Our Fish And Heritage Under Attack!!!

Special to AFA by: Capt. Bryan Roccucci / Big Daddy’s Guide Service

            Each year I am grateful to the Almanor Fishing Association for the opportunity and the space to provide you with some insight that hopefully you will find useful as you are on your personal quest for that lunker. This year as I sat down to put my thoughts to paper (or hard drive as it is) I wanted to bring a little light to some subjects that seem to be often overlooked by fishermen. It seems more and more frequent as I travel to sport shows and other venues; I hear stories about mismanagement of our fisheries in one form or another resulting in declines in fish numbers and our fishing opportunities.  

            Many of you have probably heard of some of the more gross atrocities including Klamath River salmon die offs, and delta fish kills. Undoubtedly you have been made aware of the Almanor Thermal Curtain thanks to the hard work of groups like AFA and the Save Lake Almanor Committee. It seems everywhere I turn I find other examples of projects or policies that will have a negative impact on our fisheries. Don’t think for a minuet that trout in mountain lakes are immune to the water problems that face the state. As the state population increases so does the demand for water and this demand has forced state officials to allocate more water to contracts and other commercial interests at the peril of our fish. Combine this with years of below average precipitation and we are in trouble. The National Marine Fishery Service announced recently that the Central Valley Chinook Salmon runs have experienced an “unprecedented collapse” in abundance. The runs which returned in 2007 were below the numbers needed to sustain the species in the future. The increase in allocated water has also sent engineers further up stream to find solutions to their shortfalls. The water battle is no longer a central valley problem it is a state wide issue. Remember Almanor water flows to the Feather River, then into the Sacramento River and on into the delta.

I encourage all of you readers to become involved by educating yourself and speaking up for our fish and sport fishing heritage. There are many good groups out there that are working for our interests, but without our voices they can’t be effective. Some organizations you may want to look at include: Almanor Fishing Association (of course), Save Lake Almanor Committee (www.savelakealmanor.org), Water For Fish (www.water4fish.org), USA Fishing (www.usafishing.com) as well as my website. I try to include news and issues on my “Current Fishing Report” page (www.bigdaddyfishing.com/report.htm). Get involved and lets protect our sport fishing heritage for ourselves and future generations.

The 2008 winter season has provided a rash of cold temperatures that produced thick ice on Almanor, however this year there has been plenty of moisture in the form of both rain and snow but at this writing more is still needed. Almanor like all other lakes can only benefit from a good inflow of cold water as the snow melts this spring. The Pond Smelt population seems to be back in full swing which will provide plenty of food for the Almanor sport fish in the year to come.

Looking back, my 2007 fishing season was another great year here in Northeastern California. Lake Almanor (Jan.-May) gave us another great showing once the ice melted and we could launch the boat. My clients landed good numbers of beautiful Browns and Bows, with a bonus of healthy Salmon in the mix. The salmon were incredible, stuffed with Pond Smelt and tougher than ever. The Smallmouth bite in spring was also strong, with these bronze beauties really testing the ultra-light rods. Lake Davis (May) provided us with some quality fish both Rainbows and Northern Pike, though I only did a limited number of trips. This year the bite at Davis is sure to be strong with the lake free of Pike (hopefully) and an abundance or Bows roaming the waters. Bucks Lake (June-Sept.) provided us with a strong early season bite on trophy Mackinaw (Lake Trout) for anglers who wanted to battle big fish on light gear. Eagle Lake (Sept.-Dec.) was phenomenal, one of the best fall seasons in recent memory, with plenty of hard charging trophy trout. The lake’s water level was down just a bit from 2006 but that didn’t slow down the number of large fish.

I am looking forward to another great year in 2008 and to seeing many of my clients/friends again.

Tight Lines, Bryan Roccucci

About the author:

            Capt. Bryan Roccucci is a full time professional fishing guide and operator of Big Daddy’s Guide Service. Bryan specializes in light tackle fishing techniques on Lake Almanor, Lake Davis, Bucks Lake, and Eagle Lake. Bryan fishes Lake Almanor exclusively from January until May and keeps his clients comfortable in a fully enclosed heated cab aboard his 23 foot Boulton Powerboat. For more information please visit www.bigdaddyfishing.com or call (530) 283-4103