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View Full Version : Smitty vs Northern Cali - Fall 09 w/ Pics - Part I



Sierra_Smitty
11-14-2009, 04:27 PM
Annual Nothern Cali Fall Trip 2009 - Part I


Short Version

Base camp – Janesville, CA

Area fished – Lassen & Plumas County

Waters Fished- Eagle, Antelope, Almanor, Round Valley Res, Mountain Meadows Res (aka Walker Lake), Butt Lake

Species Caught – Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Landlocked Chinook Salmon, Largemouth Bass, Squawfish

Overall Fishing – Brutally slow…worst arse beating I’ve ever had on a fishing trip.

Long Version

Parchers is closed and buttoned down for the winter which means its time for my annual trip up north. The last few years my brother Lane has accompanied me on these adventures and while the fishing results vary from year to year, we always have a great time. This season we were primarily going to target bass – both LMB and Smallies at various lakes in Plumas and Lassen county. Most of the locals up there considered us fools for targeting those fish this late….and they were probably right, but we didn’t care, we were on a mission. We hadn’t planned on heading north until the 9th because my buddy had to work but now that my brother has a boat we figured we’d head up 5 days early and pre-fish so we’d have it dialed by the time my buddy’s vacation time came around.

Day 1

We arrive in Janesville, CA (12 miles south of Susanville) about 3:00pm and instead of unloading our gear at my buddy’s place, we shot straight up to Antelope Lake which is 30 miles west of where we were staying. We absolutely crushed it at this lake in March and while we weren’t expecting the same level of success this late in the fall, we were hoping to get into some bass. We fished from shore at our preferred spot for about an hour and half before it got dark and managed to land 3 bass…all in the last 30 minutes…. two were about 2lbs a piece and I got one that went 3lbs 8oz on the digi. Senkos and spinnerbaits got bit. After that short session and what we considered a damn good bite for how cold it was, we were stoked on day 2 which we planned on spending on the boat at Antelope.

My first bass of the trip....
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Day 2 - Antelope Lake

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Launched early – found very chilly conditions at the lake. Water temps was a frigid 48 degrees…which surprised us given the fact that we found fish the prior evening in very shallow water. We hit “the spot” first…were somewhat shocked at how water level had exposed most of the points and rock piles we’d fished in the spring. Fished for a while for nada. Moved over to an island with some good structure and deeper water. I picked up one fish on the drop shot and my brother had one on a deep running crankbait that came unbuttoned about 10ft from the boat. Both fish were about 2lbs. We motored around the lake looking for deeper structure and found a hump that goes from 40ft to about 12ft in no time flat…fished it hard for about an hour or so from all angles, deep, shallow, various baits for one bump. After it got a bit warmer we headed back to “the spot” to see maybe some fish would move in as the water temp had come up to about 50 degrees by mid-day. My bro picked up on more fish on a spinnerbait but that was about it. Fished a few other spots and bailed about 1pm to explore the area and check out a few other lakes that I’d come across looking at Google Earth.

We explored some back roads and we’re very glad we did. Not that we found any great fishing holes but dang, gorgeous country at there. Taylorsville and Greenvile are both awesome. Lots of ranches with ponds….had me drooling. We checked out a lake called Round Valley Res. but it was super weedy and we found no boat launch. The only resort on the lake is closed indefinitely (owners retired and now just live there) and there were no trespassing signs everywhere so we bailed. Definitely going to check this lake on our spring trip though.

We headed further north and made our way to Butt Lake (yes, it’s really spelled like that) as that was our Smallie destination for the following day. We found the launch to be in great shape…although the grade left something to be desired. We had about an hour of daylight left so just for the hell of it we launched and motored around for a bit…fished a point near the ramp that we’d heard was a good spot but didn’t see or connect on any fish.

Not the best fishing day ever but it was a blast exploring the area and checking out a few prospects for future trips.

Day 3

Launched at Butt Lake early….cool, crips, overcast day for the most of the day. Intermittent rain and wind was present for most of the day. We fished all of the spots recommended by the locals we’d talked to and a few spots that were simply just too fishy looking not to hit. Water temp was 53 and change so we hoped we’d find the smallies a little more cooperative than the LMB the day prior. This unfortunately was not to be the case. We fished HARD all day long….rip baits, various tubes, spinnerbaits, lipless crank….tough fishing though…not even a bite. Humbling day on the water.

