Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Fishing Lakes With Fluctuating Water Levels

My last post dealt with how barometic pressure effects fishing on large and small lakes. Today I will discuss another factor affecting fishing on large and small lakes: fluctuating water levels due to generation. If I had to chose which element I would deal with when fishing it would be the barometic pressure. When dealing with barometric pressure, you are only concerned with the high or low barometer reading. When fishing at receding water levels one needs to be aware of the following things---how fast the water is falling--if one or two generators are running at the dam--don't fish close to where the generators are running---realize the fish will move to deeper water when the lake is receding---feeding habits of fish change when lake levels are decreasing ---recognize reducing water levels expose fish habitats such as wood structure, boulders, and weed areas where fish feed-----and last know that the bite will be much slower during receding water levels becasue the bait fish will relocate----the key to a successful fishing trip during heavy generations on any lake is to locate the bait fish where the larger fish may be feeding. Finding the bait fish in low-water situations is easier said than done even with the advanced sonar tecnhnology available today, especially if you are fishing a lake covering thousands of areas. Receding lake levels on any lake is unlike fishing in the Spring when there is no generation and lake levels are stable. One can catch fish during low water periods, but fewer than in the Spring. This past Tuesday was a prime example of fishing Smith when the generators were running, and there was a steady drop in the water level. 

 Nice bass on the cream Double Barrel; Jason was using his five-wt. Streamflex 9 ft.-----A super dose of patience was needed on this trip this past week because of the generation at the dam. This trip will be Jason's last to make with me until October. He will be going back to work in California.

This Spotted Bass nailed a tiny Orvis white bluegill bug early morning. It challenged my three-weight Streamflex 9 ft. fly rod. The drag was spinning. I've found that during generation the bass prefer smaller poppers instead of the larger ones I fish most of the time. I was hoping Jason and I could land enough bluegill for a meal, but the bluegill didn't bite. I landed only one for the morning. They go deep along the rock walls during the pull-down of the lake. During the draw-down, the fish will slap at the poppers instead of hitting them at times. They are mostly annoyed with its presence in the area they call home. Jason's bass and my bass were the only two taken for the morning. 

One needs to take note of the number of boats launched at the dam early morning. A few boats launched will let you know the bite will be slow; it's a challenge, which makes me keep coming back; I'm already looking forward to Fall when the lake stabilizes. 


  1. That's interesting. Out here the lakes are so big that if they are running the generators (Like Camanche & Pardee and I'm sure they do since they are East Bay Municipal Utility Dist.), it doesn't make the water level drop so one would realize that's what's happening. Never thought about that before. Good point.

  2. Interesting thoughts, Bill. I don't fish in lakes, but fluctuating water has in influence in rivers. I've had some great days when the level is falling. Even in the chalkstreams which I mostly fish now, when the groundwater aquifer is full and they run with extra capacity (like this year) my sense is that the fishing is poorer. Thanks for sharing a thought-provoking post.

  3. We don't have to worry about generators and fluctuations. Just drought! But, this year the winter brought us much needed precip so rivers and reservoirs are pretty much full and running. Just need to get out of this heat. One more month! Then, maybe I will get more fishing in. =)