Welcome to the first post in our “Almanor Slam” series. For our Team Red Boat-sanctioned slam we include: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Landlocked King Salmon, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth bass and Bullhead Catfish. We believe targeting these species represents everything Lake Almanor angling has to offer. Throughout this journey, you will become a better angler and a master of Lake Almanor fishing strategies.
One of the hardest pound-for-pound fighters in the world, the smallmouth bass is a popular game fish sought by anglers throughout the temperate zones of North America, and has been spread by stocking—as well as illegal introductions—to many cool-water tributaries and lakes in Canada and more so introduced in the United States.
The current Lake Almanor smallmouth bass record is 9lbs 3oz. I have caught them close to six pounds and I can’t imagine what battling a bronzeback of that size. During the Spring, the bass are making and guarding their nests. At this point in the year, they will attack almost anything if actively defending their young. Predatory-style baits work well and plopping a ned rig around points is a great bet.
Does the color of the bait really matter during the Spring when the bass are so aggressive? We believe it certainly does. The crystal clear and cool waters of Lake Almanor offer incredible visibility, sometimes topping 25ft. The fish will attack brightly-colored baits during this time if presented in the right area, but if you want to catch more fish at Lake Almanor you will need to specialize. Take advantage of that salacious appetite on the fish as well by imitating food they would normally attack anyway.
Green pumpkin is king all year round. From slim Yamasenkos in the 3-5 inch range. Throw it out, slack line descent, the fish usually hit on the way down near pilings, rocks and docks. The ned rig is great to cover lots of area and you might punch it down on top of a monster, just be ready to set the hook! The stickbaits will draw strikes from any fish defending against other bass, crawfish, trout etc.
As the Summer months get hotter, the pond smelt become more active and the bass become a little more mobile. They will not hunt big bait balls, but they will constantly devour wounded stragglers that were just victims to the tail of a large brown trout. Dragging small plastics or suspending lures horizontally across areas of 15-20ft depth will produce strikes until about noon. For these baits, a pearlescent white or purple is great.
These bass pull HARD. From the strike, they will begin ripping line and heading for any structure they can. They get very thrashy underwater and managing line tension is hard in the initial stages of the fight. This is where your selection earlier in the day will be put to the test. The fact that you have this fish on means your line is thin enough to be invisible in the pristine water, which also means this fish is likely large enough to push the line to its limit.
When fishing for smallmouth bass at Lake Almanor the quantity will come, but everyone is after that 6lb fish. Be ready when you meet her. You are likely fighting her on 6lb fluoro with minimal stretch, but you got this. After the initial thrashing, the big girls will begin to rise steadily, until they see your ugly mug at 7:25 AM sans coffee…
They WILL run, be ready. If you can work past the last attempts at freedom the bass should be easily retrieved and released after posting a pic to Fishbrain so we can give you a like.
Fishing for smallmouth bass with kids at Lake Almanor is a great option. Their abundance and aggressive nature make locating a school of them fairly easy. The West and East shores of Lake Almanor provide the best rocky shore and structure habitats that are easily-accessible by shore. The PG&E pump. houses have some great points on the West side, just be careful and do not get into the water near them. A couple crickets on a Gamakatsu Baitholder Hook – Bronze Size 8size 8 hook, suspended 18 inches under a bobber allow you to go with the flow and cover a larger area. The bass love crickets.
When things get a little tougher as things warm up you might have to change strategies. I have found that when the bass are deeper and the wind is up, the standard Senko rig is hard to manage. I have had a lot of success during the summer months with ned rigs. Specifically the TRD in any dark color. Slowly working these up natural and man-made drop-offs and points will usually produce quality fish when they are in pockets.
This Spring, get out to Lake Almanor for some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in California. One of the only lakes in the country that I consume bass meat out of. They are prolific, they have no predators other than themselves, and the meat is amazing. The fish live off the best food, in the clearest cool waters of the Sierra. I take about 3-5 fish each year and make lemon-lime bass tacos.
Sign up with us to stay up-to-date by reading our Lake Almanor fishing reports, and keep an eye out for our bait shop coming soon. We hope to be your virtual Lake Almanor fishing guide. Tight lines everyone!!