Professional Bass fisherman and Local Guide on Lake Almanor takes us fishing for prized smallmouth bass

Lake Almanor, California – Sunrise, the morning after a busy weekend on Lake Almanor, is as still and tranquil a moment as you will ever experience. The many variety of birds chirping throughout the forested shoreline, the water sparkles on its glassy smooth surface and as I peer Easterly towards the rising sun over Mount Dyer to the east, the slow float of one boat approaches the dock with a solo figure captaining through the morning stillness. After a great night’s sleep at my favorite base camp, St Bernards Lodge, in Chester, this would be nothing short of a perfect morning for me already, and I have not even thrown a single line of bait into the water.

Mark Pilgrim is a local native of the Lake Almanor community and has been fishing here practically his entire life. His dad, who recently passed, owns the lakes record for the largest (official) smallmouth bass ever caught on the Lake. A UPS driver in the region for over 20 years, Mark his wife Erica and his son Keston were all born and raised in Chester. In 2021 Mark decided, after years of several successful tournament results, to turn Professional as a Bass fisherman and to start a local guide service taking guests out on the Lake for ‘ a thrilling and unique lake experience of trying to reel in the famous small mouth bass.

For me, this is the second opportunity I have had in 2023 to go out fishing with a guide and experience a sport that has always intrigued me but has yet to capture my full attention. The pursuit of catching this strong and aggressive freshwater fish found in Northern California Lakes is something I could not pass up on my latest adventure trip to Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Lake Almanor Small Mouth Bass Fishing

At Lake Almanor, the initial enchantment isn’t solely the angling; it’s the breathtaking backdrop. Nestled within untouched coniferous realms and boasting a grand panorama of Mount Lassen, this aquatic gem is one of California’s most gorgeous lakes.

Yet, it’s not just a scenic marvel. The Lake’s profound depth and clear waters, aided by its lofty elevation and northerly locale, forge an ideal haven for the flourishing smallmouth bass. Flourish, they indeed do.

Lake Almanor is teeming with smallmouth bass ranging from 2 to 3 pounds, punctuated by those coveted five-pound champions that keep the pursuit riveting. (The record smallmouth bass is a whooping 8lbs) Lake Almanor distinguishes itself as a year-round smallmouth haven in the Golden State. Even though the summer heat, the Feather River’s invigorating waters bestow a refreshing embrace.

Venturing below the surface reveals a wealth of mid-depth stump fields and rocky sanctuaries, generously spanning depths of 5 to 25 feet—an angler’s haven, where tracking down smallmouths is more delight than a challenge. Fueling their appetites are smelt and crawfish, the Lake’s primary culinary offerings.

For our trip, we would focus on the West shorelines, never venturing more than 100 yards offshore, enjoying the variety of birds, including the diving Grebe and even a fishing Bald Eagle, while we fished.

Mark landed a nice’er early on, and the enjoyment of the morning just kept getting more exciting as the bass seemed to play with us a bit, swirling around our bait and showing bluff aggression often as our lures splashed down in the water, unlike my Mackinaw fishing trip in January where we drug our bait on the floor of the Lake Tahoe. Bass fishing was much more active, reeling in and casting every 20-30 seconds. We went through a morning wind shift around 10 am and the Northernly winds died, creating another calm period on the water, and then a southernly wind brought new conditions to the late morning fishing.

Lake Almanor is also a great recreation lake, so motorboats carrying skiers and jet skis racing across the surface of the Lake did eventually bring some wake to our shoreline fishing, but being a Monday morning, it was way slower on the Lake than it would have been over the weekend.

As with all great fishing stories, I get to tell the tale of the one that got away, as the one opportunity I had to real in the smallmouth bass on this trip was not to be, setting only part of the hook, my “monster” fish would release just as I was getting it to the boat. At last, no great fisherman am I. But Mark assured me, just like any great guide, that it was a big one! Better luck next time for me; Mark invited me back in the fall when the water temps would cool again and the fish would be a little more aggressive.

Professional Guide Service Lake Almanor

As a traveler embarking on a smallmouth bass fishing expedition at Lake Almanor becomes an unforgettable escapade when partnering with a seasoned guide service. With Mark’s Guide Service, I experienced:

