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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Hell Portal

The alarm sounded at 3:45 but I was already awake, when it comes to dreaming of fishing at Eagle Lake, sleep takes 2nd place to my memories on her waters.  Suited up in our fishing gear and coffeed up, we left for the lake from the Mancamp on the banks of the Hamilton Branch at O Dark-Thirty.  There was challenging conditions to drive through but we have done this same voyage hundreds of times, and we were prepared.

We arrived at our right turn to the Wildcat Point area, TC drove and I rode shotgun. The Chub King and
JoeBob were behind us in another truck. We chained up and headed in, and there was a good amount of snow, more than I have seen in several years. Chub King had laid down some tracks the day before and things were going well at first, then we could not stay on track due to a lost chain, This was not going to work!  After struggling down the snowy road for what seemed an eternity, we plowed into a turnout to let some other buddies go by to the buckets, they told us a truck had just flipped coming down the A1 summit! Chub King went forward to turn his truck around while JoeBob and I shoveled off a platform to turn the van around.

We had to take pause and check out this stunning sunrise, it lifted our spirits and gave us hope.

Turning around the power steering box pump failed, and our only chain snapped. Chub King came back and he towed us out but it was not easy as we got stuck several more times running with no chains. About halfway back JoeBob found the first missing chain, we put it back on the tire and the next big hill came up - and the last usable chain broke. With a little muscle we got back to the A1 road and headed for the Christie Fingers.  I'm so proud how the entire crew did not blow a fuse and solved the problems at hand.  It could have been really ugly!

At last we were on the water.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous with sunny skies, temps in the high 30's, and not a puff of wind.  The water temp was 37 degrees.  Upon reaching the fingers there were small pods of rainbows and strays rising here and there, but no mega pods.  Sparse midge flies floated on the water.  It was so warm out we were stripping layers, gloves, and the ice in our guides had thawed for good.

Effective flies were Jay Fair Wiggle Tails #12 in Black/Peacock, Floro Orange, and Leach Brown.  The trout were hanging on the first ledge and coming in periodically to feed in the shallows.  Long leaders and slow strips brought results if you were in the right spot.  The wind then came up at 5- 10mph but it was a workable wind.

It was slow today, we touched 12 fish, landing 8.  It took me all day just to get into my only fish.  This is the smallest fish we caught today but it is still a nice hard fighting Eagle Laker.

After getting fuel in Susanville, TC went to start the van and nothing but a small whirl.  He had been through this before as his cam sensor was going out, with a jiggle on the wires it started right up and we were bound for the  Man area at last, and with trout for the smoker I might add.

We were all smiles heading home and talking about today's fishing when we approached the west side of Fredonyer Summit and saw a closed road due to a severe accident.  After a 15 minute wait we were rolling, I hope the drivers and passengers of these "T-Boned" vehicles are all right.  Home at last we laughed at our misfortunes and triumphs during this bizarre day.  I'll be back up for the closure on the 30th and the 31st with my crew - It's payback time....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How Many Rods Does An Angler Need?

Apparently too many when I counted 35 fly rods, 9 trolling rods, 3 classic St. Croix telescoping spin rods (in a Ted Williams/Sears rod case), and all my papa Frank's striper and surf rods.  My most valued and favorite rod is the Walton Powell split bamboo 8' 7" medium action steelhead model pictured above.  It has never had a reel mounted or a line pulled through the guides!  I'm a bit of a collector but I realized out of all these rods I fish about 10 of them through out the year.  Some are custom and fit a certain niche in my quiver, and some have heavy sentimental value to them.. I have seven bamboo rods and I think I'm going to let a few go in these tough times.

Like this  9' Jack B. Schneider split bamboo which is in mint condition.  I do not like the action of most bamboo rods but they are a big part of fly fishing history and every fly angler should own one to hold onto the past.

A 9' Shakespeare "spring brook" split bamboo with an extra tip in mint condition

My quiver.  From Left to right;  7 bamboos, 7 assorted old fly rods both glass and bamboo that were used on a daily basis and papa Frank's rods, 5 glass rods including a Russ Peak steelhead model and a Walton Powell 9ft, the Ted Williams rod case with the St.Croix spinning rods, 3 pack rods, and 16 graphite rods including the late Press Powells last rod - The triple scrimmed 10ft 7wt custom.  I cataloged them today and now have to figure which ones I need to part with.  A fly angler really only needs one rod, and that's the one they have in their hand casting into the great blue yonder in search of prey.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fishing Report - Frenchmans Res.

