thank-you viewers! We hope it's just like being here, ESPECIALLY ALL WINTER LONG!!!!!! (We actually gain viewers over the winter because it IS just like being here).

Best Fishing Locations and Depths

The heat the last few days have raised the water temps once again. Just when she was cooling down nicely and had some fish moving into the Youth Camp. There are fish in there now, but the heat may drive them down to the bottom (30 to 35 ft). The masses have not committed to going north of Miner's Point but a few fish had been being caught at the Youth Camp and Biology Station this week.

Eagles Nest, the Snag (north of E.N.) and the Springs on the east side are still holding trout (and chubs). Now is the time to start running a free line and covering more of the water column and take advantage of the slight changes in the water. Shrimp Island and Lake of the Woods and south to Wildcat Pt are still producing some nice fish 3 to 5 pounds but some folks are finding them moving a little closer to shore in 30 to 40 ft of water early in the morning. Then, moving out to 50 plus later in the morning. The big spring out in the middle of the south basin between Blacks Mountain and Shrimp Island is also holding some trout. This is a typical "staging" ground in preparation for fall. Generally, the angle of the sun can determine their timing into slightly shallower water despite water temperatures.

Fish are pretty much in their normal haunts but they are showing signs of getting restless already. Fish will continue to be caught in the deep haunts while others will move north of Miners Point long before the masses. The catching depth is already showing variances which indicates that fall is coming.

NOTE: Catching Tui Chub Trolling? Pick up your speed just a little. You may have been wasting a lot of time chasing a fish that won't generally bite trollers unless you are going too slow. But, how do you know what species of fish is showing up on your scope? Here are a few tips about Chubs: Tui-chub appear as fish "stacked" upon each other inside what appears to be a bait ball on most fish finders (depending on your sensitivity setting). The tui-chub school differently than trout. So when you see a massive, thick school of fish on your finder, chances are they are not trout. Chub schools move in unison and synchronized generally no more than 1 ? inches apart (2 ? inches is a general target of newer fish/depth finders), often confusing your unit especially if your sensitivity is set high. Right now chubs are hanging around 20 to 40 feet deep and some are intermingling with some schools of trout...many out in the middle of the south basin. Our trout generally scope loosely and generally as individual fish however some pairs are common. Later in summer you will see the chubs at 40 to 45 feet deep while trout will remain a little higher where there is better dissolved oxygen. Chubs can also survive (probably by choice) in warmer water with less dissolved O2 than trout.

Bait Fishing

Bait fishing has produced beautiful limits this week. The bait bite has been good for those taking advantage of the changes in the water column. Free lining has been working well as the water temperatures cooled last week, but expect the heat wave to drive those babies right back down to 25 to 30.

Use of attractants is often a good choice. These fish have been particular to garlic gravy and krill flavors in the past, but don't use it on all your bait in the water. One day it's an attractant and the next it can be a repellent. If it gets the most attention....I don't have to tell you what to do.


Most trollers are finding plenty of clean water to work at this time but many are finding trout scattered in the water column. Most finding action at 22 to 30 ft deep with an occasional fish at 35 (02 is better above 35 ft though).

Five to 6 colors deep has been the number for leadcore trollers which is roughly 25 to 30 but more trout are being caught between 3 to 4 colors early. Don't be afraid to drop out 6 later in the morning or afternoon. Note: It is illegal to use attractants on downrigger balls. CDFG wardens are on to that trick which by definition is chumming. Don't even try.

We are also running some top-lines with brown trolling flies and tui-chub and red-side shiner imitations.

Make downrigger adjustments for lure running depth...IE often folks will run a lure that has a 6 ft running depth at 100 ft behind the boat ... if you run your downrigger at 30 feet, your lure may be running at 36 ft. Rubber grubs don't naturally sink as deep as some lures and worms have a little weight as well. Just make sure that you are not running below the target range in the deep water. Fish foraging the bottom in 30 to 35 feet of water are flipping rocks and sucking all the living creatures off of them on the west side at O-dark thirty. When I targeting those fish leadcore works best because you can "feel" where your line is and adjust it by inches or feet very quickly by using your speed. My term for catching the bottom feeding rock flippers trolling is "down and dirty, in your face fishing" and I plan on doing that just as soon as my boat is ready to go.

