Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Northern Sierra Fishing Report 8/28/2016 ~ North Fork Yuba River, Middle Fork Feather River, Lake Davis, Truckee River

Summer is coming to an end, days are noticeably shorter, mornings are colder, and the sun is arcing lower in the horizon each day. The North Fork Yuba River is still fishing well. You'll have better success if you seek out sections that have not been fished, it's time to hike into remote sections of the unknown. Water temperatures are stable at 57 in the morning rising to 62 degrees by the early afternoon in the upper watershed. Crowds are disappearing since the kids are back in school, but expect Labor Day weekend to be busy on all Northern Sierra waters and recreation areas. My guests and I had another fantastic week on the river, and for all of them it was the first time on the North Fork Yuba River. As always, they were blown away at the sheer beauty of the canyon, and the amusement of dry flies and eager wild trout.

The pseudocloeon mayflies (tiny blue wing olives) are hatching again, and spinner falls are happening in mid morning. A great tactic during a spinner fall is to have a big dry like a rubber leg crystal stimulator and dropping a #20 spent wing spinner 18 inches below. You want the spinner in the film or just below, no floatant is needed. Hoppers and ants in the afternoon. I've been seeing many trout in idle water away from the main flow of the river. I suspect they are waiting for terrestrials to fall into the water for an easy meal.

There are only about 3 weeks left in the upper watershed before water temperatures start to fall below the happy zone for the native wild trout. As autumn sets in, an angler should adjust their location further downstream towards Downieville. 

Into October, venturing even further down will be necessary, remember you're chasing the optimum water temps that are between 57 and 63 degrees. Fishing during the warmest time of day will also be of importance. If you have not been to the North Fork Yuba River this season, or you want to make another trip, get the goods before it is too late.

Water temperatures are coming down as well on the Middle Fork Feather River ranging from 58 to 65 degrees below the confluence of Jamison creek. Fishing pressure is extremely light, and fishing is fair. The drought has had an effect on the river for sure, I'm seeing less resident trout, and those I'm finding are in the deeper pools, and runs. The river is so different than say 20 years ago, lots of skinny unproductive water and areas that are filled in with small cobble stones. Another observation is revealing very little populations of carp below the town of Clio, and it's not just me, many anglers have spoken out loud to me about their absence. The Middle Fork Feather is in dire need of multiple flushes of high water this winter.

The pseudocloeon mayflies have also started to dance above the river in mid morning with a pretty thick spinner fall with rising fish. Overall I'm seeing less hatches than a decade ago. The culprit in my opinion is Didymo, also known as rock snot. This type of algae chokes out aquatic insects providing less habitat. Didymo did not use to exist in the river until 7 golf courses in a 10 mile radius started to have an effect on the health of the river by spewing return flows laced with fertilizers. Follow the money as they say, and think not of the environment. In early August when the Didymo was at its highest it was thick in the Greaegle area all the way down to below Camp Layman, yet it was almost absent in the Portola area. Speaking of which, if you want in on the Middle Fork carp scene, you better get in there now as conditions will be changing with colder days and water temperatures. Time will tell if the river receives the needed precipitation to enhance the health of the watershed.

Air temperatures are starting to fall at Lake Davis, and the mornings are much cooler than a few weeks ago. Still, water temperatures are 68 in the morning rising to 72 degrees in the afternoon. I've been camping up at the lake all summer and I'm amazed that fly anglers are still fishing during these times of warm water, for many it's not being educated on the subject of the effects of thermal pollution and the dangers of releasing fish safely. There are even anglers who know the facts of warm water, yet still fish. Sure, you can catch rainbows when the surface temperatures are extremely warm, and release them watching them swim away, but are they surviving? Since the population of trout are extremely low in Lake Davis, my friends, guests, and myself are waiting for more favorable conditions, the last thing we want to do is unnecessarily kill more trout.

I'll be scouting the lake by vision, and by sonar starting next week, and locating the best areas to fish as my trips start in the middle of the month. Currently there have been some good Callibaetis hatches, and good numbers of small midges both emerging, and on the surface. We'll see how this fall season turns out, I'm being optimistic, and hoping we have an awesome autumn at Lake Davis.

