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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aquatic Entomology Classes for Fly Anglers



Over the years I have noticed a real interest in aquatic entomology by fly anglers who are new to the sport. Understanding the insects and non insects that reside in and around our rivers and lakes will give the newcomer the knowledge it takes to make accurate decisions on fly selections and presentations. This spring and summer I’m offering basic “on site” entomology classes that will shorten the learning curve for students and help them make accurate identifications on the water. I’m team teaching the classes with Christine Elder-a naturalist, educator, and biological illustrator who specializes in entomological illustration. She holds a master’s degree in biology from Humboldt State University, with special emphasis on aquatic ecology and pollination biology. It’s Christine’s experience from the biologist’s perspective that will bring these classes to the next level! For more information and a detailed outline on the class, click on the link. “Knowledge is power”.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trout Radio



Check out my interview for the general trout opener coming this weekend April 28th on many of our rivers in Northern California, It's live with Denis Peirce of KNCO 830am. You'll here about my Spring prognosis and strategies for fishing high run off. It always fun talking to Denis, he's as enthusiastic about fly fishing as I am which makes for a great conversation. You can download and listen to the podcast here; Trout Radio With Jon Baiocchi Just fast forward to the 15:20 mark and enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eagle Lake Spawn - "Close Call"

Picture by Val Aubrey ~ eaglelakefishing.net
Thanks to my antennae at the lake, Val Aubrey (http://eaglelakefishing.net/index.php) kept me in the loop on this year's spawn which was a close call. The health of the fishery derives from CA Fish & Game collecting eggs as the fish enter Pine creek and attempt to spawn, the fish are trapped and the eggs are hatched in the following weeks and returned to Eagle Lake the following year in the 12 inch class. Historically these fish used Pine Creek without help to spawn and the creek flowed naturally. This year little rain reached the lake, and upstream cattle diversions by 5 Dot Ranch took away much of the original flow that should have gone into Pine Creek. The creek started running around the 20th of March and some storms rolled through to help, but it was still only a trickle. The flow picked a little on the 31st and it was enough of a scent to lure the fish staging out in the lake and tell them that it was time to swim upstream. April 7th saw 6 fish enter the trap, 2 of which were ripe hens. Numbers like that are not going to cut it. DFG launched their rescue/special operation plan in times of need like this one, and in the following week they netted over 200 hens to get enough eggs for Eagle Lake with some extra to go around! Whew! Close call! If your concerned as I am about saving the heritage trout, you can help and join the Eagle Lake Guardians by clicking the link and become a member for $15  http://www.eaglelakeguardians.org/ or download the membership application and send it in. http://eaglelakeguardians.org/imagecp/pdf/EAGLE%20LAKE%20GUARDIANS%20MEMBERSHIP%20APPLICATION%202012.pdf

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tying The Freshwater Shrimp



Gammarus lacstris or known to fly anglers as scuds are a semi translucent Crustacean that Eagle Lake trout prefer to dine on. They can be quite large ranging in sizes 10-16. Their habitat is amongst the rock piles in shallow water, the lava rocks of Eagle Lake offer even better habitat with the tiny pockets of recessed holes. They mate several times a year and offspring are hatched from eggs and are a micro sized form of the adults. They range in colors that match their surroundings for camouflage since they have no natural defense mechanisms. At Eagle Lake they can be found in these primary colors; light brown, olive, and when molting grayish blue. Orange scuds are not dead scuds but pregnant females, the eggs color shows through the translucent body. The trout can really key in on these orange scuds so always have a few of them in your box. Being scavengers they comb their surroundings eating plant and animal materials that have settled on the bottom. The experts say they have a negative reaction to light but I have seen first hand that these little critters can be active during bright conditions. Analysis provided by the Chico State field lab have determined that the scuds make up 40% of the Eagle lake rainbow's diet and provide a high value of protein  that makes these fish grow big and fast.


It's habitat like these rock piles above that draw in the Eagle lake rainbow. The observant angler can spot smaller rocks in the shallows that have been flipped over by the fish while they vacuum up scuds. The best way to present these flies is to cast into the shallows and retrieve the fly with short semi fast strips of line with plenty of pauses. Scuds swim backwards like a cray fish, keep this in mind when tying your imitation. You can also hang a scud pattern under an indicator and present them over the rock piles while anchored or free floating.


