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Monday, October 28, 2013

Gypsy Tour 2013 - Week 4

Four weeks on the road sharing the knowledge of our classic still waters and it never gets old. Once I show my guests the skinny water game of cat and mouse with a large rainbow, they're literately hooked for life. A stalked trout off the bank is worth 10 on the bobber. There is no comparison. Some days are better than others and when the planets align themselves and perfect conditions exist it's like magic.

Mark from San Jose with a nice rainbow from Lake Davis - Look at those shoulders!

Lake Davis has been the main venue, and we finally got some of those warm windless days that dreams are made of. With calm days the trout are very spooky and using longer leaders with perfect presentations is a must. Slapping the water in front of you repeatedly is not good, a few false casts and let it fly to your destination. Water temps are now running 44 in the morning warming to 53 in the afternoon. Mornings are a bit slow but once the shallow water warms to 50 degrees, it's game on. Pressure has been heavy and you can blame that on me and this blog. It's hard for me not to share, being selfish and greedy is not what I'm all about. Helping the local economy and seeing other anglers enjoy themselves in beautiful surroundings is. 

Dave from Walnut Creek with a slab.

As for flies the most effective pattern in the last week has been a Jay Fair dark fiery cinnamon wiggle tail with a rust tail, #12. I've been hammering certain coves and let me tell you those trout are really getting tired of me and my guests. Refusals? Even during the silly season? You bet! My good friend Gene showed me a fly that I have duplicated and it gets the grab from those picky rainbows. The key is tying your wiggle tail more sparse and using some Spirit River UV2 dubbing. Also adding a little lead above the hook point will allow the fly to drop ass down so that tail comes straight up on the pause. Use a fixed loop knot when tying on your fly for even more action.

Bob from Oakland getting revenge at Lake Davis after a disappointing trip at Eagle Lake.

The fishing at Lake Davis has slowed down in the last week, my first two guesses are heavy pressure and the full moon having a drastic effect. But conditions are changing; Snow. A front finally came in and with it some big wind. Gusts so strong it ripped my business magnets off the sides of my truck while driving though the Sierra Valley yesterday while I was dodging tree limbs, tumble weeds, and heavy debris. I think with a little snow on the banks those trout just might get the clue that more is on the way and will feed even more aggressively in the weeks to come. We'll see...

During my Gypsy tour I spent 5 days guiding at Eagle Lake, a lake I know very well and have spent countless days roaming the banks for the now elusive Eagle Lake Rainbow. In all my years I have never seen the pond fish so poorly. 

The current low water levels have completely changed the behavior of the trout, Tui Chub minnows, and has decimated the habitat of the freshwater shrimp. Add to that a full moon, calm conditions, and what I believe are very low populations of trout, and you have some rough conditions. It was so bad that I took my guests from two separate bookings to Lake Davis the next day so they could remember what it was like to feel the grab from a hungry rainbow. It's so sad...and many of my colleagues have agreed we may never see Eagle Lake recover the water levels of days gone by in our life time. Help is on the way though and some actions by state and federal agencies have started to go in motion, not to mention the Eagle Lake Guardians. Time will tell, but will it be too late?

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of working once again with Ken Hanley of Pacific Extremes on a still water project I've been looking so forward to. We both wanted to capture the essence of stalking trout on the flats at Lake Davis. We got lucky! Beautiful windless weather allowed us to capture stunning fall color mirrored in the fertile waters. The short video is still being edited but once it is done you can see it here or on Ken's website. I hope everyone of you has an opportunity to cross paths with Ken in the future, his enthusiasm and love for fly fishing is so inspiring! What a good dude!

The fall colors peaked as well this week and the drive up Lake Davis road from Portola was mind blowing. When the sun is just right the aspens, cottonwoods, and willows glow like coals from a well stoked fire. Here is a little eye candy for you;

Another two weeks on the road with trips awaits me. I want to thank all my guests and friends who have helped me along the way on this great journey, I'm so lucky to have you in my camp and appreciate your kindness from the bottom of my heart. After the fall still water season is done I'm eagerly looking forward to spending some quality time in my home office in Nevada City writing new articles, tying flies, and unleashing some new projects for 2014. 

