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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lower Yuba River Fishing Report 12/31/14

Fishing has been very good on the Lower Yuba River, and all reports have been excellent through my Yuba Guide Network. Water temps are running 49-52 degrees, water clarity is very clear with a slight tinge to it. Flows are currently running at 576 cubes, with a meager inflow from Deer creek. The Skwala stones are still staging on the calm side water below the riffles. I spent 2 hours last Monday flipping rocks, and combing the riparian  habitat. No evidence of adults were to be found. It's only a matter of time though, a wee bit late as I usually see them in the last few weeks of December. Remember it's been cold, and they are not fond of that. For a better understanding on the Skwala hatch, please refer to my outstanding article on this legendary hatch in the December 2014 issue of California Fly Fisher. There is so much good useful information that will definitely help those unfamiliar with the Skwala hatch, and the tactics needed to be successful.

Cloudy days have revealed a strong bwo hatch, not a lot of heads showing though, but my guests and I have had some great sessions with pods of active feeders rising with a rhythm for up to two hours in the middle of the day. Nymphing and swinging is getting the big numbers, especially if you are drifting with a superior guide and covering water. Bobber rigs with a Jimmy Legs stone in a #10, followed with Hogan's Military May, caddis pupa, or a San Juan Worm has been the go to rig. For swinging, alevin and minnow patterns are dominating, along with black buggers. There is not as many salmon fry in the system as last year, and I believe the onslaught of rain in early December pushed many of them downstream, just as nature is intended to do.

I have plenty of open dates for trips on the Lower Yuba for the month of January, and I expect them to fill up quickly once the Skwalas get going. Only a few days in February are available as many of them are booked already, March is fairly open though so do not hesitate in contacting me. Teaching dry fly presentations to selective feeders is my specialty, remember, I'm a walk and wade guide who takes it to the next level in sharing the secrets of the Lower Yuba with my guests, so they can approach it, and fish it with confidence on their own. Sharing the knowledge is of the up most importance to me at this stage of the game.

Finally I have met the girl of my dreams, Shelly Ehmer who will be joining me soon after her gig is done at Big Horn Anglers in Montana. Shelly will be guiding on the Lower Yuba with her custom Adipose drift boat, and also working with me on Tahoe, Plumas, and Lassen National Forests. We are so excited to see what the future brings for us, and I have to pinch myself at times to feel if this is really happening. On a deeper level, I get to close a very dark chapter in my life, while I get the opportunity to start another one full of joy, and fresh adventure. The future looks bright! Happy New Year, make the most of it!

Verbascum thapsus, commenly known as Mullien
on the banks of the mighty Lower Yuba.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pyramid Lake w/ Renegades On The Fly

The day after Christmas had me behind the wheel of the F-250 traveling from Calistoga, CA to Pyramid Lake, NV after being invited for a special fish out. After a 5 hour drive I finally got to meet one of the most bad ass women guides around, Shelly Ehmer, who has been working the legendary Big Horn River for the past few seasons. Shelly is also the founder of "Renegades On The Fly", a Facebook group that is dedicated to fly fishing for large trout, and having the most fun with life you can have. In my opinion, it's one of the most entertaining pages on FB ever.

I also got hang out and fish with some of the official army of "Renegades", raising havoc, and shootin the bull. It was such a great time! Fishing wise the lake is still slow, even with perfect conditions such as we had. But when you have a chance to catch a serious 15 to 25 pound animal of a trout, you just keep casting. I want to thank the crew from "Renegades On The Fly" for having me, It was awesome, and I plan on hanging out with them in the very near future.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Emerald Mile

I just finished one of the best books I have ever read in my life, "The Emerald Mile" written my Kevin Fedarko. It's a true story about the history of the Colorado river, Hoover Dam, and the golden age of guiding. Kevin's work is amazing, and has now influenced me in my own future articles of literature.

