Henry Hagg Lake fishing reports

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bass

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@portlandrain I sent you a message with my weekend plans (which are not really very well defined yet).

Glad to hear that the spinnerbait tips helped!
 

C_Run

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Bass, what tactics do you prefer for panfish? I just have limited experience but have used crappie jigs and caught a few bluegill here and there but never any great numbers for the amount of effort.
 

bass

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I mostly fish with tiny jigs in the 1/64 to 1/100 oz range. I do a small variety of things.

1. I tie up marabou jigs. Usually black on top and white on the bottom. These are 1" or less in length.
2. 1" gulp minnows work great but you go through them fast. I have some 1/80 oz jigheads I bought at Cabelas that are the perfect size.
3. Smallest twisty tail you can find. Try to find 1" if you can.

On 1/32 and 1/16 oz jigheads I fish the normal small twisty tails, beetle grubs (and beetle spins), tiny tubes.

I fish either one or two of these at a time, often a 1/32 or 1/16 on top and a tiny one on the bottom.

I usually start with a bobber 2' down and fish that for a while. If no bites I add 1' if no bites I add 1'. If no bites I take off the bobber and just fish slowly trying to just tick the weeds. Usually somewhere along the line you find the magic combination.

For locations I like to fish over sunken weedbeds, especially weeds with some wood in them. Spots where the weeds grow a couple of feet off the bottom and are a few feet or more from the surface. I usually don't fish deeper than 12' and anywhere from there to casting against the shoreline. The last thing I would say is that if you find a bare spot surrounded by weeds that is often a money spot.

I hope this helps.
 

C_Run

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Thanks, Bass. I will be shopping for some tiny jig heads next time I am in the big city.
 

bass

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I had a fun and interesting day at Hagg Lake this past Sunday. It was a mixed day of fog, mist, drizzle, shivering but ultimately going home with a smile on my face.

I got to the lake pretty early and launched at boat ramp C. My plan was to spend most of the day trolling but to save a little time at the end for bass fishing.

I started trolling towards Sain Creek and in short order, after a couple of lost fish, landed my first of the day, a nice chunky rainbow that fought like a demon possessed. The trout were like maniacs all day in the 60+ degree water.



I caught that fish, and most of the 33 other trout, on my favorite Hagg setup. A 50' setback, a 1/8oz dropper, a 1/24oz green roostertail with a trailer hook with 1/2 a nightcrawler threaded on. I also caught trout on a pink roostertail and a Strike King Bitsy Minnow in Sexy Shad.



The Bitsy Minnow is the lure in the photo. The day was a little different than what I consider normal. It was a continuous, steady stream of fish. I think I only had one or two doubles on and none landed. Normally at Hagg the trout are more bunched with longer lulls followed by torrid action. This was a classic example of "slow and steady wins the race".

Now 33 trout, with many good-sized ones, is always a great day of fishing, but it was the bonus fish that really made the day. Late in the morning I was trolling when I had a good hit on the Bitsy Minnow. The fish put a nice bend in my rod by was relatively sedate compared to the crazed, often airborne, rainbows I had been catching. I was pretty excited to see the mystery fish.



I was pretty blown away to catch a nice-sized crappie out over open water. The day got better and more exciting and interesting with each crappie I caught a crappie. Some on the Bitsy Minnow and some on the roostertails.





After the last fish, my camera said it was full. That is weird I thought. I figured my SD card was loose. Turns out I was right. It was really loose, like back home on my desk loose. Cue up a Home Simpson "Doh".

The camera has internal memory for 5 pictures so I put it away and kept on fishing. As the day wore I on my desire to fish for bass grew and grew until I could not stand it any longer. I racked the trout rods and picked up my bass gear.

The action was not red-hot but I managed to land a 2lb 6oz, 2lb 2oz smallmouth and a 1lb 9oz largemouth in about an hour and half. The wind was a little challenging for kayak control but it was a lot of fun. All the fish came on a drop shot from about 25-30' of water.

That pretty much raps up my day. I did not take pictures of the bass, but I did have my video camera with me. It died after the 2lb 6oz bass (my first bass). This is the least terrible of the footage from the day. It is pretty crappy but feel free to enjoy - or don't - no pressure :) Thanks for reading along!