My friend Mike had an encouraging report from Frenchmans last week, and a trip up there seemed to be a good cure for the shack nasties.  I fished during the warmest part of the day from 12pm to 2:30, warm meaning 32 degrees.  I went to Big Cove and the road was passable, but there was 5 inches of new snow.  I had first tracks on the way in.  Sticky clouds hung on the mountain tops glowing as the sun penetrated their realm.  Water temps in the shallows were a balmy 41 degrees.  I used the same rig I had on a month earlier and that is the Jay Fair trolling fly with a fast strip, the trout liked the rust color version today.  Around 1pm I started to see rising fish right in front of me, the lake was so calm you could see pressure wakes from them as they moved around foraging on tiny midge.  They were really spooky today, I would be casting and I could see them darting to the left and right as my line swept across the water.  I hooked 7 nice trout but I just could not get them to my hand - They all spit the hook.  I had planned on taking some home for the smoker, but I swear they feel my hunter intentions and do everything possible to get of my line!  It was such a beautiful day and so quiet that is was spooky.  Who knows when Frenchmans will lock up with ice for good, it's been a wet and wacky weather pattern for sure.  As I left for the car a Bald Eagle circled above me.  "See you next year my friend" I said, and with that he glided north through the frigid air looking for his next meal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Raining Browns And Rainbows

Wow! We are getting hammered with rain!  So far today we have received almost an inch of rain bringing our total precipitation since Oct. 1st to 9.5 inches.  Our annual amount here is 20", and we are already half way there.  If this keeps up all season the fish gods will have spoken, and the fishing will be off the Richter scale!   I have battened down the hatches, opened the gate on the lower pond, and praying my basement does not flood.  Stay dry and warm my friends.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Trip Of A Lifetime

In 2003 I got the chance to let the wind blow me down to Patagonia Chile, the fishing, the food, the friendly native people, and the awe inspiring land moved me forever. If you ever have the chance to go - Just do it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Memories Of Fly Fishing Lake Davis, 2010

Lake Davis - Game Over!

Thanks for a great season, and a killer fall sweetie.  You can be a moody girl at times, but I'll always love you!  See ya next spring when the alpine buttercups are in bloom.....

Planet Snow

November 17th marked my last day casting and stalking stillwater trout in Eastern Plumas Co.  For the past 9 days I have been shoveling, blowing, and plowing trout water - all 54" of it!  My own personal glacier is surrounding my house and it's going to be here for a long time.  The temps have been way below normal for this time of year as well, in fact it feels like January.  The north and middle basins of Eagle Lake are already frozen over, only the south basin remains ice free and the only game to play is off the bank, or in a personal water craft.  I've been in a real funk for the last week as well, depressed, lonely as hell, and I'm questioning myself if I can do another winter here - I've been living in a winter wonderland for most of my life.

At least I picked up a few snow removal jobs on my street to keep me busy and in shape, and snowboarding the local hills getting some pow pow.  I hope to get up to Eagle Lake after this next weather system blows through, if you are planning on going up there please check out Val Aubrey's site  http://eaglelakefishing.info/index.html - Nobody has better information for the pond than Val, she really takes it to the next level!  Well, today I get to remove an ice dam on my roof, oh the joys of living in the Sierras!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fishing Report - Frenchmans Reservoir

The drive up to Frenchmans out of the town of Chilcoot is stunning this time of year, a little fall color left, and when you get to the canyon, the spectacle of the rock formations will stop you in your tracks.  I had to do a photo shoot for an upcoming presentation with the San Jose Flycasters (March 9th, 2011) and thought what the heck I'll wet a line.  I went to my go to spot, Snallygaster on the north west shore and the first thing I saw was some very low water levels, the lowest I have ever seen it.  Water temps were 46.3 degrees and the lake was glass.  I fished for a half hour from the bank and not a single bump.  "The fish are not here" I said and drove up and around to Crystal Point.  When I got down to the water I immediately saw a fish tailing in ankle deep water, and with one cast I had a hook up.  For the next two hours I had fish rising right in front of me, there was no reason to move.  I fished a Jay Fair trolling fly in brown on a #6 3xl hook, yep....BIG & UGLY!  The fish liked a fast retrieve with plenty of pauses.  I would cast to a tailing trout and you would think it would spook, but it boiled the fly!  The takes were fierce and aggressive and I was glad I had 3x tippet on.  I hooked and landed 17 fish 17-22", many fish were 3 pounders, and 1 gorgeous fish at 4 pounds.  These fish are way bigger and much more beautiful than the fish at Lake Davis right now.  I felt bad for the general fishing public as every hook up I had my blue heeler Madison would just go ballistic with the barking, then he would hear his echo thinking it was another dog and keep barking - He really is a nutcase, But I love him.  I don't fish Frenchmans that much as Lake Davis is only 12 miles from the house, but with the quality of the fish I saw today I will be back - If mother nature allows me to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Day We Could Do No Wrong

