Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Friday, September 29, 2017

Frenchman's Lake Update 9/29/2017

Cold mornings and beautifully warm afternoons for the past week, it's that time of year when an angler is bundled up in the morning and peeling layers as the day plays out. Water temperatures are running 57 in the morning climbing to 60 degrees by late afternoon. Fish are still scattered throughout the entire lake adjusting to the water temperature changes from a very hot summer. One must cover a lot of water to rack up the numbers right now. Fishing has been slow for some, and better for others. My guest C&R 14 fish yesterday using a verity of different techniques. The big surprise was how many smaller fish came to the net in the 12" range, a product from a recent plant of Eagle Lake rainbows. For such a small sized trout they fight quite aggressively, and remind me of the rainbows of the Lower Yuba River. That's an Eagle Lake rainbow for you. Lots of fly anglers on the lake both in tubes and roaming the shore, plus bait anglers, and trollers.

Big flies are producing like Jay Fair stripping flies in a size 8, callibaetis nymphs, and krystal buggers in all the standard fall colors. Stripping seems to be the most effective technique right now, much better than the indo rig. There are dry fly opportunities in the early afternoon with callibaetis duns, and smaller midges with a black body emerging. Stomach samples from yesterday were packed with the same smaller chironomids, a few juvenile damsels, and callibaetis. There are some areas where sight fishing from the bank in 1 to 3 feet of water exists. Fishing will increasingly get better in the weeks to come as water temperatures drop, hopefully the bigger bullies will show up and push the smaller fish off the feeding beds. I have a very limited amount of days open for October, but more in November if the region does not get hit hard with cold snowy weather, only time will tell. See you on the high desert lake...

Emerging Midge Pupa

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Northern Sierra Fly Fishing Report 9/24/2017

The land of extremes, northern California as we know it, is all that. The way the weather has turned in the last week is not surprising, but more of a shock to my body’s comfort zone. 2 to 6 inches of snow fell in the upper elevations including the surrounding mountains of eastern Plumas County, providing a surreal backdrop for the start of the autumn equinox. When weather changes quickly as it did, Mother Nature’s critters respond, their behaviors change, as does their eating habits. Large flocks of American Coot and game birds have taken refuge on the stillwaters with a new home for the fall season. The trout are already on the “all you can eat” plan, beefing up the fat reserves for the long winter ahead. There’s no going back now, and the second season has begun. Already at Frenchman’s Lake, and Lake Davis, the water temperatures have dropped significantly to the high 50’s. Last Thursday it was 26 degrees in the morning with a cold breeze from the north, and being on a wide open Sierra stillwater, there’s nowhere to hide. One just has to deal with it and take the pain. It was actually quite refreshing, it’s kind of nice to bundle up again and not sweat your ass off.

I’ve been focusing most my efforts at Frenchman’s, the fish are scattered, but are definitely in the upper water column adjusting to the quickly changing water temperatures. This also means they are already starting to spend a longer time in the skinny water, soon it will be all day and the sun will not drive them to deeper water. The shallows actually provide a more comfortable zone for them to feed in when the main body of the lake’s water temperatures are very cold. The last brood of Callibaetis mayflies are hatching in small numbers, and a few smaller creamy colored midges are also dimpling the surface as they emerge. Damsel nymphs are always in the system, and as an aquatic insect that has a two year life cycle underwater, you’ll find first year nymphs swimming among the weed piles this fall. These nymphs are about a half an inch long, but have the same profile as a full mature adult damsel before the spring emergence. Fall rainbows will consume everything and anything, and why bigger flies get their attention, the greed to feed is uncontrollable.

Buggers and wiggle tails in fiery brown, dark olive and burnt orange are staples for this time of year, or you can even go bigger with a Jay Fair stripping fly in the same colors. Stripping flies has out shined the indo rig as of late, it’s that time of year when the trout key in on moving food items, and zero in on them. Every week will get better until the end of October, my guests and I have had plenty of insane days on the water around Halloween. If you want fewer but bigger fish to 27” go to Lake Davis, or if you want more fish, yet smaller in size and girth, go to Frenchman’s. I plan on spending my time at both lakes, and all the while comparing notes.

The North Fork Yuba River is still producing, but there is no need to be on the water until the middle of the day. This morning the water temperatures in the upper watershed were 48 degrees, and good consistent action did not commence until the sun was on the water. My guest and I found quite a few trout in slower to still side water that you could easily call “frog water”. They were sunning themselves and taking leftovers off the surface. It was really cool to watch, and also to stalk them. 

