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Friday, August 15, 2008

Goodbye Caples Lake

28 inch Brown Trout caught by Loren Elliott on a size 14 dry 6x tippet and a 3wt.

Bye Bye Caples

Well, it’s hard to accept loss, but I’m going to have to say goodbye to some old friends. It looks like the EID (El Dorado Irrigation District) is planning on draining Caples Lake to work on the gates at the bottom of the dam. They plan on draining the lake down to below 10 feet, which means there’s most likely going to be a full freeze out and fish kill this winter. The plans have already gone through and the lake is draining right now at about 300 acre feet per day. I fished last weekend out there and it’s as low as I’ve seen it since the last drain down in 1987.

For the past 5 years, I’ve considered Caples Lake to be one of the best still water fisheries in this whole area. There’s a great population of Rainbows and browns that have a disposition to eating dry flies. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to tangle with some really nice fish out there and most of the time it’s been on dry flies. I remember each and every one of those takes in that crystal clear water and some epic fights. Some I won and other I lost. I thank all those fish for those great memories and wish them the best of this bad situation.

There are proposed plans of restocking the lake next spring with Rainbow, Browns and Mack’s. My personal feeling it that it’s going to take a while for the insect, minnow and craw fish populations to re establish themselves in the lake and for the planted fish to key in on these food sources that make Caples the fishery that it has been for the past several years. One of the best parts about Caples was that there were plenty of Callbatis, Midges and Terrestrials for the fish to feed on. This gave even the biggest of fish a reason to be cursing close to the shore and looking up. There’s not to many places in this area where you could sight fish to 10 pound trout with dry flies. Also, I’ve had chances at some big Mack’s from the shore out there during ice out. Kiss that good by for a while. We’ll have to find a new place to play for a few years.

If you interested in hearing more about the Caples Lake issue, there’s a couple websites you can check out. First is the EID’s website Also, the California Sprotfishing Protection Alliance has been monitoring the happenings and published some very informative articles. These are both great resources for finding out more info on the project and updates as well as finding ways you can help. Right now, there’s a plan to relocate as many of the big fish out of Caples as possible and move them to Silver Lake. The first day of the relocating is going to take place on Aug 26th . The operation is being run by the DF&G and they are looking for Volunteers to help out with the project. Trout Unlimited California is helping organize volunteers as well. If your interested in helping save the fish of Caples Lake and would like to possibly hold a 30 lb trout in your hands, either contact Dave Lass from TU, at or get on the Calsport website and fill out the volunteer application.

Good luck my friends!!

Mike E. Wier

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