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    PERCHFEST 2016

    Its that time again when family gets together to enjoy each others company and celebrate all we are thankful for.  No I am not talking about Christmas or Thanksgiving. I am talking about Perchfest: the greatest holiday of all.

    Several years ago, a buddy introduced us to this lake. It is probably the best panfish lake in all of California. It contains: Yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, pumpkinseed, shad, green sunfish, largemouth bass and rainbow trout. The lake receives very little pressure, so little pressure that the fish have become so prolific they can be caught by the hundreds.

    This lake is only one of two lakes in the entire state that contains yellow perch. Yellow perch are a close relative of walleye. They have flaky white meat and make the best fish tacos in the world. Under normal circumstances, I always practice catch and release but this lake has so many perch and they taste so good. I make an exception.

    A simple batter of: Beer, flour, garlic salt and eggs. Garnished with cabbage, hot sauce and lemon, wrapped in a warm tortilla is all you need. We also boiled the perch in 7up and dipped them in cocktail sauce. This was a favorite of Andy's.


    Last year we brought our fish counters and logged in over 500 fish caught. This year we blew those numbers away and caught all eight species of fish we targeted. I even added a new species to my list.

    The pumpkinseed



    This past weekend we decided to hit Martis Lake. Martis is located just outside of Truckee Ca. It is one of our favorite early season lakes. It is a catch and release lake. This seems to keep the crowds down.

    The bite really started out tough for Christy and I. We were both fishing near the dam with intermediate lines and bugger patterns. After about two hours we decided to head over to the inlet where Jeff was fishing . On the way over Christy managed to catch a small brown on a halfback. I was happy she finally caught one but that meant she was now ahead of me.

    When we caught up to Jeff he had already landed four fish and had many bites. Throughout the morning Christy and I watched Jeff catch fish after fish. We were all pretty much doing the same thing, it just seemed to be Jeff's day.

    After fishing all day, I could only manage to bring one small cutthroat to the boat. We finished the day with one fish for Christy, one fish for me and nine fish for Jeff, including the little brown trout pictured below.




    Those who follow my blog know that the fishing trip I look forward to most is the week-long trip I take every year. Last year I went to Oregon, and the year before that, Wyoming. This year I was forced to pick the month of August. Traditionally August is a poor month to fly fish, but the dates had to be chosen on fairly short notice because of our work obligations. My cousin Andy and I decided on a horse-pack trip into the mountains. We invited Jeffro, and he was in.

    I completed so much research on which pack station to use and where to go that I was starting to lose my mind. The websites were so confusing and the prices were so high. I started to think that a horse-pack trip was not for us. Then I stumbled onto Leavitt Meadows Pack Station out of Bridgeport, California. As soon as I started perusing the pages of their website, I felt relieved. Finally, a website I could understand with prices that made sense. As soon as I made first contact with the owner (Craig), I knew I had made the right choice. His sense of humor was a perfect match for me and I knew the group would dig him as well.

    Many different options were available for our pack trip, but we chose the "spot" pack trip: We were taken by horseback and our gear and provisions were taken by pack animal to a desirable campsite on a lake. The packer and stock then returned to the pack station. Then we were picked up on a predetermined date by the same packer. We furnished all our own camping equipment. The duration of our stay in the back country was up to us. We chose a solid week and it went by wayyyyy too fast.

    Jeffro had backpacked into this area years before and assured us we would be blown away by its beauty, especially at Fremont Lake. Craig also suggested we base camp at Fremont Lake. He felt we would enjoy the fishing.

    When we arrived at the pack station and started loading the mules, one of the ranch hands showed us a picture of a 4-pound wild rainbow that was caught a couple of weeks prior. Everyone that fishes Fremont Lake tries to practice catch and release, so there was a good chance that the fish was still there, along with others in the same size range. We were told all of the fish in Fremont Lake were 14 inches and larger and fought like 5 pounders.

    Craig was absolutely right about the great fishing. On the first day after camp was set up, I decided to take a nap while Andy and Jeffro inflated the tubes for an afternoon bite. I awoke a couple of hours later and put the float tube in the water.


    I did not know what to expect. When I paddled over to Andy and Jeff to see what was going on, they informed me they had caught lots of fish and were amazed at how hard they fought. I soon hooked up with a couple of scrappy rainbows and was blown away by how hard they pulled. They reminded me of the smallmouth bass we had been catching at Lake Almanor.

    After fishing Fremont Lake consistently for 3 days and catching a couple hundred hard-fighting rainbow trout, we decided to hike into the headwaters of the Walker River and catch some smaller rainbows and brook trout.

    The canyon was steep and hard to hike. The fish were very spooky and we caught a few rainbows and brookies, but I have to admit I missed Fremont Lake and couldn't wait to get back to those trout.


     I actually enjoyed the view much more from up here.

    A typical high-mountain-stream brook trout.


    On the way back we ran into this peculiar fellow. He claimed to be a prospecter and yelled at us to get away from his claim!


    A view of Fremont Lake. I could not wait to get back and catch some more rainbows.


