|The Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Feather River glows with autumn color.|
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The much anticipated wait for the best fishing of the year is nearly upon us. Fall is a very special time of year if you’re an angler; there are so many fantastic opportunities, yet only so much time before winter takes hold. It’s short and sweet. An angler has to choose just where to concentrate their efforts and what species one decides to hunt. You can’t be everywhere at once. I’d like to share with you my favorite locations for fall in the Northern Sierra, waters that not only produce great fishing, but stunning fall colors that will surely move you.
Friday, August 16, 2013
I've been extremely busy taking my guests to the North Fork Yuba River where a wading staff is vital for navigating the river’s gnarly terrain and banging the rocks to scare off the snakes. I've used many different kinds in the past from old ski poles to the latest the fly fishing industry has to offer. They work, but I wanted something hand crafted by myself that is both bombproof and industrial. For $12 in new materials, a little time, and some effort I created a no nonsense wading staff. I took the best features of many wading staffs including Ron Hart’s design (which is the best retail staff on the market in my opinion) and kept the manufacturing simple. My work time was a bit longer since I made 4 staffs so I can outfit my guests. For a single staff the work time is about 30 minutes, not including drying time between steps. All of the materials were bought from Hills Flat Lumber Co., our local hardware store here in Grass Valley. Great store by the way and the staff is so helpful!
To make your own, first treat the 1”x 48” hardwood dowel with some high quality stain. I skipped putting on a clear polyurethane finish to keep the “shine” factor down for a stealthier appearance, plus it’s going to get beat to hell anyways so why bother. Next make your pilot hole for your leash anchor on one end, in this case a large wood screw and a washer. Thread the wood screw though the middle of the 5/16 shock cord until the screw point protrudes out to the other side. Now insert the screw into the pilot hole that has been filled with Goop brand marine glue and tighten it until flush. Clip off the tag end of the shock cord with a pair of dikes flush so the grip slides on smoothly.
With the mountain bike grip, ream the end hole out with a 5/16 bit to allow the shock cord to pass through. Laying the grip in the hot sun on some black asphalt will soften the grip for easier application. Once the grip is soft, shoot the inside with some carburetor cleaner to help aid in sliding the grip on. The carb cleaner will eventually evaporate and the grip will be locked in place. This step does require a bit of muscle! Measure how long you would like your leash and make an overhand loop knot, tighten this very well until it’s seated. I opted for a flat black locking carabiner which will run you another $9, you can get away with much less but I wanted “bombproof” technology with a little insurance.
For the tip I then glued on a 1” vinyl leg protector for furniture with the Goop marine glue. Your next step will be removing just the bottom vinyl section of the leg protector so that the wood dowel is exposed. This will provide enough grip for wading and it wears in nicely, it’s also so much quieter than a metal tip; which the trout can appreciate. Using a Surform hand held planer will speed up removing the bottom material quickly. Finish off with a palm sander until flush and smooth.
That’s it! You’re ready to rock the canyon water!
Thursday, August 15, 2013
The upcoming Fall issue of Sierra Fisherman magazine will be featuring an article I wrote revealing a day in the life of a hard working successful fly fishing guide. Below is an excerpt from "The Entertainer" which paints such a clear picture that you feel like you were there on that magical day.
Many of his friends said he took guiding too seriously, but in his eyes it was the only way to be. It was no different from being a Sherpa on a big Himalayan peak, his clients came first, and even more importantly his hard earned reputation had to be sustained. Reaching the summit with them was not the issue, that goal was obtainable and within reach. Anyone who bags a big mountain will always have that memory locked away forever; it never goes away and lives with them every day. He wanted to paint them a masterpiece on the water, one that would never be forgotten for as long as they lived. Great artist can do just that.
The truck rolled into the parking lot on the South shore boat ramp and he was greeted with a grand sight of the lake shrouded in fog back lit by a glowing sunrise welcoming the new day. Coots called and chirped as they worked on their morning breakfast filling the air with the most calming melody. He slid the boat in the water, tied it off on the dock and waited for his clients to arrive. The rush came upon him and you could see the passion in his eyes; it was time to wave the magic wand and spread the magic. His guests showed up on time, they were regulars of his and had their act together. They knew the drill. Paperwork was completed and the rest of the gear sorted. Trips with these types of clients are not necessarily easier, but they are more enjoyable because everyone works together as a team just like any good summit bid. “Good morning Dean, hey Dan!” “Did you find the fish yesterday?” Dan asked. “Yep, we’re going to have risers in about two feet of water in the next hour” he said. They both smiled with anticipation as they made their way down to the idling boat that was purring away. The throttle was pinned and they bolted for Sheppard’s cove.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I'll be speaking this coming Wednesday evening (8/14) at the High Sierra Fly Casters monthly meeting In Gardnerville, NV featuring "The Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Feather River". Considered the most beautiful river in California by many authors, this unique river flows gracefully from the Sierra Valley, through the lush Mohawk Valley before plummeting downstream into the expansive gorge of the "Wild" zone.
My power point presentation will feature great useful information on access areas, flies, entomology, techniques/tactics for all seasons, maps, and equipment. As a designated "Wild and Scenic" river, I'll also explain the 3 different zones that make up the MFFR and how they can be best approached by a fly angler.
The High Sierra Fly Casters monthly meeting begins at 7pm followed by my "Wild & Scenic" Middle Fork Feather River presentation. Check out HSFC for more information and details on the club, who knows? You may become a member...
Trout Dog Approved!
Sunday, August 4, 2013
It's easy for guides and other entrepreneurs involved with fly fishing to take things a little too far in self promotion. In reality, one must be compelled to in order to survive and make a name for themselves. It is a business after all. It me took me a long time to figure this out yet still be humble and executed in a proper way that carries class and dignity. It amazes me how the public can see right through the smoke and mirrors of some, and the golden rays of integrity of a chosen few. The straight and narrow path is an easy one for me to follow and there is no turning back now.
When it's time for me to escape the rigors of commerce I resort to what I call "The Bare Essentials", which entails a small river, complete solitude and the quest to dance with the wild trout. What does one need to reach such a simple platform of pureness? For some it could be less than what I chose today, which was a hat, polarized glasses, and a fly rod with a hopper pattern. I guess I could have really taken it too far and reached the "ultra natural" by not wearing clothing, and just used the branch of a willow with a tapered leader tied to the end of it. Maybe next time. When I feel like the last man on earth with this overwhelming grand cathedral of wilderness wrapped around me, only then do I consider my sojourn to be complete.
No fishing vest loaded for bear or any other tackle. If I get a wind knot, break my only fly off, or get it hung up in a tree my day of making presentations is done. This is good for an angler to experience, it makes you focus on every cast and detail; failure is not an option. No $80 dollar fishing shirt, or fancy wading boots. When when was the last time you felt the cold slick granite under your bare feet only to step again onto a hot black rock that's been baking in the sun? To feel the many different textures of Mother Earth below your calloused feet is getting back to basics, getting back to your roots. With all the fancy high priced footwear out there, do people even have callouses now? Big america, fast food, and our creature comforts has made us as soft as hand soap.
When you hold a wild rainbow in your hand for those few precious seconds before releasing it back into the water there is that moment of calmness and serenity. White tipped orange fins dance in the mountain breeze, droplets of cold clear water fall ever so slowly into the river below you forming mesmerizing dimples, and those vivid colors and black spots become ingrained into your memory bank for you to savor for years. The sound of the river is louder now and if you listen closely you can hear the music and its beat. Do you hear it?