Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fishing Report - Middle Fork Feather River

I fished during the day in an area near The 20 Mile House. This historic Inn has been a haven to travelers since 1854, welcoming prospectors, pioneers and adventurers who journeyed on the storied stage coach from the east. The river is low, but that makes it easier to catch the native rainbows as they are concentrated into the deeper runs and pools. The water temp was 62 degrees. A few bugs were active including Sulphur spinners, and couple different Caddis flies. With no rise forms and plenty of hoppers out, I tied on my tan and brown foam hopper. Fishing was excellent! Many rainbows came up for the hopper with takes so slow and confident, you just knew that they had ate them before. I would fish a run, walk back down, and tie on a Baetis nymph dropper in a size 18 and catch more fish. You don't see very many people down here, and for a Saturday there was complete solitude to be had. I caught and released 37 fish 6-14". With that many fish in a short period, I put the rod down and rolled rocks to bug hunt. The highest percentage of bugs is cased Caddis, followed by Golden Stones. The amount of bugs is off the charts and this is a banner year for all species. If you plan on fishing the Middle Fork, fish below where Jamison creek dumps in by Two Rivers. There is cold water here and the trout will navigate the river for miles to find it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eagle Lake - A Blast From The Past

Our good friend Tony was camped out in the north lake for a 4 day fish out, he had found the fish and they where only a mile away from his camp. He called us Saturday night and invited Battling Bob and myself for a mid morning to early afternoon bite that was going on in the tulles. We left the house early Sunday morning, it was cold out, as low as 16 degrees. By 9am we were in Tony's boat that sat camouflaged amongst the tulle reeds and headed for the hunting grounds.

The conditions were unreal for sight fishing, like bone fishing if you will.... on the flats. This was trout stalking at it's finest. We anchored in 5-6 feet of crystal clear water, it was sunny, bright, and not a puff of wind to be had. You could spot the large trout coming in at 70 feet away. Their dark backs and shadows really stuck out against the white sandy bottom of the north lake. The fish cruised for aquatic beetles, and dragonfly larva swimming about in the surreal world of the tulles. Sometimes you would be tracking a fish far off the boat when out of the blue a large trout would just appear 30 feet off the boat - they have ghost like characters of nature. Some spooked when casted near, but many came to your bug if they saw it, often you would strip your fly aggressively until a head turned and saw it. Then adjusting to your normal swim strip of the dragonfly the fish would then suck it down. One nice toad Dad caught was so close that Tony and I spotted the fish grabbing the fly, then telling dad to set the damn hook. If this was a paid trip, I would have tipped the captain $200 - Tony's eyes and coaching was a thing of beauty.

With a simple olive mohair bugger, a marabou tail and no hackle (but very fat and heavy) in a size 10 we hooked 11 fish in a little under 3 hours. The rainbows averaged 3.4 pounds and 22". They have been on the small side since the lake has been low for the past 3 years. Once that lake fills a bit, we will have some very large trout in the 4, 5, 6 pound range again.

Dad was in his glory as Tony sighted the fish for him and then casted to the target, all Dad had to do was fool that rainbow into sucking down his bug and setting the hook. For myself it was such a special day, one I might not see for years - It was that good. By the time we got off the water around 1pm it was 62 degrees and very warm, shortly after then the wind picked up out of the west south/west and the sight game was gone. After a terrific lunch provided by Tony, we headed out for home with 10.5 pounds of flaming orange meat of the Eagle lake rainbow - Hands down the best tasting trout on the planet. Dad and I just could not stop smiling the whole way home, even the drive down Hwy. 395 was special with that warm autumn sun on the face and those fall colors glowing in the distance. After eating a fresh deboned fillet that had been cooked with a panco, olive oil, and a fresh made bacon bits coating, we hunkered down for bed with dreams of stalking trout again at Eagle Lake. The lakes natural beauty and the stunning rainbow trout will forever haunt me. I am speechless at the wonders I have seen…

Monday, July 20, 2009


With the dog days of Summer settling in, one of my favorite games in fly fishing is here - Presenting grass hopper patterns to big bank feeders. Fishing hoppers is much more than just casting to a bank and giving the fly a splat. I got my masters degree in fishing hoppers on the banks of the Madison river in Montana. It took me years to come up with a pattern that floated all day, kept a low profile, and made refusals a thing of the past. Typical hopper patterns were of no interest to these brutes, in fact after getting no looks from my fly, I would send a natural down the current lane and sure enough the fish gulped it down. I then tried a club sandwich hopper tied with foam and rubber legs. It did the job quite well but I wanted more. I took that fly and simplified it, no bells or whistles. The results were awesome, and one fine day I C&R 17 fish all over 20"! Presentation is key when going after big bank feeders. I like to present the hopper "fly first", feeding out line much like a Fall River drift. Walking softly, and keeping a low profile is a must - I'm talking hands and knees here. Ideal bank habitat for large trout include undercuts, depth, high grass, and willows. These elements give them security, and you the angler a greater chance of hooking up. Yep, now is the time for a hoppertunity, and a oh what a game!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tying The Skimmer Dragonfly Nymph

