Fall Edition

Fall Edition
Fall Edition

Sunday, June 23, 2013

NEWSFLASH!!! Hexagenia Mayfly Invades Lake Davis!!!


Yep, For real. What the ???? I know, I was in disbelief myself when I got an email from Steve Anderson of the Diablo Valley Fly Fishing club last week who said he may have seen a Hex at Lake Davis. With no pictures or evidence I simply could not believe it, I had to find out for myself if they were really there, and hold one in my hand for proof.



On the night of the 20th of June, Rob Anderson and I went to our location to rehearse the schedule of events for our Lake Davis Still Water Outings. Upon reaching the waters edge there were hundreds of California gulls making aggressive maneuvers down to the water and picking off insects. I thought to myself that this is quite strange as I've never seen them do this in all my years on the lake. They weren't after blood midges, that's for damn sure! We observed the water more when the large unmistakable silhouette of a mayfly appeared in my vision. It looked like a hex!

I saw one gracefully floating towards shore, took off my shoes and waded through the mud and grasped it, opened my hand and screamed like I had just won the lottery! We both stood their dumbfounded and just watched the show. Forget the fishing, this was a historic event happening live!

The next few nights displayed the same results and when the wind died down the amount of bugs hatching was phenomenal. The fish responded and took full advantage of this large food item, once you hear the suck of a trout eating a Hexagenia mayfly you'll never forget it!



On the evening of the 22nd one of our guest made more history with being the first known fly angler to present a hex emerger and landing a Lake Davis rainbow. We cheered so loudly I think the entire town of Portola could hear us!






History; Carl Nosek with a Lake Davis Hex Eating Rainbow!!!

With a flick of the switch the hatch ended, the Gulls flew off as did the geese now satisfied that their stomachs were full, and the trout hunkered down in the deep weed beds. As we walked back to the car the smile on Carl's face was still visible under the light of the "super moon", it was awesome!

So just how did the Hex show up? There are many scenarios  but the one that makes sense to me is in the last 2 or 3 years enough Hexagenia mayflies were blown to the east by a big west wind from the Lake Alamanor area where upon they landed on the water of Lake Davis. After the populations of Hexes that I have seen, I am quite certain they will be at Lake Davis for quite some time. In the future a fly angler will be able to fish a blood midge hatch in the morning, then the damsel fly hatch, deep water chironomid presentations in the late afternoon, and fish the Hex in the evening. 

This is HUGE! 


Meanderings Through The Northern Sierra


The last few weeks has been a blur of coniferous forests, polished granite, lush wild flowers, and crystal clear waters that flow through remote canyons. It seems everyone is delighted with the harmonic vibrations that only summer can provide in the Northern Sierra. The Western Tanagers are back hiding behind the pine bows, and the Dippers busy diving under the currents with their underwater goggles picking off mayfly nymphs and caddis to their heart's content. Wild flowers are popping out all over providing a vibrant combination of colors to compliment the vast green landscape. Fly anglers too are savoring this special time before the real heat comes upon us by venturing out to their favorite haunts whether it is a famous still water, a big free stone river, or a special creek.


I had the pleasure of guiding some special guests into the Jamsion Creek canyon, they were a hardy father and son duo who reminded me of my past with my own dad who taught me how to understand and appreciate the great outdoors. The small size of the wild rainbows did not matter to them, it was the experience and solitude that pleased them. When you see a smile like this on the water you know you did your job of sharing the good things in life.



There is something about stalking spooky wild trout in gin clear water with only the sound of gurgling water around you. It's a simple pleasure that many like myself call therapy. It's free and for the taking, all one has to do is take the first step into the unknown where the wild things are and completely lose themselves within the realm.


When you get right down it their is an instance where everything else just doesn't matter anymore, and it's usually when you hold one of these beautiful rainbows. Time stops, you behold your catch, and once again smile at the simple things in life.



Let's flip the coin and meander to a different setting of a still water that on the outside is a busy place full of recreation and people, but on in the inside offers a mouth watering delicacy of incredible scenery and ambiance. Lake Davis is all that and more. The month of June is a special one here with Damselfly nymphs hatching, Western Grebes doing their special two some dance walking on the water, Bald Eagles strafing through the air, and California Gulls laughing it up on the fertile shores.



The meadows that line the lake and stretch out to the west are filled with wildflowers, the purple haze of Sierra Penstemon glow from afar.





