Fall Edition

Fall Edition
Fall Edition

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 9/23/2020

 

Falls creeping in, even though it’s been really warm during the day, nights have been cooler, and mornings are cold and crisp. Some days the smoke is thick, others days (like today) it can be blue sky. East wind helps with that. The Middle Fork Feather River is extremely low with good water temperatures at 58 degrees, and clear water. 


Fishing the deeper holes, slots, and runs is crucial right now as fish are stacked up in those areas. Don’t forget about the skinny water surrounding those pools though, the trout can be in there feeding as proven today. This river is gnarly to navigate, it’s not easy. I stumbled today and fell once pretty good, no broken gear, just a little jab at my pride. There are easier access areas near the 7 bridges that cross the Middle Fork Feather River from Clio downstream to Sloat. 

Another factor is the great distance one has to hike from fish pot to fish pot. I like to hike for great lengths and be on the move while covering deeper water this time of year. Lots of hiking, climbing, falling, scrambling, and exploring – The fun stuff. Go to the gym, or get on a program. It really helps you enjoy your session a whole lot better. I’m totally serious about being in shape. You’ll be so much safer too.


Typical fall hatches in place. Trico spinner fall in the mid morning, with random sightings of a BWO, a Mahogany Dun, or a few caddis in various sizes mixed in. The October Caddis is out, I’ve seen a lot of shucks, but no flyers – Which really surprises me. On the other hand there is a very abundant population of Dragonflies patrolling the river and eating everything in sight. They feast excessively on the spinner fall, and it’s so cool to watch. 

Baby rainbow fingerlings and crayfish are available for the trout too so keep in that mind. The fish are on the fall grab, but again, be stealthy and don’t waste your time in unproductive water for long periods of time. Lots of opportunities right now.

Tight line nymphing, dry/dropper rigs, and single dry fly presentations are all working. Think small ball for your flies. Midge and caddis pupa, mayfly nymphs – But fish that October Caddis pupa too, one never knows…Small parachutes, and emegers on top, plus the big bug (October Caddis adult). 7 weeks until the river closes, it’s gonna go quick. I can’t wait for the fall colors! Get on my cancellation list, email me at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com. With Covid, cancellations and rescheduling are now common. See you in the Lost Sierra. 



Loon Top Ride, Lochsa, and Fly Dip Review ~ 9/23/2020

 

I'm big on dry flies, it's my preferred way to catch trout due to the visual experience. To see the take happen right in front of you is something special, and when you set the hook, all hell breaks loose. I've been fishing dry flies for decades and have seen floatant products come and go, except for your standard silicone based paste. Currently I'm running these three products from Loon on a daily basis. They have proven their worth to accompany my clients and myself while on the water, while helping immensely with keeping those dry flies high and dry. No further testing is needed with these products, I've pushed them to the limits on all fronts.


Top Ride

"Shake & Bake" is one item I tell my beginning students is a must have in their vest. It can dry off a fly so nicely after being saturated, that it seems to almost hover on the water's surface. I tie some very sparse dry flies for spring creeks across the west with minimal materials, the end result is a fly that does not float well at all. Loon Top Ride completes the package on these flies in order to float, the flies are tied with the intent of having this powder agent help them successfully float during the presentation. Top Ride's special powder is a drying agent and floatant all in one. It's easy to use, long lasting, and the large opening on top accommodates larger flies as well. I've tried all the powders out there since their inception into the fly fishing industry, Top Ride has proven the best for me, a better value, and it's environmentally safe for your favorite ecosystem too. Here are a few tips with using Top Ride that will ensure you receive the very best performance:

- Before I shake my soggy dry fly, I will blot as much water off with a mini chamois, or my shirt sleeve, then blow on it a few times. With less water in the fly, Top Ride can do its job easier and faster, with better results.

- Once your fly enters the container, close the lid, but do not snap it closed. If you snap the lid, your tippet will be weakened by creating a kink in it. Not good.

- Fly powder containers are notorious for opening up on their own and creating quite the mess in your vest, pocket, or bag. To ensure this does not happen, clean any granular material in the crease areas where the lid fits in place. The other little trick I do is place a piece of duct tape over the lid and adhering it to the sides of the container. Nothing's coming out on its own

Lochsa Gel 

This gel is not your standard silicone based fly paste that has been the around for many years. The first characteristic I like is the actual viscosity of it. Not too thick, and not too thin - It's just right. Lochsa Gel won’t mat dry flies made with CDC either, and it's perfect for treating any type of feathers, hair, hackle, or yarn. Lochsa provides maximum floatation without the slightest hindrance on appearance. It is silicone based, and won’t melt in the heat or harden when it’s cold. I've been on the road and have run out of Lochsa and had to buy another brand and well...I wasn't too stoked. That about says it all right there. Here is a good tip for using this exceptional gel:

- A little amount goes a long way. You don't want to pour it from the bottle straight onto the fly, instead put some between your thumb and forefinger and rub it around. Then lightly dab the fly's hackle, body, and tail. For bigger flies like a Stimulator, take the time to work in the gel on the wing, and if it has rubber legs, coat them as well.