We only saw hatches of very small midges, and an occasional October Caddis fluttering in the sun’s rays. I saw way more shucks then flyers. Orange Stimulators, ants, and Flashback Pheasant Tails were the preferred flies for the wild rainbows. 

The tussock moth caterpillars were out floating the currents from boulder to boulder, if you have ever wondered why the Renegade dry fly tied in matching colors is so effective on the NFYR, this is why. It’s an old school pattern that most do not use any more, but maybe it’s time to stock your box with a few of them for the fall months. Fishing pressure was pretty much nonexistent, but I was amazed how many regular people are still camping as the campgrounds were close to full on this weekend. My last bit of advice is to fish the NFYR where the sun shines from 11am to 4pm. Look for the pumpkin bugs ovipositing, and enjoy the show. See you out there in the spectacular northern Sierra…

One Headed Rabbitbrush, Ericameria parryi var. monocephala surrounds the landscape of Frenchman's Lake giving the last crop of Sierra butterflies and bees the needed energy for the Autumn season.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lower Yuba River Fishing Conditions & Update 9/19/2017

I’ve been on the Lower Yuba River for the last three days operating pontoon workshops and tours, the observations and real time experienced at the current flow of 1,035 cubes is eye opening. The “Newba” River, as coined by Jordan Romney is all that, and it is especially apparent at the lower flows. So much material has moved in that it boggles the mind. Many tail outs of runs are very shallow at this time. The main deep holes are still there, but have filled in to a degree at the head of them. The deep slot at “Clay Banks” upstream of Hammon Grove has filled in, but just upstream the high winter flows has created a new section of these banks, and now the deep slot is positioned there. 

The drift itself is relatively the same course, but also much different. Navigating in some sections is easier, and more technical in others. For example the rapid just upstream of “The Aquarium” is a swift short chute that leads into a large boulder, and has little room for error, a missed paddling stroke or line choice could be bad.

The Sycamore Ranch take out is filled in with material to the point that a drift boat operator will have to drag the boat through a shallow portion of Dry Creek before reaching the concrete boat ramp. Some operators have backed their trailers over the park’s grass and down the embankment to the slough that connects to the main stem of the river. This is frowned upon by Yuba County Parks and Recreation as it is eroding the bank and unlawful. I expect them to block this area off in the very near future to deter others from doing so.

The fishery itself has changed from the high flows as well. At this time only smaller resident rainbows 8 to 12” are being caught, and I’ve yet to see any large specimens throughout the system. Those smaller rainbows are also fairly skinny due to the limited amount of food available to them. In our aquatic samplings we found immature Golden stones, Skwala stones, baetis, and March brown mayflies. The most prolific bug out of all the samplings was the Rhyacophila free living caddis, this is the only bug we found that was in a mature state. 

There was evidence of shucks from the stub wing stonefly (Claassenia sabulosa), but not in big numbers. At least a few made it to become adults and perpetuate the species. Our guests did best with hopper dropper rigs trailing a small baetis nymph, and swinging caddis emerger patterns. Standard bobber rigs also caught a few fish as well. 

In the last 3 days on the river from Parks Bar down to Sycamore Ranch only two salmon were observed. I spoke with a biologist from the National Marine and Fisheries Service yesterday and the laser counter at Daguerre dam had only counted 8 salmon that had passed through so far. It’s not looking good for the salmon populations at this time. Coming off a drought has had its effects, and in those years, the eggs that were deposited into the gravel did not survive due to dam operators cutting back the flows during spawing time, and leaving the redds high and dry. It amazes me that the Department of Fish and Wildlife has not closed off the interior rivers this year to the harvesting of the salmon and depleting an already fragile resource. If the salmon show up in bigger numbers on the Lower Yuba River, this may bring some bigger populations of rainbows upstream with them as they anticipate the egg drop. Only time will tell, so keep your fingers crossed. 

In other news, Lance Gray of Lance Gray & Co, and Baiocchi's Troutfitters had another successful two days of pontoon workshops. This is the most comprehensive drifting workshop you'll find in all of California. Everything is covered from safety, paddling techniques, equipment, and inside knowledge from experienced oarsman. Be sure to look for upcoming announcements for new 2018 dates.