My fishing buddy Pete and I went up to Lake Davis today, he wanted to see my route I had found to get to one of our favorite coves in the north end of the lake.  It's a beautiful walk crossing old growth forest and wide open meadows.  We saw some new visitors today hiding in a quite cove - Snow Geese!  After a 20 minute walk we were on the bank and right on time at 11am when the fish start to rise to the little green midge.  We caught a few fish and then the wind came out of the north, the kind of wind that blows your cast right into you and your gun shy on every cast as you just might hook yourself.  NOAA forcasted a west wind and we knew it was coming, but for the time being we walked over to Freeman to put the wind at our backs, but it was dead.  We opted to walk around our special cove and put the wind at out backs fishing the north shore.  I saw one riser in a soft window and we started fishing.  First cast we both hooked a fish, then another.  Every cast was a bump or a hook up - We had a huge active feeding pod in front of us!  For the next 2 hours we had the best action I have seen all year.  Pete hooked 45, landing 37 and I hooked 40, landing 34.  We yelled, we laughed, and had 6 double hook ups!  We each brought home 5 fish for the smoker ranging from 15-18", all clean with nice olive backs to them.  Stomach contents revealed crawdads and midge.  I'll remember this day for a long time, it was the day we could do no wrong.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fishing Report - Lake Davis; The End Is Near.....

Though it was very cold this morning, the sun was out and the lake was calling my name.  With ice and snow here and there I have put my boat away for winter.  Now I'll just be the shore fishing warrior till the lake locks up solid.  I got to my bucket a few clicks south of Mosquito Slough and sat and watched the water, a riser appeared, then two, and then multiple fish began working in front of me - I had an active feeding pod at my feet.  In the next 40 minutes I had landed 8 fish, all risers who I stalked and casted to.  2 of those fish ran 18 & 19 inches with nice olive backs and girth.  The rest were the cookie cutter 16"ers that have been podding up.  Water temps were at 44 degrees, and the inflow of Grizzly Creek ran at 40 degrees.  Sheep Creek Specials was the fly to have on the end of your leader - Love this fly!  I then walked the Grizzly creek side and spotted a few skinny water feeders, hooked 4 and landed one.  Ice is starting to form in certain areas and there is some snow on the ground where the sun does not shine.  Very light fishing pressure today as well.  There is still game at the lake, but it is going quick with the onslaught of winter fast approaching.  It's quite depressing to think it will be 6 months until things get going again here.  This year has been great for me at the lake, and I have fallen in love with her all over again.  What a sweetheart she is......

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fishing Report - Lake Davis

Water temps at 10am were 46 degrees rising to 50 by 2pm in the skinny water off the bank.  Fish were rising in 6"- 3 feet of water rising to Blood Midge, and a very small black aquatic beetle.  The weather was absolutely fabulous with air temps near 70 degrees, sunny skies, with a gentle east wind to 5mph.  Effective flies were Sheep Creek Specials, and Jay Fair Wiggle Tails in Med. Olive Shimmer - #10 scud hook.  Freeman creek and the north lake have the best concentrations of shallow feeding rainbows.  Look for rising fish, cast, and stalk.  Fish were very spooky today,  so stealth tactics need to be applied from the bank.  Hooked 12 and landed 7 today, 14-18".  I had the pleasure of fishing with my good friend Pete N. from Graeagle, he was all smiles chasing trout in the skinny water - What a game (kinda like last night's clincher for the SF Giants, Yeah...Epic!).  The next 4 days will be carbon copies of today, and I'll be out there in the thick of it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Essentials Of Fishing Off The Bank In Late Fall

