Almanor Fishing Report Late July and the Dixie Fire

Liam, a TRB friend, gets his long-awaited 6lber

Hello friends of Team Red Boat. This Lake Almanor Fishing Report is a little different. Harder to write than most. Not due to the lack of quality fish produced this month, but because of the obvious chaos the entire region has experienced lately. It has been an emotional and trying time for our friends on the lake. We have some great stories to share and I hope you take the time to read through.

You might have noticed a few ads on the posts. Any spare change that trickles in will be donated to The Lake Almanor Fishing Association.

I don’t fight fires, I catch fish. Preserving my own little patch of Northern California is how I can be most effective. Thank you and enjoy, hope to see you on the water.

Hamilton Branch has been fishing well through it all.

Fishing has been decent through the initial smoke from the Dixie fire. The fish were seeking some fresh air too, and were looking for oxygen and visible food around the inlet. Fishing Lake Almanor can be tough, but if you pay attention to the weather you can catch trout in storms, smoke and stress. Small light-colored fish imitations should work well when fishing Hamilton Branch.

Our long-time Lake Almanor friends and their son Liam were up for a visit. Liam has been after a 6 pound trout since he was able to fish and was as determined as ever to accomplish his goal this year. He and his sister battled through the initial smoke from the Dixie fire, morning after morning catching some nice browns and bows.

After a long and arduous week of being interim First Mate on the Red Boat, Liam finally caught the jaw of a beefy Lake Almanor brown trout. Fishing for these beasts is a passion of ours and of course our guests, but this was a great fight. My dad pulled the anchor and let the young man fight the fish in circles around the boat until they were both tired.

After some water and boat snacks, Liam was energized enough to parade his fish around Camp Prattville. We are so thankful that we get to see their family every year for the last couple of decades. Lake Almanor fishing is amazing, Lake Almanor friends are even better. Which is why we always strive to protect the fish, their habitat, and the surrounding communities. Below we have some images of the Dixie fire and the brave men fighting it. Photo Credits are to Noah Berger, story associated with them is from the AP.

We are thankful for the work Cal Fire is doing, we appreciate the Lassen Hotshots. Thank you for all you do. The first image is of our brave Camp Prattville owners crew set to protect our camp. He is also a local fire chief. Some of the strongest people on earth. We are thinking of them. The rest of the pictures speak for themselves. Dozens of the places we all have been living and enjoying for over a century are destroyed.

Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger
Photo: Noah Berger

Lake Almanor Fishing report July 2021

A large brown trout from the hex hatch on lake almanor

Trout

We go from the freezing temperatures of a June cold snap, straight into the hex hatch heat of July at Lake Almanor. When you can dodge the smoke, or get out early enough to avoid the heat the fishing has been great. Many anglers are reporting hex hatches in the mid morning and late evening with a moderate amount of bugs. Fish have been scattered a bit while they search for these bugs, and cruise in and out of the cooler deep water. Move around a bit to find the fish if you can and stay put as it gets closer to dark if you find some hex hatch surfacing in 30-35 feet of water

Fly fishing Lake Almanor is always popular during this time of year. Using any yellow hex fly imitation should do the trick, the bugs do have quite a variance in size between individuals. Experimenting is the key from what I hear. If you have any tips for other fly fishermen feel free to leave them in the comments section.

A large rainbow trout caught near big cove lake almanor

Bait in all forms has been doing well for anglers in the deeper waters as the hex begin to emerge. Most have been using bait that imitates the hex, but nightcrawlers are also producing There are a few ways to get your bait in the target zone, but a good start would be to head over to our guide on Fishing Lake Almanor with the Right Gear.

Hamilton Branch has seen a decent number of rainbows and a few very large browns feasting on them. Nightcrawlers or other worms are going to be effective here, as well as some smaller jerkbaits. This is a great place to fish Lake Almanor from the shore and a fun place for older kids to fish Lake Almanor from the bank. Robert McCabe got this excellent fish.

an angler poses with a beautiful rainbow trout caught at hamilton branch lake almanor