  1. Local Expertise: Mark’s intimate knowledge of Lake Almanor’s ever-shifting nuances—seasonal patterns, prime fishing spots, and bait preferences—guarantees an optimized angling experience. Did you know that between 6 am and noon each day the summer winds seem to change direction every morning with early morning Northerly winds calming then a late morning southerly wind changes everything? Mark does.
  2.  Enhanced Success: The expertise of guides, in general, significantly ups your odds of landing prized smallmouth bass. They employ tried-and-true techniques, adapting them to real-time conditions, ensuring a more fruitful outing. Without that tutelage, this traveling adventure seeker might spend most of my day just figuring out where to go and which bait to use.
  3.  Access to Equipment: Save on the hassle of bringing your gear. Guides furnish top-tier fishing equipment, from rods and reels to bait and tackle, tailored for Lake Almanor’s specific demands. Mark even took care of my line mess after a failed cast, letting me use his alternative pole and keep fishing.
  4.  Insider Tips: As with most guide services, Mark shared insider tips and tricks honed through countless excursions. As we talked about his experience on the Lake, he always stopped to let me know where to cast and how far.
  5.  Seamless Logistics: Navigating unfamiliar waters is stress-free with a guide. Mark took care of the directions, boat speed, fish finder mechanics and just let me fish. It was honestly so relaxing.
  6.  Personalized Adventure: Mark tailored this outing to my skill level, time preferences, and aspirations. He also had a goal for us to achieve, which made the entire adventure so much fun.
  7.  Memorable Stories: Mark has a lifetime of stories on this Lake, but I enjoyed the stories of his dad and raising his boy near the Lake. The tournaments are cool, but as a family man, the personal stories of life on the Lake made me want more of this relaxing sport in my life.

Mark is Going National

The exciting news of the month in Lake Almanor is that Mark has just signed on with Hook’D Outdoor TV to do a series of Nationally steamed fishing shows. Mark will have the chance to highlight life on Lake Almanor as well as other West Coast fishing destinations, such as the Lochs on the Columbia River in Oregon. It will be exciting to bring more attention to Lake Almanor and the extraordinary beauty of being on this Lake.

Marks Sponsors will be excited to be part of a growing legendary status in the Lake Almanor region. Life of a Professional Fisherman is an ongoing negotiation with the love and passion for fishing, and frenetic pace of the business side of sponsorship and the satisfaction of the people you meet and that support you. Mark has a great personality on the water, and we predict a great future on his streaming shows.

Lucky for us Sierra travelers, Marks Guide service is still available on Lake Almanor; although Mark will need to travel more in 23-24, he looks forward to taking guests out to enjoy their small bass fishing experience on his hometown lake,

Enlisting a guide service for smallmouth bass fishing at Lake Almanor transforms your journey into an educational, thrilling, and successful exploration of one of California’s most alluring fishing destinations.



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

Next Post

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Current Magazine Edition

Sierra Events


Olympic Valley, Calif. —Come to Palisades Tahoe on Saturday, September 30, for Oktoberfest, a fun-packed day that’ll whisk you away to Bavaria. Stick around for the Teton Gravity Research Premiere of Legend Has It, to be star-struck by world-class athletes and winter nostalgia for a top-tier movie night on the KT deck. Oktoberfest in The Village at Palisades Tahoe…...
Discover the Thrills of Kirkwood Ski Resort: A Winter Wonderland for Adventure Lovers Welcome to Kirkwood Ski Resort, a winter paradise for adventure seekers! Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Kirkwood offers an exhilarating experience that will leave you breathless. With its world-class slopes and breathtaking landscapes, Kirkwood is the ultimate destination for both novice and advanced skiers....
Fall in Desolation is perfect. 😊
Good to be back in the Sierra. Mornings in the mountains with the pup. #joy #peace #love. #sierrarecmagazine
Someonr is happy Im back from travel... took time out to get Dakota up into the mountains this morning. Fall hiking in #alpinecounty is some of our favorites. Todsy the Luther Pass trail down to #hopevalley was the perfect 🐕Adventure.
Exciting Upgrades, Discounts, Dining, and More at Palisades Tahoe 2023! Olympic Valley, Calif. —After two successful years under its new name, Palisades Tahoe is thrilled to announce a host of exciting updates and enhancements for the upcoming 2023/24 winter season. From thrilling mountain upgrades to enticing dining options, Palisades Tahoe is ready to deliver an unparalleled experience and unforgettable moments....
RENO NV - After 50 years the "Need for Speed" flying aces of the National Championship Air Races kickoff its final event here in Northern Nevada. What has become a classic tradition of speed and bravery in the Nevada skies, will hold five days of world class races in the airways above Stead. Visitors have been blessed with this thrilling event for generations in Reno but their permits were not renewed after 2023 and the event will be finding a new home....
Joshua Tree National Park staff are excited to announce poetry-in-the-park. Join poet Jodie Hollander for a series for a series of free poetry sessions in September 22-24 at various locations throughout the park. Advanced registration will be required for sessions and is limited to 25 participants. To register please email e-mail us. Jodie-Hollander-Wp-Heyward_MACD-15-038_912 Hollander’s work has appeared in a variety of journals, and she published her debut full-length collection, My Dark Horses, in 2017....

Sierra Travel

Support Local Journalism

Help support Local Journalism by visiting our Sierra Rec magazine sponsors and consider a small donation on our Patreon page if you enjoy the content.

Sierra Rec Magazine is the Sierra Nevada’s only regional publication dedicated to outdoor lifestyle news and features for the entire Sierra Nevada Range.

Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.

Add New Playlist

Spring Cover Sunrise sierra rec magazine

Join the Sierra Community

Not ready to become a Subscriber? Join our Free Rec Community. Receive updates and Sierra Recreation News highlights monthly.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Update Required Flash plugin
%d bloggers like this: