Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I worked the Lower Yuba River today for a special guest who wanted a private one on one pontoon workshop. It was a glorious day with sunshine and beautiful cumulous clouds lining the north eastern skyline, and highs in the lower 60’s. The flows were running at 1530 cubes, and the water clarity was surprisingly good after the onslaught of our last big storm. It had a nice green tint to it with about 4 feet of visibility. Fishing pressure was very light, I saw a total of 4 other anglers, and one drift boat.
Conditions have changed dramatically in the last two weeks on the Lower Yuba River, there is way more salmon in the system, and many redds in the tail outs. I realize that I and others keep preaching this, but it is important for walk and wade anglers to be able to identify the redds of salmon and steelhead, and not to wade through them. It’s best to completely avoid them at all costs as the offspring is the future of the river’s ecosystem. If I had my way the river would be completely closed to all fishing and boat traffic from Duguerre dam up to Englebright dam from August 31st to January 1st. The health of the river is far more important than our needs for fishing, guiding, and running a business. That’s just my opinion.
The resident rainbows are definitely locked in on the “egg bite”, we had a huge BWO spinner fall for a half hour today and only one rising fish in a known productive part of the river that always holds big numbers of trout, and rhythm risers. Indo rigs and short line high sticking techniques with a combination of bacon and eggs is ideal right now. Don’t forget about the Flesh Juan worm, red is not always the best color to present.
It was busy on the river today, and I’m glad the goal for my guest was learning all the parameters of safely drifting down a big valley river in a personal watercraft, and not numbers of fish. SRYCL had one of their “Salmon Tours” today after cancelling their original October 15th date due to weather. I like the idea of the tours as it raises awareness on how important the salmon are to the Lower Yuba River, explaining the complete life cycle from egg, fingerling, juvenile, to adults returning after a period in the salt. To make things even busier, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife had a research vessel out with both biologist, and aids counting salmon, and marking redds with GPS equipment. I realize the importance of their job, but they do disrupt and push resident trout away from prime feeding areas when they buzz by and zig zag all over the river.
Once again I got to see Outcast’s Pro Stealth frameless boat in action, and it’s time to retire my 19 year old Camo Cat 9 and buy this craft. The ease of inflation, and setting up the boat for the river is remarkably quick and easy. It has less contact on the water’s surface making it a faster and a more maneuverable machine. It’s got plenty of room for cargo as well. For those inclined to float still waters, or rivers, you really need to check out the Stealth Pro. I’m impressed.
After 7 months of grinding it out, I finally get a small vacation starting this Friday as I head up north for a guided trip with Jason Cockrum of Clearwater Lodge on the Trinity River. Reports before the storm revealed very little steelhead in the system, I sure hope the big storm drew some good numbers of them upstream. When you book a trip a year in advance you get what you get, I know I’ll be enjoying myself and making the most of it, that's for sure. Tight lines and I’ll see you on the water…
Saturday, October 15, 2016
So far, the fall season at Lake Davis has been better than expected. The fall colors are turning on but this year has seen uneven colors, with many trees already dropping their leaves. Fishing pressure remains light. Water temperatures are 51 to 55 degrees. It needs to get a little colder for the rainbows to remain in the shallows all day long. Hopefully after this weekend of intense precipitation that will happen. Speaking of which, you’re better off staying indoors and tying flies than at the lake. Big wind is forecasted throughout the weekend.
Fish areas and coves on the west and north shores that are not receiving pressure. There have been pods of fish rising in select areas; seek them out before they travel elsewhere. Sheep Creek specials and wiggle tails in fiery brown, burnt orange, and rust are hot right now. Drop to 3x, the rainbows are letting their guard down, typical of the fall season.
I’ll be putting the boat away when the first big snowstorm hits, though I’ll still be doing walk and wade trips for those hardy enough. Give me a call if you’re interested, and if you want in on my Lower Yuba River skwala trips book now. Best of luck to you all, enjoy the fall, and enjoy those pumpkin trout. See you on water…
Monday, October 3, 2016
The last few weeks at Lake Davis we saw above normal temperatures with some days of light wind. During this time there were fish in the shallows until about 1pm, then returning to the first ledge in deeper water from 8 to 15 feet. Water temperatures went from 60 to 64, then 58 to 62 degrees. Currently after this last storm rolled through, the water temps dropped down to 55 to 58 degrees. The lake received 2 inches of snow last night, and it was in the low twenties this morning. Conditions will be warming up and by this coming Friday, it will 70 during the day and 32 at night.