 

4labs

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Wow
Now that's a report plus great pic.
Never tried a roster tail but have a bunch of them.
If they hit the bitsy minnow try a Berkley rainbow flicker shad in 3inch. Put a little Pro Cure trophy trout on the bill.
Really hard to find. Sometimes Sportsmans Warehouse has it and Coastal. It out fishes every lure I have.
 

bass

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Thanks @4labs ! I don't think the exact lure matters all that much but I do believe things like size matter. The water is quite clear right now so I like to fish really tiny stuff. The 1/24oz roostertail is just a convenient way to get there. I have thought about just trolling a plain worm without any spinner at all just to see if the spinner is really needed or not. I know a lot of people troll a bare worm behind a flasher and catch fish.

I looked up the flicker shad and it looks like a rapala shad rap. I believe the fish are feeding on bluegill fry which are only about 1" long. The bitsy minnow is 1.25" and I think it is a little big. A 3" lure is relatively large in comparison. I do throw on a bigger plug occasionally but usually I catch about the same size fish at a slower rate.

Your idea of adding scent to a plug is a good one. I used to do that a lot in bass fishing but slowly stopped since it did not seem to affect the catch rate. Trout, though, might be a different idea. I assume adding the 1/2 nightcrawler helps because of the scent. Makes a ton of sense that for a plug it might be even more important. If I get back out to Hagg this year I will run a little experiment.

@troutdude the lake is not even close to turning over. The surface temp is still in the low- to mid-60s. I believe the deep water may still be in the upper 40s. Likely won't turnover until much later (if ever). Not sure if Hagg turns over or not. Also, my experience is that turnover is the worst time to fish. The lake becomes roiled as the water mixes and lots of dead scum floats to the surface. That is how lakes turned over on the East coast but perhaps those conditions were due in part to how fast the water temp dropped and how hard the lake turned over. A gradual turnover is likely not disruptive the way East Coast turnovers were.
 

troutdude

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@bass thank you. I'd not thought of turnover in that way before. What you've shared does make sense. But I sure have seen a lot of hype, in the past, about it being the "very best" time to fish (during the turnover). Maybe it's true for some lakes/regions; and not for others?
 

bass

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I decided to hit Hagg this past Saturday for two reasons. My shoulder (torn labrum) was still sore from sturgeon fishing the weekend before and I had told @pinstriper that the fishing should still be good at Hagg.

What kind of fisherman would I be not to make sure I was not full of hot air. I got to the Lakestop store around 6:45 and picked up a new annual pass and a couple of doughnuts - just the essentials.

I headed over to boat ramp C, got ready and launched. First thing on the agenda was to calibrate the heading sensor I added during the week. I got a heading sensor mostly for deep water bass fishing. It is nice to know the direction the boat is facing as you are drifting in current or being pushed by the wind. That took a few minutes to work out, but once it was calibrated it was really nice (comes in useful later in the story).

I started trolling where I had done well last time out (about a month ago). I trolled parallel to the boat ramp C side between Sain adn Scoggins. That turned out to be a bust for me. I was a little surprised that I did not get a single hit on two passes.

I thought perhaps the fishing are moving out over deeper water so I decided to troll along the no-wake buoys. That was definitely better than catching nothing and it did not take long to catch my first fish.

1.jpg


I trolled back and forth 3 or 4 times. I got a bite or two each time, and they were all nice fish (12-14") but the bite was way slower than earlier. After 3 and 1/2 hours of fishing I only had 6 trout. If they had not been nice sized I would have left more quickly but each time just about when I was ready to move I would get a bite. All the fish came on my favorite 1/24oz roostertail with 1/2 nightcrawler, 1/8oz on the dropper and 50' back. I kept one rod fishing like that all day.

I experimented quite a bit with the other rod. Trying different lures, different dropper weights and different set backs. I got one bite fishing a roostertail deep (that I missed) and I caught a few perch pulling a Bitsy Minnow in Sexy Shad. Overall, that experimental rod was a bust.

Eventually, I said to myself, "Enough of this" and I finally decided to head up towards the dam.

One of my favorite trolling lanes is to go back and forth along the ramp A side between the ramp and the dam. There is a lot of deep water close to shore there and that area seems to always hold trout. Saturday was no different. As soon as I got to where the deep water swings into shore I started getting bit on a regular basis. For a while I ran both rods with a roostertail 50' back and I was catching fish on both rods, but I did not hook a double all day long.

The interesting thing is that there were some small fish mixed in with the decent fish along that side. It was interesting because the previous trip I caught all nice-sized fish by ramp C and the fish near the no-wake buoys were al good-sized. The fish along the ramp A side were a mixed bag. I caught some small ones (~10") but also my best fish of the day (a really fat 16").

2.jpg


Once I understood where the fish were stacked up I did experiment again. I put the Bitsy Minnow back on and caught a few fish on it but nothing I did could match that 1/24oz roostertail (green with gold blade) with 1/2 nightcrawler. I am not sure why they like that one so much at Hagg but it is just always a killer.

