Davis Lake

Fly Fishing Davis Lake

Davis Lake is perched above Portola, Ca and drains into the Feather River Watershed. This is one of the most well known stillwaters in Northern California, most well known for its early summer damselfly hatch. The abundant feed brings the hefty Eagle Lake strain rainbow trout into the shallows to feed aggressively upon every swimming morsel. The bass fishing is also top-notch and offers another unique opportunity close to Reno-Tahoe. This is truly one of our favorite day trips.  


Spring (March-May)

Soon after ice-off, Chironomids and other nymphs begin moving around. The heavy bows begin feeding as the water warms and begin making up for the lost meals throughout winter. Since Davis is relatively shallow, it warms quickly and allows weed beds to explode in shallow flats. The most effective rigs during this time of year tend to be balanced leeches or chironomids suspended under an indicator, presenting the flies in a dead drift. Fish tend to be lethargic until summer heat radiates through the shallows. The fun is only about to begin.

Summer (June-August)

This is the time to hit Davis. Damselflies flock by the thousands to weed beds in shallow water where they crawl to the surface and hatch into adults. This hatch brings the heavyweight rainbows into the shallows. Sight fishing to a pod of trout cruising through on the prowl is one of the most exciting Stillwater experiences in our area. Sight casting to individual fish proves more effective than blind casting in most cases. Having the ability to move quickly and efficiently is key, so a boat or float tube will help quite a bit. 

This time of year also provides spectacular largemouth bass fishing. These predators guard their spawning beds and annihilate anything that comes close. While an exact imitation is not as necessary as it is for trout, a bass fly must move and wiggle in all the right ways to entice a largemouth. Crayfish and baitfish imitations will get grabs most consistently.

Fall (September-November)

As fall sets in, the air temps cool and the fish feed before winter comes. During this time, trout become opportunistic and feed on most flies presented at the right speed and depth. Brown Trout make an appearance this time of year and exhibit voracious eating behavior. Trout are scattered throughout the water column this time of year, so every day is different. The baitfish that inhabit the lake remain in the shallow bays and provide easy meals for the rainbows. Sight casting minnow patterns to trout busting up a bait ball is one of the most exciting ways to target trout in the fall. Leech patterns with or without an indicator will remain the most consistent way of catching fish until ice off.

Winter (December-February)

Once ice covers the lake around December, fly anglers must wait until spring. Ice fishing is popular here among locals (Pyramid Lake offers fantastic winter Stillwater fishing).


As mentioned previously, the damsel fishing can be some of the best shallow water trout fishing on the west coast. Utilizing either a floating line or an intermediate line such as the Rio Camolux or Scientific Anglers Sonar Stillwater keeps the fly in the strike zone. Damsel nymphs fished parallel to weed lines produce some of the most viscous Stillwater grabs. 

When targeting largemouth bass, brush piles and other structures in water no deeper than 15ft are the places you might want to focus on. If you are running an indicator rig, large balanced leeches and balanced damsels presented in 8-12 feet of water will produce grabs. If stripping, a sink line with large streamers such as baitfish, crayfish or leeches fished near structure can agitate a largemouth into grabbing a fly.

The Stillwater Dozen is a curated selection of flies to fish our local lakes. Additionally, you can other flies in our Online Store.

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