Pine Creek Ranks as One of the Great Unknown Trout Streams


Mar 11, 2001
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July 18, 2002


Pine Creek Ranks as One of the Great Unknown Trout Streams in California

Contact: Conservation Education, (916) 653-6420

There are only a handful of great trout streams in the northeastern corner of California. One of them, however, goes sadly unnoticed. Pine Creek in Lassen County is one of the region’s top brook trout streams, but fishing pressure is almost always non-existent. The opportunity to catch easy limits of great tasting brook trout along a stream with great camping facilities is within driving distance for most Northern California residents.
“It’s one of the most underutilized sleeper fisheries and least-known brook trout fisheries in the northeastern part of the state,” said Paul Chappell, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) associate fisheries biologist for the North Coast/North Central region. “We are trying to eliminate the brookies, so taking those fish isn’t going to hurt a bit.”

The reason for the interest in removing the brook trout is an interesting story. The DFG planted brook trout in Pine Creek in 1949 and the population quickly became self sustaining. As the only tributary to Eagle Lake where Eagle Lake trout can spawn, Pine Creek is a vital water to the survival of the famous Eagle Lake trout. The creek is their only viable spawning area and an essential nursery habitat for those fish.

“The exotic fish are out-competing the Eagle Lake trout, and Pine Creek is an important nursery for those fish,” Chappell added. “We want to get rid of those brookies up there. We want to put all Eagle Lake fish in the stream. By catching fish, anglers would be doing the DFG a favor. The idea is to establish Eagle Lake’s spawning grounds up there and eliminate the eastern brook trout.”

The brooks can grow as large as 15 inches, with the average size closer to 8 to 10 inches. Clear, cold, clean water make these fish a delicious meal. Several angling opportunities arise here. Some areas are best targeted with a fly rod, while others provide dynamite catch rates with Power Bait and night crawlers. In the larger pools, small spinners seem to work best.

As an added bonus, the DFG planted 500 half-pound Eagle Lake trout into Pine Creek this spring. Those fish are mixed in with the brooks, and some of them have already grown to a pound.

Make sure to fish the open sections of the stream. From Highway 44 downstream to Eagle Lake the stream is closed to fishing as the DFG gets this section ready for the introduction of Eagle Lake trout. However, upstream of the highway to Pine Creek’s headwaters all legal methods of fishing are permitted. There is a five-fish limit, with 10 in possession.

There are several roadside access points upstream of Highway 44 making for easy access to this 5-foot wide stream in the Lassen National Forest. The best is at Bogart Flat by the rest area and along Forest Service Road 10.

Also nearby in the Pine Creek Drainage is Crater Lake. Crater Lake is a popular put-and-take fishery that is often overlooked. Fishing for brooks up to three pounds can be phenomenal for both shore anglers and those with car-top boats. At 7,420 feet in the Lassen National Forest, this 25-acre lake has campsites along the shore and is best fished with Power Bait or inflated night crawlers.

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