Fishing pressure has increased as well, there are more trailers in the lot at Honker Cove, and popular areas like Jenkins and Cow Creek are seeing a few vehicles parked there. Honker Cove is still operational, but the Forest Service refuses to move the dock out further into the lake. If you tie your boat up at the dock you may not be able to back your trailer into the correct depth, in other words, you are going to hit your boat. Camp 5 is still operational as well, but there is no dock in the water, it’s on the concrete ramp as the Forest Service never put it in this year. Your tax dollars, hard at work.
The lake is fishing better than expected and with the water levels at 56%, it is fishing like a typical fall. The last two fall seasons were absolutely dismal with the lower water levels. During those two seasons there was a bunch of fish in front of Long Point, and Lightning Tree Cove, this year I’m seeing many anglers who caught fish back then returning, and not finding the fish. Different levels of the lake will have an effect on where the fish will be. I have seen the most populations from Eagle Point all the way up to Cow Creek. There is some fish up in the northern lake, but I think we’ll see them gang up there in the future as they normally do in late October. Overall fish are scattered and some areas have a higher percentage of rainbows than others, pods are coming into the same shallows to feed day in and day out. This may change after this last storm, and lower water temperatures, I've seen it happen many times before.
A week and a half ago we had warmer temperatures and some glassy days with a Callibaetis hatch from 10:30 to just after noon. The mayflies were very small in a size 18, and the last brood of the season. We had some incredible sight fishing with both nymphs and adults on the surface, with fish in 1 to 3 feet of water. It’s always more fun when you have targets to cast to. There have been a few blood midges out, but the hatch has been sparse. I’m seeing snail shells on some banks in the north end of the lake, which is cool to see. Some of these shells are extremely large and offer a good meal for a trout with one bite. If it is flat calm out in the morning don’t forget about scum lines in deeper water, sometimes this phenomenon can happen on the east shore near the island. The fish are taking leftovers from the day before, and these “dumpster divers” are actively rising and finning on the surface. Pro tip; don’t anchor, and just free float, be prepared to make 60 foot casts or further with a high amount of accuracy. Buggers leeches, and wiggle tails are becoming more effective during the autumn season, and the classic colors for this time of year include burnt orange, fiery brown, cinnamon, rust, and black.
Big wind and big water punished the lake last Friday through Sunday. It was ugly, and along with the low pressure the fishing was off. Friday’s winds gusted to 40 mph, Saturday was a little less violent but the bite did not come on until 2pm. You never know when the switch is going to be turned on, and sometimes it pays to wait the day out instead of leaving. With Sunday’s wind it was near impossible to anchor, so my guests and I used a technique I have not practiced in a long time, using a wind sock and drifting with the wind. The sock slows the boat down as it’s pushed through the currents and parallel to the wind. The angler will cast either to the bow or the stern of the boat and let the line swing until it’s straightened out. Then pulling more line off the reel until the flies are about 50 feet away from the boat. For your presentation, strip the flies in for a few feet, and then allow the line to be sucked back out. Repeat. I’m going to use the wind drift much more in the future as it allows you to cover plenty of water, and not have to hassle with weed choked anchors.
Look for fishing conditions to improve during this week as warmer weather fills the day, and if you’re not getting takes, move to a different location. See you on the banks and the fertile flats of Lake Davis.
North Fork Yuba River
Before the last storm rolled through, the weather was extremely warm, and the fishing on the river was on fire, even above Sierra City. Dry / dropper rigs were very effective with the usual flies as last reported. One dropper fly that outshined every other nymph tied on was your basic Copper John, size 16. Water temps in the upper watershed were 55 to 61 degrees. The flows were good too. There was zero fishing pressure, and even the campgrounds have thinned out. This will all change with the last storm, and with snow on the higher peaks you can expect some melting on south and west faces for the next few days. Water temps will drop with a slight increase with the flows, and the savvy angler will work the river lower in the watershed.
The October caddis has been out for the last two weeks, I’m seeing a lot of shucks and a few flyers in the air. The fish are not keyed in on them as they are taking anything they can get. Pseudocleons, little Blue Wing Olive mayflies are dancing above the water with a spinner fall when air temperatures are between 58 and 68 degrees.
