The Almanor Slam Part 1: The Smallmouth Bass

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.

What bait color is best for Almanor Smallmouth?

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.

What’s your line?

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.

Guaranteed bites?

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!!

Lake Almanor Fishing Report 3-24-21

We have had some drastic temperature variations these last couple of weeks. However, the Lake Almanor fishing report is getting active. Fish are on the move and things are heating up. Hamilton Branch has seen some action with a 6lb rainbow being released back into the channel after a bite on the fly. A few smaller rainbows were also reported out of Big Cove. Paul was using Berkeley orange mice tails. What a nice little chunker this is. Hamilton Branch has them feeding on the young trout this time of year.

A Hamilton Branch angler holds up a beautiful rainbow trout for the Lake Almanor Fishing Report

Those beefy browns are still chasing tubes and small swimming baits. These should also work well fishing Hamilton Branch at Lake Almanor. They should be switching over to the bugs as the hatch starts to come into effect. Air temps should be into the 60’s by the end of the week and the water will start to warm shortly after. A couple of weeks of stable temps should get those hex moving. Fly fisherman might be able to snag a few off the top using some hex flies if they want to get started. They can be so impatient sometimes!

This time of year, the weather at Lake Almanor can be unpredictable. Use local weather forecasts with our Lake Almanor fishing report ant tips to plan your trip. Staying on the lake? We recommend staying at Wilson’s Camp Prattville, they have lots of amenities, RV spaces, Cabins, and are some of the greatest people around. Give them a call today!

Our Plan for Spring Fishing Lake Almanor

We will be dropping the boat in within a few weeks. We are definitely excited to maximize our Lake Almanor angling efforts. The Apex Cup Bass tournament will also be held at Lake Almanor during April of 2021. I will keep you all updated! Please subscribe to see the latest Lake Almanor fishing reports, tips and gear guides.


Fishing Lake almanor with the right gear

Everyone always talks about the bait. What’s the best lure for Lake Almanor? What juicy stinky goo should I use as fish attractant? You want me to do what with a cricket? All are common questions we get as we show off our catches on Fishbrain.

The truth is, the actual bait and presentation is only half of the battle for these giant browns, rainbows, and smallies. The second front you will battle these beasts on is gear selection.

The smoke was scattering fish and pushing them deep, I don’t own a trolling rig…At Almanor, you find a way to work around the fish. Thanks Big G for the “charter”.

Trolling, casting or bait fishing success hinges on your ability to get the bait in front of the fish. This doesn’t mean your bait AND some heavy line, a giant string of flashers, some weeds you picked up, or stinky garlic oil. You have to ask the question “what environment is this creating for the fish?” It is extremely important to cut out variables that the fish at Lake Almanor are not used to. The water clarity is astounding, the lake is fairly uniform, and the fish hunt on their own schedule. You can’t surprise these fish into striking.

Bait fishing Lake Almanor

Bait fishing Lake Almanor is seldom done from shore. The food the fish are targeting are available in deeper waters all over the lake. Going in shallow gets you removed from the gene pool by the claws of an osprey fairly quickly. When selecting tackle for bait fishing Lake Almanor, you will need to focus on a boat or float setup. Use light gear! The fish are sensitive and will likely leave your bait if they see leader or any unusual movement. I recommend Berkley Vanish 110 yd, Pound test 44lb fluorocarbon leader. We fish with ultralight poles and their respective reels, to give the fish a little more time tugging on the bait.

We taught my oldest daughter the essentials of fighting large fish using an ice fishing pole and 4lb leader.

Lake Almanor Casting Gear

When casting spoons, jigs or other swimming lures your line will need to be a tad heavier. I use 8lb fluoro for most applications. My jigging motion is erratic and the large browns often strike with the first jig off the bottom. I find the 8lb is strong enough to catch up to 14lb browns if you fight them well. The sinking line helps the bait stay down and is clear as can be in the pristine water. I actually use the same 7 foot medium action setup for catching smallmouth in Lake Almanor. The line is sensitive for finesse and Senko fishing, but strong enough to rip any lure you could want for smallmouth in this lake.

I can’t stress line and rod selection enough to people fishing Lake Almanor for the first time. The local shops will sell you the right bait, convincing the fish it is food requires the right gear. Feel free to comment or email with any questions. Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with our Lake Almanor Fishing Report. Tight lines!

Lake Almanor Fishing Report 3-9-21

As our Fishbrain feed over @teamredboat begins to come to life with the Spring season we begin to turn our attention to the water and weather conditions. The Spring smallmouth populations are beginning to activate and will commence with spawning over the next couple of months. This is a great time to start fishing Senkos, ned rigs, and jigs around docks, points, and jetties if you are hunting bronzebacks.

Lake levels will continue to rise if we are blessed by another wet Spring. Water temperatures are hovering around 40 degrees and water visibility is still 5 to 8 feet. Light precipitation has been coming through periodically. We have noticed some anglers having more success near Hamilton Branch as the incoming water begins to clear. A few rare and large browns have been reported by trollers.

The Lake Almanor Fishing Association folks had some success out there targeting salmon in 45 feet of water. With 300,000 salmon planted in the last two years, we hope this year is productive for these feisty fish.

The strategy for trout at this time of year will consist of trial and error, data collection, and being in the right place at the right time. Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know how the fish are biting for you, and sign up with your email address to become a member of Team Red Boat.

**The Canyon Dam boat ramp is the only public ramp available at this time. Please plan your trip accordingly.**

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