This book will appeal do those fly anglers and guides who use drift boats in their quest to tame the big rivers in search of wild trout. What's really fascinating is the vision by long time environmentalist Martin Litton, who organized a fleet of the original McKenzie drift boats to conquer, and share the gnarly rapids of the Colorado River in the early 70's. Martin just passed away last November 30th, 2014 at the age of 97, and will forever be an icon when it comes to the majestic and beautiful Grand Canyon, and the lore of the wooden dories.

The main character, and the most detailed and strict guide, was Kenton Grua. He earned the nickname "The Factor" because Kenton never did anything half ass, and was the most gifted pilot who operated at the next level. Kenton did some amazing things in his life, like walking the entire length of the Grand Canyon solo, totally unsupported in 1977.

This book is a must read, and I highly recommend it. It will captivate you, move you, and give you inspiration to follow your own adventurous dreams.

The Emerald Mile Teaser

Kenton "The Factor" Grua
1950 to 2002
Never Forget.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lower Yuba Fishing Report 12/15/14

With a break in the weather, and the flows coming down from the now famous Stormageddon, it was an opportune time to make a few casts on Sunday, and get the real scoop on the river conditions. I spent my time below the Hwy 20 bridge and I was amazed that I only saw two anglers out. It was eerily quiet, except for the 2 strokes and 4 strokes getting their roost on, and letting out some braps, as they flew by every now and then.

There is still some Salmon in the river, with carcasses lining the high water mark, they give it their all to keep the species going, while their lifeless bodies give back to the ecosystem. I noticed some fry in the side water, but not a whole bunch. This means there is still eggs in the redds, and some alevins hiding in the gravel. Walk and wade anglers, please look before you step, and stay clear of the redds! I can't stress this enough. In reality there is no reason to wade out, as you can fish effectively right off the bank in many different areas.

The rainbows are still pretty much locked in on eggs. Swinging alevins, and small minnow patterns in a gray and white scheme with a little pearl flash is starting to produce as well. Seine samples today produced many micro midge larva and pupa, and many small mayfly nymphs which I deemed to be BWO's.

The big news of the day was the many Skwala nymphs I found staging in the slow quiet water next to the bank, below the riffles. I saw quite a few while rolling rocks no more than a foot off the bank. No adults yet that I saw, but it's only going to be a matter of time.

The flows on Saturday were running at 2,548 cfs, and through Sunday they were dropped down to 816 cfs. Today the river is flowing at 812 cfs. Deer Creek got up to 2,700 cfs during Stormageddon, but now has dropped down to 50 cfs and rising from recent rainfall. Moderate storms are predicted through the week with a possible 3 inches, but after the last storm, I'll believe the numbers after the rain has fallen. Stay tuned, I'll let you know the progress of the Skwala Nation as we move forward into the New Year.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Middle Fork Feather River Presentation ~ CFFU

On January 6th, 2015, I will be presenting one of my most popular programs for California Fly Fishers Unlimited of Sacramento.

The Middle Fork Feather River, located in Plums County is one of the first rivers to be designated as "Wild & Scenic", and is considered by many outdoor authors to be the most beautiful river in the state of California. From its start in the Sierra Valley, though the rich upper sections of coniferous forests with native green grasses, to the expansive polished granite lined walls of the lower canyons, the audience will gain insight and knowledge from my spectacular Power Point to better their approach when fly fishing this magnificent, yet quiet river.

I'll explain the three different zones managed by the US Forest Service, access points, techniques, tactics, entomology, fly patterns, and the fish that inhabit the MFFR. The program features 130 slides of colorful and inspiring images, plus detailed maps of the area. Attendees will gain valuable information from the hundreds of days I've fished on the MFFR, shortening the learning curve on their next visit to the Feather River country. This river offers wild trout, exceptional hatches, and solitude for those that don’t mind a short hike off the beaten path. This is a fantastic presentation you don't want to miss!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tying The Pepperoni Yuk Bug

The Pepperoni Yuk Bug was one of my Dad's favorite patterns when we used to visit the Madison River in Montana. Of course being Italian he was biased on the name of the fly, and that's just how it is with us Paisanos. This fly falls into the stone fly nymph / attractor category, and big brown trout love this thing!