RECIPE:

Hook:  Tiemco 2457 #10-16.
Thread: 6/0 Uni thread color to match.
Tail / Antennae & Legs:  Jay Fair Schlappen hackle tips .
Body:  Buggy dubbing mixed with some Antron fibers, color to match.
Note:  Pick out the underside of the fly with a bodkin.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Respect Needed for Lake Davis Rainbows


 As another spring approaches on the shores of Lake Davis, rainbow trout do what comes naturally; they seek out feeder creeks with fine gravel to spawn. There are many snow creeks that come into the lake and all but Grizzly creek will dry up before the fry can get back into the lake. It is estimated that only 2 percent ever will.

For years anglers have fished at these inlets of water that pour into the lake where fish gang up and stage before making their journey upstream. In my youth I did it myself. But there comes a time when an angler has a soft spot for these fish, after all they just want to produce offspring and go on their way into the fertile weed beds and graze. How sporting is it to fish for them at these times? I guess if you have a big ego and want numbers then you can overlook it all and say “Well, I’m just fishing” as many do.

There is no law that says you can’t practice this. Lake Davis has a limit of 5 fish, and 10 in possession; it is after all a put-and-take fishery. An angler can have just as much fun and success fishing on the points that are near the feeder creeks without the guilt of being greedy. People want it the easy way, the way our society has programmed us with fast food and other services that can make a person lazy and not think outside the box.

Even more disturbing is some people will take these fish without even using a fishing pole in their hands; they use a net as they scoop them up out of the creeks and fill up the garbage bag heading for home. This practice is illegal; it’s called poaching! Only once have I seen these culprits arrested but what a fine show it was by the California Department of Fish and Game. In this case a warden was in the middle of the lake using binoculars and spying on the guilty party as they netted these vulnerable fish in the skinny water of a creek. Equipment was confiscated and tickets written. There is decent cell phone coverage at the lake and I urge all anglers if they see this type of activity to walk away and say nothing to these law-breaking people and call the California Department of Fish and Game’s CAL-TIP at 1-888-334-2258. As many of you are aware the Department is under-staffed with wardens and many of them have a huge area to patrol. They can’t be everywhere at once and this is where concerned anglers come into play by helping out.

In my opinion the regulations should be changed to protect these fish so that all anglers have a fair chance at them. Closing the lake from March 1st to May 15th could be a viable solution. This way ice fisherman could still be able to fish through the winter months, and the fish would get a much needed break between the dates mentioned. Another possibility is to close off the creeks with structures that would not allow upstream migration; sounds simple right? All this takes time and money, and with state budget cuts the fish lose and the poachers win. Responsible anglers will hold the future of our state’s waters. I hope you can be one of those anglers and think of the fishery first so that other anglers can enjoy the rewards of catching the big one at Lake Davis.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MFFR Opener 4/7/12


This coming Saturday the wild & scenic Middle Fork Feather River opens from the A-23 Bridge 4 miles east of Portola down to the Mohawk bridge downstream of Graeagle.  Though fishing will not be red hot, it does give anglers a chance to get out and fish some moving water.  The trout of the MFFR do not respond well to flies as other rivers do when water temps are 40-50 degrees (think Truckee River).  But this time of year is when I do catch bigger fish who are on the move.


For some reason I also catch more brown trout at this time of year, especially close to the town of Portola.  Tactics for early spring is deep nymphing with something big and plenty of split shot on your leader to get down.  You're going to want to use heavier tippet than normal.  The flows are high and water clarity off color as well, 3x (rope) will do just fine.


The Golden Stone rubber leg is a great searching fly, the nymphs are always present in the system and the trout are accustomed to seeing them on a regular basis.  High sticking/short line nymphing with or without an indicator will produce results.  Depending on the weather there may be some light hatches of March Browns and the Gray Drake.  Dark pheasant tail nymphs in a size 10 for the drake, and size 14 for the March browns may work if water temps cooperate.  If you do see rising trout for these hatches consider yourself lucky, this does not happen to often in the early season on the MFFR.


My favorite thing to do in early spring on the MFFR is to swing streamers with a sinking line.  For deep water a express sink tip is preferred, and in shallow water a clear camo Intermediate line will do well.  Minnow patterns 2-4inch long are best but a bead head black wooley bugger has been effective as well.  After your swing is complete in your target area strip the fly back aggressively, this is when I get the most hook ups.  What ever game you decide to play look for trout to be in the tail outs of runs and don't forget about back eddies and sloughs.  All these water types have warmer water and less flow, the trout do not have to work so hard for their preferred meal.

If you plan on going I wish you the best of luck, and be sure to leave a few for me!

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