Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The Lost Coast Outfitters Small Stream Clinic led by Tayler Wells and myself happened last weekend in Eastern Plumas County featuring Jamison and Gray Eagle creeks. The concept alone was brilliant, teaching our guests the right approach to rugged canyon water, and pursuing small wild trout that is so good for the soul. Topics included rigging for small streams and creeks, knots, fly selection, reading water, presentations, and safety in the woods during the two day course.
On day one we dropped into the remote Jamison Creek canyon where once you enter there is no means to get out until you are at the top of this magnificent section near the town of Johnsville. Wet weather in the form of rain drenched us early on. It was not bad at all, and good quality rainwear goes a long way during such conditions.
The sun broke out for a few hours and allowed us to do our entomology class which is always so fascinating to those who are not in the know. Scattered showers returned in the afternoon as we hit the major pools, slicks, and pocket water. Fishing was slow due to the low water temperatures that came in at 48 to 50 degrees. The high light of the day was a 15 inch rainbow that was caught on a pheasant tail flash back nymph as a dropper fly, a new record by any guest that I have ever guided into the gorge.
We were treated to a rare spectacle as hundreds of Yellow Rumped Warblers migrated through the canyon, sweet melodies and the sound of running water filled the air, and smiles were plentiful. We also found some mountain lion scat, and identified numerous animal tracks in the sand bars. A fabulous lunch was provided for all thanks to the Graeagle Millworks as we took shelter at the Plumas Eureka State Park museum under the canopy of the porch, then warmed ourselves up inside by the fire, and dried out.
The sun broke out again and we made good by setting up a rough camp early by the Middle Fork Feather River. Tayler’s camping skills from his Alaskan guide experience came in quite handy as he rigged a simple shelter so we could stay dry from the intermittent showers through the evening. He then made us all a simple dinner that was consumed quite quickly after our long and exhausting day burning big numbers of calories. We lounged around the campfire fire swapping stories of trout, Giants baseball, and future trips. As George says “Life is better around a campfire”, and how spot on he is. It was just plain awesome!
Morning came and with it foggy conditions. Another fire to warm up to and to our surprise Tayler made us a great breakfast, filling us with the needed fuel for our next descent into the Gray Eagle Creek canyon water. We broke our simple camp down, loaded the vehicles, and headed up above town to our destination. The sun finally came out and it was the best day we've seen in the last two weeks, it was absolutely gorgeous out. Our group scrambled down the steep slope, slipping and sliding until we reached the bottom of the abyss. Upon arrival something was missing, water! I was blown away; there was only a slight trickle with idle pools here and there. It was not right and something was quite strange about the conditions. We made the best of it and rock hopped up the watershed making stealthy presentations to some very spooky rainbows that were found in the bigger pools.
Upon reaching the top where the diversion dam is located, we crested and peaked over and Gray Eagle creek was flowing as it should be with lots of fishable water. The town was taking a 100% of flow while releasing zero water downstream, we were shocked. I guess golf is more important than keeping wild trout and aquatic insects alive and in good condition.
Our guests fished the big pool above the dam and got into many small wild rainbows instantly. Another scrumptious lunch was consumed, only this time in the sunshine, followed by a second session to the headwaters of Jamison Creek. We focused again on presentations, reading water, and a bug sampling followed by a quiz. It was quite interesting to compare notes on the macroinvertebrates from both watersheds and the unique diversity between the two creeks. Casting lessons followed with proper technique for a solid foundation. Tayler and I were quite pleased that everyone learned how to false cast effectively with tight sexy loops. We were beyond stoked to be honest.
The LCO Small Streams Clinic was a big hit, we all had a great time, and our students learned so much! For a guide, that’s the icing on the cake that can never be duplicated. Look for more fly fishing clinics from Lost Coast Outfitters in the future featuring excellent locations, and quality guides who will share decades of knowledge that any participating guest can use for the rest of their fly fishing lives. For a good read and a look into the exciting world of canyon water, check out the April 2014 issue of California Fly Fisher magazine on an article I wrote simply titled “Creekin”. Small streams; good for the body, soul, and mind.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The weather of late has vastly affected the North Yuba, last Friday water temps plummeted down to 42-46 just a few miles up from Downieville with a good amount of rain. As expected, fishing was slow. My guests did not really care because this was their first time exploring the most beautiful watershed in California, and they were so blown away! There are some aquatics out like Golden Stones, Yellow Sallies, and a few caddis but these fish will not be looking up until the water temperatures climb to around 54. The optimum water temps for the NFYR is 58 to 60.
It’s best to focus on the lower river from the highway 49 bridge to Goodyear’s bar and fish during the warmest time of the day. In this section you can also find brown trout up to 5 pounds in the bigger plunge pools, and catching them is not easy. Today (Monday) was totally different, a nice sunny morning and the water temps came up quickly. My guest and I had rising fish throughout the day and they were very selective, something I’m not accustomed to seeing on the NFYR. Lots of bugs out like many different kinds of caddis, Little Yellow Sallies (alloperla), PMDs, Golden Stones, Little BWOs (pseudocloeon), and the one those selective trout wanted, the creamy yellow crane fly in a size 18. Effective flies include E/C caddis, yellow humpy, bwo loop wing, Mangy Prince nymph, Copper John, and the Red Headed Step Child.