Fly Dip

I had a guide buddy give me a bottle of liquid floatant from Montana a few years ago, and it worked pretty good. After I learned it was flammable and basically a petroleum product, I stopped using it. Though the amount is minuscule, the thought of putting that into the river was not cool with me. As with all Loon Products, Fly Dip is environmentally safe. This liquid floatant is proof that anglers shouldn't have to choose between a green product and a great product. It is compatible with all flies (including CDC), dries quickly, and can take even soggy flies and bring them back to life. It isn't overstating things to say that this floatant is a "game-changer".  Pro tip for Fly Dip:

- Be careful when pulling your fly out from the bottle with excessive liquid spilling. Though Fly Dip is environmentally safe, it will leave a whitish residue on your equipment if it comes into contact. Cold water with a little scrubbing and a good rinse will remove it for good.

- I like to pre treat a half dozen of the hot dry fly the night before, or in the morning hours before using them. That way all the great properties are thoroughly mixed into the materials of the fly, and it's more than dry and ready to go. 

There you have it, the full skinny on some proven products to keep your dry flies on point. Give them a trial run, and I bet you won't go back to your old standby!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Togens Fly Shop ~ Custom Hooks & Beads

 

 


I'd like to announce my partnership with Togens Fly Shop in using their hooks and beads exclusively for my guide service, and myself. I'm super stoked to have this opportunity as Togens makes some really cool and innovative products for creating custom flies. They offer many different bends and styles of hooks like the 3 times heavy scud hooks in sizes 18 and 20 - Those are really hard to find! They've also just added a 60 degree jig style hook for Euro Nymphing flies as well.

Check out their hook comparison chart here:

Togens beads are very unique with custom colors in both brass and tungsten. Like the black nickel bead with a front white section to it - perfect for chironomid patterns for Lake Davis, and Frenchman Lake. Check out their bead selection including slotted tungsten beads for their jig hooks here:

If you order from Togens, use the code TOGEN10 and mention "Baiocchi's Troutfitters" to receive 10% off your orders, plus it helps to let them know you heard about Togens from my blog and social media feeds.

In the coming months look for reviews on particular hooks and beads on my blog. Special thanks to Togens team member Cat Toy of Fly Fishing with Cat Toy for introducing the Togens line with me, and to Justin Lopatriello for making this deal happen! 









Tuesday, September 15, 2020

American Fly Fishing Magazine ~ Lake Davis Article.

 

American Fly Fishing combines the former regional titles into a single powerhouse magazine. In 1999,  Northwest Fly Fishing was launched, followed by Southwest Fly Fishing and Eastern Fly Fishing. For more than 20 years, readers have relied on the super informative destination reporting to plan angling adventures near and far, and American Fly Fishing is the culmination of that tradition, a veritable guidebook to outstanding fisheries throughout North America. They basically shorten the learning curve and research needed for such trips.

I have written for Northwest Fly Fishing in the past with a really cool article on Eagle Lake, and will be submitting new articles to American Fly Fishing in the future. I'm looking forward to these upcoming projects. It's a very well done magazine with exceptional journalism. Do yourself a favor and get a print and digital subscription for $39.95 here:
https://subscribe.pcspublink.com/sub/subscribeformar_profile.aspx?t=JWEB20&p=NWFF 


The current September/October issue features a touching and informative article on Lake Davis written by Jody Martin, which I helped out with serving as a technical advisor for, and contributing my fish eye GoPro pictures. It turned out really well and I'm extremely flattered to have been asked to be involved with the project. For more information on American Fly Fishing Magazine go here: 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Colorado Fly Fishing Odyssey Part 2 ~ 9/14/2020


Week 2 proved to be much different simply because of an artic cold front that pushed through leaving much colder temperatures and snow in its wake. 4 to 12” of early season snowfall landed up in the mountains. Rocky Mountain States are a whole different world compared to Northern California. A higher altitude with different seasonal jet streams makes a big difference. So with that…Let’s get on with the report from the rest of my awe-inspiring trip!

