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Monday, June 1, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 6/1/2020

The last week on the Wild & Scenic Middle Fork Feather River has been awesome! My guests and I continue to see the bounty of prior high water years with quality resident wild trout that inhabit the waters, and one word describes those rainbows and browns best – Chunky. The weather went from being bluebird and sunny in the 90’s, to the low 50’s in a matter of 24 hours including thunder, lightning, rain, hail, and big wind. Northern California truly is the land of extremes (echo..echo..echo).

The flows in the upper watershed are coming down again as the feeder creeks are starting a downward cycle of less snow melt in the afternoons. With a moderate snowpack this past winter, there’s not much more to thaw out except for a few hold outs on shady north facing slopes. Water temps in this section of the MFFR are 58-60 degrees. Below where Jamison creek dumps in, the water temperatures are a little colder at 55 to 57 degrees and the water is much higher with a stronger current. 

I’m looking forward to seeing the water levels drop just a tad more in this section to allow for more fishable water. It’s amazing how the tout will hold in different areas based on the strength of the current, the water temperatures, and the aquatic insects during the day. They are always looking for the perfect lie. I’m seeing a few more anglers on the river, but in reality not very many at all. It’s not the Truckee zoo with dozens of people fishing and 30 plus guides working the area. If one is willing to hike to get away like my guests and I, you may not see another soul all damn day long. 

That’s the thing with the MFFR, it’s the total experience. Exceptional flora and fauna, solitude, and being immersed in the Lost Sierra soaked in a coniferous marinade. I’m lucky to be able to share that experience on a daily basis.

American nymphing is still king for catching more and bigger fish, but the dry fly opportunities are right there too. When it comes to the dry fly presentations, it’s the conditions that can really enhance the experience. Those cloudy days are magic as the trout feel more secure and apt to come to the surface, plus there are more bugs out. For nymphing flashback pheasant tails, copper Johns, free living caddis patterns, worms, and PMD nymphs have been the best. Smaller flies are better now it seems. Below Jamison creek with the high flows, use heavier flies, or add more weight to your rig for best results.

Wow! In the last week the fish have really wanted the big dries, namely the yellow or gold Stimi. I know your first thought is there must be a bunch of golden stones out, but that is not the case. In fact, I have not seen as many as I would hope too, but that may change in the next few weeks. Adams Parachutes, Elk Hair Caddis, Purple Haze, Silly Sallies, and Quigley’s Cripple (PMD, BWO) have worked the best for this camp.

I don’t think very many anglers realize how prolific the aquatic hatches are on the Middle Fork Feather River. It can be so good at times I just stand there mesmerized while watching the show. Just think if there were not 6 gold courses in a 10 mile radius pumping crap into a federally managed Wild & Scenic river how much better it could be. The big news is the Sulphur mayfly showed up to the party last week. Yes, big news for a big bug, a size 12 and very plump. These mayflies can be easily identified by having 2 tails, a golden yellow body, and light dun colored wings. They hatch late in the afternoon and go into the evening. You would think the trout would be all over these floating Scooby snacks but that is not always the case. 

Last Saturday we had a late hatch of several different bugs going on due to the colder 40 degree change with air temps, a parade of adults on the surface if you will drifting within the main foam line. The Sulphurs mostly remained unmolested as the trout were keyed in on the BWOs. I don’t get it as the big mayflies offer so much more protein with one bite then eating a dozen BWOs, but the trout surly know why – is it a flavor thing or what? Other bugs that are out include Caddis (big Black Dancer, plus several other verities ranging from a size 12 to an 18). Yellow Sallies, Little Green Stones, Golden Stones, creamy crane flies, very small black flying ants, BWOs, PMDs, a few other smallish mayflies I have yet to identify that are just random fly byes, and big root beer TERMITES in the evening! 

Like I said in my last blog post, my June dates are booked up and most of July is booked as well, though I will announce here if there is any cancellations which has already been the case due to COVID related conditions. There are so many rivers, creeks, and lakes to explore and fish right now in Northern California, and most are fishing well. Choose your water, apply yourself, have fun, and enjoy the great outdoors! See you out there…

Ol' 6699 heading west bound on the UP line of the Middle Fork Feather corridor 

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