Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Product Review ~ Redington Goat Head Sole Spikes

The texture of the many boulders and cobblestones of a Northern California freestone watershed is very unique. Polished Sierra granite is just that, and some rivers like the North Fork Yuba, or the North Fork Feather are great examples. So polished, that some boulders have a high sheen to them like they just came out of a auto detail center. Your average stud on the bottom of a wading boot is smooth and rounded, and when they meet the polished Sierra granite one might as well be ice skating. It can be a dangerous situation, especially on dry cobbles and boulders while trying to leap from rock to rock. No stud is perfect, but some come close.

For the last few years I was using the Simms Hardbite Cleat, a good stud that has a roughed up surface to adhere to polished granite and other types of rock. The rough surface is key to any stud as they provide a better grip both in and out of the water. The problem with the simms cleat was the threads on the screw that held them in place. With a small flange to them they pulled out on me continuously, even when glued on. I worked for Solid MFG back in the early to mid 90's, a high end snowboard company, so I know all about adhesion properties and laminating. With proper prep and the highest quality glue sold over the counter, the Hardbite Cleat still pulled out. It got to the point where I was spending a ridiculous amount of money, even at cost. It was more about spending time on the boots when I had other things to do to prepare for my guide trips.

Enter Redington, and by partnering up with Goat Head Sole Spikes from the Wasatch mountains of Utah, they were able to bring it into the mainstream of the fly fishing industry. The four-way split head design mimics the hoof shape of one of nature's great rock hopping artists, the South African klipspringer, which name means literally "rock jumper". Their hooves have a four-way split nail that provides 10-times more traction than common animal hooves. I've been using the Goat Heads for the past two weeks with over 40 hours of testing time, enough to be able to give you an accurate review. 

First off, the larger flange on the screw holds into the sole much more efficiently than any other screw in stud. I matched the Goat Heads to the bottom of my Redington Prowler boots, and after 40 hours of scrambling along the mine field of boulders on the North Fork Yuba River none have pulled out. The only thing I have noticed is that they do wear down and do not bite like new. Keep in mind I'm on the river way more than your average fly angler, nearly everyday. Is a different type of metal needed for longevity? Now that is the question.

The kit itself is user friendly coming with its own driver tool (1/4" socket), and the application is easy, just requires a little bit of effort to get the screw started. I feel Goat Head Sole Spikes are worth looking into if you want better traction while roaming the Sierra. You can order yours by going to Redington's website HERE

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Cliff Frazier Memorial Youth Fly Fishing Program Wrap Up

The Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Cliff Frazier Memorial youth fly fishing program has been around for 14 years. It's a special event for all of us volunteers as we get to watch our students rapidly progress in their fly fishing prowess in three short days. The concept came about when long time member of TTFF Cliff Frazier passed away and his wife donated all of his equipment, tying materials, and other fly fishing related items back to the club. Those items were sold and raised enough funds to start the youth program. since then it has grown tremendously with the help of fellow club members. Though I have only been involved for a few years, it is by far one of my highlights of the summer season.

Day one starts out of the historical property of the San Francisco Fly Casting Club. It is such a cool facility, and TTFF is so thankful for them to let us use the area. It means so much to the kids because quite frankly it is a very special place. There are some classic photos and nostalgia lining the halls and rooms like Jack Horner fishing the Truckee River. I could spend hours in there. After a warm welcome to the SFFCC clubhouse, the aspiring students learn the fundamental skills of casting, tying knots, understanding trout, and a solid concept of the mechanics of fly fishing, explained in a easy to understand format. Day 2 is where the real fun begins as the program is focused on the actual fishing, and with plenty of stocked fat rainbows it is almost a sure thing they will get a hook up.

After our fearless leader of the program, Mike Brugh, does the introduction of the day's activities, then he hands the reins to me as I cover the entomology class. This year I created a new short and easy to understand Powerpoint presentation, it was well received by the students and they were more than excited to get on the river and collect some live specimens. The kids collected many different bugs ranging from Golden stones, Yellow Sallies, October caddis, March Browns, aquatic worms, free living caddis, Baetis mayfly nymphs, and their favorite - Crayfish! We then matched the bugs to the flies that were in our boxes, thus providing an example of "Match the Hatch".

After a delicious lunch of BBQ burgers, potato salad, and watermelon each student was paired up with a guide for the afternoon. More than just teaching them how to catch fish, we also shared the importance of safety, stream etiquette, reading water, safe handling of trout once caught, and river stewardship.

This is the most fun for everyone who donates their time and knowledge, to see a student's face light up after making the presentation, hooking the fish, fighting it to the net, and lastly holding their prize is priceless. These kids were really into it with enough energy to wear each and everyone of us down. 

I like to teach streamer techniques because the students get to feel the take, and once hooked, especially in fast water, they must put in every muscle with a plan on landing the fish the best they can. It really tests them!

