Fall Edition

Fall Edition
Fall Edition

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Strategies For Trout In Moving Waters


Trout fishing in rivers and streams during winter is very challenging due to the very cold water temps and available food for the fish. The trout’s metabolism slows down with less feeding than that of summer, and after the gorging of autumn they mostly get by from their body fat to help them make it through the short dark days. Trout still need to eat and when flies are presented properly they can lose their guard and inhale your offering. There are only a few different kinds of aquatic insects hatching during this time of year, unless you’re fishing a tail water fishery that has consistent water temperatures. Fishing for winter trout can be productive though, and it sure beats sitting at home in front of the television. Catching or not, you’re really where us anglers want to be; in the great outdoors.

Dressing for conditions is absolutely necessary to be comfortable, if you are suffering from being under dressed the day will be ruined right from the get go. Dressing in layers under your waders and Gore Tex shell is smart as you can peel them off if things warm up or add more if things get brutally cold. A warm hat, neck gator, and gloves complete your outfit. I can’t stress enough not to wear cotton; the cloth of death. Once cotton gets wet it has no insulation value at all and can actually rob your body of heat. Another good back up plan is to have a dry set of clothes in your vehicle in case you take a fall in the water and end up soaked. If that ever happens, change as quickly as possible, hypothermia is a serious threat to your safety!

For flies you’re going to want to use smaller patterns in sizes 16-22 that are in tones of darker colors. Black, dark brown and dark olives are great choices. Forget the flash and bling that does so well during the other times of the year, simpler is better. Aquatic insects for this time of year will include midges, little winter stoneflies, and tiny blue wing olive mayflies. There will be more of a variety of bugs on tail waters, with possible hatches of pale morning duns and caddis flies. Every day is different, it’s best to observe what’s flying above the water, and take a quick sampling under the rocks before you make your fly selection.

We down sized our flies and now we must do the same for our tippets, often using 5-6x. To ensure you will not be breaking off fish, your tippet must be 36 inches or longer to allow enough stretch to cushion the load of hooking and fighting a big trout. When it comes to your rod on those frigid days take the time to pop the ice out of your guides on a regular basis, I’ve lost fish before when the line froze to my guides. You will surely break off your quarry if the fish reacts and takes out line, there is simply nowhere for the line to go – Snap! Be careful of getting your reel excessively wet or dunking it in the water, they can freeze solid and you’ll be forced to go back to your vehicle to thaw it out on the defroster. 

Time of day is everything and usually dictates your success. Sleep in and take your time getting to the river, you want to be on the water during the warmest time of day where trout will be more active as will the bugs. Winter time yields a lower sun in the sky which makes shadows longer, shadows like your own body profile. You really need to be aware of your own shadow and how it lays across the river. With low water conditions the fish are already on edge, a moving shadow will surely spook them into deeper water, or another run that is upstream or downstream. Plan your moves and slow down to the trout’s rhythm, they are in no hurry and sometimes will barely move from their holding spot.

In choosing your destination there are only a few options as most rivers closed on November 15th. For the North central valley the Big 3 come into play, the lower Sacramento, the Feather River in the low flow section, and the Lower Yuba River. My favorite upper elevation rivers would include the lower Truckee on the Nevada side, and the East Walker River which also flows out to the state of Nevada. Always check your California DFW and Nevada DFG regulations booklet before venturing out to insure the river you choose is open for fishing, and noting any special regulations that are required. 

Winter fishing for trout can offer some of the most peaceful experiences. Picture a day with a light snowfall and windless conditions, that eerie quietness, and the feeling you get when you finally get a hook up. You release your catch and gaze across the stream taking it all in. Then it hits you; Snow, trout, and solitude can be a wonderful intimacy.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Lake Davis / Frenchman's Res. Presentation 1/7/14


On January 7th I will be featuring my Lake Davis and Frenchman's Reservoir power point presentation at the California Fly Fishers Unlimited general meeting. I'll walk you around on my virtual tour and explain access areas, entomology, gear requirements, specialized techniques, tactics, and how the fly angler approaches the different seasons. Vibrant colorful photographs, maps, and diagrams gives the audience clear and useful information for their next trip at Lake Davis and Frenchman's Res.