 

Day 7 – 11 Mile Canyon / South Platte River. It was the calm before the storm, and the last day of really warm temperatures during my stay. It was pretty smokey from fires up north, but nothing like we are experiencing right now on the interior west coast, plus it only lasted a day thanks to the cold front blasting through. I picked up my long time fishing buddy @shogun_of_denver from his house in Denver and away we went to my favorite canyon water I’ve yet to experience. 

The look of a serious trout stalker

It had been 25 years since Chris and I last fished 11 Mile together, I can’t explain how special it was to go there with him – it was surreal. 


Before we left, Chris and his partner Jen’s wiener dog Charlie sat on his gear bag with a hope to tag along. Sorry pal, 11 Mile Canyon is no place for a dog of such small stature. But I tell ya, Charlie is as fierce as they come, and that dog commands respect. Don’t mess with Charlie.


Being Labor Day, it was super crowded, the most people I’ve ever seen. Back in the mid 90’s it was not uncommon for us to be alone up there fishing all day and never see another angler. Times have changed for sure. We worked two of my favorite sections that are located in a tighter canyon configuration with vertical walls, beautiful rock formations, and unmolested pocket water. 


The other anglers we saw made camp on the larger pools where they would spend hours upon. We didn’t see one bent rod from those large groups hurling over sized bobbers at all. That’s not our style, but rather stick and move, and hit every fishable pocket no matter the size of it. Those nooks and crannies is where it’s at, and nobody was fishing them – perfect.



Tight Line Nymphing is the draw here, and it is super effective. The same flies we used 25 years ago, still work today. KGB Caddis, Yellow Halo, and buggy caddis pupa patterns like Mercer’s Z Wing all proved their worth.


There was a brief Trico spinner fall with some dry fly opportunities during mid-morning, but we opted out and went for the pockets and mini plunge pools.


Water temps were in the low 60’s, and there is so much algae and moss in the system that you are constantly cleaning off your flies using the circular swing of your leader across the top of the water that is aptly named “The San Juan Slap” (which I learned there back in the day).

I hooked 19 fish from 12-18 inches but many came off as they were chunky and wiley – Super feisty! A good mix of rainbows, browns, and cut bows were slayed. We got our fill and headed back to Denver. What a fricken awesome day it was!


Day 8 – Arvada. On Monday I was wearing flip flops and shorts, and on Tuesday with a massive temperature change of nearly 60 degrees, it was long underwear, pants, and boots. With 11 Mile under a blanket of snow, it was time to catch up working on some upcoming articles for California Fly Fisher that morning. 


I finally got to hang out with @crazycat313, she had been hosting a friend that traveled a great distance to fish with her. I would spend the rest of my trip with Cat and with the current weather we opted out of fishing and got caught up since my last visit in July. A visit to Jax Outdoor Gear (the place is so cool!)

Red Robin gourmet burgers, thrift stores, and other fun stuff with lots of laughter. That night I had somehow forgot to close the side door of the van, like wide open. It snowed more that night and the interior of the van was soaked as was my sleeping bag and gear. Yes, lots of gear that anyone could have easily taken, but it was all there in the morning. That could have been an expensive brain fart to say the least!


Day 9 – Arvada. Cat and I really wanted to fish, we thought about hitting Clear Creek as the brookies are in spawn mode showing off the most spectacular colors. Instead we did more of the same from the day before, and stayed inside enjoying each other’s company. 


I had good luck on the Yampa with Midge Clusters the previous week so a tying lesson was in order for Cat at her tying area aptly called “Cat’s Corner”. She has only been tying flies for 11 months, but has incredibly good skills and is so meticulous. Cat never does anything half ass. She ties many of her own patterns for the Colorado tailwaters and her flies simply kick ass! 

After one try at the cluster, she had it down. That evening we vowed to go to 11 Mile Canyon the next morning no matter the weather. I’ve always wanted to share that special place with her, and finally it would be a reality… 


Day 10 – 11 Mile Canyon / South Platte River. We expected snow on the ground everywhere, but the ground was too warm for it to last long, and just a few small patches in the shaded areas was all that was left. Way less crowded too, and the same thing – Nobody was tight lining the nooks and crannies.


We fished the same two sections as on Monday but the fishing was off and not as good. It must have been the low pressure and the big change in the weather that affected the bite. Whatever…We still had fun and I made a little video of our day mixed in with the Yampa trip we did on day 11. You can see it HERE.

We each landed about half dozen fish, nothing big this time, just around 12-14”. We took our time that morning, sleeping in and such and only fished from noon until 5pm, then headed back to Arvada for a big dinner. What a great day spending time with Cat in the canyon, the first of many more to come…


Day 11 – Yampa River / Stagecoach Tailwater. There’s something special about the drive out to the Steamboat Springs area that brings back fond memories of when I traveled up there in the early 90’s to snowboard with a fellow team member of the now defunct Wave Rave Clothing brand of Boulder, Co. I think it’s mostly that when you leave the I-70 corridor, the pace of life slows down, and the fact that Rabbit Ear’s pass is extremely beautiful. 