Late fall brings changing conditions to stillwaters, trout come into very shallow water, the sun is lower in the sky offering the best sight fishing, and cold weather hugs the land.  For me, fishing off the bank is simply the best.  No float tube, no boat, no BS!  If you plan on playing this game one must bring the essentials to survive the cold weather.  Survive?  Think of Eagle Lake in December, bitter cold!  Besides the normal gear that us fly anglers wear, I like to bring much more.  First a comfortable day pack.  In that pack I bring a stove, I like the Snowpeak Titanium model with the electric start and the matching titanium cookware.  It's light and easy to use.  I prefer the cartridge fuel canisters rather than liquid fuel.  I had a MSR liquid fueled stove blow up once and luckily nothing serious happened - It did scare me though!  Next, hot coco, and a Mountain House meal to seal the deal and make my day an enjoyable one.  Yesterday for example, I was fishing Lake Davis and it was a cold morning at 23 degrees.  I hunkered down in a patch of willows blocking the wind and let the sun cloak me like a favorite blanket, and fired up the stove.  In ten minutes I had a hot meal laying in front of me, and energy to prowl the banks for hours while sight fishing to hungry trout.  Other items in my pack include water, extra layers, gloves (one pair that gets wet while fishing, and one pair that remain dry), treats for the trout dog, hand and foot warmers, a trash bag in case I want take some trout to smoke, and a lighter to start a fire.  At Eagle Lake my buddies and I often start a small fire on the bank to warm up - It's HUGE for the soul!  We also at times take a freshly caught fish, and cook it right then and there.  To eat a steaming cooked trout with just your hands when it's freezing out, is quite the experience - You feel so connected to the land!  Roaming the shore and fishing off the bank is not for everyone, but with a little planning it can be the best.  Sometimes simple is better.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lake Davis Update

After getting out butts kicked by Mother Nature and receiving 3 inches of rain, I woke up and saw a partly cloudy sky and some sun.  Madison needed some exercise so I headed to the lake to do some of that and fish off the bank.  I got to Fairview point at 10am and the surface water temps were 48 degrees.  Trout were rising in skinny and deeper water.  I fished off the point and had a grab when the wind showed up in my face and the trout quit rising.  Not stoked, I parked near Mosquito Slough and hiked up and around Grizzly creek so I could fish the channel on the far bank and get away from the wind.  I fished for about an hour and landed 4 fish with a Sheep Creek Special.  3 of those fish showed themselves and I sight fished to them.  The lake was empty and I saw one boat doing well over the Grizzly channel.  The roads were filled with inches of pine needles and the shore was filled with standing water and puddles - The ground is saturated with moisture!  It was just a pleasure today to get out and get some exercise, and cast the rod.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tying The Sheep Creek Special

The Sheep Creek Special is an old school stillwater fly created by George Biggs of Jerome, Idaho.  George developed this fly in the sixties for Sheep Creek Reservoir on the Nevada - Idaho border.  This man was way ahead of his time as he learned and mastered the secrets of fishing stillwater with a fly rod and flies.  This pattern can duplicate a snail, and many other aquatic bugs that are found in lakes through out the west.  I'll be honest here, I never fished this fly until this year - I am impressed to say the least.  Frenchman's Reservoir is a high dessert lake located in Eastern Plumas Co., I have a friend, FTR who fishes it better than anyone I know.  His secret, float tubing with an Int. line and the Sheep Creek Special.  The man is a human vacuum cleaner.  I have been doing well with this fly when the trout at Lake Davis are being fussy, with such a simple fly I'm still scratching my head in wonder - What makes this fly so special?

This is a simple fly to tie, a hackle spun on the rear, a body, and a wing on top.  I like to tie mine on a Tiemco 2457 #10, it looks more buggy than using the standard long shank hook and in my opinion has better hooking power.  This fly has stood the test of time, and you don't argue with such great results.  Nope, you just tie one on the end of your leader and have the confidence that George had.


-Tiemco 2457 scud hook #10.
-Black 0/6 thread.
-Brown dry fly hackle, over sized.
-Chenille body in olive or brown.  Jay Fair short shuck works very well also.
-Wood duck feather for the wing, I have been doing well with lemon wood duck.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prime Time

The most amazing time of the year is upon us, fall......And every hardcore trout angler is out there in the thick of it as lakes and rivers are fishing extremely well.  Not just prime time, this is special time.  Leaves glow, Oct Caddis are flying, heads are slurping up BWO's, and warm thoughts of the upcoming holidays roam the mind.  So many waters are so good right now that an angler from Northern California has to choose what lakes and rivers to attack - There is no way you can fish them all and play their games...Impossible!  It's best to choose the ones you like best and fish them every year, learning more every season, and getting comfortable with the rhythms of the land.  If you thought summer was short, the fall colors will disappear in no time as winter's icy grip comes upon us and the delicate hatches wane in the Autumn sun.  Get some........