Insider tips, and current information will also be shared like the new Hexagenia mayfly hatch, and increasing populations of the snails that are making this fishery one of the healthiest still waters in the North state. Attendance is free and visitors are always welcome. For more information go here; CFFU Meetings

I encourage those fly anglers in the area to come see my presentation if you're seriously interested in learning about these two fine still waters, and the skills need to be successful in fishing them!







Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lance Gray & Company Lower Yuba River Tours


Lance Gray of Lance Gray & Company and myself have teamed up again for 2014 to provide anglers a tour of the incredibly moody Lower Yuba River. We will shorten the learning curve and the countless hours of prospecting that so many anglers new to the Yuba River struggle with. Included on the tour is a highly informative day describing access points, hatches, flies, techniques, tactics, and the best times to fish. The tour is limited to 6 people, and the dates for this opportunity will be on February 6th and the 13th.





To sign up or for more information please contact Lance at lancegrayandcompany@yahoo.com ~ 530.517.2204. His website is http://lancegrayandcompany.com/, where you can learn more about Lance and his highly popular fly fishing tours across the north state.

On a side note Lance I will be working together on a whole new tour In June at Lake Davis, The two day tours will be structured just like the Yuba Tour only we utilize my Tracker Pro Deep V boat. This is a great time of year to experience Lake Davis as so many great hatches are happening! The dates for the LD Tour will be June 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th. Contact Lance for additional info and availability.



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Arctic Blast Shuts Down Sierra Waters


Though we are experiencing some frigged weather, my latest article from Myoutdoorbuddy.com does give the Northern Sierra angler some good options. Check it out;


The long wait begins with dreams of ice out at Lake Davis

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lake Davis / Frenchman's Res. Presentation 12/11


On December 11th I will be featuring my Lake Davis and Frenchman's Reservoir power point presentation at the Russian River Fly Fishers general meeting. I'll walk you around on my virtual tour and explain access areas, entomology, gear requirements, specialized techniques, tactics, and how the fly angler approaches the different seasons. Vibrant colorful photographs, maps, and diagrams gives the audience clear and useful information for their next trip at Lake Davis and Frenchman's Res.


Insider tips, and current information will also be shared like the new Hexagenia mayfly hatch, and increasing populations of the snails that are making this fishery one of the healthiest still waters in the North state. Attendance is free and visitors are always welcome. For more information go here; Russian River Fly Fishers club meetings

I encourage those fly anglers in the area to come see my presentation if you're seriously interested in learning about these two fine still waters, and the skills need to be successful in fishing them! 



Monday, November 11, 2013

November Love at Lake Davis


How I love those warm early November days in the Northern Sierra on a gorgeous and productive still water. Just being in the realm of it all, living large, and taking in some much needed therapy of an aggressive feeding rainbow trout taking your fly with reckless abandon. It's hard to describe the feeling I get when I watch rookies and novices have an epic day on the water at Lake Davis, There is a rush to it, yet there is also satisfaction in sharing the knowledge to see them be successful. Learning the subtle take and the strip set is vital, it's a feeling that is acquired through countless takes, and fall still water is the perfect time to feel and learn the grab.


The lake has been fishing extremely well, and all the access areas from the middle lake to the extreme North have been productive if you can find the fish. Water temps this last week ran 41-50 degrees. Most anglers are having great success with a wide variety of different presentations. The last two weeks has been excellent for my guests who racked up some pretty big numbers that make us look greedy, but when the catchings good you got to get all you can!

Here are a few more shots of of some seriously stoked still water fly guys; Honest clean happiness.
     





Ray and Tom from Amador Flyfishers were super stoked!


