Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Just thinking back and taking it all in, my memories of fly fishing through the years, and this past winter. The crazy stuff. Where conditions are so prime, yet your quarry is an elite professional athlete, navigating this big tail water fishery, where it calls home. The Yuba creed is another wild angry trout that tests skills from success, to utter shame. I sit here at 6,200 feet above the Truckee area thinking back on the most awesome dry fly fishing I've had in over a decade. 2014 and the low water on the Lower Yuba River favored the bugs, and the persistent trout stalker patrolling the banks. It was sick. From my crew, to my friends, to my fellow GCFF club members, and by other fans who heavily emailed me, called, and texted the most amazing results that were day makers. These are folks that fish all the time, have extensive knowledge, and a highly set skill rate. That’s what it takes on the Lower Yuba. That’s the allure that keeps hardy veterans, and aspiring walk and wade adventurers coming back and experiencing that golden moment of “the take”. But don’t forget those unexplainable lucky days where you can do no wrong. It so weird isn't it? Why does it happen? I don’t get it. Never will.
Patrol the bank, that’s what you do. When you put in multiple days on any water you become in tune with your favorite section. That’s your area. You know it well. You’re the ruler. You know exactly where they like to lay, and what time they come into the skinny bank water to feed on those twitchy legged, Skwala stoneflies. By opening your senses to the rhythms of the land and water around you, more questions are answered, and your knowledge increases. Processing information and applying it to your next challenge, only to get your ass handed to you once again. Most anglers just give up, others like me just stop and observe. Another question answered.
There were days when I went solo, and after hiking across the cobbles and gravel bars I was rewarded with nobody around me. A solitude day on the Yuba is one to appreciate. The weather this past so called “winter” was unbelievable, above average temps, and little precipitation. I would get out onto the river, or on a good hike, and just say out loud “Really?”, “Is this really happening?” “Come on, make it rain dude!” We did get some pretty good onslaughts of weather in the foothills which translates to the Yuba being blown. We had at least a half dozen days where it was perfect mayfly weather with low sticky clouds, a light drizzle, and warm air. I saw the biggest BWO hatch ever; it was so profuse and thick! I was wading mid river up to my thighs, looking upriver and watching dun after dun float by or emerge in the hundreds, which translates to thousands as the clock ticked by. When I see events like this I’m distracted from fishing, it’s tough to concentrate. Why the hell do I like bugs so much? Fascination leads to a better presentation.
Every trip out there, something new with technique was learned, or modified, on those long technical dry fly presentations of precision. With big water comes complex shifting seams, every drift is different, and always changing in accordance with the fluctuating flows. It’s got to be drag free. That’s the goal most of the time anyways. When it all goes right and you make connection, the button is engaged on the missile launcher, and out comes a 18” Yuba rainbow model at pace! They’re so pissed. Better check your knots again.
Man, I really miss it, but it’s time to move up to the high country as the Northern Sierra awakens and warms up. Despite low water conditions that lay ahead of us for summer, I have a feeling this one is going to be a special one, with some great times on the water. I can’t explain it, you know, you've been there. It’s just a feeling, a hunch if you will. Bring on the heat.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The Middle Fork Feather River has been fishing fair to good in the “early opener” section of the upper river. Stream side native grasses are starting to green up, and the first wild flowers of the area are just starting to pop open. Fishing pressure has been light, and on my last visit there my guests and I were the only anglers on the water. Water temperatures are still dictating success; the last reading was 50 to 55 degrees, up a few degrees but still a few degrees away from prime conditions.
Aquatics insect activity is intensifying on a daily basis with caddis, the little green stones, March browns, and BWO's being the most prolific. There is some colder weather and some much needed precipitation in effect right now until next week. Snow will fall in the upper elevations, with rain on the Mohawk valley floor. The snow will melt quickly adding a little color to the water, and may drop water temperatures; this will only stall conditions until the sun and warmth return.
Effective sub surface patterns have been Iron Sallies #12-16, Hare’s Ears #12-14, Gil's G-6 caddis, in olive, and brown #14-18, and BH Flashback Pheasant Tails #16-18. The native rainbows are ganged up in the deeper pools and runs, cover water until you find the fish, and then work the area thoroughly. Adding multiple split shot to your nymph rig and getting down is vital whether you are high sticking, or using an indicator rig. Dry fly fishing has yet to really kick in, though a few fish are starting to rise during the warmest time of the day.
Don’t forget that the rest of the MFFR will be open starting this Saturday the 26th, and the entire river from the headwaters down to Lake Oroville will be open. Good luck out there!
Saturday, April 12, 2014
The rainbows of Lake Davis are in post spawn mode, they're banged up, exhausted, and in transition. During this time there is a lull in the action, fishing is hit or miss, and fish are scattered. Finding pods of active feeding rainbows will dictate success. Typically after the spawn the majority of the fish can be found in the southern part of the lake, as they slowly make their way north along the west shore setting up their homes for the late spring and summer months. It's also during this time that fish can be suspended in the upper water column in 10-20 feet of water working the surface periodically.
I saw many different bugs out, nothing in big numbers though. A few damsels, callibaetis nymphs, blood midges, backswimmers, and a tiny tan midge. Water temperatures are running 49-53 degrees. Look for conditions to pick up by the end of the month, warmer weather will increase hatches and post spawn rainbows will become hungry again. When I start seeing more rising fish, and bigger hatches, that's when I start to get really excited - Can't wait!
Saturday, April 5, 2014
With the new blanket of snow on Eureka peak, and other adjacent mountains, this opener was a little more typical with a good current, and robust holding water. Water was tea colored, typical of the upper MFFR, with water temps ranging from 48 - 53 degrees. Full on Guerilla tactics today, deep nymphing with lots of lead, with and without the bobber. Rod #2, 24 foot express sink tip with a Truckee River inspired streamer.
Mid morning was slow, but once the water warmed to 53 degrees there were grabs to be had. Not red hot fishing by any means, not yet, it's coming though. It's all about 55-60 degree water temps on the MFFR. The native trout here are very different from their Truckee creed who have colder conditions, and have adapted through the years to be more active in such.
Hare's Ears, small nymphs like Lance's X May, and Copper Johns were productive. Fine tuning your leader with split shot and weighted flies, made the difference today with solid hook ups.
Yes! Early spring can be rewarding like this "rare" brown trout from the river, they're there, just not caught very often. This is the most beautiful brown I have hooked up with, so clean! What a day maker....
The afternoon brought the bugs out, they have their own schedule. BWO duns in big numbers, a few March Browns, and a stoner I've been bumping into for the last 3 months, the Skwala Stone. Whenever I get to experience, and witness, a flourishing mayfly hatch it moves me. To see how the ecosystem revolves around each other is quite a fascinating thing. That alone keeps me alive. The water temps were just too cold for these fish to look up, it's almost always been that way on the opener and weeks following, with a few exceptions. Dredging deep with drag free drifts is the game right now, plan on losing flies.
It was so stunning today, and indescribably special. I felt the presence of my dad, he was with me in the drifts, and all was good....