Ok, well, where to begin? Boat traffic, water quality, wind, rain, lions tigers and bear, oh my. Anyway,
The big news is the midge fly hatch. Midges are hatching and man are they something right now. If you look back a few reports, I included a picture of the first midge I had seen this season. Well, I've stopped taking photos of them. I am too busy washing them off and out of the boat by the dozens now. I would say hundreds, because if you look out across the water there are thousands of them flying, sitting and otherwise just being everywhere. But, I'm not washing hundreds out of the inside of the boat at least, but I am finding literally twenty or thirty of them every morning laying around before I run my next charters. Not the best starting of the day with dead bugs on your seat. So, back to fishing. The rainbows are gorging themselves on these critters. Literally surfacing all around the boat and taking these apparently tasty flies well into the afternoon on calmer days. With the hatching of the bugs has come a horrible lull in the catch rates. Boats are coming in with zero fish, one fish, a two fish day is something to be excited about. It's not for lack of trout in the lake. As a matter of fact the trout watching is quite good. we're seeing fish surfacing on the west side of the peninsula. The east side has all but dried up by now. Of course, I still hear reports of fish being taken from rec 1 up to big cove and even on around to Hamilton Branch. This isn't where the meat of the fleet is. Most boats are targeting the west side now and waiting for the bite to fire off on the red banks below Bailey Creek. It's not uncommon to have 10 boats sharing the water. We all have one thing in common. Few Fish. Although there is a mix of both fast and slow presentations happening as people try to put something together, I have been sticking with a slow presentation of grubs and worms and gulps hoping that something will bring a bite. Most of my activity is coming from the middle of the water column, but although few, beautiful fish are being picked up as deep as 24'. As is standard operating procedure, I will start my day shallow and move down as the the sun rises over the lake.
Also in big news is the opening of Forest Service West boat lunch on the west side near Prattville. This is a beautiful ramp and it's a quick boat ride to the fishing grounds. I would suggest taking advantage of it as the ramp at Canyon Dam has been busy and parking poor.
If you haven't heard about the chatter of the Thermal Curtain and draining of Lake Almanor, you might want to take a moment to catch up. Since at least 2004 PGE has been negotiating to renew licensing for its hydroelectric operation on the north fork of the feather river. It seems everyone wants a piece of them from water oxygenation, to public access, to erosion. I don't envy PG&E. But it's important to know that the California Water Quality Control Board has classified the North Fork of the Feather River below Lake Almanor as a cold water river. There is evidence that the operations activity of PG&E is warming the water below Lake Almanor. What's most concerning to me personally is that although we have a world class trophy trout fishery in Lake Almanor, it's also the easiest target for its large pool of water. The ideas floating around in my eyes are basically sacrifice the lake in order to increase water flow downstream, or warm the lake and sacrifice the fishery in hopes or restoring a fishery downstream. None of it makes a lot of sense taken individually. As a whole, it's a problem though. The Chamber of Commerce is taking a leading role in talking about the issue again. There is the first of what is projected to be monthly town hall meeting starting this Monday. Below is information they have released.
"The location of the May 10 Town Hall has been changed to the Mt. Lassen Theater!
The process of the re-licensing of Lake Almanor has been exceptionally long and unnecessarily drawn out. 20 years after negotiations began the lake is still without the 2105 license.
Project 2105 is the federally regulated and licensed hydro-electric project located in Plumas County owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license number 2105. A significant feature of the project is Lake Almanor.
"In October, 2004 PG&E’s FERC license for Project 2015 expired and since then PG&E has actively worked to obtain a new license. Because the project significantly impacts Plumas County residents and visitors, local residents and property owners formed the 2105 Working Group (previously called the 2105 Committee) to actively work to ensure that the new FERC license contained provisions that recognize the importance of the project, and in particular the lake, to our county and communities.
The 2105 Working Group developed goals that if incorporated in the new FERC license would:
- ensure a reasonable summer time water level for Lake Almanor
- require monitoring of the lake to maintain water quality
- provide increased public access to the lake
- require PG&E to invest in recreation facilities, some of which will be constructed prior to the issuance of the new FERC license
- mitigate the ongoing erosion of the Lake Almanor shoreline
- provide for a safety policy for those who use the lake for recreation
Beginning in 2002, the 2105 Working Group worked closely with the 2105 Licensing Group, a group of interested parties that worked collaboratively to reach a settlement in March 2004. The Settlement Agreement, which incorporates the goals described above, was executed by the Parties in April 2004, except for the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and is expected to provide the basis of license articles that FERC will include in the new Project 2105 FERC license." (Excerpted from Project2015.org)
Unfortunately, after long hours negotiating the above, the State Water Resources Control Board is attempting to require drawing a very large quantity of cold water from the lake at Canyon Dam throughout the summers, ostensibly to reduce water temperature 1-2 degrees centigrade in the Feather River thirty miles downstream from the lake. This last-minute addition would leave Lake Almanor in danger and stakeholders without a successful conclusion to the 2105 efforts. 20 years after negotiations began and 16 years after agreement, the 2105 license remains in limbo and our communities in uncertainty.
The Town Hall is on Monday, May 10th at 5:15pm at the Mt. Lassen Theatre located at 200 Main St. Chester, CA 96020 will give an overview of the history of the re-licensing process, where we are today, and what we, as a community need do to have a voice in outcomes.
Zoom will be available.
Meeting ID: 930 3588 4053 Passcode: 080025
Dial by your location +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)"
If you love this fishery, I'd suggest getting involved and advocating for it.
Also, be on the lookout for tagged fish in the water. These are really sub keeping size, but the Almanor Fishing Association has released their brown and rainbow trout and about 1,000 of them are tagged. If you catch one of these fish, take note of the tag and I suggest releasing it. Report the tag and the hope someone catches it again in a couple years!
Good luck out there.