Life is grand.....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Magic Continues at Lake Davis

When I walk the rich shoreline of Lake Davis in fall I’m a bit over whelmed at the heart stopping sights and sounds that wrap around my body and over take my soul. It’s one of the finest pleasures I have ever experienced since being on this big blue marble. Diving ducks chirping away, glassy water, and rise forms in the distance. You think to yourself at times and ask “Did time stop?" “Is this for real?" When I’m in the thick of it I have to pinch myself and focus at the task at hand. Sometimes it doesn't happen. I’m known at times to be quite content sitting on a grassy bank and studying a promising shallow water flat of weed beds and active feeding rainbows and their behavior. An awakening. 

The last week brought a small cold front through the area and the next two days after fishing was a little off for many but not all anglers. Even with a North wind on the 15th I was able to get my guests into a small wind break that offered a soft window of water and rising trout. Sight fishing and casting to targets in shallow water is the most exciting thing you can do with a fly rod, it’s a must experience and a complex craft that should be learned by all still water fly anglers. 

I was finally able to share my still water passion with the “Da Dean” of guides, Frank R. Pisciotta of the legendary Thy Rod & Staff guide service in Truckee, Ca. on the 17th with his buddy Steve from Carson City, Nv. It was a windless and warm day once the chilly 28 degree morning passed with at times just a ripple of a breeze on certain sections of your established cove. It was perfect. Targets and large rainbows were very close at times, up to 10 feet away.  The takes were subtle that day and pinpoint casting accuracy with a good clue on which direction the fish was traveling was the key to success. As a spotter it’s so much fun to locate a riser, track it, and direct my guest into the perfect cast that gets the grab.  At times you celebrate like your favorite team won the World Series! So rewarding….so memorable – the best!

It was great to see friends out on the water like Mario and Mike. An honest  hand shake, a laugh or two, and a few looks at some proto flies, and some large trout to hand. What it’s really all about.

So what’s the latest on the lake? Water temps are just a tad cooler than my last post, 45-53 from morning to afternoon. Fish are still a bit scattered and many not leaving their weed beds on the west shore from Jenkins to Cow Creek. The North end of the lake has had a steady increase in some very big pods moving around and if you are able to cover water effectively like a technician you can achieve some great fishing. New trout are showing up in small numbers everyday but nowhere near any sort of a dense population and silly stupid big number days yet. Stomach samplings have shown small scuds size 20 in a light to medium olive in large amounts. I've even noticed them on my waders after a few skinny water sessions. Small mixed chironomids size 24 – 16, size 12 red flying ants, and backswimmers rounded out the sampling.

Since we’re speaking trout food at Lake Davis look at this rare find, a freshly hatched Hexagenia October dun! Does this bug want me or what? Great…..Haunted by the Hex.

So getting back to fishing, all styles are working well. The personal water craft with 2 rigged rods consisting of a floating and clear camo intermediate line is your best approach. Cover water. Flies this week that produced were many from first hand reports from other anglers, the trout are hungry, aggressive, and getting dumber by the day – so many patterns producing. For me and my guests the UV2 Sheep Creek Special on the short scud hook has caught 70 percent of the fish in shallow water, while burnt orange, brown, and rust wiggle tails and leech patterns have accounted for the rest. Finding the fish and making smart presentations are more important than the pattern right now. Black, burnt orange, and hot orange has been extremely good the last 5 days. Vary your retrieves from slow to fast until you find the combination that gets the take. Check your fly on every presentation for weeds, coot activity has been extremely high and there is many floating weeds and grass to get hung up on. Be smart out there and willing to adapt to changing conditions. 