The last week of Summer is coming to a close, and fall type weather is already upon us. A glorious time of year, the Autumn season is one to be cherished. It's short and sweet, so make the most of it!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Truckee River Fly Fishing Update 9/13/2017

I’ve been roaming back and forth from the Truckee area to the North Fork Yuba River for the past few months, and now it's time to concentrate my guiding over to the Truckee River and Little Truckee River area for Fall. I really can't wait to be on the Northern Sierra stillwaters as well in a week or two when the water temperatures come down a little more. The Truckee River is in transitional state with cooler nights and the days becoming milder. I hope we have seen the last of the hot weather. Hatches have increased slightly with pseudocloeons (tiny bwo’s), a larger bwo, caddis, with the waning of the Stub Wing stoneflies (summer stones). October caddis are almost done pupating in their sealed off cases and ready to go once the arc of the sun gets a little lower, and temperatures drop both in the air and water. There are lots of smaller fish in the system ranging from 9 to 2” and are eating dry dropper rigs. These trout are about 2 years old and it amazes me that we have a large population right now because that means that even during the drought, their parents were able to pull off a very productive spawn. Look for these fish to get a whole lot bigger in the next few years.

Tight lining has been the most effective method as always, but the brown trout are starting to move around and that means good streamer fishing is just around the corner. Sculpin patterns, crayfish, and baby rainbows will entice if properly presented. Overall fishing is picking up and will continue to get better as the weeks march on.

In other news, myself and other board members of Trout Unlimited Truckee chapter 103 had an outreach meeting for our next restoration project on “The Loop” upstream of Horner’s Corner. Though attendance was light, we were pleased that anglers who cared or wanted to comment showed up.

The project is slated for fall of 2018, and with the addition of the “J” and “W” weirs, it will create scouring which will deepen the featureless shallow area, and create new natural spawning gravel. The weirs also create habitat for not only larger trout, but also young of the year. The same type of restoration was done on the private water of the San Francisco Fly Casting Club last summer and even after this winter’s huge flows through the Glenshire stretch, every boulder was still standing. The weirs for the most part did their job. If you would like donate, volunteer your time, or get involved with the Trout Unlimited Truckee Chapter103, contact Sierra-Cascades Field Coordinator Sam Sadillo at the Truckee office – 530.587.7110. See you on the water…

Trout Unlimited Truckee Chapter 103 "The Loop" Restoration and Habitat Project

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Simms G3 Guide Vest Product Reveiw

I'm from the old school of fly fishing where using a vest was the norm, I grew up with them, and all of them have served me well. Today's world offers so many different options for carrying the essentials for fly fishing. I sometimes use a sling pack when minimal gear is required and I'm fishing solo. To be honest, I'm still not use to it, it feels foreign to me. As a 20 year veteran guide I carry it all when I'm out with my guests on the water, I'm fully stocked and prepared for any breakdown or equipment needs that may arise. I'm often teased that I carry too much, but in reality my job is no different than being a sherpa on big Himalayan peak, I must be ready to deliver the goods at any cost so we can reach the summit no matter the situation.

I just retired my Simms Guide vest so a friend who recently had his vest stolen could benefit. I've use it for 10 years with an average of 250 days on the water. That's over 2,500 days. The only damage to the vest was from the effects of UV rays from our friend the sun. The outer material of top individual pockets on the back rotted away, as well as the collar. That's it. Every zippered pocket, or velcro pocket is still working like it's new. The retractors are still functional with no cracks in the coiled vinyl. No tears or rips of the outer material after years of abuse. I'm really hard on gear, mostly because I venture where the wild things are, way off the beaten path. The Simms guide vest has proven to be bomb proof.

So with a new Simms G3 vest to switch over to, I'd like to list the great functions it provides, afterall its proven track record speaks volumes, and I need to look no further for my fly fishing on stream storage needs.

This multitasking superhero outperforms them all, with more than 20 intuitively placed pockets that maintain everything from flies and fly boxes to split-shot, licenses, cell phones, spools, leaders, and more always at the ready. Its breathable, padded collar and stretch fabric shoulders help disperse the load, while keeping you cool and comfortable during high-exertion days on the water.

  • 22 pockets: 4 patent-pending molded foam pockets on chest front, 6 bellowed pockets, 2 Thermolaminated zippered pockets, 2 vertical/4 horizontal interior pockets, 2 large horizontal pockets, 1 split back pocket, 1 bellowed back cargo pocket.
  • 100% non-corrosive zippers and sliders.
  • 2 patented built-in retractors with magnetic docking station.
  • Breathable padded collar & stretch fabric shoulders.
  • 100% Nylon woven fabric with DuPont™ Teflon® finish and 100% polyester mesh lining.
  • Approximate weight: 25 oz.

  • The little parts all add up for the complete package - zippers, metal buttons and snaps, and Nylon buckles - all earn the YKK® brand. The big difference begins with their obsession to ensure that every individual component renders maximum value to the finished whole. That commitment instills quality and value into every product. Simms utilizes fasteners built to withstand the harshest environments and YKK® provides the best solutions to meet those needs. All Simms outerwear features nylon YKK® zippers to minimize corrosion and provide high performing, durable wear.