Bass

a smallmouth bass caught at lake almanor

The smallmouth bite has been tough with the heat, smoke, and boater pressure we have had over the last few weeks. The fish seem to be hyper-localized around a few things, making finding the best summer bass fishing spots at Lake Almanor a bit tricky. During the mid-mornings the fish seem to be responding well to finesse tactics. Senkos and Yamamoto Fat Ika have been working for some anglers. During the mornings and late evenings, topwater baits like Whopper Ploppers and shallow baits like jerkbaits are a fun way to catch one of these fighters. If all else fails, throw on some crickets and a bobber and float it through any shadows for a decent chance. It can also be noted that the lower lake levels have revealed some cover (and taken some away) from the Northside Largies. They are still there, but likely trying to stay cool so get your kayak ready and bring some braid. Check out our intro to how to fish Lake Almanor for smallmouth here.

kayak fishing for smallmouth bass at lake almanor

Salmon

a landlocked king salmon from lake almanor fishing expedition

Everyone loves a good “salmon run” on Lake Almanor. These are some cool fish and I make a point to target them at least once or twice a year. They make a great meal (try canning them), are plentiful, and put up a great fight. My mother caught one of these in 1980 that won the Vagabond Resort’s fishing derby and weighed almost eight pounds. I wasn’t around for it, but my dad says it was one hell of a fight in front of about 30 boats. The point is that these fish hit hard and come in schools. It is not uncommon to have two or three on at once when targeting them. There are a few deep channels that can be fished to increase your chances, but these fish are cruising all over the lake. If you can get your bait down to about 40-50 feet, you could be in great Landlocked King Salmon territory.

Over the years we have had the most success with a size 6-8 baitholder and slices of anchovy. The tails seem to work the best, but if you cover up the hook all of the fish will work so don’t wast your bait! Many times they will hit in waves, so fish for a while and if you have no luck after an hour try somewhere else. I am getting reports of catches all over Lake Almanor so your chances are good!

Thanks again for all of your support. Feel free to reach out with any questions and send in your fish photos!

-TRB

Lake Almanor Fishing Report 6-16-21 and the Story of the “Ranger Stranger”

almanor angler with brown trout

Last week, it was cold. Really cold for a week at Lake Almanor in June. I took the opportunity to load up my kids and shuffle them over from Reno to Lake Almanor. After a two hour drive, and barely 4 hours of sleep that night, I woke up at 5AM to relatively unfamiliar fishing conditions. The cold snap put a little pause on the hex fly hatch, so we were nervous that the bugs wouldn’t be there. As I stepped onto the dock, I realized that the air felt much cooler than 35 degrees due to the wind and damp air. There was snow on the surrounding mountains that stopped collecting just 200 feet above the water level. We then proceeded to drive right into a lake-level cloud, further increasing the discomfort.

panoramic shot of lake almanor on a cold june morning. A dock with boats is centered in the frame.
This was the scene at Lake Almanor during the June cold snap 2021

We drove through that quiet cloud with no one else on the lake at 5mph. We know where “The Island” is, but we practice what we preach and are huge proponents of boating safety. Slowly but surely we made it to a little hole on the West shore. No hex flies popping up, the fish were shivering on the finder, and my freezing hands were already aching. I was afraid this would be a long hard road to Skunksville. Then I saw it. One single, solitary, beautiful, dijon mustard-colored hex fly rise to the surface and stretch its wings. This was energizing of course.

If few bugs are present near the end of the hatch in July, fishing can be tough. The fish are already transitioning to other food at that point. If too many bugs are present in the heat of it, you are playing a numbers game with little influence. But, one or two bugs surfacing each hour early in hatch season means there is going to be stiff competition on the bottom. The most aggressive brown trout are ready to eat first.

Battle!

Some huge browns stretched the heck out of my line that week. Rods were bent. It was an overall success and excellent experience. I’m grateful for the chance to fish here for these monsters.

7lb lake almanor brown trout with angler for fishing report

We release about 90% of the fish we catch, but during this time of year the aggressive brown sometimes swallow bait. Using natural baits, we emulated the hex hatch and landed a few fish ready for the smoker. We had had one 4 pound brown, one 5.5 pound brown, and one 7 pound brown. Fishing in the clouds was an absolute blast.

Fully satisfied with my trout experience for the week, I took my wife and daughters down to the dock to see if I could generate a little evening excitement via topwater. I threw on the only Whopper Plopper lure I have (a perch pattern, non-existent in Almanor).

As I made my way along the dock casting out to the log barrier, a guy in a Ranger boat was creeping closer and closer to my favorite spot under the power of his trolling motor. I know that the feeding smallmouth bass like to hang in the corner of the logs and pick off their meals at this time. I wanted it to be as close to sundown as possible when I hit that spot. Only I knew I was racing this guy in the Ranger, he was blissfully flipping whatever he had but was unsuccessful so far as I could tell. I approached the spot, now within casting range as I neared the end of the end of the dock finger. The Ranger Stranger noticed my presence and gave me a nod. He went along on his side of the log and I went on mine. We were both casting towards the corner now. I felt pretty confident that the Ranger Stranger wasn’t going to hook my fish though.