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fishing The Soft Window And The Blood Midge Dry

Today at Lake Davis I experienced a phenomena that does not happen all the time, sighting trout in 6"-3 feet of water eating Blood Midge emergers.  It's not a game of numbers but rather stalking your prey and seeing the take right in front of your eyes.  When the fish are in this skinny of water they are right off the bank ranging from 3-20 feet out.  Sometimes so close, that you have to be on your hands and knees just to make a successful cast and not spooking them by your profile.  Today was not just another day, today was magic! 

The wind came up slightly out of the east and the fish adjusted to the soft window off the bank.  What is the "soft window" you may ask?  Whatever direction the wind blows at Lake Davis you can always find a group of willows on a high bank that shields the water in front of them.  This creates flat water for x number of feet.  The trout will eagerly come into to this water as they can see emerging bugs more clearly.  Most often they will sit on the fringe of rippled water and the soft window, a good place to targets casts when risers are not present.  The image above is a prime example of the wind blowing left to right, the soft water, and the fringe.  But today I had plenty of targets, and the fish did not stray far when rising, they had their beats and cruised them freely.  The wind, now more powerful, switched to the south east and I had to find another productive bank to find fish.  Sure enough I found a pod, far from the crowds of the north lake.  I hooked 6 on the dry, landing 4, 16-18", clean and colorful, and full of fight.   This is a must experience for any stillwater fly angler, It's more than just trolling around in a float tube and a sinking line, or fishing an indicator.  This game is hunting, and the trout know your there every time because they sense you, and it's not easy.  A Lake Davis rainbow caught on a dry is a highly prized fly angling feat, in fact...... It's magic.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lake Davis News Flash!!!

Great news anglers!  The fish are in the skinny water right off the bank!  Today I fished for a few hours in the north end of the lake and hooked 23 fish and landed 15 in 2-3 feet of water.  The fish were on the small side ranging from 14-17" but they are putting on some girth.  I used a floating line with a Blood Midge pupa.  Today reminded me of the good old days when use I to fish off the bank exclusively.  Everyday is different on a lake and the successful angler is one who is flexible in their methods for catching trout - You just never know.......

Monday, October 4, 2010

From Italy With Love

There is no question that I'm proud of my Italian heritage and the mother land.  My grandfather "Papa Frank" relocated from Lucca Italy to San Francisco in 1927 just for the hunting and fishing that Northern California had to offer.  He taught my Dad how to fish, my Dad taught me,  and now I teach others the way of thy rod and reel.  So when my friend Kristen asked me If I would like to teach Gabriella, a native Italian who is from a few clicks south of Lucca to fly fish - I was all over it.  Gabriella's love for fly fishing far exceeds more than anybody I have known!  This was her very first time, so I took her to the North Fork Yuba where wild and willing trout come to a dry fly every time.  We had a blast, caught native rainbow trout, and had the pleasure of studying aquatic bugs thanks to biologist, educator, and scientific illustrator Christine Elder (http://christineelder.com/).  It's safe to say we have another fly fisher in the making, and this one is from Italy with love!  Ciao!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sometimes It's Not About The Catching...

I relish quiet mornings like these at Lake Davis, it's cold, the air has a sweet smell to it, and you get to see one of the greatest shows on earth - Watching a lake come to life and welcoming a new day.  The fog rises off the lake dancing and swirling as it evaporates into thin air.  The angler above knows these joys, he may have caught a rainbow or two, but right now he takes it all in and sips off his mug of hot coffee, and soaks in the suns beaming rays of warmth.  The next time you are out on your favorite water and are not doing so well in the catching department, take a minute, breathe in the fresh autumn air, and think what it would be like to not be able to have these simple pleasures in life.  Smile and know that mother earth will always be at your side, like any good mother would do for her children.  Respect.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fishing Report - Lake Davis

I took my Dad and my trout dog Madison up to Lake Davis for some fun with our finned friends.  When we got on the water there was already some chop and a breeze out of the north west, and it was a cold wind.  Fog hovered over the water and was lifting into some magical plumes.  Water temps are 57-60 degrees.  The blood midge hatch that was so profuse last week was almost non existent today.  I think that north wind put them down, a few were seen at around 9:00am emerging.  The lake was quiet and not many anglers on the water.  I'll admit, it was slow today, maybe the full moon had something to do with it.  We C&R 13 fish in 4 hours trolling flies at a depth of 6 feet, and the rainbows measured 16-20 inches.  The north end of the lake proved to have more schools of active feeding fish.  The coolest thing we saw today was the huge flocks of Sand Hill cranes making their migration south to the central valley of California.  You can hear them before you can see them, and they are so high up they only appear as specks against the cobalt blue sky.  Waterfowl of all types are showing up at the lake as of late, and the Coot are really tearing up the weeds in certain bays.  I'll be back up at the lake in the morning and If I hook into a hog I will surely post a picture of it.  Fall is here - Let the games begin!