Day three and we split the students up, one group goes fishing, and the others learn how to tie flies. Each student tied a San Juan worm, and a midge pattern. Some of the students even caught fish using their own flies. Now that is as awesome as it gets!

Another great lunch was provided, but the kids were eager to get back out on the water and wear us guides out. I guide nearly everyday but when you're dealing with energy like our students had it's a whole other ball game. The total fish netted was 152 trout, that's netted! Three times more in hook ups were felt and witnessed, and of course huge smiles everywhere. It was very satisfying for all of us to see.

Meet your 2017 Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Cliff Frazier Memorial graduates. Specials thanks again to Mike Brugh, SFFCC, TTFF Board of Directors, members, guides, and all the volunteers who make this event so successful. You folks are awesome!!!

If you like to join Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers, volunteer, donate, or have your own child attend next year's youth fly fishing program, go to TTFF's website to learn more - Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

North Fork Yuba River ~ Jamison Creek Fishing Report 8/22/2017

Water levels are at an all-time low for the season resulting in even more fishable water. Fishing has been great using dry flies for small wild rainbows, and when using lighter rods you get to feel the tug, while seeing a bent rod. It’s been really fun! Water temps range from 56 in the morning to 64 in the afternoon. The days are noticeably getting a tad shorter, and the weather has been pretty good as well with clouds, and the occasional short thunderstorm. I’ve been taking my guests mostly in the upper watershed where the springs are at, though fishing has been good all the way towards Downieville. 

Fishing areas that do not receive a lot pressure will be beneficial, the further you hike, the better the fishing will be. The Blue Wing Olive mayflies are returning and there can be a light spinner fall during mid-morning, it’s a sparse hatch for now. Other than that there are not many aquatics out, but plenty of terrestrials roaming about. Ants, hoppers, and beetles are getting lots of attention from the fish now.

As we creep into late summer and early fall, remember to start fishing lower down in the watershed. Night time temps will continue to drop, and an angler should then fish during the middle of the day. If the heat continues then it will still be a morning and evening game. Another consideration is the bulk of the October caddis populations reside in the middle to the lower part of the watershed. Finding a stretch of the river that receives late afternoon sun is essential during the autumn season. 

I’ve done more trips into the Grand Canyon of Jamison Creek this year than I can remember. It’s well worth the grueling 8 hour day of hiking into the gorge, fishing for miles upstream, than the big push back up to the rim of the canyon. So far no other human footprints other than my guests and me, it’s a totally remote area, and so awesome. Water levels have dropped here as well providing much more fishable water than three weeks ago. 

Lots of caddis flying about in the evenings, and during the day attractor flies, and hoppers get the grabs. Though Jamison Creek was heavily scoured, with full size conifers laying on the streambed between the banks, let alone huge boulders being moved about, there is an explosion of Gray Drake nymphs everywhere. From the swimmer family, these nymphs reside in slack side water and can be see darting about. The Siphlonurus mayfly is one of the coolest aquatic insects out there.

Life has been really good. I’ve been extremely busy guiding and enjoying my time on the road, living out of the F-250, and seeing some cool wonders of the flora and fauna world like mink, bear, kingfisher, coyote, fox, raptors, owls, and a bunch of deer. I have a few days left towards the end of September, and 18 days available in October. I’ll be switching gears to fish the stillwaters soon with select trips to the Truckee area. If you would like to fish me in the Northern Sierra, it’s best to reserve your spot now. 530.228.0487

First blooms of Zauschneria Californica ~ California Fuchsia provide late season hummingbirds the fuel to burn on the long upcoming trip to South America

Truckee Trout Unlimited Outreach Meeting ~ Horner's Corner Project

On behalf of the Truckee Trout Unlimited Chapter and Staff, I would like to bring to your attention to an upcoming Truckee River Fish Habitat Enhancement Project that is proposed to be implemented in these next two years. This project will:

  • Enhance wild fish habitat on a stretch of the Truckee River that has little capacity to hold adult fish. 
  • Provide stream-bank stabilization and narrow the existing channel along the project reach.
  • Re-plant native riparian vegetation.
  • Make fishing better within the proposed sites.
As part of an ongoing effort to provide useful habitat enhancement information for the Truckee Watershed, Trout Unlimited invites you to take part in an on-site meeting to both present the project and also gather any feedback for the project. We encourage the general public, guides, anglers, and the entire fly fishing industry to be present, and make your voice be heard.

The Truckee TU chapter will be hosting two meetings on Tuesday, September 12th at 10am and 5pm at the proposed project site (see map above, #6) at "The Loop", off the I-80 eastbound lane, east of the town of Truckee. 

If you are interested in attending to either hear about the project, provide constructive feedback, or both, please RSVP to Larry Heywood at larryheywood@sbcglobal.net.

We are excited to see this project completed and to have you out at one of our meetings offering your input!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Yuba Jubilee 2017 ~ Thanks!