The bass in Lake Almanor are many things; prolific, aggressive, healthy, tasty etc. but they are also a little particular. This was made very clear during the Apex Cup Bass Tournament a couple months ago. The bass won’t usually chase bait towards the North side of these logs into open water. One thing I have noticed is the hyper-localized patterns the bass in the lake have. Every area has something new to figure out.

That’s when the water exploded. My daughter screamed, and my wife laughed as the fiesty bass blew up the Whopper Plopper. I instantly yanked the thing away from the logs, I know exactly where the chains are and so does this fishy. After about a minute-long battle steering this thing away from losing my $20 Plopper, he was in. I shot a pic and released the beast. I waved to the Ranger Stranger (who hadn’t moved or made a single cast). He only lifted his hand as if to say “Good game TRB, good game”. At least that’s how I like to tell it.

smallmouth bass from lake almanor topwater

I ended up running into more cold windy weather and decided to finesse a ned rig on some deep man-made structure we are aware of. This ended up with a first-cast 3lb smallmouth bass and a good end to my trip. I fished a total of 6 hours or so on this short trip, but it was well worth it. Have a great day and enjoy your stay at Lake Almanor. Be sure to check back here for the latest Lake Almanor fishing reports, guides and tips.

Lake Almanor Fishing Report 5-13-21

A great eagle lake strain rainbow trout from a fishbrain lake almanor angler

Welcome to your latest Lake Almanor Fishing report. Things are starting to pick up as warmer temperatures take over for the moderate Winter we had. The smallmouth have decided to show up in full force, starting with the Apex Cup tournament a few weeks ago. A Fishbrain friend, Jon, had great success using an umbrella rig to imitate the smelt. Great numbers for him, but the big girls are tougher to entice lately. The trout bite is a bit slow as they have been well-fed from various ant and other bug hatches. The hex hatch should be starting soon and is sure to increase fish activity and mobility. Start fattening up those crickets!

An umbrella rig smelt pattern catches smallmouth bass

Trolling Lake Almanor

Trollers have had some luck with trolling flies or other small lures, allowing for a slower retrieve and less-intimidating presentation. Be mindful of your speed and wind direction, go ahead and slow things down right now to figure things out. If you have the ability to, trolling is a great way to lock down some potential hotspots for the coming weeks as the fish settle down.

A beautiful Eagle Lake Strain rainbow trout from Lake Almanor

Bank Fishing Lake Almanor

Bank fishing is still most successful near Hamilton Branch where gorgeous rainbow trout and some very large browns have recently been caught. The water levels are very low for this time of year, but they are on the rise. We can hope for some warmer weather to increase the flow into Hamilton Branch, and a few showers to top off Lake Almanor. Captain Bryan over at Big Daddy Guide Service has had some amazing success with his clients, landing multiple fish nearing ten pounds. Please give him a ring and get out on the boat, he’s a great guy and you won’t regret your experience. Please support the Lake Almanor Fishing Association and take care of our Eastern Sierra gem. Enjoy your stay at Wilson’s Camp Prattville, and enjoy your stay fishing at Lake Almanor. Sign up for our email list to stay up-to-date with your Lake Almanor fishing report.

Apex on Almanor bass tournament

Anglers from all over the Western United States came together at our beautiful home Lake Almanor. It is an honor to have our waters host such a prestigious tournament under extreme conditions. We feel like the anglers got a taste of what Lake Almanor bass fishing is all about. An amazing community, unpredictable weather, and some of the toughest fish in the nation.

The tournament was tough for all anglers, snow and wind affected the conditions drastically. Those who could adapt succeeded and left with the price. Austin Wilson went home with first place and a whopping 17.13lbs on his last day. He had a lot of success with 4 inch Keitech shiners. Wilson spent some time fishing by the dam, but had most of his success in small flat areas with large rocks and stumps. This checks out 😉 As the weather waned, anglers left the Plumas Pines marina and headed home. I am thrilled that Almanor was not easy on these guys, and even more thrilled that they respected our lake and our fish. Apex is welcome back to Almanor any time and look out for that Red Boat next year. Please visit our Lake Almanor fishing reports page to stay updated.