On a side note I have been featured in the fishing report for our local newspaper by Feather Publishing, The fishing report has been taken over by Michael Condon who is a long time fly fisherman from Plumas County, he is doing a great job and anglers are stoked on his accurate reports!  You can view it here;

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fishing Report - Lake Davis - GAME ON!!!

I have not been on the lake since the end of July and with these brisk cold mornings I knew it was any day now that the lake would turn on.  I got on the water at 7:30am and headed to the bays north of Jenkins Point.  My good friend Pete was already fishing and as I anchored he was into a fish.  It was a beautiful morning, flat calm and many fish rising to emerging blood midge.  Water temps were at 59 degrees and rose to 62 when I got off the water at noon.  Int. lines to 4x was the ticket and blood midge pupa, PT's, and Wiggle Tails in brown all produced fish in 8-13 feet of water.  I did not fish that much but rather went all over the lake and tried different areas and scoped out the scene - The bite is definitely on as I hooked 5 fish with minimal effort.  The trout are clean of parasites and just have scars from them.  Rainbows were 16-22" and fought very well.  The lake has turned over as well, meaning the cold water is on top and the warm water is deeper.  There was light fishing pressure on the west side of the lake but many trollers lurked in the deeper water down by the island.  I trolled flies for 25 minutes at a depth of 4-6 feet down using Jay Fair trolling flies in brown and hooked 5 fish - Proof again that the fall gorge has started.  I would rate the lake as good, and a hunch that this fall could be stellar.  Please check back on a weekly basis as I will do my best to inform you all of the changing conditions on the lake.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Funeral

I was going through some old photos this afternoon and came across this gem.  This is the day before the 1st treatment of Lake Davis to eradicate the Northern Pike problem, and one of the nicest rainbows I have taken from the lake.  This bad boy went 24.5 inches and 5.5 pounds.  My close friends and I had a funeral that day, we placed a headstone marker complete with two pike hanging off it in the Mosquito Slough area.  We prayed, and kissed the lake good bye before heading home with limits of fish - We thought it was best if these fish saw the smoker instead of the rotenone.  The rainbow took a pistol pete, which is a wooly bugger with a gold prop on the front.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Middle Fork Feather River Fishing Report

The Middle Fork Feather river is shifting into the great fall fishing it is known for.  Water temps are 55 degrees in the morning and rising to 64 degrees by evening.  There is a huge Blue Wing Olive spinner fall from 9 - 11am.  Spent patterns in a size 16 casted to rising fish will get results.  For mid day fishing, a hopper with a bead head flashback pheasant tail dropper is the ticket.  Wild rainbows 6-14" will take either fly.  The evening fishing is the best from 6pm till dark.  Pale Evening Duns in a size 14 is the fly to have on the end of your tippet.  There are also some fresh BWO duns, and Yellow Sallie stoneflies thrown in the mix as well.  Make sure you fish the last hour of light - It is the magic hour and many fish are coming to the surface, especially the tail outs of large pools.

I had the pleasure of sharing the river with Diane and Sig of the Bay Area last Wednesday and Thursday. The girls had a great time learning new tactics, and exploring the secluded runs and riffles the Middle Fork has to offer.  They also had good things to say about their stay at the 20 Mile House Bed and Breakfast http://thetwentymilehouse.com/ - Check it out!  The Isonychia mayfly has yet to appear but it should be any day now, A hatch I really look forward to.  Now is a great time to get out on the MFFR and experience some dry fly heaven!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fly Tying Article In Sierra Fisherman Magazine

I'm proud to announce that I've been published in Sierra Fisherman magazine featuring my quick and easy Isonychia mayfly nymph, and a great piece of info regarding "reading the water" in the "Pro Tips" column.  I received a hard copy in the mail and what a great magazine!  Excellent photos, interviews, and a great article on stillwaters by Bill Forward.  I'm so impressed with the magazine I have a hard time putting it down!  You can view the fall issue here at Sierra Fisherman http://www.sierrafisherman.com/ or you can buy a subscription for $19.95 and get 4 issues a year and all those great pictures we love to drool over.  I would personally like to thank publisher Bob Leonard, and the editor at large - Frank Pisciotta (http://www.cyberfly.com/) for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this fine magazine.  Of all the fly fishing magazines out there, this one should be checked out!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bug Of The Month - Hoppers!