The damsel fly hatch this year is pretty good after seeing the last three years of measly proportions. I've been impressed to say the least. If you've never taken the time to get on your knees and watch a nymph swim from the water and crawl out on land to hatch, you're missing out on one of Mother Nature's wonders of the world.



The Electric Blue male looks fragile and sweet, but in the bug world both the nymph and the adult damselfly is a ferocious predator reeking havoc on small midges and other unsuspecting victims.



Higher up in the food chain the Lake Davis Rainbow finds Damselflies rather enticing to the pallet. Fishing the Damselfly hatch off the bank and sight fishing in 1-3 feet of water is so special that until you actually do it you'll never understand. It's a specialized type of fly fishing where one must use all their senses and skills to place the fly on the nose of a trout without spooking them - And you better have the right fly too or it's refusal time.



I have heard of reliable reports from other fly anglers that pulled up their anchors to have found snails latched on. This is the missing link that is needed to fatten up the rainbows of Lake Davis, fish that used to range in the 4, 5, and 6 pound range had a diet rich of abundant snails. I have not seen one since the last treatment of the lake to eliminate the Northern Pike since Rotenone the agent used darn near kills everything. Last week I found a small snail floating in a quiet cove, picked it up and smiled. They're coming back slowly but surely, and I can only hope to see the populations flourish again that were so huge in the mid 90's. 



Where ever I may roam......

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Damsels At Davis!


They’re here and the fish are already keyed in on them…..Damselflies. The heat has finally woken up the damselflies at Lake Davis and it’s the start of the best hatch that I and many long time Davis fly anglers have seen in quite some time. Water temperatures have spiked as well and are ranging from 67-72 degrees. Even with these lethal conditions the trout will still come in to feed for a few hours before returning to the comforts of deeper, cooler water. Summer mode is in full effect at the lake and good fishing starts at first light to about 1pm. Then probing the deeper shelves in 12-18 feet of water during the heat of the day will be productive. As evening comes the last two hours of light is good and there can be many rising fish if the water is not too choppy from a windy day. Effective flies this weekend included Red ice cream cones #12, blood midge emergers #12, damsel nymphs #10-12 that are not weighted like my shallow water damsel shown below, Jay Fair wiggle tails in olive and brown #10-12, UV2 olive mayfly nymphs #14-16, and Jay Fair trolling flies #8 in brown with copper flash. The rainbows are hot right now and range in size 17-20", check your knots and tippets on a regular basis. Parasites are beginning to show on some of the fish, not too thick yet but we'll have to wait and see.



There are numerous swimming nymphs but not in every part of the lake, certain coves from Eagle point clear up to Grizzly creek on the west and north shores have the heaviest concentrations. Habitat is everything for the emerging damsels and groups of willows surrounded by water is a like a magnet for them, but keep in mind weed beds coming to the surface and even free floating weed beds or mats of feathers and junk can also suffice for hatching. Your clues to finding the best hatch is looking for active rising fish in 10-2 feet of water and studying bird behavior. Seagulls will stalk damsels on the bank and in the water, I also observed this weekend that red eared grebes like them too but out in open water. Pelicans can help you locate the fish as well. The photo below shows a group of pelicans hunting rainbows in shallow water; my clients and I adjusted our location after observing this and found a good pod of active damsel eaters. The damsel game is not easy; it will test your ability and skills as a fly angler. For those who are new to the game my best advice is to observe and carefully plan your presentation to individual trout; don't beat the water!


There is so much insect activity right now that it boggles the mind and really shows you why Lake Davis is so productive. I witnessed vast plumes of Blood Midges that numbered in the thousands at first and last light, so intense that a high audible whine could be heard echoing throughout the lake. After seeing this I’d like to think that the hatches are coming back to the legendary status that was taken for granted in the past. There are at least 4 other kinds of small to tiny chironomids out as well. Damsels come next mixed in with some calibaetis, I did not see very many duns on the water as conditions were not ideal but there were many spinners in the air in small masses hovering above the boat. If you’re a bugaholic like myself you owe yourself an evening at Lake Davis right now, blood midges, small chironomids, long horn caddis, and white winged sulfur mayflies molting into spinners all over you and everything else. It’s so cool!

This coming week a cool down is expected and should stretch out the hatch and stall things a little, which is a good thing. I do not expect the water temps to drop too much as once the water heats up those temps pretty much remain high. Wake up and bring you’re “A” game, it’s go time for the Damselflies at Lake Davis!




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