Just returned for the annual guys trip to Eagle Lake (been doing it for over 15 years). Fished Wednesday (28th), Thursday (29th) and Friday (3oth). Three boats, eight fishermen (mysel, Dick Headlery, Bill and Jim Asbaugh, Mike and Sam Osuna, John Frantz and Ron Madsen).
We go every year in August and again in September. However, due to the terrible water conditions and small, SMALL fish, we cancelled the September trip.
First, the water. We stay in Spalding and trailer our boats down to Eagle Lake Marina and the new boat launch on the south end. Can't use the launch at Spalding if you have a boat of any size. The one on the south end is good and can accommodate just about any size boat.
Coming into Eagle Lake on Tuesday (27th), I like to take 139, which brings you into the north end at Stones. I have seen the water drop each year the last few years and the tules slowly get high and dry. But when I came over the mountain and saw it this year, tears came to my eyes. The tules are all gone and there is about 20-30 yards of white, alkaline shore line in front of where the tules use to be. Can you say the precursor to a desert?
Better water depths on the south end and the spots we fished this year -- Eagles Nest, Shrimp Island, Miner's Bay, Wildcat and Merrill. One of the boats in our party took a trip up to Youth Camp just to see what it looked like and said he was quickly in only 3 feet of water and he thought one would have a very difficult time going from the south end of the lake and up around Pelican Point and to Spalding like in the old days. The point around Pelican was all rocks and shallow water, VERY SHALLOW WATER. And the point jutting off Youth Camp was really extended, creating a very, VERY narrow passage through Pelican Point and Youth Camp.
As for the fishing, it was trying. None of the boats were able to get limits (though we got blown off Wednesday afternoon and again early Thursday). But what fish were caught were all "cookie cutters", i.e. 14 inchers and all around 1-1 1/2 pounds. Most were caught on the surface using side planers and either Jay Fair trolling flies or 3-in watermelon grubs.
Most of the fishermen I talked to who caught fish all had small fish like us. One day I went for a long walk around the Spalding area and talked to quite a few residents. They were all pretty much disgusted with the small fish and several of them have abandoned Eagle Lake and trailer their boats to Almanor (about an hour away) and have been catching nice browns, rainbow trout Eagle Lake trout and kings.
It is a sad, sad, sad [size=78%]state the lake is in. And the fishery seems to be really hurting. Which is understandable when you take away one of their major food and hiding places, the tules.[/size]
Sorry to be such a Scrooge here as Eagle Lake is my favorite lake in California. But to see it now, and to experience the kind of fishing that is going on, there is really nothing much good that can be said about the lake. The true test will be in late September and October. If bigger fish are not being caught and the small, cookie cutters are still the ones being caught .... well, it certainly is Almanor for me next year instead of Eagle Lake.
Sorry, no pictures. You wouldn't want to see the fish we did manage to catch anyway. You would need a magnifying glass if you did.