Again, we took our time getting there from the Front Range and fished from noon until twilight. Fishing pressure was extremely light and the least amount of cars that Cat and I have seen in a long time. The cold front also affected the bite at Stagecoach as we really had to work to for the trout. It was nothing like the week before.




We ended up with some nice trout, and for myself the most gorgeous fish of the trip, a butter belly of a brown with orange and gold highlights and big black spots. What a specimen! It gave me a hell of a fight and came from the most obscure pocket that was half the size of a bathtub.


The bwo hatch did not materialize in the early afternoon, so it was all Tight Line Nymphing with tiny flies. We used the same patterns as my report in part 1, with the exception of some new variations of Cat’s custom guide ties. I didn’t fish as hard as I did the week before, but instead just watched Cat, and her approach do the different runs. I like that, to watch other good anglers as I always learn something from those experiences. It’s also very gratifying to watch Cat fish because of her accelerated progression of skills.


I’ve never ever seen someone learn so quickly. She’s so focused on every drift, and also changes flies a lot until she finds the winning combo of the right pattern with the right amount of weight. Many factors have contributed to this including her life skills of working as a Registered Nurse, which she’s so proficient at, plus racing motocross which teaches you that training, hard work, and determination achieves great results. Those skills combined with her outstanding work ethic makes Cat nearly peerless as an aspiring fly angler. Watching Cat gives me goose bumps. Like I said, the fishing was on the slow side, but her persistence paid off.

The original plan was to leave for home the next morning from the Travel Lodge in Yampa, but with such an outstanding fishery that is so beautiful, and my best fishy buddy hitting the water again in the morning, I had to get in one more session…

Cat Toy and the Cat Tree behind her ~ https://flyfishingwithcattoy.blogspot.com/


Day 12
- Yampa River / Stagecoach Tailwater. My last day plying the currents of Colorado water. It was chilly in the morning, but the cold front had pushed through and all the recent snow had melted. We were greeted by cloudless blue skies and plenty of sunshine. The parking lot was full, with anglers running down to the river to secure their spot. Luckily we got to hold down “The Cat Tree”, a run that you will see in many of Cat’s pictures on social media. 

Wilson's Warbler

The first thing I noticed were the abundant amount of warblers flying around eating aquatic insects, way more than the previous week. The change in the weather had them on the move with their seasonal migration. Yellow warblers, Audubon’s warblers, Wilson’s warblers, and Hammond’s Flycatchers shared the river with us. It was spectacular. We had rising fish eating midges so we both grabbed our WildStream Horizon rods (See my review HERE) and rigged up with Cat’s midge clusters that she tied the Wednesday before. She was into them quickly, and I was so stoked for her catching fish on a new pattern that she had just learned to tie. How awesome is that? Pretty damn awesome if you ask me. I hooked 6 fish, landing 4, all on the cluster. 

It was 11am and it was time for me to make the long drive back to the reality of work and fish business. Leaving Cat was so tough, and also the fact that here I am leaving blue skies for the smoke choked land of Northern California. Cat stayed a few more hours with @flyfisherjoe, a really cool young dude I met through Cat that lives in Steamboat. Give him a follow on Instagram, he’s got some rad pictures of some very large trout from the area. Like I said, persistence is one of Cat’s strong points and it paid off again while Tight Lining into the afternoon. She finally landed a big toad. As I drove away I looked down into the valley, gave a few honks of the horn, a wave, and a vow I’d be back in a couple months.

What a spectacular trip! Colorado never disappoints, great fishing, good friends, amazing landscapes, and the onset of fall colors. Yeah, fall colors comes a month earlier in the Rocky Mountains. I hope you enjoyed my Colorado Fly Fishing Odyssey. Do yourself a favor and checkout the amazing fisheries in Colorado. Just like Northern California, so much water, and so little time…See you on the water.  




Thursday, September 10, 2020

Forest Service Temporarliy Closes All National Forests In California

 


A statement released by the USFS on September 9th has ordered all National Forest service land to be closed until further notice due to extreme fire conditions, and the current state of fire activity across California. This includes all recreational activities including commercial guiding. For those that have upcoming trips with me in Plumas and Tahoe National Forests will be advised on our plans as more information becomes available. Just another speed bump for 2020 - What a challenging year to say the least!

A huge thank you to all the fire fighters that are currently battling the front lines to ensure our safety! For more information go here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/r5



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