More fabulous weather in the forecast for the next week. Fall colors, big trout, and special memories await you at Lake Davis and many other Sierra waters. Consume…

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/14

Week 2 of my Gypsy Tour and its special time at Lake Davis, leaves are dramatically glowing away with fall color and migratory birds are stopping by for a brief camp over before moving to lower elevations. Every one of my guests spoke out loud in appreciation of Lake Davis, from its wildlife, to the native grasses, and plants that thrive on the rich shoreline. The weather has been incredible with some sunny windless days and a few teasers of snow. Mornings have been cold in the high 20’s, and the boat ride to the productive areas of the lake has been even colder. Fishing pressure is light some days and heavier on others. Many fly anglers are bunched up and there are plenty of areas for you to explore and find a super pod for your own with a bit of solitude. Hint; find large weed beds with ledges and edges and work the outside perimeter.

The last week has seen an extreme change in the trout’s behavior; fish are now on a feeding binge. Multiple strikes in succession during the same presentation are common at this time. Using heaver tippet is not a problem and 3x is great insurance with these large trout. Bigger flies and faster retrieves are getting even more attention and hook ups as well. The bottom line is the fish are getting really stupid.

Water temps in the shallows of secluded coves have been 46-54, and the main body of the lake is running 48-55. I've noticed the trout start coming into the shallows around 9am, with bigger numbers showing up just before noon when the temps come up to 51. As the water warms in the skinny water aquatic insects become more active and it’s just so much more comfortable for the trout to cruise for food items. The ospreys are gone, and the pelicans are thinning out too; the trout love that and are at ease.

Site fishing was spectacular on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! Many trout were stalked in 1-3 feet of water with 10-20 foot presentations. It is such a rush to hunt a fish and put the fly right in front of them only to see them turn and inhale your humble offering. It never gets old for me. Most of my guests are so blown away at how close one can get and fool one of these beautiful rainbows. If you've never seen this before you will be shocked at how easy it is to spot them during the right conditions. It’s quite incredible!

The heaviest concentrations of fish can be found from Jenkins Point to Cow Creek, Bluff Cove and points north to Mosquito Slough. Today the middle lake provided better action than the North with bigger fish. If you're catching lots of small fish and want bigger ones, move to another location. Big fish will push out smaller fish for prime feeding areas. 

I have found numerous large snail shells and live specimens in the Northern part of the lake. I even got to see a large trout take one off the surface right in front of me, you would think the fish would gingerly slurp this tasty morsel down, but instead a very aggressive take and suck was witnessed. The trout just sat in one spot like a lazy cow and grinded the snail up in its jaws with bits of shell floating out from its mouth, then slowly finned off to find another. It's simple observations like this that pleases me the most.

Productive flies this week starting with the most effective have been UV2 Sheep Creek Specials in peacock #10-12, fiery rust, brown, and black wiggle tails #10-12. I've been using some prototype wiggle tails with a UV2 dubbed body picked out, and a sparse amount of wispy rabbit fur for the tail and getting good results, just something a little different than the normal patterns being stripped by others. Large leech patterns or Jay Fair trolling flies #6-8 in brown and cinnamon have been hammering bigger fish.

The weather looks to be fantastic this week with sunny skies through the weekend, let’s hope for a few calm days that allows for that stellar sight fishing game to become real. See you on the water, I’ll be wallowing in the mud off the banks hunting trout and passing on the knowledge.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gypsy Tour 2013; Reports and Ramblings...

The first week of my now 5 week "on the road" guiding trip has gone extremely well. My body has some what acclimated to the colder temps though I really could use a little more body fat to be honest, when you ride a road bike all the time and tip the scales at 126 there is not much fat to help insulate you. My day on the North Fork Yuba was great as I got to share fly fishing with some hardcore surfers from the Santa Cruz area. Though it was their first time these guys had serious skills and mastered perfect drifts with an October caddis adult with a wild plum nymph dropped below. 