    There were so many crawfish in the lake that we decided to keep a few and boil them up and add them to our spaghetti. A little hot sauce and some sausage made for the best spaghetti we had ever eaten.


    On our last full day Andy decided to do a 12-mile round-trip hike to a brookie lake that we heard was full of fish.

    Cinko Lake was a great brook trout lake for Andy.

    We knew Andy would catch a lot of brookies. He said he stopped fishing after catching a little more than 100 fish, when he decided to start the long hike back.


    Jeff and I decided to just stick around camp and catch more of the rainbows from Fremont Lake.



    Jeff looked very tired but Andy and I both agreed, it should have been Jeffro's horse that was the tired one after this trip!!

    Overall it was one of our best trips. Andy feels it was his favorite. You know it was a good trip when you return home feeling like a new person, disconnected from the daily grind. We also all agreed that our pack guides were a big part of making our trip such a great adventure, and we would highly recommend them to anyone.

    Next year we might fish Wyoming or do another pack trip. Regardless, I’m sure we will have fun planning for it in the meantime.




    Lately I have been very busy fishing. I have been fishing so much I have not had time to update the blog. Some trips have been good and some not as good. The last two trips to Lake Almanor have been amazing and a trip up to our property in Modoc county is definitely worth posting about.

    This lake is my favorite lake in Modoc County. It was created over 150 years ago when an earthquake caused a landslide damming up the stream and creating the lake.

     From the research I have done, I have found it is  the only lake in California that you can find  Goose Lake Redband trout.

    Many many years ago Goose Lake overflowed into the South Fork of the Pit River. The Redband trout migrated from the South Fork into many different tributaries one being the stream that created this lake. The lake receives very little pressure and we have never really had a bad day there. We fished it on Memorial weekend and there was only a few other people fishing from shore. My sister Barb and I both qualified our redband trout here for the California Heritage Trout Challenge.


     Our weather patterns are a little off this year. It seems the Hex hatch at Lake Almanor started the first week of June. We did not stay for the evening hatch but there were plenty coming off in the morning.

    The fish will gorge themselves on these mayflies. We did not catch any trout but managed to catch almost fifty smallmouth bass.

    I think smallmouth bass are the most beautiful of all the bass.

    This guy had Jeff's six weight fly rod bent all the way into the cork handle.

    Smallmouth bass on a fly rod. It doesn't get much better.


    Christy with a small but beautiful smallmouth.

    Two weeks before the above trip, Andy and I came up and caught a couple of dozen smallmouth on the opposite end of the lake. This lake is really starting to be something special for Andy. His biggest smallmouth, brown trout and until we went to Wyoming his biggest rainbow trout were all caught at this lake.



    Cruising through the internet I happened upon an interesting article by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Barb, Andy and I recently visited this little gem and had a great time catching planted "Steelhead". The article is presented (via cut and paste) below along with some photos from our visit.


    Steelhead Planted at Mill Creek Lake in Mendocino County.

     Barb with a nice planted Steelhead. This one happened to have an adipose fin.

    A small lake in Mendocino County is the second water in the state planted with native steelhead trout under new environmental mandates. On Jan. 11, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) planted Mill Creek Lake with steelhead trout that were raised at Warm Springs Fish Hatchery. A total of 15,000 fish will be planted in the lake over a five- to six-month period.

    This fish planting meets all new environmental planting regulations established in 2010 and state fish planning mandates codified in Assembly Bill 7 by Assembly Member Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto). According to the new mandates, non-native rainbow trout can no longer be planted there because of potential escapement downstream into the Russian River system, where they could interbreed with native steelhead trout.

    Bill Cox, DFG State Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, said, “We are always looking for better ways to provide angling opportunities, make the best use of hatchery facilities, and adapt to changing circumstances and regulations.”


    DFG completed and filed the Hatchery and Stocking Program Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement in 2010, culminating a two-and-a-half year effort to evaluate and analyze impacts of fish stocking on certain California native species. As part of the actions, waters like Mill Creek Lake fall under new strict stocking guidelines.



    “We realized that waters like Mill Creek Lake could not be planted with non-native hatchery rainbow trout. So instead of writing it off as a lost fishing opportunity, we found a way to use all our resources at Warm Springs Hatchery and provide a fishery,”  said DFG Senior Hatchery Supervisor Brett Wilson.

    The new planting program utilizes excess steelhead eggs from the Russian River drainage mitigation programs to rear steelhead trout to plant into Mill Creek Lake. These fish meet the genetic integrity of hatchery steelhead stocks monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

     I caught a couple of nice goldfish to add to my species list.

    Key to the new planting program are utilization of hatchery space and resources. Only one concrete hatchery pond is needed for the rearing process, eggs come from normal hatchery operations, and food and personnel costs are covered under a reallocation of license money.

    This planting program also helps meet native trout planting goals defined by the Heritage and Wild Trout Program mandated in AB 7. The bill specifies that only coastal rainbow and steelhead reared under special constrains can count toward meeting native trout production goals.


    Warm Springs Hatchery is fully funded by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and maintained and managed by DFG.


    And as always....... a great way to finish the day.