Trolling nightcrawlers continues to be effective (no flashers)...some folks are catching some fish at 15 - 25 feet deep but the heat will drive them back down between 25 and 30 this week. Often these fish will hit very light and just nip of the tail dragging behind the hook. If that happens leave little to no tail...thread the entire worm on the hook (I have been known to use a smaller size 8 or 10 hook insuring it can not be seen and small enough to allow good movement of the bait on the line as it is being trolled. Also, be sure that the nightcrawler does not twist in the water and that nightcrawlers should be trolled much slower (a lazy S look is what you want to see) than lures and flies. Nightcrawlers should be trolled no faster than 1 to 1.2 mph where flies and lures such as needlefish or rapala's require speeds between 1.2 and 1.8 mph. "Uncle Larry's lures" in Perch, fire and Tiger colors in front of grubs or nightcrawlers has been working great for trollers. Nightcrawlers behind wedding-rings have also produced nice limits for trollers.

Hottest lures: Needlefish in "perch", orange, (pearl, brass and nickel back), firetiger, red dot frog! (We have a very successful Western toad population as well as several frog species around the shoreline. Don't think for one minute that these fish don't know a frog or toad when they see one....yes, they eat em. Both the yellow dot (black center) needlefish, the red-dot frog needlefish were working best but it did depend a little on the locations. The Perch Needlefish has been a good producer this season. Nickel bikini (small size now, larger later in summer and fall) has been a "standard" Eagle Lake lure for decades and can generally get bit when all else fails). Sure-Catch lures large "Red Dog" is getting quite a bit of attention and the "gator" which is similar to a red dot frog needlefish in color was the one getting the most attention. Rainbow runners in orange and pearl also produced fish this week. Depending on where you are fishing, minnow imitations are starting to get attention.

We are starting to see more minnows everywhere. We are seeing a little influx of tui-chub and more speckled dace showing up around the boats. The dace generally are in small little family groups of 20 to 40 individuals, they don't school like most all other fish, they grow up to about 1 inch long. Often small silver lures (IE small needlefish, rainbow runner size) with a little silver or red reflective tape will start working well when trolled through the bait balls. Stay with small until the minnows get bigger, then go up in size as they grow. Once there are many different sizes like later in fall the size won't matter as me, it's one of those natural world things, the trout know when something is out of place, whether they hit the ugliest, ghastliest lure in the box.

Trolling Flies: The best for us is still brown or amber and orange leech patterns in the deep water. But we are starting to run a little shallower water and the Tui chub imitation got the snot knocked out of it.

Grubs: Brown, orange (small size), amber, olive (red flecks) watermelon (watermelon generally starts picking up more attention this time of year). Black is also a good color to have in your tackle box and has been known to be something that works when the bite goes off. White can be deadly when working the bait balls. Some folks use wiggle or action discs anywhere from 4 to 18 inches ahead of the grub for more action in the water. But, I have found that sometimes too much movement, especially on flat water, is just that. It's not as easy fooling a trout in clear, calm, flat water as it is when there is a ripple or wave action.

Fly Fishing

Dang, water temps back in the low 70's by afternoon....we are expecting more heat the next few days....but after that....hang on. It's coming....sooner than you think.

Drifting caddis nymphs (emergers) under indicators and patience and short periodic strips can produced some nice trout...out in deep water (+30 ft) but if you see the trout, chances are he sees you too. The hatch has been late this week. It is important (on these trout) to keep a lower profile even out on a boat. The trout can be very "line shy" so a bad cast often spooks them. We prefer 10 ft (13' is good too if you can find them) long tippets, 4 pound small diameter. Slow short strips (3 to 4 inches) will always catch more fish than fast long strips on this lake. Brown, black and olive wooly buggers in size 10 to 12 are pretty steady fish catching colors on this lake but other small nymphs and scuds have also been known to work well. As a starter tip, we prefer to use brown while fishing the rocky ledges and olive variations of woolly buggers in the moss beds and tules (damsels). We also have variations of "gold" woolly buggers as well as black (with peacock body) that come in handy when skies are overcast.

Shore Fishing

Shore fishing will be picking up before too long and even though we do have a few more trout foraging along the shoreline here and there, they have not committed to leaving the close proximity of deeper water.. Let the water temperature drop down to 68 and more trout will be coming close (at least in reach of) to shore for the tui-chub minnows (illegal to use minnows as bait here).

The "jetty" at the Eagle Lake Marina (parking behind the marina), The Circus Grounds (parking on Eagle Lake Road at the big turn out or in the parking lot of Christie Day Use Area). Wildcat Pt has a road but is walking access only from the blocked road. The Osprey Management Area is off walking limits September 15th. The Youth Camp is accessed by dirt roads either from Merrillville Road in Willow Creek Valley from highway 139 or via Eagles Nest.

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