Current conditions for the NFYR are such; Trout are in the process of migrating down stream to more comfortable water temps. The water temps are running 45-54 degrees in the upper river upstream of Downieville, downstream the temps are running 49-58 degrees. The October caddis is out in good numbers, BWO mayflies, Mahogany duns, little green stones, and many different sizes of caddis flies are on the menu for the wild trout. Fish the areas that offer all day sun if possible and cover water. The best fishing will be 11am to 5pm, the warmest time of the day. If you want a  large trout swing and strip bait fish or bugger patterns with an express sink line in the big pools.

What sets the North Fork Yuba apart from all the other watersheds in Northern California is the stunning beauty it provides like the fantastic rock formations that surround the crystal clear waters. The fall colors are starting to explode here and soon will be blazing away. A little time traveling up Hwy. 49 with the camera is time well spent.

Lake Davis; the best game in town is getting better everyday! I've been putting in long hours on the lake since the last week in August fishing on my own, and sharing the skills with my guests; to say I'm in touch with the lake is a vast understatement. This past week has seen the fall bite get much stronger, fish are still scattered all over the place from Eagle Point all the way up to Mosquito slough. The fish have yet to gang up in the north end in big numbers but it is happening right now. Water temps are running 48-55 degrees, some hatches have come back after our north east wind blasted the area during the last two weeks of September. Sparse hatches of callibaetis, blood midge, and little green midges are out and during the warmest time of the day you will have some fish rising for them. Covering water in a float tube or pontoon boat with an intermediate line in productive areas is your best offense. As the fishing peaks and gets silly, your presentations mean more than the pattern.

On Sunday I had the pleasure of guiding Frank Galusha from MyOutdoorBuddy.com showing him the Jay Fair Trolling game, a simple and effective style of trolling out of a boat, or personal water craft. You can see the entire report here as reported by Frank. What a great time!

Yesterday was a special day on the lake as I scattered my father's ashes. He did so much for the public on this lake including upgrades to access areas, fishery management, riparian habitat improvements, and so much more. He truly loved Lake Davis and to see others enjoy this sweetheart of a lake.

Upon reaching the shore that I had shared many good days fishing with my dad, there was a large Blue Heron standing guard, could it be him? I then put some of his remains under an old growth lodge pole pine that over looks the lake, a tree that was like him; big and bold. I brought the rest of him down to the lake and waded out up to my ankles and let him go. The gray cloud engulfed my legs and dissipated slowly, I looked up, regained my composure and a lone trout surfaced 12 feet away in a foot water. The first thought to myself was "you've got to be kidding me!" I casted to the left of the rise form and in seconds had a hook up, it was awesome! This is no coincidence, things like this just don't happen. No, dad was there... and will be in spirit every time we ply those shores.

Stay tuned for the next week of adventures coming from the shores of Lake Davis where I'll be in the hunt until I leave for Eagle Lake on the 20th. Good luck out there and as my dad would say "Keep pounding the water!"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Product Review - Jay Fair Swimming Hackle

I've been using Jay Fair's legendary fly tying materials for the last 15 years with outstanding results in all my moving and still water flies. His "short shuck" crystal chenille and premium marabou is unequaled, and the colors he comes up with are so unique, yet so productive. Jay and I go way back from my humble beginnings on the shores of Eagle Lake. He could see the excitement and passion in my eyes and took me under his wing and shared everything I wanted to know about trout, flies, and techniques. It's his enthusiasm to see others do well when fishing that is so golden and genuine. His approach to tying materials is no different.

I talked with Jay this summer and he insisted I try his new swimming hackle. After receiving his sample packet in the mail with a hand written letter I immediately tied a few wiggle tails to test in the dunk tank. I was impressed to say the least. Check out the short clip below, Jay's new material is so buggy and alive!

The Swimming Hackle comes in three different sizes; micro, medium, and long for a broad spectrum of different applications for a wide variety of fly patterns. To fully make the material breath and come to life a small piece of the tacky side of Velcro will brush out the fibers for a fuller body that moves like no other. There are many colors to choose from as well, just take a look what Jay and Glenn Fair have to offer you by visiting their website at Jay Fair Flies

When it comes to catching large educated trout, Jay Fair materials give you the edge!

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