Flows are way down on the upper and mid section of the Truckee River. Many anglers and guides do not understand where the "in town" gauging station is located on the Truckee River. For example on the USGS site listed under Pyramid and Winnemucca Lakes Basin section there is station number 10338000, near Truckee. It's not in town, but rather upstream by the USFS Granite campground. One must factor in the outflow of Donner creek at station number 10338700 where the creek crosses Highway 89. Right now the combined flows are 37 cubes, that's too low. This may not be significant during the fall, but in spring it can really add up to higher flows downstream of the confluence. Also during spring one must factor in Trout creek, and Martis creek for accurate flows through the Glenshire stretch. The good news is the water temperatures are dropping and are currently in the range of 58 to 64 degrees. The water temps drop faster on the Truckee river than other Northern Sierra watersheds because of colder air sinking downstream from the east slope of the high elevation mountains. Forget about fishing or guiding on the Little Truckee which is flowing at 27 cfs. Anglers and guides need to take responsibility and put the resident trout first, and their needs last. It comes down to ethics, please do the right thing.

The flow below the junction of the Truckee and Little Truckee Rivers at the Boca bridge are at 439 cubes. That's a good flow for this time of year and fishing through the canyon has been good, but some days are off, which is typical for the river. I've heard they are supposed to reduce the flows down to 150 cfs through the canyon by representatives of the local Trout Unlimited chapter #103, I have no idea of the validity of such. My advice is get out there and fish with techniques and tactics that warrant the changing conditions of Summer into the Fall season. Streamers, and nymphing with beatis and worms.

See you on the water, and the fertile flats....

Scarlet monkey flowers Mimulus cardinalis display the last of summer's color

Thursday, August 18, 2016

RIO Line Demo Day at GGACC Featuring Simon Gawesworth

Tune up your year & casting with RIO and Simon Gawesworth and Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club on Saturday August 27 from 9 AM - 3 PM at the Casting Ponds in San Francisco. I'll be joining the RIO team and fellow ambassadors like Jeff Putnam, and many others sharing some creative insights and knowledge of the type of fly fishing we specialize in.

Fly lines are the most overlooked and possibly most important piece of your fly casting system. This is true for both single-hand and Spey rods. Discover which fly line is right for you and your rods on Saturday, August 27th at the RIO Line Demo Day at the Golden GateAngling & Casting Club ponds in San Francisco. Head RIO line designer and world famous casting instructor Simon Gawesworth, along with local RIO pros and members of GGACC will be on-hand with an assortment of RIO single-hand and Spey lines for you to demo on your own rods, or on Sage and Redington rods that will be provided for the event. Participants will be eligible for raffle prize drawings (must be present to win!). All participants will receive a special discount coupon redeemable for 20% off any RIO fly line at 8 top fly shops in Northern California (see list below). Free lunch sponsored by The Fly Shop. The event runs from 9 AM until 3 PM and is free and open to the public.

There will be two special casting demonstrations by Simon Gawesworth:

10 - 10:45 AM - Simon Gawesworth - "The Importance of Fly Lines & How Tapers Affect Their Performance".

1:30 - 2:15 PM - Simon Gawesworth - "Casting Demonstration - Single handed Rods & Two-handed Spey Rods".

Participating RIO dealer fly shops include:

Remember to mark your calendars for Saturday August 27 from 9 AM - 3 PM for this very special event and be sure to bring your own rods to "test drive" all the latest RIO lines. You are welcome to use the ponds to cast Spey lines as well so bring your waders and boots.

For more information and any questions contact Willy George at; busygeorges@aol.com

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

North Fork Yuba River, Lakes Basin, Truckee River Fishing Report 8/17/2016

Conditions remain the same on the North Fork Yuba River, great fishing, and exceptional views. Water temperatures are 57 in the morning rising to 63 degrees in the early afternoon for the upper watershed. The best times to ply the water are 8am to 1pm, then again in the evening chasing the last couple of hours of light. Fishing pressure has been light, but I’m amazed how many anglers like to choose the easy spots right off of highway 49. There is so much more good water off the beaten path where many of the wild rainbows have yet to see a fly this season. Take a hike and explore, if you do not see any footprints, you’re golden.

The hoppers are really out in big numbers right now, and on a windy day they will end up in the water. Not much in the way of aquatic insects as most of the hatches has already played out. In a few weeks expect to see a BWO spinner fall in the morning, or when air temperatures are between 58 and 68 degrees. The fish have been crushing ant patterns dropped off a dry, very aggressive takes are the norm. Summer is almost over, so make the best of it by getting on the water with a light rod, and experiencing some serious fun.