Grasshoppers (Order Orthoptera) include over 1,000 species in North America and over 23,000 species worldwide. Here in the northern Sierras we have a good variety of short horned grasshoppers (Family Acrididae) that include the Pallid-winged hopper above. This is the most common hopper next to a freestone creek or river, they love to soak in the warmth of a granite rock. They are so well camouflaged against these gray polished boulders that many predators overlook them, then at the first chance they have to escape, they hop on out of there with their powerfully muscled hind legs. Windy days prove to be an advantage when hopper fishing, naturals fall victim to the gusty winds that hammer the stream side foliage and fall into the water. For a trout there is nothing like a hopper to eat, It's about as close a trout gets to a BBQ porterhouse steak that you and I enjoy.

The Madison River in Montana gave me a PHD in hopper skills and tying the right pattern, We use to chum up some very large fish with captured naturals to study the takes. The really big fish did not even break the water's surface, they just sucked it down in a little whirlpool. It took me three years of trying different hopper patterns and getting refusals from trout before I came up with my own foam hopper, "The Simple Sandwich". The results that summer on the Madison was one of dreams, one day consisted of 19 fish over 20"! For a day like that you need to cover many miles of productive holding areas next to the bank, carefully plan your attack, and have the right fly. I now tie this pattern from a size 14 - 8 in many different colors and combos, for myself I like the tan/brown/tan sandwich with brown legs, and cahill colored 6/0 Uni thread. This pattern sits flush in the surface film, is very buoyant, and bombproof.

Now is the season to fish Hoppers and other terrestrials that sit waiting for action in your fly box. Go Now!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Creekin Report - Gray Eagle Creek

After a short steep climb out of the town of Graeagle the truck and I came to our parking spot before entering the canyon section of Gray Eagle Creek. I opened the door and this roar came spilling in, it was not the creek, but the wind was going ballistic. NOAA was right on the money today issuing a Red Flag Warning for most of northern California and western Nevada - Breezy with a S/W wind 20-25mph, gust up to 40mph. Cedars and firs swayed in the wind, dropping an arsenal of branches, cones, and needles. I was wise to keep a keen ear and my senses on high alert from falling debris above. I put the hiking soles on my Korkers, loaded up the pack, grabbed the rod, and disappeared into the thick foliage on my mission for wild trout.
Your typical Gray Eagle Creek rainbow - Love those orange fins! The creek is beyond low, just a trickle. The high demands for water in the town of Graeagle, and golf courses take water away from the creek, but the fish are just now more concentrated in the deeper pools. Water temps were at 58 degrees and clear, these trout at least have that, shade, and a decent aquatic bug population. It also appears that this spring was a big water flow and the streambed got a good flushing, many new trees have come down across the creek providing even more habitat.
My "simple sandwich" hopper pattern fooled dozens of fish. Inspired by Jay Fair's simple sandwich - Two slices of white bread, mayo and two slices of American cheese: Simple yet effective. The fish really liked green today even though I never found a green hopper. Puppeteering the fly and twitching it was very important today as well as key placements.
The larger trout were found in the deeper frog water areas below plunge pools with no current, most were tight to a big rock wall in the shade. They took the hopper with such confidence, coming up ever so slowly before sucking it down.
There are Brown trout in Gray Eagle Creek as well, in the next few months browns will be making their way upstream to spawn. These browns turn colors into one strange looking fish, by Halloween it appears they are ready to go to the costume ball. Their backs turn black, body appears more golden, and purple hues come off their cheeks down to the mid body - It's a work of art!
It was great to get out today, deep in a rugged forest canyon dotted with mammoth granite boulders who separate the flows of the creek. There were no caddis fluttering about today, not even a cranefly. Though I was blessed to share the river for twenty minutes with a water ouzel as he hunted for mayfly nymphs. We both fished, sang our songs, and smiled. Simple pleasures abound......