The origins of "the Pep" come from Robbie Garret who modified the original Yuk Bug of the late 70's to his specs. Robbie was a fine boatman and guide, and anybody that has ever fished with Robbie knows how serious and intense he is. This fly takes those traits and exploits them, like the rubber legs that pulsate and move. The best way to fish this fly is high sticking with a dead drift, and occasionally pumping the rod tip ever so slightly to moves those legs. I'm thinking this fly would be killer on the Truckee River as you know darn well those fish have not seen it before. 

Hook - TMC 5262, sizes 4-8
Thread - 3/0, black
Bead - black nickel, size to hook
Tail - Large brown rubber
Legs - Large white rubber
Abdomen - Med or large black chenille depending on hook size 
Thorax - Med or large orange chenille depending on hook size
Hackle - Fiery brown Jay Fair schlappen 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


The latest project from Ken Hanley and myself. One of the toughest shoots ever, so many hours involved. Special thanks to Ken and all my buddies. Thank you!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 11/20/14 ~ I'm Trapped Under Ice

This past weekend at the lake was very cold, with freezing conditions, and ice in the guides both days with a bitter wind chill. Water temps are 41-47 degrees, skim ice is starting to form. As the lake starts to freeze over the majority of the fish can be found in the southern part of the lake, areas like Camp 5, Eagle Point, Mallard Cove, and Coot Bay will start producing. Fishing pressure has been very light, and the actual fishing has been still hit or miss. I’m convinced the decrease in catch rates is due to a very low population of rainbows in the lake. As I've stated before, if you find the fish, hammer them until the action wanes. Effective flies this past week has been, brown glimmer wiggle tails, and the black midge pupa. Sunday was my last day there for the season; I'll now be guiding and fishing the Lower Yuba until the end of March. Look for the most in depth and comprehensive reports on this moody tail water in the months to come. I'm looking forward to spending some time on the Lower Yuba, it’s close to home, and a great opportunity for experiencing the best winter dry fly fishery in the state of California.

Speaking of the Lower Yuba River, check out the December issue of Ca Fly Fisher featuring an article I wrote on the Skwala hatch. I've been waiting so long to share my experience with this spectacular hatch, it truly is something special. Special thanks to Richard Anderson! Now it begins, the waiting game for Skwala stonefly to emerge. I can hardly wait.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Simms Pro Delta Day 2014

I finally got to fish the mighty Delta last Saturday during the Simms Pro Delta Day at the Sugar Barge Resort, where invited industry fly guys and gals got to hang out, fish, eat, and see the new line of the best clothing you can buy. What an awesome day! It started at 7am when I met my host, and delta guru Ben Byng. We fished the Frank's Tract area, throwing 6 inch flies with fast sinking lines. Ben explained the entire scene, and what it takes to be successful on the delta. I was pretty much blown away at just how many anglers and boats were out in force. These bass dudes are really serious!

All of this was made possible by long time Simms rep, John Sherman. Also joining John were six members of the official Simms R&D team. The way John explains all the key features on the clothing is so detailed, he does an outstanding job! Good dude.

Special thanks to my buddy Ken Hanley for MCing the event, and to all those who attended. I will for sure be there next year!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/29/14 ~ Fall Color, Fat Trout, and Snow Coming

Autumn bliss at Lake Davis and perfect conditions is one of the most awesome experiences I've ever had since being on this big blue marble. Glassy water with just a ripple at times, and those explosive fall colors punching out like wildfire in the distance wrapping all around you, like the arms of your favorite sweetie, is something special. Days like these are so quiet, except for the tooting trumpets from the thousands of coots, and a call of a comfortable mallard hen, looking for her drake. Days like these are so good that if it were my last day on earth, I'd be quite content as I crossed the dimension into another world. Catching some large trout is just the bonus, and the older I get, the more I realize it's about the experience of the day. With every year flying by I truly can appreciate the simple things that Mother Earth and life in general provides us with, and those of us who can understand the big picture, lead a happier, fuller life. Beautiful surroundings in the mountains, and the company of loved ones and good friends keeps the smile on my face, and the sparkle in my eye. It is my everything.