What was nice though was that we were able to get a good idea of how the lake was laid out, where the fish would probably be if the water was 10 degrees warmer. We’d heard a lot of stories about Butt Lake being a mine field of sunken trees too…real prop busters…so after slowly motoring around most of the lake we found which areas of the lake one needed to use extra caution and which areas were wide open. Crappy fishing day but I suppose you could consider it productive in some ways.

At the end of the day right before dusk we found ourselves drifting tubes on the east shore of the lake where we’d marked what looked like a big bunch of bait (pond smelt in that lake) and Lane finally got bit. He gets the fish within 10ft of the boat and to our surprise it was a solid 4lb rainbow with shoulders…it took one look at the boat and freaked out peeling all kinds of drag. As far as the fight goes, the thing was a freaking beast, even on 8lb test! As anyone would expect after 8 hours of skunk – Lane was pretty happy with that fish as a consolation prize. We’ve been submersed in trout culture for the past 6 months so we’d hoped for bass…but as far as trout go, that thing was a flat out badass! A few minutes later I hook up on a solid 2lb rainbow that took me for a ride….whatever they put in the water up there, I like it! We picked up one more rainbow that went about a pound (although he fought like he was 5) and called it a day.

Ready to party!
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My first 'bow of the trip
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Lane's surprise lunker 'bow at Butt Lake
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Sunset at Butt Lake

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Day 4

Weather report was gnarly – strong winds, rain/snow – nasty stuff. The lakes up there are almost all huge…at least as big as Crowley in most cases and Almanor and Eagle make Crowley look like Lake Mary in Mammoth, so wind is nothing to be trifled with as 8mph will stir up 4ft rollers in no time flat. So, we opted to ditch the boat on this day. Eagle Lake is a lake which is notorious for fishing great when the weather is the worst…so we figured we’d try for some Eagle Lake Trout from the jetti first. We fished for about an hour and a half with various eagle lake jigs, trout worms and mini-jigs for nada. We didn’t see anyone (probably 20 people fishing from the jetti) get a bite….and unlike every other time we’d fished the jetti, there was not a single fish cruising jetti…. not a good sign.

So, we bailed and decided to try a few spots from shore on Almanor which usually hold Smallies. Unfortunately, the weather report was pretty much bogus and we really should have brought the boat…argh. We hit three spots on Almanor for nada but Lane did have a dink Smallie follow his tube right up to shore. After a few hours on Almanor we decided to explore the area and try to find the road that according to the map we had showed access to the far side of Butt Lake. We spent probably two hours looking for this road but it turns out it no longer exists…dang.

Dejected and again skunked, we headed back home. We stopped by the local shop to pick some brains….it was recommended that we downsize our tubes to 2-1/2” tubes and a few colors we didn’t have were recommended. The guys in this shop are usually on point…and although they were a bit surprised that we were targeting SMB given the water temp, they seemed to think we could connect on a few if stayed at it. They also suggested a few other spots on both Almanor and Butt Lake. So we spent about $20 (a small price to pay for good fishing advice) as thanks for the recommendations.

With a favorable weather report for the following day and a renewed sense of hope – Butt Lake was to be the destination.


Lane at Eagle Lake....
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Day 5

Although the weather was far better than our first day on Butt, the results were about the same. No smallies, no bites, nada. The water temp had dropped to 50 degrees since the storm and that surely didn’t help us…

The highlight of the day was not fishing related at all, at least for me. We were exploring some stumps on the west side of the lake and unexpectedly came up on three otters….a critter which I’ve never seen in the wild before so that was pretty awesome….super awesome actually. Besides, taking pictures of the little guys gave me something else to focus on aside from getting my arse kicked by SMB.

A few Otter Pics...

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We resigned ourselves at the end of the day to return to where we’d hit the trout a few days prior…..in the last hour of daylight we managed six rainbows, all between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2lbs. Solid fish and crazy good fighters. They ate what we usually throw in the Eastern Sierra – mini jigs and powerworms.

Again – the smallies eluded us. This was the last day that Lane & I would be fishing on his little bass tracker…the next five days would be spent on my buddy Mike’s 17ft Targa and there would be three of us chasing fish. Expectations had lowered immensely, almost to the point where we considered smallmouth bass to be nothing more than legend akin to the lock ness monster or Bigfoot.


To be continued in part II......