Eagle Lake Bass

EL Bass
Guy Talbott with his Eagle Lake bass catch, 1918

Between 1879 to 1956 there were officially twelve different exotic (non-native) species of fish planted in Eagle Lake. Yet, that figure could be higher since local anglers were known to have experimented with their own plantings.

Of all the varieties of species planted in the lake, only one truly flourished—the largemouth (black) bass. In 1901 the Lassen County Fish and Game Protective Association planted 147 bass in the lake that it had received from the California Fish & Game Commission. The following year additional bass were planted in the lake. To allow the bass to prosper the State Game Commission prohibited fishing of the bass for a period of four years.

EL bass spear
Spearing for bass was a popular method.

The bass thrived in Eagle Lake and for the next twenty years provided anglers with excellent fishing producing bass weighing in excess of ten pounds. On occasions the Fish & Game Commission found the bass in such abundance that they were transplanted to other waters in Northeastern California.

By the mid 1920s the lake level receded considerably in part of the Bly Tunnel and a drought. The marshy shoreline regions of the lake had disappeared and that is where the bass thrived. In addition, the lake’s water quality had changed increasing its alkali content, thus wiping out the bass population.

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