The rainbows this year sure have added on some girth, and they too are putting on their fall colors with rosy red cheeks, and glowing lateral lines. I love fishing this time of year at the lake because it is such a simple game, a floating line, a standard 9 foot leader, with one fly, and fish in the skinny water. I love even more the subtle grab, where your line feels heavier, stretching, until a solid connection with electricity jolts you, and your heart starts to race with anticipation, and the excitement, of your new catch.

Finally some cold weather has moved in, and it has dropped air temperatures to freezing in the mornings. With ice on the boat cover before rolling out for another trip, it’s a good sign conditions are changing for the better, and this will really help for the bite to get stronger. Water temps have dipped a bit too, 49 in the morning rising to 55 in the late afternoon. I've noticed some changes in the trout’s behavior in the last few days; they're more concentrated in the upper water column 1-3 feet down, with more of them in the skinny water. 

Today I saw more risers than I have in the last few weeks. When you don’t mark fish in open water on the sonar it’s a good bet they are in the shallower water 1-5 feet down. One tip to share is once water temps go below 50, fish will most likely be in shallows as it warms up quicker, especially areas with dark muddy bottoms that attract solar radiation. When that scenario happens, the trout like to be there all day as there is plenty of food, and the comfort level is just right.

I finally got to share this slice of still water heaven with my buddy Chris Maher of Chris Maher Fly Fishing, a top Nor Cal guide who spends his summers guiding at the Baranof Lodge in Alaska, and the winter season at his home in Truckee, Ca. Chris's other passion is observing and hunting ducks. Lake Davis has a huge population of game birds, and I wanted to show him just how rich the lake is with waterfowl. We did a little cast and blast today, but no ducks were harmed, they're just too smart when it comes to jump shooting. The most amazing sight though was seeing an airborne flock of at least a hundred mallards racing across the sky. 

Rain and snow is forecasted for Friday through Saturday, this should help the fishing, but even more important, dress and be prepared for conditions. Good luck out there at Lake Davis, The shorelines are glowing right now with fall color, and so gorgeous, that alone is worth a trip up!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

3 Club Presentation Tour ~ Lake Davis

The first week of November finds myself behind the wheel and heading south, then north, for a 3 club presentation gig sharing the secrets of Lake Davis, Northern California's legendary still water. My award winning Powerpoint presentation goes in depth about the lake's access points, how to approach the different seasons, tactics, techniques, go to flies, and entomology. The audience will gain valuable information that can be used for other still waters across the west. The virtual tour features 140 slides of vivid pictures, diagrams, and maps. Fly anglers across the state absolutely love this program, and it's one you do not want to miss!

The first club I will be presenting to on November 4th is Aguabonita Fly Fishers located in Ridgecrest, Ca. The meetings are free, and the public is welcome to attend. For more information on location and times go here; AFF Meetings

Club number two will be the Kern River Fly Fishers from Bakersfield, Ca on the night of November 5th This club meeting is also free and open to the general public. For more information go here; KRFF Meetings

As I head North on the I-5, my final presentation will be in Livermore, Ca, home of Tri-Valley Fly Fishers on the evening of November 6th. As with the other clubs mentioned above, admission is free and the public is welcomed. For more information go here; TVFF Meetings

I'm looking forward to sharing my vast knowledge on Lake Davis with these three fine clubs, and meeting new fly anglers. Presenting my programs is a real high light for me, they're fun, and so rewarding. If you're near any of these venues I invite you to come out and sit down for an informative evening that will leave you smiling with dreams of still water bliss. See you there!

