Wednesday, June 21, 2017
On Monday the 12th we had extremely cold weather and snow, in fact at Frenchman’s Lake there was 2 inches on the ground. A week later and it’s been Africa hot, thank goodness it cools down at night. I’m seeing the effects from a wet winter all around in the mountains. There are so many wildflowers blooming right now that are providing a beautiful color spot everywhere you look. Also there has been an explosion of many different species of beetles flying about. Birdlife is also off the charts, and with all this high water and free standing water in Sierra Valley the ducks are loving it. It seems Mother Nature is about 3 weeks late when it comes to a normal rhythm of seasonal life.
Lake Davis – Hot weather has ignited the damselfly hatch at the lake and the fish are keyed in on them. With low populations of fish, it is important to find the points that have working fish around them. With hotter weather the hatch will start earlier and being on the water at 7am ready to stalk is the smart thing to do. The resident rainbows are being very selective so change your damsel pattern often and slow down that retrieve until you find a combination that works.
After the hatch winds down, indicator rigs are working in 8 to 12 feet of water using callibaetis patterns and chironomids. Surface water temperatures are 60 in the early morning and by late afternoon are topping out at near 70 degrees. I saw my fist hex the other morning while buzzing across the south end of the lake, you can expect the hatch to increase in the weeks to come.
All the fish I’ve seen landed are huge! There are some really big toads out there to catch, and there is some opportunity to catch them on Callibaetis adults when the timing is right. Cast less, observe more, and carefully plan your attack.
Frenchman’s Lake – It’s been really fun at Frenchman’s the last week, lots of grabs and big numbers to the boat. Coves north of Lunker Point have been very productive either stripping flies or using the indicator. There have been some brief moments stalking fish off the bank eating a black size 16 midge adult.
Chironomid hatches have been thick and throat sampling reveals just that. There are a few callibaetis in the mix but that’s about it. Fishing pressure has been heavy but everybody is catching fish. Water temps are about the same as Lake Davis, and getting on the water early is very beneficial. Using a personal watercraft or boat is best to fish deeper water, especially during mid to late in the day.
Middle Fork Feather River – The river is dropping into shape nicely but the flows are still big, but manageable. Water temps are in the mid 50’s. Snow melt has increased with this hot weather and feeder creeks have risen a bit with colder inflows to the river. Hatches of PMD’s, BWO’s, and the little green stone are out. Golden stones are staging on the side water waiting for emergence. It’s been a nymphing game and a good rig will consist of a Flesh Juan Worm with an olive X-May trailer. We should see some great evening dry fly fishing during the month of July. The best area to focus on is above the Two Rivers Access upstream to Clio, Jamison creek is adding much more volume and the water levels downstream are a little high. Fishing pressure is extremely light, and the greenery lining the banks is amazing. They don’t call this a “Wild & Scenic” river for nothing.
North Fork Yuba River – Currently the NFYR is extremely high and fast, especially in the tighter section of the upper watershed. You’ll have more fishable water lower downstream of Downieville. Water temps are in the high 40’s, and not much bug activity at all. On today’s scouting mission I did not see one angler out fishing, it’s like a ghost town up there right now. One observation I had was at Union Flat campground, the big flows of our past winter has moved the river channel back towards the campground side. I’m sure there are many more changes to see but we’ll have to wait for the flows to recede. I think the river will fall into shape near the end of July, with August, September, and October being the best months. The roar of the white water is impressive right now, as is Love's Falls. Get out there and enjoy the beauty of the Northern Sierra, it’s free and for the taking.
Lupinus Albifrons Silver Lupine at Lake Davis
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Just like last June, extreme and unusual weather slammed the region with big wind, rain, and snow in eastern Plumas County. An unfortunate angler capsized his boat last Friday at Lake Davis and lost everything, luckily he was wearing a PFD and made it to shore safely. The cooler weather dropped water temperatures briefly but they will be rising in the week to come, currently at both lakes the water temps are 60 to 64 degrees.
The straight scoop at Lake Davis is the damsel hatch began around the first of the month, and warmer days provided a better hatch. There is more fish than you think keyed in on the damsels, and to play the game off the bank you need superior skills in stalking, casting, and presentations. So many anglers are ill equipped for such a challenge. Slapping the water while false casting, charging the water while wading, and repetitive casting to a certain area will put fish down, and spook them away.
If you spend a day with me, I can teach you how to hunt shallow water trout and be successful like my workshop I provided for members of the Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers on just that. Callibaetis hatches have been thick and a few fish have been caught using the adult imitation. Same story at Lake Davis for 2017, fewer fish in the lake, but they are huge, some real toads have been picked up ranging from 20 to 26”, and up to 6 pounds. With this approaching heat wave, all hatches will intensify and the Hexagenia will finally make an appearance. Fishing pressure has been light due to fly anglers getting a big goose egg for the day.
Frenchman’s Lake has been fishing incredibly well with big numbers to the boat. Last Saturday during the Stillwater Outings hosted by Rob Anderson and myself, our guests boated 62 fish to the “Lilly Bob” in six hours using indicator rigs, and stripping buggers and wiggle tails in olive. Big midge hatches at the lake, and not really anything else, just a few callibaetis mayflies, and sparse populations of emerging damsels.
Lots more fly anglers have been fishing here then at Lake Davis, and most of those anglers coming in from the Reno area. There have been some brief periods of skinny water sight fishing to rising fish. Last Monday at Frenchman’s was one of the coldest days guiding I can remember, 2 inches of snow and a stiff north wind has us shaking all day long, but we were catching lots of fish and that will keep an angler warm on a frigid day.
It’s go time at both lakes, just remember to bring your “A” game at Lake Davis, and finding the right depth at any given time at Frenchman’s will reward you in big numbers. See you on the water…
Mule's Ear flowers provide a color spot on the Little Truckee River