Fossils of dragonflies date back 300 million years, today there are 450 species in North America alone. Fly anglers are only concerned with two of these nymphs, the Darner (Family Aeschnidae) and the Skimmer (Family Libellulidae). This skimmer pattern is one I came up with for Eagle Lake (Lassen county, Northern California) while stalking the Eagle Lake strain rainbow amongst the tulle reeds. I like to tie up some that sink slowly, and some that drop like a rock. In the North part of Eagle Lake there is a white sandy bottom, and with gin clear water sight fishing is the name of game. I fish the heavily weighted dragonfly nymph here, and after I cast I let it sink to the bottom, and let it sit there. As a rainbow comes close to my fly I start stripping, leaving a puff of sand in it's wake - And those rainbows see that very well, darting over to the fly and eating it like it's the real thing!

The pattern is quick and easy to tie. I also only use four rubber legs instead of six, with one tie in point I can speed up the entire process. And lastly I use a brown sharpie felt pen to darken the back a bit and mottle the legs. Try a skimmer next time you find yourself fishing at Eagle Lake or any other place that holds dragonfly nymphs.

-Mustad 9672 streamer hook in sizes #8, and #10.
-Body; Jay Fair mohair in olive brown.
-Legs; large olive rubber legs.
-Eyes; tungsten, chain, or mono depending on your target depth.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Volunteering with SYRCL

I was Invited by the South Yuba River Citizen League to be involved with their Upper Watershed Assessment on the headwaters of the South Yuba River and assist with the aquatic macro invertebrate study in the Van Norden area. As an assistant to Christine who headed the bug study, I was more than ready to get my "bug" eyes on and get busy. This was a unique study as it also involved The Gateway Mountain Center, a place-based learning and adventure program for kids, and young adults. We worked with a private charter school out of Houston, Texas. These kids were the creme of the crop, only being honored into the program by their top grades. Though they came from the city, these attentive pupils had some great background on our Sierra Nevada, and it showed. We did cross transects of three different riffles, runs, and pools collecting specimens. The students got to learn how to collect, process, identify aquatic insects, and learn about their habitat and behavior. It was such a pleasure to share the world of trout food with these kids as they were so interested, and consumed every bit of info Christine and I could offer them! Besides learning about the bugs, they got to get involved with on site birds, native grasses, plants, and stream hydrology. There was an abundance of wild rainbow trout in the stream, schooled up in the deeper pools. The high light was during the introduction from Jen Hemmert of SRYCL, a pack of coyotes not far off were yipping and yapping, welcoming us to their home!

Fishing Report - Crooked Lakes, Placer Co.

I had never been to Crooked Lakes, and with an invite from Christine and promises of trout - I was there! We took off and made base camp at Long lake, from here we could do day hikes with light packs to dozens of lakes in the general area. It was so amazing how fast we reached a plateau of the alpine environment with little effort, more bang for your buck I might add. Many lakes held Brookies, Rainbow, and Brown trout. As usual with high alpine lakes they seem to know just how far an angler could cast, and hung out in the middle of the lake rising to insects. The fish wanted the fly on top with quick strips and lots of splashing to induce strikes, over sized hoppers and Airheads in orange got their attention! I got my fair share of hook ups, and with plenty of food on hand, I had a hard time keeping any fish as they were SO beautiful! Other than trout and gorgeous scenery, there were hundreds of wild flowers, many warblers sang their song without a glimpse of their presence, a spotted sandpiper bobbed its head and kept gaurd of our campsite, and mergansers cruised the lakes in search of juvenile trout. It was a great trip, one that will last in the memory banks for a long time.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fishing Report - Lake Davis

After four days of big wind on the lake, NOAA forcasted less wind for today so I hooked up the boat and headed out. I nestled the boat on the bank amongst the willows in Jon's cove, a place I like to call home. Surface temps are high at 69 degrees but I had a trout stalker's game with about a half dozen fish in ankle deep water. When the fish come into this shallow of water, it's all sight fishing. Long Horn Caddis, and a creamy green Midge were active. I fished a Damsel nymph and after casting 25 minutes to a lone rainbow I had a hook up! The reel sang to high heaven as the fish peeled line out, and after a quick battle I saw a 19 incher with the most beautiful olive back. As I began to bring him in for a quick release, he did me a favor and promptly spit the hook out. I fished for about another half hour and decided to get the camera out and shoot some images, slow down, and see the true wonders this lake has to offer. Ring billed gulls patrolled the shoreline for Damsel nymphs, a Bald Eagle circled overhead and gave me a look, and Clark's Grebes where diving in the weed beds being goofy. I then saw a flock of Whimbrels that I have never witnessed at Lake Davis before, not a positive ID though but you know how mother nature likes to break the rules. The wind once again came up big, and I skirted to the North end of the lake by Fairview Point. I then trolled Damsel nymphs using Jay Fairs trolling system (which is deadly) and picked up 10 rainbows in a hour and a half. I like to troll because it allows me to find out where trout are holding by use of Sonar and visual recording, plus it's fun to catch fish!