Hoppers are still out during the warmest time of the day, and if the wind blows you can have some great action. Now is a great time to fish the North Fork Yuba River, no crowds, and enticing up the larger rainbows and browns with the big bug.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Even though we are in another warm up, water temperatures are falling and currently at 58 to 63 degrees. Conditions are changing for the better. Resident rainbows are starting to feed more and the fall bite has started. Fishing pressure has increased, but it's not a problem to find your own spot. Target areas that are not being picked on, the trout will be way more receptive to your offerings. Stripping is getting more attention than the bobber. Leeches, wiggle tails, flashback pheasant tails, and red Copper Johns are producing. I'm booked up for October, but November has some days available if we do not get any serious weather. 530.228.0487. See you on the flats....
Monday, September 19, 2016
Lance Gray of Lance Gray & Company and I held our sixth Pontoon Workshop on the Lower Yuba River yesterday, and once again it was a great success. It was hot out, near 90 degrees with sunny skies. I was so tempted to go swimming during the heat of the day. This was our last Pontoon Workshop for 2016. We will have more dates opening in 2017 so check my blog frequently or head over to Lance's site.
Our day starts early at Sycamore Ranch boat ramp as we assemble our crafts making sure they are up to par to make the float down safely. We then shuttle all the boats and our guests up to Parks Bar bridge.
Once all of the boats are down on the north beach Lance and I go through safety measures, must haves for your boat, proper cases to carry your rods safely, and tuning your oars and seats for a personal fit. I then go through all the maneuvers one needs to effectively float down. Back strokes (your friend), forward strokes, single oar pivots, and scissor pivots.
I then explain how to ferry across the river, this is a critical skill to learn so you can pilot your craft from one side of the river to the other. I also went over how to pick safe lines by looking far ahead, and how to avoid dangerous obstacles.
Then it was time to float!
About half way down we parked the boats and had a delicious streamside lunch on the banks of the Lower Yuba River. The shade that the pop up provided was much welcomed!
We then beached the boats and tied them off, and broke out the rods. Swinging sculpin patterns and Hopper/Dropper rigs were most effective.
We worked on proper presentations for all styles of fishing. There were also more salmon in the system than previously reported by other guides, still though, it was light for this time of year.
Special thanks to all of our guests who attended the Pontoon Workshop, we all had a blast floating with you and teaching you the mechanics of being an oarsman. Big kudos to Steve Bohnemeyer for helping out! I can't forget to mention Outcast Boats for their continued support, they really are the best Personal Watercraft on the planet! We hope to see you for one of our workshops next year, until then, be safe, and experience the glide of drifting down your favorite river.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
It’s been cold in the mornings at Lake Davis with air temperatures in the low 30’s, and because of such the water temps at the lake are down to 62 degrees. Fishing pressure has been very light, on Tuesday my guests and I had the only boat out on the water. The populations of large trout are fewer, but the sizes of the rainbows are huge, 3 to 6 pounds! The Department of Fish & Wildlife did plant on May 15th, and June 15th, though I do not have the numbers that were put in. The lake is at 57% capacity.
Hatches have started again and there are blood midges in the morning, and a decent callibaetis spinner fall in the late afternoon. We had a rare fall treat on Tuesday at the dock, I looked down and there was a male Hexagenia dun mayfly, we brought him along for a boat ride. Fish are scattered right now, with some in summer mode and hanging out in the channel, while others have migrated back over to the west shore feeding off the ledges and flats. Effective flies have been Albino Winos, red Copper Johns, cinnamon leeches, Sheep Creek Specials, and flashback pheasant tails. Honker Cove boat ramp is still operational, as is Camp 5 but the dock was never put in this year and can be challenging for the less experienced operator backing up a trailer. Grizzly campground is closed, but Grasshopper and Lightning Tree are still open. There is a new DFW survey box located at the Honker Cove boat ramp, and I encourage all anglers to fill out the survey honestly.
Wildlife observations have included a Mountain lion crossing the road in front of me at o’dark thirty, the coot are back in good numbers but not like last year, The falcons are also back as well. Lots of deer roaming the area with some big mulies, and the coyotes have been howling at around 5am, serving as my alarm clock. Ospreys are starting to leave as they make the big flight to South America, which leaves the bald eagles without an easy meal to steal from.
I have a two days open for September, and 12 days open for October. If you wish to book a trip I’d advise to do it quickly. More than just an average guide trip, I teach my guests about the lake with access areas, rigging, flies, and other techniques, and if you need help on your casting, we’ll work on that too. I’m excited to be back on the lake, it’s so beautiful, and such a special place to fly fish.
