Willows, CA 95988
- May to September
Pillsbury has what is known as a "two story" fishery; that is, there is a warm water and a cold water fishery. The lake has been a trout fishery since the construction of Scott Dam in 1921. Bass were introduced in 1986 to help reduce the pike minnow numbers. The pike minnow is a serious predator on steelhead and salmon in the Eel River, downstream of the lake. A second reason for the bass introduction was to provide additional recreation for Pillsbury anglers.
Brush rows were added to the lake to create "structure" for bass in the 1990s (see "Surveys/Monitoring/ Management"). The work was done jointly with the California Department of Fish and Game, California Conservation Corps and the Forest Service. Pacific Gas and Electric volunteers planted trees in the shallows of Lake Pillsbury. Fish use the trees for cover during the high water period.
Fish surveys are periodically conducted to determine the usefulness of the brush and the success of the bass population in the lake as a whole. Bass have been very successful in the lake, although they have not reduced the pike minnow as much as was hoped. The brush piles provide a place for small fish to hide and also act as an attractant for adult bass. The pike minnow continue to be a serious problem in Lake Pillsbury and the entire Eel River system. Please retain any pike minnows that you catch. They put up a good fight so you might consider fishing for them and assisting us in lowering the numbers of this introduced pest.
All of the campgrounds at Lake Pillsbury are open from May to September, except Oak Flat which is open all year. Lake Pillsbury campsites are designated for up to 2 vehicles each (there is a fee for additional vehicles) and a maximum of 6 people. The vault toilets are a modern no-odor type. In addition to the sites described below, there is a no charge overflow site at Oak Flat. Camping is on a first come, first served basis, with no reservations.
Warning! The State of California, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, has issued a health advisory concerning the consumption of certain fish from Lake Pillsbury. High mercury concentrations were detected in largemouth bass and pike minnow.