The Damsel fly hatch is waning and the nymphs are getting lighter in color. From now until Fall fishing with a sinking line on the first ledge in 12-18 feet water will produce fish. Mornings and evenings will be productive, but hatches and areas of active feeding fish will vary. These fish are substance feeders, and like grazing cattle they need to eat - you just need to find them and put the fly in front of them. To my surprise I found quite a few floating snails today, they have been missing for the last 4 years due to low lake levels that leaves them high and dry on the bank. Snails are THE food staple for these trout, and this Fall may be red hot if they are back.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tying The Common Backswimmer

I had never fished a Backswimmer pattern until July of 08 when I was frustrated with the Lake Davis rainbows refusing my damsel patterns. After searching the skinny water I observed the Common Backswimmer doing it's thing. I went home and tied up a simple version. My next visit to the lake was successful, and all those rainbows that kept me from getting a good night's sleep were mine. A few notes on tying this pattern; Backswimmers come in a few colors, at Lake Davis they range from olive, burnt yellow, tan, and dark brown. By adjusting the amount of foam that is put on, a fly can sink, or float. I like it right inbetween so the fly has a neutral buoyancy and sinks very slowly. I fish the Backswimmer with very short one inch strips while giving the fly some pauses.

The Backswimmer is a true bug coming from the family Notonectidae. They are master predators who ambush their prey my swimming underneath them and attacking. Backswimmers dive to the bottom when disturbed and rise at intervals to the surface for air. Occasionally they will fly to other suitable habitats to feed.

-#12 tiemco 2457 scud hook.
-Under body; Paxton's buggy nymph dubbing.
-Legs; Jay Fair rubber legs in fiery brown.
-Back; 2mm foam cut to a desired width.
-Air bubble behind eye of hook; small clear bead.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fishing Report - Jamison creek

I ventured into the canyon of Jamison creek today with my trout dog Madison and fished for wild rainbows 4"-12". Jamison creek is in Plumas Eureka State Park and provides cold water to the Middle Fork Feather river in the summer months. This is a gnarly hike, and the cuts and scratches on my legs are proof of that! I parked my truck at the bridge, and got a ride back to the start point of lake Madora and dropped in. Arriving on the creek I was welcomed by Scarlet Monkey flowers, Seep Spring Monkey flowers, Leopard Lillys, and Water Ouzels diving in the currents for nymphs! The grand solitude of this creek makes it one of my favorites.

Fishing was good, the flows are a tad high but still very fishable. Water temps were right around 58 degrees, and no hatches to be seen. Cased caddis larva littered the stream bottom but I chose to fish my brown and tan foam hopper, I like this fly because it floats all day long and is very durable. Today the trout were just sipping in the hopper in a very slow take. The find of the day was a goldenrod spider or commonly known as the flower spider. These spiders are from the crab spider family and will climb flowers in search of prey. The coolest thing about them is that they can change color to match the flower they are on and camouflage themselves.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Chilean Stag Beetle

While fishing in Southern Chile I was lucky enough to see the Chilean stag beetle hatch on the Rio Manihuales. These beetles are huge and the flies that imitate them are made of foam, rubber legs, and a green metallic shine. The trout go out of their way for this bug, more than a meal, it's like a floating deli drifting downstream. The most amazing thing I saw was trout coming off the bottom of the river and rising though 8 feet of water for my beetle! If you get the chance to fish Chile, by all means GO! It is the coolest place to fly fish in the entire world, Great food, friendly native people, and the scenery is gorgeous.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Golden Stone

While fishing today I sat down under a large overhanging boulder to tie on a new tippet and spotted this guy. The Golden Stone adult is the big bug in June and July in our sierra freestone rivers, and a sign of good water quality. During the evening these aquatic insects lay eggs on the water and become an easy meal of prime rib to a hungry, waiting trout. A tan or burnt gold Stimulator fly in a size #8 will get thier attention, but it is all in the "twitch" of the fly to get a take. Stout tippets to 3x are a good bet as the takes are fierce!!!

Fishing Report - NF Yuba River

I fished the upper water shed of the Yuba river this afternoon, and it's in great shape! Flows are perfect, and water temps were around 58 degrees. There were a couple different caddis flies out (#12-18), some PMD's, and a few hoppers. I fished a brown/yellow/gray version of my foam hopper on my 6ft. Lamiglas 4 wt. rod to 5x, and had blast! So much action I lost count. The trout are some of the most beautiful rainbows out there, and on a hot day like today wet wading was a joy soaking the legs in the cool bubbly water. With gin clear water you get to see your prey come off the bottom, zero in on your fly, and take a sip.

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