Denis Peirce: June is prime fishing time at higher elevation

Denis Peirce
Fishing column

The Grouse Ridge Wilderness Area is fishing well. A good friend, Rick Aeschliman, hiked into the area with his float tube last week.

He calls me when he returns, on the promise not to name the specific lake.

This year there is less snow at the 6,000-foot elevation. Last week the trail had no snow, whereas in past years there were drifts up to 2 feet thick in the shaded locations.

Rick was on the water by 9 a.m. and caught fish below the surface on Black Wooly Buggers. By late morning the surface feeding began and a No. 16 Adams dry fly did the trick. At mid-day, a large ant landed on the back of Rick’s neck. That was the hint that motivated him to switch to an ant pattern that landed the largest fish of the trip.

It was a 14-inch brook trout.

The water temp was 58 to 60 degrees. Rick noted that the average fish size has declined on his favorite lake, leading him to the conclusion that the fishing pressure has increased. June is prime time at this elevation. If you wait until next month, the fish will go deeper as the waters warm up. A short hike from a number of trailheads will get you to more than a dozen lakes.

Another good trout fishing bet is the North Yuba River. This past weekend it dropped down through the 500-cubic-feet-per-second level. Normal for this week is 800 cfs.

Frank Rinella from the Nevada City Angler noted that a number of his customers have been fishing the upper reaches of the river and doing well. The fish are rising to large attractor dry flies like Humpies and Royal Wulffs in size No. 12.

The river above Downieville has better flows for wading. The higher you go, the less water you will encounter. Below the convergence of the Downey River the river is a bit high still. At the rate it is falling, this weekend will be prime time for the entire North Yuba River.

We are approaching the longest day of the year, June 21. There are a couple of hatches that I associate with the summer solstice. They are the hexagenia mayfly and the damsel fly hatches.

Lake Almanor is one of the better locations for the hex hatch. In most years the action has started by this date. This year the water temps have continued to be unseasonably cool with all of the rain in the mountains. The most recent reading I have is 63 degrees, which is significantly below the 70-degree temp I would have expected.

The weather forecast is for warming to normal air temps this week. Hopefully it will bring on the hatch.

Lake Davis is famous for its damsel fly hatch and it has yet to materialize in any significant way. John Kusanovich spent four days last week at the lake. He did well, catching small trout with an occasional fish up to 18 inches. There is an over abundance of 6- to 10-inch rainbows that are very aggressive feeders. John fished a variety of flies. The and#8220;Sheep Creek Specialand#8221; was by far the best producer. He did see a few damsels but nothing like hatch he was expecting.

The weed beds on the lake have yet to reach the surface. Normally the aquatic vegetation is at the surface in water out to 4 feet deep by this date. The cool, rainy weather has delayed the transition toward summer conditions.

Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union, the Sierra Sunand#8217;s sister paper in Grass Valley. He may be reached at

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