Photo by Anthony Upton

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lake Davis Fishing Report 10/20/14 ~ The Guessing Game Continues

Another week of the unforgettable 2014 autumn at Lake Davis, there are lots of questions by many including myself, with only a few answers. Fishing is just fair, when in reality we should be reaching the peak of the fall grab – which has never even materialized…..yet. There is still hope, and with that I still believe there is going to be a short hot bite to experience. So what’s preventing the historically good fishing the lake is known for in fall? Fish are deeper than normal and staying put in certain areas, I have yet to do a stomach sampling on these trout but Daphnia feeding is high on the list. The resident trout are also at all depths from the very top to the muddy bottom, no matter the depth of the water being looked at. There is also a very low percentage of trout in the skinny water, and fewer rising. No aquatic insect hatches in great quantities except for tiny midges are to be found at all. Trout have also been found in big numbers on the east shore, and other areas that Lake Davis regulars usually do not see them in.

I've ruled out the full moon cycle, angling pressure (which has been light), Low water (I've done much better with a 45% capacity), and water temperatures which are currently at 51-57 degrees. That’s the ugly truth we are facing at the lake. Is there any good in this? Absolutely! A gorgeous lake, stunning fall colors, bird and wildlife sightings that rival any other Lake in Northern California, and the best of times mingling with other die hard still water anglers. There is plenty of food in the lake and a few fish netted have been spitting up, and pooping out snails; a typical sight of Lake Davis trout who gorge on them during this time of year.

The weather has been flat calm one day with little or no wind, and the next blowing 30 mph. Air temperatures have been warmer than normal, of all things I think this is part of the missing link. Some ice and maybe a snow storm could tip things and put the fear of winter into the eyes of those rainbows. If you feared living under an icy tomb in the weeks ahead, I’m sure you would act differently and would want to bulk up for those long winter months ahead, after all, we are all animals. On a more positive note, the fall colors are amazing right now! Not the best I've seen, and this is due in part to last week’s pounding of a 40 mph wind that stripped many trees of their leaves. When the sun is just right and filters through the waning foliage, it truly is a thing of beauty. 

For my guests I can only do so much in the way of the catching. I make up for it by teaching many different styles of presentations, fly selection, rigging methods, comprehension of the lake structure, great stories of trips from the past, and fresh quality lunches from the GraeagleMillworks. They tell me it’s much appreciated, and that makes these past trips on the lake so much more enjoyable for me. 

This past weekend I wrapped up another filming session with none other than the man himself – Ken Hanley of Pacific Extremes. Our latest project entails fly fishing a still water from a boat, where as last year’s project concentrated on my passion of stalking still water trout in the shallows, and making presentations from the bank. The short video should be out in the next month, look for a link to it here on my blog. Ken creates magic through compelling cinematography, and I can hardly wait to see it!

There have been a few flashes of some great fishing like last Saturday when some close friends of mine stumbled upon a large pod of active feeders and got into double digit numbers. For the rest of us that can only hook a few, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud; the fish that are being caught are large, with full girth, and most specimens are clean and so gorgeous. If you plan on heading up there make sure to have two rods, one rigged with a floater where you can fish the upper water column, or use a bobber, and the other with a clear camo Intermediate so you can target depths from 3 to 10 feet. If you want to go any deeper a break away indicator on a floating line would be the way to go as there is no guessing at which depth your flies are being presented. You get to make the call and set the depth you think is right. For fly selection, olive has been the best color, followed by black and burnt orange no matter if you're stripping a bugger or wiggle tail. A closed loop knot is important as it gives your flies so much more action, my catch rates have improved since switching to this knot and I highly recommend it. Snail patterns in brown and olive are starting to produce as well. For bobber rigs, chironomids and mayfly nymphs have been getting the most hook ups, but don't forget about a balanced leech for your bottom fly.

My best advice and one my father taught me is to keep pounding the water with flies and presentations you have confidence in, when you start second guessing yourself, or your equipment, you are doomed! Be positive, have fun, and make the most of it!

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