The fishing stayed good for the few hours I was there. It was fun trolling along, catching fish and seeing folks along the shoreline catch them as well.

As it got later in the afternoon I eventually decided it was time to stop the trolling and do some bass fishing. I really wanted to see how helpful the heading sensor was with respect to me holding where I wanted to and making casts in the right direction.

I fished for bass for about 1.5 hours and only caught two smallmouth (both about 1.5lbs) but that was still a lot of fun. I let the light breeze push me along the creek channel and used the heading sensor and my paddle to keep me facing the brushpiles as I drifted along. I can't wait to try that out next summer on the Willamette!

3.jpg


Overall it was a pretty decent day. Not as good as a month earlier but a good bite for November. Water temp was 52.5 degrees which seems really warm for November. I am now thinking perhaps I need to try to catch a bass each month of the year. I am not totally against global warming :)

Between having my camera tucked inside my rain jacket while it sprinkled (for a good bit of the day) and changing some settings on my action cam which screwed up most of the footage I did get there was not much footage I could salvage. One good change I made was to make the angle bigger. I don't feel like I am looking through a crack with these settings.


Please let me know if you think these settings are better (if you watched footage from the previous sturgeon trip).

Thanks for reading!
 

C_Run

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Nice report. I think I have parked my kayak for the year now but maybe I'll make it to Hagg next year.
 

bass

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Nice report. I think I have parked my kayak for the year now but maybe I'll make it to Hagg next year.
Hagg is such a fun place to fish.

Parked for the year???? Sturgeon season is just getting started :)
 

pinstriper

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For the record, I didn’t say Hagg was no good, just that it wasn’t a two hour drive worthy destination, as a general rule. It is heavily fished and not the automatic trophy pond it is sometimes made out to be.

However, it is a great place to fish and on any given day....
 

bass

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For the record, I didn’t say Hagg was no good, just that it wasn’t a two hour drive worthy destination, as a general rule. It is heavily fished and not the automatic trophy pond it is sometimes made out to be.

However, it is a great place to fish and on any given day....
Definitely agree that if someone thinks they are going to catch a trophy they will likely be disappointed.

This fall though, each trip my big fish has always been at least 16" which is a pretty nice fish. I think the fall is especially good for niced sized fish because (I believe) a lot of fish hold over from the spring stocking and pack on weight and length by late fall and a lot of the smaller stupider fish have been weeded out.

I guess I would say Hagg is a worthy quality fish destination but not a trophy destination.
 

bass

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Sturgeon are too scary!
When I first started fishing for them I found sturgeon fishing to be kind of terrifying. After doing it for a while it just seems kind of normal now. I still am very cautious and careful when sturgeon fishing but I guess I now just have confidence in the level of caution I am employing.
 

bass

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Excellent report. Thanks for sharing, was thinking of hitting up Hagg over the winter
Thanks!

Based on my experience and from reports I have read I think that as long as the water is reasonably clear that Hagg fishes well all winter - especially if you can get a calm sunny day. I tend to look at this graph in the winter(Hydromet Pacific Northwest Region | Bureau of Reclamation). It is Scoggins creek at the input to Hagg. If that graph is pretty low and not rising or dropping fast then usually the water is clearing.
 

Anotherdude

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Thanks!

Based on my experience and from reports I have read I think that as long as the water is reasonably clear that Hagg fishes well all winter - especially if you can get a calm sunny day. I tend to look at this graph in the winter(Hydromet Pacific Northwest Region | Bureau of Reclamation). It is Scoggins creek at the input to Hagg. If that graph is pretty low and not rising or dropping fast then usually the water is clearing.
It's a lovely lake. Recently started looking into kayaks but living in an apartment means no place for storage. Then I head about the Colorado XT Pontoon boat. Your thoughts about pontoons vs kayaks? For one I can't swim, but the idea of a trolling motor on a pontoon is very enticing. That and it breaks down easy enough to fit into a regular size car.
I need to traverse that lake easily!
 

bass

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I got to Hagg around sunrise and headed out to start trolling.



The fog was really thick to start but lifted pretty quickly. I started trolling towards the No Wake buoys and immediately caught a micro perch on a tiny crankbait. At least the skunk was off quickly.

I trolled along the buoy line and about half way across I hooked a big fish. The rod was bending all the way to the handle but I got my rod leash stuck in the holder and I just could not get the rod free. I heard it jump behind me and it sounded someone doing a cannonball and then it was gone. I was so mad at myself for not being careful when I set that rod up. Arghhhh.

