Last Monday was the best day for tracking targets and presenting damsels to selective and wary feeders in 2 to 5 feet of water. It’s more than just trolling around in a float tube, or fishing from a boat while casting. From the bank, time slows down and you’re honed in on the hunting aspect of the damsel hatch. I’m stoked for my guests who have never experienced this and get to live it, it is indeed one of the greatest things you can do with a fly rod in your hand.
Now that the region of the Northern Sierra is in a typical pattern of high pressure, and hot weather, Lake Davis will see a lot of glass in the morning hours. When it’s flat calm those trout are on edge and super wary. As Jay Fair use to say “they’re scared…They really are!” You’ll get a slight East wind in the morning too and most often it’s perfect with just a ripple to give the trout some cover to feel more secure, and hours later the wind will shift to the South West or a Westerly flow.
Just a few reminders for the damsel game – Your patterns should be brown, dark olive, olive, and light olive in color. They should also be sparse and about an inch long. Commercial ties are way too long and bulky. 4X tippet at a minimum, and always check your knots for strength, and your leader for casting knots frequently. When you finally get the chance to make a hook up you’ll want your operating system the best it can be. The takes can be subtle (your line just stops), or on the aggressive side. You just never know if it is the bottom, a weed, or what not - so always strip set on anything you feel different.
The Aquatic hatching cycle is such at these times – in the early pre sunrise look for scum lines in deep open water where trout will resort to being dumpster divers eating the garbage from the previous night. Then the blood midge and other chironomids will begin hatching soon after. By 9am the damsel nymphs begin swimming to the shoreline or anywhere they can crawl out and hatch into an adult. The hatch may last to 1pm, but every day is different with the amount of nymphs hatching, and even the amount of active feeding fish to a particular flat or shoal. Callibaetis spinners will appear mid-day, look up into the sky and you’ll see dozens upon dozens aloft in the breeze. As the water temperatures peak out in the afternoon, the fish go down to 10 to 18 feet of water, or the first good ledge that has weeds and food where they can dine in their air conditioned restaurant.
I’m done guiding on Lake Davis for trout, but open for poking around in the early mornings and late evenings for bass while I’m in the area doing creek trips of the Lost Sierra. It’s been really awesome to see the large mouth bass eat the same patterns we use for the trout – they have adapted to the natural food source well from tiny midges to damsels. As of right now, these are my only available fall dates for the lake: 9/19, 20, 24-28. 10/4-6, 28-31. All other dates are booked up. If you want a spot, let me know ASAP! Thanks to Lake Davis for an incredible fly fishing experience over the past 3 decades, and also a big thank you to J&J’s Grizzly Store and Campground for supporting me. I leave you with this, and it happens all the time, and why I have been writing and sharing my experiences and knowledge on this blog for so long. I’m walking back from the Honker Cove boat ramp after a day on the water to fetch the truck and yank the LillyBob. I met an elderly man whom I’ve never met before and he stares at me and says “you’re the guy the blog right?” I say yes, that’s me, I’m Jon (LOL). He then says “Thanks for sharing, I really look forward to your reports!” We smile, wish each other well and go about our business. Here’s the cool thing…The man doesn’t even fly fish, he’s a troller.
Caddis are the most profuse aquatic insect out, and a heavy spinner fall of BWO’s in the morning when air temperatures are between 57 and 67 degrees. The cool find last week were a few Green Drake spinners. There is not a big population of them on the Middle Fork Feather, but enough to get a bigger fish looking up for them. As the water temps rise during the day there is less oxygen and the trout will move into faster water looking for the white water and bubbles, don’t be shy about casting a bushy elk hair caddis in that type of water – they’ll find it too.
I’m done guiding the Middle Fork Feather too with increasing water temps and rock snot. Unlike Lake Davis, the MFFR is not a put and take fishery and the resident wild trout are extremely special. These trout are some of the most pristine specimens I’ve ever laid eyes on, and too valuable to accidently kill while fishing for them. The available dates I listed above for Lake Davis are the same for the MFFR in the fall. Again, get a hold of me now to secure your date. It was such a rad spring season for the river, chunkier fish, good numbers, and profuse hatches. The Middle Fork Feather River is truly the “Jewell of the Lost Sierra.”
See you on the water…