California Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Eagle Lake in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

March 1, 2020

Eagle Lake in California

Can there be a greater pleasure than catching a large rainbow trout, while majestic eagles soar overhead?

Eagle Lake is the second largest natural lake in California, and is famous for its Eagle Lake trout, a subspecies of rainbow trout that can withstand high alkalinity. It is safe to say that Eagle Lake is one of a kind.

While Eagle Lake has had its share of problems, due in part to drought and declining water levels, this fishery is on its way to making a comeback.

Get a front row seat for its revival and start planning your fly fishing trip today!

About Eagle Lake

Fly Fishing in Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is a lake in Lassen County, California. It is approximately 15 miles north of Susanville. The lake is about 15 miles long and has an alkalinity level of pH 8-9. The main tributary of Eagle Lake is Pine Creek and is about 39 miles long. The lake is home to ospreys and bald eagles, so don’t forget to look up while you are concentrating on your prey!

Eagle Lake is the only home to Eagle Lake trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss aquilarum, a subspecies of rainbow trout. Adults grow to the size of 17 to 18 inches and live up to 11 years. The trout here are not as abundant as they once were, but the California State Fish and Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have both rejected petitions to list the trout as an endangered species. 

At Eagle Lake, you’ll see Eagle Lake trout, as well as largemouth bass and brown bullhead. There is also a heavy population of tui chubs that are a favorite food source for the larger trout. The unique wildlife and scenic views are unforgettable. You’ll need to be cunning to catch the trout here, so be sure to match the hatch closely and choose the right time of year to visit.

Eagle Lake Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access spots and boat ramps on Eagle Lake in California

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish Eagle Lake

The best place to fish Eagle Lake depends on the time of the year. In the spring and early summer trout can be found in the shallows at the north end of the lake which warms first. Bucks Point, Troxel Point, and Rocky Point are all popular spots at the north end of the lake.

Fish head for deeper and cooler water fed by underwater springs as the summer progresses such as areas in southern lobe near Miners Point and Eagles Nest. You’ll want to use trolling streamers along the rock piles and drop offs. Fishing from shore can be very successful, particularly during fall.

Best Time to Fish Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is open for fishing from Memorial Day Weekend until October 31. The best time to fish is in the fall, as the water is generally cooler during this time. In September, the trout move into the shallows to feast on the plentiful food supply.

Pay attention to posted signage regarding permissible times to fish.

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

Eagle Lake has a healthy population of chironomids, callibaetis and damselflies as one would expect. Larval and adult imitations of each of these insects are effective. Less common are the Tui Chub and snails that inhabit the lake and that fish key in on, particularly in the fall.

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Eagle Lake:

  • Assassins
  • Parallel Assassins
  • Level Leeches
  • Agent Orange
  • Midges
  • Tiger Midges
  • Scuds
  • Wooly Buggers

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5- or 6-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Eagle Lake. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Eagle Lake Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide an Eagle Lake fly fishing report are listed below:

Fishing Regulations

Eagle Lake has special regulations. The legal fishing time is one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. There is a daily limit of two trout, and fishermen may only be in possession of four trout at a time. You may not perform catch and release trout fishing if you have already hit your limit. In other words, you can only try catch and release fishing if you haven’t kept two trout yet. No minnows can be used as bait.

The state of California requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available. You can purchase a one-year, 10-day, two-day, or one-day license. Some areas also require a permit. You can purchase the license and learn about the most current regulations through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Eagle Lake in California is Redding Municipal Airport in Shasta County. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Northern California and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

If you are looking for accommodations in the area, a wildlife lover can’t do better than Eagle Lake RV Park. The Park has beautiful views of the lake. Don’t have an RV? No problem! You can also rent cabins and trailers.

If you don’t mind driving a little farther away from your destination, Diamond Mountain Casino/Motel is a great option for lodging and is located in Susanville. They offer clean rooms and food is available 24/7.

Eagle Lake is a one of a kind fishery that will have nature enthusiasts coming back again and again. Enjoy!

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing California

Feature image by UFHoops06