This past weekend Lance Gray of Lance Gray & Co. and myself did a two day workshop on the Truckee River near the town of Hirschdale. Day one was the Nymphing School were we taught about high stick nymphing, and the dead drift indicator system. It went really well and all nine of our guests learned about different leader set ups, reading water and seams, what areas to concentrate on with warming water, and the flies that are effective on the Truckee river. As always with our clinics, schools, and workshops, a streamside lunch was provided with a little shade.
On Sunday we had another six guests for the Streamer School. Many fly anglers do not fish streamers which is a shame, it's a active and fun way to entice large apex predator trout to grab your fly. We covered all the different presentations, leader setups, floating and sinking lines, and the go to Truckee River meat flies. It was a big success to say the least.
Lance and I will have another two day workshop on the Truckee River in September 2017, dates to be announced. It's a great feeling to teach our students, then watch them progress throughout the day. Special thanks to all those that attended, we sure had a blast with you!
The North Fork Yuba is still fishing well. I had a 74 year old as my guest on Monday and he hammered them! We will have another warm up so the upper watershed will still fish well. As I stated in my last NFYR post, it is not necessary to be on the water early, 10am is perfect. Same flies and techniques apply as well.
The October caddis has started to hatch on the banks of the North Fork Yuba River. I finally solved a riddle that I have seen in past years. I've found empty cases of the October caddis on top of large flat boulders from time to time. Now, I know that these caddisflies crawl out of their case and emerge on the sides of rocks right above the water line, and not on top. I was studying a water ouzel, commonly known as the dipper bird and saw the proof. The dipper would go underwater and come out with an October Caddis in its beak, it then placed the case between his feet and pulled the pupa out from its case and gobbled it down. Really cool.
Lots going on in fall for the fly angler, I'm looking forward to grinding out my trips, then getting a little play time for myself on the Trinity River. See you on the water...
Lots going on in fall for the fly angler, I'm looking forward to grinding out my trips, then getting a little play time for myself on the Trinity River. See you on the water...
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
The North Fork Yuba River continues to fish well from the top of the watershed, down to the lower reaches below Downieville. Water temps have dropped a few degrees with the colder overnight low air temperatures. Fishing pressure is extremely light, and you'll be able to find complete solitude now, especially mid week. Water levels are at their fall season low concentrating the trout into the bigger plunge pools, and runs. Look for pockets with some depth to them, I often find the bigger fish in these small areas.
Same dry / dropper rigs apply, a big bushy rubber legged stimulator or the equivalent, with a red copper John underneath. Purple is another great color. Don't forget about hoppers and ants in the afternoon when warmer air temperatures make them more active. For aquatics, the Psuedocloeon mayfly spinner fall has been on one day, and sparse the next. A few big Pale Evening spinners in the mid morning, and a resurgence of caddis during the day. It's not necessary to be on the water early with these cooler temps, starting at 10am is fine.
In the weeks to come focusing on lower down in the watershed will be of importance, remember you're chasing the happy zone of water temps that are 57 to 63 degrees. By October you'll want to be below Downieville. At the end of October bring your streamers as the brown trout will begin their fall spawning migration up from Bullards Bar reservoir. I like to bring two rods, one for dry / dropper rigs and indo set ups, and the other dedicated for streamer presentations. For the streamer rod I use a WF floater, and a sink tip for the deeper pools.
By special request I took my guests down into the grand canyon of Jamison creek, it's gnarly down there, and so remote. We did not see any evidence of human footprints, but plenty of game tracks like deer, bear, and mountain lions. The fishing was just ok, lots of little wild rainbows. I find the best time to fish Jamison creek is the middle of June to the middle of July, more hatches, and the trout are more eager. On a side note there were signs of a big runoff last spring as the creek's character changed. Lower populations of trout that were smaller than usual was a red flag. Again, I think the drought has affected this little gem. The same flies and tactics used on the North Fork Yuba River will work on Jamison creek.
My fall dates for Lake Davis are starting to fill. My guide trips on the lake are more than just catching, I'll teach you all about the lake, access areas, rigging, and flies. Sharing the knowledge of the lake is of great importance to me. If you want in, give me a call at 530.228.0487 or email me at email@example.com
Here comes fall, it's over quickly, so be prepared to enjoy every minute of it!