Weather for the upcoming week is looking good after this weak system passes through with a 10-20% chance of of isolated showers, there is colder temperatures coming our way with lows in the mid 20's and highs reaching 45-50 degrees. Be warned, the ice and snow is coming and with it constant changing conditions on how much shore ice we get and which coves will begin to ice up, as well as reliable access. 



The trout will begin to migrate to the southern lake as we enter late November into December. Hot orange wiggle tails can be deadly as the water temps decline. Weather will be the deciding force from now until ice up. There is still plenty of game left at the lake if you can seek out, adjust, and adapt. 


As late falls sets in on Lake Davis there is a point I have to put the boat away. But for those of you who are in good shape and willing to hike to different sections of the lake there can be some prime opportunities and some great fishing; right of the bank. It's a whole different game than my regular trips, we bring packs filled with gear, hot food, and whatever it takes to cast to a willing rainbow. Please email me here for inquiries if you're seriously interested in a still water trout adventure! You know you want it, you want to feel the grab...Here are a few shots from last year's action; 











Monday, November 4, 2013

Flats Fire - Autumn Still Water Trout in Moving Pictures

Here it is, the latest project from Ken Hanley and I. "Flats Fire" captures what Autumn still water fly fishing is really all about!


video

So Sweet!

  

Pumpkin Trout Insanity


Ghosts, goblins, and witches are the standard when it comes to Halloween, so what is it about this last day of October that has produced the most incredible fishing I have ever experienced? Only those in the afterlife have the answer I suppose. The two significant days that revolve around in my mind and give me flashes of grand display from time to time would be the McCloud River in 98 presenting the October Caddis dry to so many large trout it could never be duplicated. The other was when a close fishing buddy and I found an active feeding pod off Pelican Point at Eagle Lake in 2001, a hundred plus fish gave us game for 3 days and the biggest catch rates I have ever seen on the pond. Days on the water like these may not ever happen again. Days like these are golden memories that will never be forgotten.


It happened again this past Halloween on the pristine waters of Lake Davis. Absolute magic. Myself and a regular guest of mine headed out into the cold air filled with patches of freezing fog to the hunting grounds. Normally I do not fish when on a guide trip but this man insisted I do so. Conditions were perfect, a very warm and windless day and by luck a mega pod of rainbows I had found the previous day was waiting for our offerings. The pod was suspended in 2-6 feet of water in the upper column taking advantage of the most comfortable water temps and weed beds that held a vast amount of aquatic insects. Finding fish in these amounts of numbers do not happen often, in fact it is a rarity.

Mark from San Jose slayed them on Halloween.

The catching was so silly that if one of us did not get a bump or a hook up in 5 minutes we would be shocked. I don't want to say it got boring but after a while we started to tie on flies just to see what they would not take. The trout took them all with no questions asked. It was utterly amazing! When the day was done 97 fish were touched with 48 to the net! My thumb looked like raw hamburger from releasing so many trout. Teeth. It was yet again another day where I question myself and say “Did that just really happen?”  “Really?”




I think Halloween just may be my favorite holiday if this sort of fishing keeps happening. Our good luck had a lot to do with a small snow storm and front that graced the lake. It got the trout’s attention for sure and sparked a feeding frenzy that has kept up since then. With water temps now running 41-49 degrees it won’t be long before the ice takes hold and winter sets in. Only the hardy need apply now so man up and get out there, the grabs are waiting.



Oh, by the way, a few shots from yesterday. Though the clarity of water was very dirty from the previous day’s wind, we did find a few clearings. The trout were still there…
Neil from Reno with his biggest fish ever on a fly rod, way to go buddy!

Ricky from Calistoga stoked on his first Lake Davis rainbow!






Monday, October 28, 2013

Gypsy Tour 2013 - Week 4


Four weeks on the road sharing the knowledge of our classic still waters and it never gets old. Once I show my guests the skinny water game of cat and mouse with a large rainbow, they're literately hooked for life. A stalked trout off the bank is worth 10 on the bobber. There is no comparison. Some days are better than others and when the planets align themselves and perfect conditions exist it's like magic.