The most impressive aspect of the river right now is the wild flowers like Indian Rhubarb, and the Live Forever succulents, mixed with the glowing greenery of our recent precipitation. With more trips coming up in the next week I’ll let you know about the water temperatures – It all revolves around the temps. I have over 2 dozen beats I know like the back of my hand from the many years on the river; very few know where the important feeder creeks, springs, and plunge pools are located. My July dates are starting to fill up for the NFYR. Allow me to guide you where the wild things are, you will surely be stoked!
|Live Forever Succulents Dudleya cymosa|
Bush Monkey Flower Mimulus Aurantiacus
On the banks of the North Fork Yuba River
Cloudy, cold and unsettled weather haunted my guests and me last week, while dropping the water temps back down to 50 to 52 degrees. Fish are starting to rise, especially in the deeper water around the island. I have only seen a few surface next to shore which is a bit disappointing. Blood midges are out and they are big, a #10 pupa pattern is about right. Callibaetis mayflies are becoming more prevalent as well. The cold weather does not help with the Damsel hatch though, a few have been sighted swimming in the upper water column but in no way is it “game on” yet. Brown damsel patterns are very important during the early part of the hatch. Weeds are slowly starting to grow but we are a long way off from having those fertile underwater forests that grow to the surface. As far as fish behavior is concerned they are still scattered and not roaming in pods, one theory of mine is the rainbows are bigger these days, and tend to be loners while cruising for food. Stripping is starting to produce and keeping your fly about 3 to 4 feet down is best. Brown and olive wiggle tails, leeches, damsels, and Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears have proved effective. Bobbicating is receiving the better numbers and hanging your bugs 3 to 8 feet down in 8 to 14 feet of water is sure to catch a few. Pheasant Tail flashbacks, Albino Winos, and balanced damsels are best. Overall fishing is fair. Warmer air and water temps will dictate favorable conditions. Stay tuned.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
RIO's Outbound Short freshwater specialty fly line covers a wide variety of applications, there is some serious science involved with the construction. A quality fly line is your most important part of the equation in your rod set up, and dictates success. With a short aggressive front taper design it is designed to cast large heavy flies at a long distance with great accuracy. This powerful front section also loads rods quickly and efficiently for effortless casts. Each line features RIO's XS technology for super slick high performance, and is built with a supple, coldwater coating that ensures the line remains tangle free. This awesome line is available in five different densities, you can check out all of the specs here: RIO Outbound Short specs
|Photo courtesy of Pyramid Lake Fly Fishing|
The RIO Outbound Short is also great for chucking streamers in a wide spectrum of water types, from high roily water, to skinny and clear. It's been my secret for such conditions in Northern California's famous trout waters that hold large trout on the prowl in spring and fall.
I encourage you to check the Outbound Short and demo one at your local fly shop that features RIO Products. You will be so impressed you may want to buy the whole series of them and add them to your specialty line quiver. Technology, function, and quality - That's RIO.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
I finally got back on the water at Lake Davis with my first two trips of the season, and how I have missed being out there with my sweetheart. Current conditions are quite strange, in some aspects conditions are way ahead and other factors about the same for this time of year. Water temps are ranging from 53-55 degrees, there is going to be some colder overnight temperatures next week which will help keep the temps stable. Water is a tad off color but not too bad. Water levels are at 56%, not scary low by any means and it only creates more habitat for the trout stalker fishing off the bank. Boat ramps; Lightning Tree is way above the water line, Camp 5 is ok only for very small boats, and Honker cove is in good shape for now.
Fish behavior is about normal for this time of year with a few exceptions. Right now fish are scattered throughout the lake, and they are roaming around looking for a good neighborhood to live in for the next few months. Most of the rainbows are in the upper water column, and a few are down on the bottom as well. I did see some rising fish in certain coves for a few hours, and then they were gone. Where to is a mystery. I even saw a few fish still in the coves of the east side in full spawn mode. Rainbows are ranging in size of 17 to 22”.
Blood midges are out in two different sizes, 10, and 14. There is also a small gray midge hatching in a size 18. Blow in feed of Carpenter ants and the black and red burying beetles were on the surface with a few fish eating them. Fish will be keying in on these terrestrials in the next few weeks so make sure you have some Loco ants in your box. I saw my first damsel swimming towards shore, and a few early Callibaetis mayflies. Vertical presentations under the bobber have been best using Albino Wino midge pupa #10-14, and Pheasant Tail flashbacks #14-16. Mornings to noon time have been the most productive.
Overall fishing is fair. I expect big changes in the next three weeks in both aquatic insect and fish behavior. If you're interested in a guided trip I only have a few days available between now and the end of June. See you on the water…