    Also included is the durable DuPont™ Teflon® water and stain-repellent, for superior comfort and performance in all weather conditions that range from balmy to abysmal.

    My personal rating of this product is a 10, there is no other vest finer than the Simms G3 Guide Vest. Visit your authorized Simms dealer to check it out. You will not be disappointed.

    "The Umpire Run" on the Little Truckee River. Photo by Frank Pisciotta of Thy Rod & Staff Guide Service

    Friday, September 1, 2017

    2017 Fall Sierra Stillwater Prognosis

    Fall may be coming, but it sure doesn’t feel like it with triple digit temperatures in the greater central valley and foothills. The fall season on Sierra stillwaters is the best time of the year for the fly angler. Trout move into skinny water to feed, and as the water temperatures plummet they can also find more comfortable water temps than the main body of the lake. By “skinny water”, I mean water levels of 1 to 3 feet, and often the game is sight fishing if the lighting is right. Depending on the fishery you can expect big number days and constant action. Fall is also the time of year when I use my Tracker Pro Deep V as a taxi rather than fishing from it, it’s all about finding a productive shoreline with weed growth, a slot, or a transition zone reaching out to deeper water. Trout behavior in the fall months are about one thing, fattening up for the long haul over winter while living under an ice sarcophagus. They are extremely greedy and often let their guard down. Shorter leaders can be used with heavier tippet sizes, and a bad presentation can often mean a hook up. It’s the complete opposite from the demanding and challenging damsel game.

    I’m often amazed how anglers try to over complicate their equipment while fishing from the bank. In reality it’s the simplest form of fly fishing a stillwater. One fly, or if you plan to use two flies, a big bugger with a trailing callibaetis nymph. A 9 foot leader to 3x, and a weight forward floating line. So many fly anglers think an intermediate is best from the shore, but here is the truth. An intermediate line will sink faster than you think, and in skinny water your fly will be lower than the level of active feeding fish, which look up 90% of the time than down. Also with a floating line you can slowly reach the level of the fish by counting down. Other variables can be the weight of the fly, many of my flies are unweighted or only use one small single bead. It’s all about depth control.

    Depending on how hot the weather will remain for September will be the deciding factor when the fish will start the fall gorge. Cooler nights are on their way in, which really helps drop the water temperatures. This month will be interesting nonetheless. So let’s take a look at what we can expect from the two leading lakes of the northern Sierra.

    Lake Davis – The current water level is 89% which is way up there for the fall season. With those water levels, many of the bigger coves will have adequate water levels in the far reaches of them. Do not ignore the areas that have not seen a lot of angler pressure. Trout are shy creatures, and if the food is there without fear of harassment, it can be really productive. My sources from DFW shared with me that a recent electro shocking sample revealed a little over 200 rainbows in the middle part of the lake, and nothing was less than 20 inches. We’ll see the same results as the past but maybe a few more in the net as we get into October. 1 to 5 fish, but they will be large. I’m expecting to hear that a few 6 to 7 pound fish will be caught, they are in there, that’s for sure. Because of the latter you can expect a smaller amount of anglers on the water. September will see the last brood of the callibaetis mayflies, and blood midges. Once the water temperatures fall below 55 degrees, the hatches will wane out.

    Frenchman’s Lake – After last June I’m most certain we will see great fishing from Lake Davis’s little sister. I still have June 10th on my mind, the day we boated 62 fish, and missed dozens more. That’s what Frenchman’s is known for, big numbers of trout when the conditions are right. The lake level is currently at 84%. September will bring callibaetis hatches and numerous midge hatches with several different species out and about. Indicator fishing will be strong. As water temperatures drop, and the sun takes a lower arc in the sky, the fish will go on the fall gorge. I’ve always done better here with bigger flies like wooly buggers, or Jay Fair’s stripping flies. The takes aren’t always aggressive, and most often they are light, so keep a tight leash to your fly. If the lake does not freeze up early, do not forget about November and focusing on the south end of the lake. It’s going to be a great fall season at Frenchman’s.

    I’ll be guiding both lakes until ice up, but when inclement weather and snow comes in for good, I bring my boat back down here in Nevada City. For the rest of the season it’s a walk and wade game, which is really no hindrance since the fish will be prowling the banks. A couple days near the end of September is all that is left on my guide calendar, and a few weeks in October. There are plenty of days for November open at this time. Don’t procrastinate - book your date now before it is too late. Call me at 530.228.0487, or email me at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com to reserve your day.

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