California Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Lake Almanor in California

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 23, 2020

Lake Almanor in California

When given the choice between Lake Tahoe and Lake Almanor, most anglers would choose Lake Tahoe. But Lake Almanor has its own bragging rights, with an impressive Hex hatch and picturesque views.

The hex hatch attracts anglers from all over, and during July 4th weekend, the lake is crowded with many anglers on the water eager to hook-up with hungry trout. 

While you might want to avoid this lake during the busier seasons, you can still enjoy this fishery when it’s quiet and serene.

Check out our guide to ensure that you are well-equipped for a journey to Lake Almanor.

About Lake Almanor

Fly Fishing in Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor is a large reservoir in Plumas County, California. It covers 24,000 acres and has 55 miles of shoreline. The lake is formed by Canyon Dam, Last Chance Creek, Benner Creek, Hamilton Branch, and other natural springs in the area. The reservoir’s name is a portmanteau for Vice President of Great Western Power, Guy C. Earl’s daughters: Alice, Martha, and Eleanor.

The dam is currently owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, campers, boaters, and swimmers. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has issued safe eating advice, based on the mercury found in fish caught in the lake.

At Lake Almanor, you will encounter large brown and rainbow trout, Chinook salmon and smallmouth bass. The most important hatch is the large yellow mayfly, Hexagenia limbata, which are more than 1.5 inches long.

This is an excellent trout fishery, particularly if you are able to avoid the crowds.

Lake Almanor Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing access spots on Lake Almanor in California

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

Best Places to Fish Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor is accessible from Highway 36 from the west and Highway 70/89 from the South. The best place on the lake to fish depends on the time of year you are visiting. In the spring, the western portion of the lake has the largest concentration of trout. In the summer, the trout move to the eastern side. 

Trout fishing tips for Lake Almanor

Best Time to Fish Lake Almanor

The lake is open year round, with a limit of five trout/salmon a day, 10 in possession, and five bass per day at a minimum size of 12”.

The famed Hex hatch kicks off in the middle of June and runs through the middle of July. In June, the Lake also gets a decent Green Drake hatch, and you will also see Caddis and Yellow Sallies.  The Hexagenia flies do not hatch until dusk, so you don’t have to worry about getting an early start on this lake.

One of the best seasons to visit is in the fall when you can avoid the crowds and take advantage of the hungry trout as they feed on the Tui Chubs. As they prepare for the fall spawn, the brown trout will become more aggressive. 

Fly Box – What You’ll Need

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

  • Hexagenia Limbata
  • Hexagenia Paradrake
  • Yellow Sallies
  • Caddisflies
  • Tui Chubs
  • Callibaetis
  • Pale Morning Dun
  • Green Drake

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 6-wt fly rod is perfect for fishing dry flies, nymphs and streamers in Lake Almanor. Most anglers dream of catching monster trout on large dry flies while fishing the Hex hatch. Truth be told most fish are taken trolling Hex nymphs in the hours preceding dusk and the start of the hatch. A two-fly streamer-nymph rig fished on an intermediate line is very effective.

It pays to have a second rod rigged with a floating line ready to go once the adult flies hatch and surface activity picks up, typically at day break.

A tapered 7- to 12-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Lake Almanor Fishing Report

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

Fishing Regulations

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 Lake Almanor is the Chico Municipal Airport and is about 75 miles away from your destination. You can also travel to Redding Municipal Airport, which is about 99 miles away from the Lake. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in California and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving. 

If you are looking for affordable lodging in the area, Quail Lodge is a favorite choice among fishermen. This is an old-fashioned, family owned lodge guaranteed to make you feel at home. If you would rather stay in the great outdoors, Almanor Campgrounds is nearby. This is a family friendly campground that offers access to a variety of recreational activities in the area.

The hexagenia limbata hatch is famous for a reason, and you will have a great time tackling this fishery. Start planning your trip for next year and prepare a thrilling and unique fly fishing experience. 

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

Feature image by Kmmontandon