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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!

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