Mark from San Jose with a nice rainbow from Lake Davis - Look at those shoulders!

Lake Davis has been the main venue, and we finally got some of those warm windless days that dreams are made of. With calm days the trout are very spooky and using longer leaders with perfect presentations is a must. Slapping the water in front of you repeatedly is not good, a few false casts and let it fly to your destination. Water temps are now running 44 in the morning warming to 53 in the afternoon. Mornings are a bit slow but once the shallow water warms to 50 degrees, it's game on. Pressure has been heavy and you can blame that on me and this blog. It's hard for me not to share, being selfish and greedy is not what I'm all about. Helping the local economy and seeing other anglers enjoy themselves in beautiful surroundings is. 

Dave from Walnut Creek with a slab.

As for flies the most effective pattern in the last week has been a Jay Fair dark fiery cinnamon wiggle tail with a rust tail, #12. I've been hammering certain coves and let me tell you those trout are really getting tired of me and my guests. Refusals? Even during the silly season? You bet! My good friend Gene showed me a fly that I have duplicated and it gets the grab from those picky rainbows. The key is tying your wiggle tail more sparse and using some Spirit River UV2 dubbing. Also adding a little lead above the hook point will allow the fly to drop ass down so that tail comes straight up on the pause. Use a fixed loop knot when tying on your fly for even more action.

Bob from Oakland getting revenge at Lake Davis after a disappointing trip at Eagle Lake.

The fishing at Lake Davis has slowed down in the last week, my first two guesses are heavy pressure and the full moon having a drastic effect. But conditions are changing; Snow. A front finally came in and with it some big wind. Gusts so strong it ripped my business magnets off the sides of my truck while driving though the Sierra Valley yesterday while I was dodging tree limbs, tumble weeds, and heavy debris. I think with a little snow on the banks those trout just might get the clue that more is on the way and will feed even more aggressively in the weeks to come. We'll see...


During my Gypsy tour I spent 5 days guiding at Eagle Lake, a lake I know very well and have spent countless days roaming the banks for the now elusive Eagle Lake Rainbow. In all my years I have never seen the pond fish so poorly. 


The current low water levels have completely changed the behavior of the trout, Tui Chub minnows, and has decimated the habitat of the freshwater shrimp. Add to that a full moon, calm conditions, and what I believe are very low populations of trout, and you have some rough conditions. It was so bad that I took my guests from two separate bookings to Lake Davis the next day so they could remember what it was like to feel the grab from a hungry rainbow. It's so sad...and many of my colleagues have agreed we may never see Eagle Lake recover the water levels of days gone by in our life time. Help is on the way though and some actions by state and federal agencies have started to go in motion, not to mention the Eagle Lake Guardians. Time will tell, but will it be too late?


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of working once again with Ken Hanley of Pacific Extremes on a still water project I've been looking so forward to. We both wanted to capture the essence of stalking trout on the flats at Lake Davis. We got lucky! Beautiful windless weather allowed us to capture stunning fall color mirrored in the fertile waters. The short video is still being edited but once it is done you can see it here or on Ken's website. I hope everyone of you has an opportunity to cross paths with Ken in the future, his enthusiasm and love for fly fishing is so inspiring! What a good dude!



The fall colors peaked as well this week and the drive up Lake Davis road from Portola was mind blowing. When the sun is just right the aspens, cottonwoods, and willows glow like coals from a well stoked fire. Here is a little eye candy for you;





Another two weeks on the road with trips awaits me. I want to thank all my guests and friends who have helped me along the way on this great journey, I'm so lucky to have you in my camp and appreciate your kindness from the bottom of my heart. After the fall still water season is done I'm eagerly looking forward to spending some quality time in my home office in Nevada City writing new articles, tying flies, and unleashing some new projects for 2014. 

Life is grand.....


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