Lance Gray and myself came up with the concept of an event that would raise awareness and conservation measures of the Lower Yuba River, a 100% wild fishery of Chinook salmon, steelhead, and resident trout. As guides who profit of the river we wanted to give back by getting fellow guides, anglers, conservation groups and businesses in the fly fishing industry together.

Sam Sadillo - Trout Unlimited's Sierra Cascade Field Director

The event was a huge success with a little over 80 members from the public showing much interest in talking and learning from all the exhibitors. It was a really good time despite near triple digit temperatures. 

Tony and Mary Bellaver of Alpenglow Performance Split Cane Fly rods

Special thanks to the following conservation groups, exhibitors, and celebrities! Make sure to click on the links to support those who support the Lower Yuba River!

-Kelsey Westfall, The Sierra Fund
-Cindy Noble, Bill Copren, TU Feather River Chapter 905

Hogan Brown, Hogan Brown Fly Fishing

Gold Country Fly Fishers ~ Northern California Council Fly Fishers International

Kelsey Westfall, The Sierra Fund

Special thanks to all those who participated in the Yuba Jubilee, without you, it wouldn't have been so awesome. Mark your calendars for August 4th, 2018 for the second Annual Yuba Jubilee. In the meantime please donate, volunteer, or join the above listed conservation groups and make your voice heard!

Chuck Ragan Fly Fishing - Cast Hope

Clay Hash's handmade custom drifter

Tom Page - Reel Anglers Fly Shop

Technical Leader/indicator set ups for  nymphing w/ Tom Page

Monday, August 7, 2017

North Fork Yuba River ~ Jamison Creek Fishing Report 8/7/2017

Flows are still a tad high for this time of year, but overall the fishing is great if you love small wild rainbows that shimmer like jewels in the Northern Sierra sun, and top water dry fly action. Water temperatures remain prime running 56 degrees in the morning and 63 in the afternoon for the upper watershed. It's so awesome to see my guests truly appreciate a wild setting, the roar of the white water as it echoes off the canyon walls, and the Sierra Buttes standing guard to the west. Fishing pressure was light today, and now that the Downieville Classic bike race is over, the canyon is quiet once again.

These rainbows are a hoot to fish for. They get so excited when a properly drifted dry fly comes through their lane, often throwing backflips over your fly and completely missing it. I have said this a thousand times but if you're new to fly fishing the North Fork Yuba River is the perfect classroom, it will teach you much about fly fishing for wild trout.

During August it's all about finding where the cold springs come in. Trout will congregate where these 42 to 44 degree flows come in. Downstream from this spring we had the best action of the day, even though the water structure was not the best. Trout are just like any living creature including us, they'll go where the A/C is and other favorable conditions exist to be comfortable and happy.

Same flies are working from my last blog post, you can read it HERE. Believe it or not ants are getting more attention than hoppers, strange but true. There are smaller dark craneflies out as of late, and still plenty of little yellow Sallies.

An interesting observation worth sharing again, my guests today asked me why these October Caddis casings were on top of the rock for this time of year. It's not from emergence, but from Water Ouzels (also known as the gray bird, the dipper) picking them from below the surface off the bottom substrate, and pulling out the pupa and eating them, leaving only the pebbled case behind as evidence.

Conditions are prime on the North Fork Yuba River now, so get after it!

I had my first trip into the gorge known as the "Grand Canyon" of Jamison creek last week, and how the river has changed from the high flows is amazing. There are so many large trees that are strewn all about it's liar. Big boulders once there, now gone. Plunge pools from last year that are now filled in with cobble, and new deep ones that never existed before.

Fishing was great, and even better we had first tracks, not another human footprint detected, only deer, bear, and racoon. Same flies as the North Fork Yuba River applied here. Talk about a remote setting, it was just my guest and I. Steve is a creek junkie, and a long time fly angler that was impressed with the grand canyon, and this guy is from Texas. The dude was in heaven.

I've been out on a lot of rivers and creeks since the high water events of last winter, and most of these venues do not have the aquatic insect populations of years past due to the scouring effects of the high flows. Jamison creek surprised me by the insane number of Siphlonurus nymphs - The Gray Drake. They were everywhere in the idle side waters, darting about like minnows. There were also large percentages of cased caddis with an organic material, not sure of the species, but they were everywhere too. Lastly, there were golden stone nymphs under many exposed rocks we checked. Pretty cool  to see so many bugs after a hellacious runoff.

Last Saturday I had the privilege to film a new upcoming fly fishing promo video with EEKOE socks, a generous sponsor of mine who produces the best sock on the planet. You really need to wear a pair of these, once you do you'll never go back. The video shoot was so cool as Greg Stevens of Photoflight Productions was on hand to shoot the footage. I've never been around drones but they are so bad ass! Look for the promo video soon as I will debut here on my blog. Remember to click on the highlighted words for links, and click on the pictures for a larger view.

About a month left of Summer, experience it all before it's gone. Explore your Northern California and the great outdoors - It's free.

See you on the water...

Indian Paintbrush Castilleja in the Grand Canyon of Jamison Creek

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