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hydration Solutions

No matter if your fishing a freestone river or a big stillwater, stalking trout can be tough on the body and the mind. Just being in the elements; rain, big wind, blistering sun, to snow all effect the human body's water reserves. Keeping hydrated is mandatory to keep your senses sharp, mind alert, and your muscles from cramping up. I tried a camel back at first, and while it was nice on long hikes, it was just another thing to put around my shoulders while working a freestone river. I now carry a filter bottle in my back pocket. Light and easy to use, just dunk it in any creek, river, or lake and the filter removes 99.9% of the bad stuff. The cool thing about is you can carry it empty and not have to lug around the weight - As long as your near a water source. The filter is good for 200 uses and can be replaced. I also like to have a few packs of Cliff Bar's Shot Bloks on me. These are gummy bear like electrolyte chews that keep you going when your ready to hit the wall. Get the most out of your fishing experience - stay hydrated and stay strong!

Monday, August 16, 2010

North Fork Yuba Report

The phone rang on Friday evening, I answered and it was my good friend George from Loomis. "Hey Jon... Adam, Brian, and I are camping and quading in your area, would you like to fish with us on Saturday evening?". "For Sure!" was my my quick come back. Now both boys can get bored with slow fishing, they are not like thier dad who has done countless trips to Montana and beyond in search of trout. There was one river I knew darn well these boys would not get bored, The North Fork of the Yuba. So we fished a stretch near Sierra City, and the weather was perfect except for a downstream wind.

Things started off slow and I was surprised, I just told myself the fish are taking a break and getting ready for the profuse caddis hatches that were to follow. Sure enough after an hour had passed things heated up with the dry fly. I coached both boys on the proper drifts, and dried their flies for them as we marched up the polished granite staircases looking for productive plunge pools and runs. Then things got crazy, almost every cast was a rise to a fly! George was so stoked to see his kids hammer fish left and right, if your a dad then you know what I mean. They missed at least 60 fish combined and landed a dozen and a half each. Every time I hold a NFYR rainbow I'm in awe, like a movie star going gaga over a ring of jewels - They shimmer and shine, and are so full of life! Though I did not take any temp readings, the water is still so cold for this time of year and good reason why these rainbows thrive here.

Smiles were seen from ear to ear with the whole crew, Adam and Brian were hooked! George just may have himself some new fishing buddies, and a chance to able to pass down the art and science of fly fishing to. It's trips like these that are the most rewarding to me. To see two boys enjoying themselves so much with such a simple game - And the rest....is only a dream.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

These Eyes............

I took a hike to Deer Lake in the Lakes Basin Area and took this most amazing shot of a Dragonfly. These are the eyes of a predator, and how they glow! While the fishing was sub par the bug life was off the charts. Upper Tamarack Lake had a damsel hatch in full swing, it is a tiny lake but the hatch is far bigger than Lake Davis had this year - Who would have guessed! Now is the time to get out and explore the upper elevations before the snow flies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Adventures On The North Yuba

For the last few weeks of my life I have been deep in the North Yuba watershed exploring new areas to camp and fish. Haypress Creek (above) is a little gem and it flows through the Wild Plum Campground, which is a very nice campground - But make a reservation during peak times. We witnessed the biggest Golden Stone hatch I've ever seen! At a glance down the creek there was anywhere from 1 to 2 dozen adults flying at any given time! We started seeing fliers around 7:30pm and things just went crazy, and the fish responded by leaping high out of the water after them.

Butterflies of all types are flying through right now like these Pale Swallow Tails, which can be found by the dozens next to the water on a wet gravel bar keeping hydrated.

I love finding pocket water like this piece above while working my way upstream. This one has depth, several inflows, and plenty of cover for the native rainbows here.

Getting as close as I can without being detected by trout is a real challenge and a great game. High sticking dry flies all day long and keeping cool in that gin clear water is beyond fun - It's the best. As you can see I choose camo clothing, keep low, and no flashy items on the vest. Take your watch off as well.

I stuck with a few patterns and had great fishing, these trout are very eager and will hit just about anything. For me I choose the hopper in a variety of colors and sizes. You can't argue with a fly that does not need floatant and rides high, fish after fish. The hot fly was Gary LaFontaines Airhead in red and yellow, size#14.

The North Yuba is a fascinating river with a surprise around every corner. I really love this place, it reminds me of learning to fly fish on the West Branch Feather and the North Fork Feather when I was a boy. It's a rough and tumble kind of a river with a fast pace, and the roar of the white water echos off the canyon walls. Where Robins stuff their bellies full of Stoneflies, and take retreat on a low branch of a pine next to the river. They eat their meal, gaze about, and take in the sights and sounds of this most impressive watershed.

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