Lake Davis Yearly Prospective - - some significant changes, we have had a good winter and we spring and lake is at about 70% capacity. It is a medium snow pack year. Seeing a healthy number of midges this spring, and hopefully a good damsel migration with cooperating fish. Still not many snails to speek of, there are some. Newest addition last couple of years is the Hexes we have been seeing on the lake. It would be cool if they just kept growing in population. One of our biggest hurdles is dealing with the SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER NUMBERS OF PLATED FISH AT THE LAKE. If DFG is going to plant less fish, they should drop the limits to 2 fish per day and give our once trophy lake a chance to recover and survive.
Fish number and expectations for this year.
Since the fish kill 10 years ago the Lake Davis fishery has been coming back slowly. The fingerlings and the catchable fish that were planted the last couple of years are growing rapidly but nothing close to the past when we had a full compliment of insects and heavy snail population. The first year plantings were quite heavy and the results were very positive during last years season. Last year, the number of fish planted was considerably lower than the first year after poisoning . The fish are healthy and the early seasons has been very good for trollers and moderate for fly anglers. The fish are just in spawning mode right now and fly fishing is hit or miss. With most of the cold weather behind us the fishing should just get better every day. Fish size and the copapod problem is still a concern, but the colder water may help. Fish growth is still only about 3 to 4 inches per year and not the 7 plus inches we used to have when the snails and chronomids were more prevalent.
Insects and Food Sources
Another consideration about the lake is the insect populations and biomass available to the fish. In the past, Davis has had incredible blood midge populations with good hatches most of the year. For the last two years, the blood midges have been spotty and not really driving the great fishing to emergers and adults that was so much fun in the past. The damsels came through the poisioning quite well and we had very good emergences last year, but it was late and short lived. The real problem (or reason) was that the lake was very high and it took until late July and early August for a lot of the weeds to reach the surface. For that reason, many of the damsels had to swim longer distances to shoreline or available above water weeds to hatch. This all led to a late damsel hatch and shortened. Remember, damsels can live for up to three years before migrating and hatching. There is also some good callibaetis mayfly populations still in the lake although the fish don't often key on the the large numbers of adults during the day. Caddis flies still are good numbers and very heavy hatches occur most spring and summer days. The fish don't key on the caddis adults much and It is not apparent that they are taking the emergers either. The most dramatic change is the slow recovery of the snails that made the fall fishing incredible. I saw no snails the last three falls and hope they will make a resurgence. It was quite common to pick up a fish in the fall and they rattled because they had eaten so many snails with more snails coming out of there mouths because they were so full. The major food source has always been the midge population (70%) with damsels, snails, and other aquatic insects making up the rest. That particular combination of available food sources contributed to the average fish growing over 7 inches during the season (now about 4 to 5 inches). This meant that a 10 to 12 inch planter was 17 to 19 inches by the end of the first season and well over 20 inches the next year. Last fall, fish were averaging just over 16 inches with some good fish going 20 plus inches. This seems to indicate that the fish are gettin engough food. I am concerned that during heavy damsel migrations and hatches last year, there were days when very few fish were working on damsels which left anglers scratching their heads.
Lake Condition this Spring
The lake is starting off at high levels this year, so conditions are going to be interesting. In the droughts of the last few years, the fishing was very good and the damsels would hatch in mid to late May and last until almost mid July. I think this year the damsel hatch will be a little late with the high water with weeds reaching the surface later and the water temperatures stay cooler for a longer time. The last two weeks of June (maybe earlier) should be fantastic for the damsel hatches and there is a possibility of it happening earlier.
Fishing recomendations are different depending on the type of angler you are and what you feel most comfortable with. One of the more successfull strategies is to use intermediate or sinking lines and just troll your wooly bugger or damsel imitation behind you. By varying your speed your will eventually find the right depth and motion to get into fish. Another advantage to that method is your imitation is in the water more time, and more time means more fish. For those anglers who like to play the game of trying to use more realistic imitations and strategies, the trick is to find the right depth and retrieve to get into fish, the action seems to be more rewarding when the right combination is found. I don't like to troll behind and tube, but I would rather hunt game with a bow instead of a gun. It is really a matter of your personal preferences. The biggest problem for most anglers using either method is moving the imitation too fast. Most aquatic insects just don't move very fast and there are very few minnows in the lake for large fish to chase. The most productive strip seems to be a very slow one with short strips or varried strips. I lie to use a very slow hand twist retrieve and then stop the fly every few inches. You would be surprised to find that 70% of the strikes comes when the imitation is not moving at all. Lastly, I should metion there are a number of anglers who find great success using an indicator and a couple of flies at various depths. I liked that method when I had clients who could not cast well or the wind was giving them a bad time, but find it very boring myselt. It is that personal preference thing again. We all like to catch fish, and sometimes we must all be open to different strategies.
Flies and Tackle
Recommended flies are of course wooly buggers or wiggle tails. Make sure the tails are 1 to 1 1/2 times the body length so that the movement is enhanced. Damsel imitations should vary from size 10 dark olive in the first of the season then getting smaller and lighter and the season progresses. Most people don't realize that the damsel's color reflects directly to the depth and color of the weeds they are living in. By the end of the season, we are using size 14 or even size 16 bugs that are light tan and sometimes even golden yellow or olive. The fish can get very picky and I have watched and been part of an armada of boats that could not buy a take during the height of the hatch. It is humbling to make a 100 casts for each take one day when the week before you had the right fly and every thing figured out. Always have some red, tan and black midge larvae in sizes 18 to 12 (yes I said 12) and don't be afraid to use one as a trailer on your damsel or other attractor. I alway carry some Sheep Creeks, PT nymphs, prince nymphs, and even a Staynor ducktail or two. If I were to pick my best fishing imitation combo it would be damsel with a long tail and a red bead head midge larvae as a trailer. Lines should be 3 to 6 wts and I would have both an intermediate and floater ready to go. Use 9 foot 4x leaders and have lots of tippet on hand. Of course you want to go with smaller tippets on smaller imitations.
Weather Reports and Projections
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