I hiked to 3 different lakes in the Lakes Basin area and forgot just how beautiful the landscape is. Many of the hikes are pretty easy, and by just doing day trips you can pack light and move fast. These lakes have rainbows, browns, and brookies. Morning and evenings are best, while the middle of the day is slower. If you can pack in a lightweight float tube you’ll have better results, and more opportunities. There are lots of people out on the trials, if you want to visit during a more quiet time, wait until mid-September. I’ll be going back for sure.

The Truckee River is fishing pretty well but don’t expect large numbers of fish. Do expect a shot at a large fish though. Swinging streamers or American nymphing (high sticking) has been best. If you’re not getting strikes, try adding more lead to your leader, and space them apart. Water temps today were 59 to 65 degrees during the morning session; in the late afternoons the temps are right around 68 degrees, which means it’s time to stop fishing. 

One pattern that has been very effective is Lance Gray’s X-May in red, dropped off a crayfish pattern. Just like the North Fork Yuba River, the further you hike, the better the fishing. The flows right now below Boca Reservoir are 449 cubes. They will be dropping the river down to 150 cfs in the weeks to come. The lower flows will concentrate the fish in the deeper runs, pockets, and pools.

See you on the water…

Hooker's Evening Primrose Oenothera elata on the banks of the Truckee River

Sunday, August 7, 2016

North Fork Yuba River Fishing Report 8/7/2016 ~ Got Ants?

Just completed a 5 day run up on the North Fork Yuba River and my guests and I had such an awesome time. Water temperatures are still cool ranging from 55 to 57 degrees in the morning, and topping out at 62 to 65 degrees in the late afternoon in the upper most part of the watershed. 

Location is everything, and locating where the deep subterranean springs flow into the river increases your chances as it provides ideal conditions for the resident wild trout. Flows have really dropped in the last week, but there is even more fishable water to be had. Deeper pockets, runs, and pools should be targeted now.

The wild rainbows are small, yet so gorgeous. Olive tops, and golden sides with a crimson stripe, purple par marks, and those beautiful orange white tipped fins. They’re like jewels that glimmer in the Northern Sierra sunshine. You must be quick on the take but keep in the mind the bigger fish will approach your fly more slowly before sucking it down. 

South Yuba River Citizens League Restoration Coordinator Cordi Craig plys the water of a big plunge pool. She had a blast!

What I like best about fishing and guiding the North Fork Yuba River is that it is an active style of fishing, stick and move, boulder hop, non-stop dry fly action, and wet wading in the cool water on a hot summer day. It’s absolutely the best.

Terrestrials are more important now and a main menu item for the trout. Hoppers and ants are getting most of the attention. The one dropper fly that has been doing very well is Lance Gray’s X-May in red and purple. There are some aquatics out like a few crane flies, a random BWO mayfly here and there, and a few summer stones. There are good numbers of small yellow sally stones still out, and the latest observation I saw is the meat bees are targeting them for lunch.

It was a very busy weekend in the canyon as the “Downieville Classic” mountain bike race was in full effect. I’ve never seen so many bikes. Still, my guests and I have yet to see another angler this summer. Again it comes down to location, the gnarlier the terrain, the less people you will encounter. Summer is winding down and I encourage you to seek out one of the most beautiful watersheds in the west.

See you on the water…

Lewis's Monkey flower mimulus lewisii makes its home among the cobblestones of the North Fork Yuba 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Gift of Gold ~ A Unique Video On Stalking Carp

Ken Hanley of Pacific Extremes, John Marcacci, and myself started a project that revolved around high altitude carp in the Northern Sierra. Our location is no secret, it was the first adopted "Wild & Scenic" river in America - The Middle Fork Feather River. It was a tough project to say the least, carp are smart, challenging, with lots of luck involved.

We started this project in September of 2015, but falling water temperatures put the resident carp off the feed making it even tougher. We resumed last Thursday with more favorable conditions. We gave ourselves 3 days to complete the video, luckily it took only one day to finish. I started to fish for carp on the MFFR in 1997, there was zero interest back then, let alone any type of support. My dad's long time fishing buddy, the late Richard Kennon gave me a book about fishing for carp with flies. I studied every word, and the rest is history. I can finally close the door on what I wanted to share with the fly fishing industry back then. Click the link below to see a truly unique video on chasing the golden ghost. Bravo Ken, and thanks for the memories...


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