I was mad but I figured with that quick bite that it was going to be a pretty good day on the water.

Narrator's voice: "It was not a pretty good day on the water".

I trolled back and forth a handful of times along the buoys and had a couple of short strikes but did not hook up again. No big deal I said to myself, I will just head down towards the dam where the bite was excellent last week.

I did not have a sniff as I trolled down towards the dam. By the time I finally got down to the "good" spot I had spent over 2 hours with only the first micro perch to show for it.

I was pretty frustrated and tense and was hyper-focused as I made my first pass. I could not believe that I did not get a bite on that pass. I turned around and trolled back. Once again, it was nothing but crickets. However on that pass I did see what looked like a school of trout that were down pretty deep.

I had been doing my normal trolling along the surface (1/8oz on the dropper). So I switched one rod to a 2oz dropper and put out 35' of line. Line angle was about 45 degrees which should have put my lure down around the 25' depth range.

On my first pass with that setup I hooked up and landed my first trout of the day. Woo hoo, I thought! After that fish I rigged my other rod with 2oz as well thinking I was getting ready to have an epic day.

However, the bite was just painfully slow for the rest of the day. What I came to realize was that the trout were really tightly schooled and that the schools were widely scattered. I would find a school on my side imaging and then try to make a pass where I went through the school. That was difficult but when I did manage to go through a school both rods would go off. I never landed a double, but with both rods deep I always got a bite on the second rod while landing a fish on the first.

The other thing is that the schools were moving around. I would mark a school with a way point but when I came back across where the school had been they weren't there anymore and I would go back to search mode.

I missed as many bites as I hooked and my landing percentage was not as good as normal, but I think that both of those were due to the heavy weight on the line.

As the day wore on it seemed like the schools got deeper and deeper. I did notice that other boats that had success pretty much always had a lake troll (I think that is what those big leader with all the blades on it are called). My guess is that they were able to call the fish from a lot further away than I could.

At the end of the day I added a flasher to each rod but I did not get any bites doing that. After 6.5 hours of trolling I only landed 5 trout and I only got one on video. I wore out my first battery before caught my first fish and the bites were so few and far between that more normal method of turning the camera on after catching a fish was not a winning approach.

Finally, it was getting to be mid-afternoon so I decided to change things up and chase bass for the rest of the day. I zoomed back towards the no-wake zone and started fishing brush piles (or perhaps some are spider blocks) along the creek channel.

I did not have any confidence by this point but I was sick of trolling. I fished a few spots without a sniff, confirming my opinion of my ability to catch fish that day. I finally worked my way to a pretty big area along the creek where there is quite a bit of brush over a wide area.

Up to that point I had been using a drop shot. Dropping straight down helps reduce the snags and is how I had been catching fish this fall. Since I was not catching anything doing that I decided to pick up a Carolina rigged rod. That is a pretty snag resistant setup and lets me to easily cover more water.

I made a long cast and slowly crept that Carolina rig back. I could feel the heavy sinker crawling up over and through cover. All that tactile feedback is pretty fun and interesting. When I am in the zone I really am almost entranced as I picture each rock and tree branch that I feel.

I was enjoying myself (which I had not been doing for the past several hours) when all of a sudden I felt a tug that was not wood and not a rock. I reared back on the rod and it was fish on! Not a big fish but catching anything at that point was huge.



Even a fish that size pulls the kayak around so I carefully re-positioned myself and went to back to getting myself back into the zone. The next two bass were similar to the first. Each time as I crawled the rig over a log or stump I would feel a tug and boom, fish on.

I reallized I still had some battery left on the camera so I turned it back on to see if I could catch one more and get it on video (it was getting late by now and I wanted, no needed, to make sure I got to the Lakestop store before they turned off their fryer so that I could get some fried chicken!).

I got myself back into position and kept fishing that same stump field. Changing my angles and fanning my casts. I was just thinking about packing it in when lightning stuck for the 4th time! It was the smallest fish of the 4 but it was fun to get it on video. So after 5 trout in 6.5 hours I was able to catch 4 bass in 1.5 hours. Relatively blistering action!

After that last fish I packed up and headed back to the ramp. As I was going across the lake I saw this big mayfly sitting on the water drying its wings. Kind of cool way to end the day.



I did not get much video footage of catching fish. Here is a short video of the micro perch, one trout and the last bass. I did buy a mount for the camera so I could put it on the kayak instead of having it on my chest. I think this kind of footage is better. If you watched any of my other videos please let me know if this is better than the chest cam.

 
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