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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lake Davis ~ 10/30/2019 ~ Last Report of the Season

Brutal conditions. Wind so cold from the North East, it cuts right though you. We've been covering a lot of water as the fish are somewhat scattered to a degree. With the North/East direction of the wind you have to change tactics and hug the east shore, and find the calmer coves in the North end of the lake. At least the sun is out generating some warmth. Its been so gnarly out, but when you're hooking fish, it's all good. This morning's temp is 13, it will be slow to warm, and the east wind is supposed to blow again, ready to suck the life out of us. Yet we'll be out there, driven by the passion of the toad. Hardy conditions for sure.

So move around a lot, find fish, and stay there for a little while, then move again. A RIO Versi Tip with a sink rate of 1.5 (yeah, the clear one) off a floating line has been best. Fish the big flies, Jay Fair stripping flies in rust in the morning, burnt orange in the afternoon. Water temps are 48 degrees, and they will dropping quickly from here on out. Slower to medium strip now, with lots of 1 to 3 second pauses is mandatory. Treat any tic felt as a strike, and immediately strip set. If you don't hook up, keep stripping - the trout will still follow it, hitting it multiple times. They are SO hungry right now.

Damn wind. So cold, but at least there is a ripple on the water. Dress warmer than ever, it's late season conditions. Gloves, Gore-Tex, the works. Today, I felt like Jay. Cold, weathered, feeling the effects of the elements, sharing the experience, laughing, and excited. We were so lucky to have that man in our lifetime with his "No Nonsense" style of fishing. What an Icon. I sure miss fishing with him and the original Forest Ranch crew at Eagle Lake some 25 years ago. They all taught me so many valuable lessons.

Today is my last guide trip at Lake Davis until next spring. It was such a great fall season! I've completed more trips in the last month then the last 5 years combined. Pretty pumped right now, and all I can say is keep planting Lake Davis CDFW - it makes a huge difference! For 2020 and beyond, Adam Eisenman of Woodgrains Fly Fishing Guide Service will be helping me with trips on Lake Davis, the Middle Fork Feather River, and other waters in Plumas National Forest. He's a really good stick, and a great teacher, plus a nice dude. He gets it, including the natural world. The kind of man you can trust your life with. Adam will be working under my Plumas Forest Service Permit for 2020 and beyond with access to my boat for all the stillwaters in the Northern Sierra. I'm excited to pass down the knowledge to Adam, as Jay did with me. You folks will be in good hands with Adam, he's highly intelligent with trout behavior, and how to catch them.

That's it, and what an awesome fall season in Plumas Land, best I've seen Lake Davis fish in 8 years. I'm so stoked right now! Lower Yuba from here on out for the best winter dry fly fishing the state has to offer. If you want to increase your skill set and knowledge with anything fly fishing, you know how to find me. Experience is everything when it comes to fly fishing guides. Let's go fishin! - baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com/530.228.0487

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Lake Davis Observations ~ 10/27/2019

Beautiful Autumn weather blanketing Lake Davis in the last week, another Indian summer with flashes of small weather systems in the last month and a half. It’s just how our climate is these days and surly not the same world I remember growing up in Paradise. Back then we’d get rain and snow from late September through May, and a whole lot of it. We had t-shirt weather on Friday in the afternoon. It’s been too nice to be honest. 

We need a good storm to let these fish know that winter will take hold soon and they will be living under an icy tomb for 5 months. They tend to feed more during such desperate times. Catch rates have slowed down from the previous week. The big mega pods I found in the extreme north end and took advantage of have dispersed – Fish are scattered once again. We saw this in early October as well. You’ll find them in all types of water too, shallow shoreline, mid depth with heavy weeds, and in 25 feet with a featureless bottom structure. No matter the depth the trout are hugging the top water column. 

50 degrees is the current water temp and it’s been dropping really slow with the warm afternoons we’ve had. Fishing conditions are rarely perfect, the angler that makes the most of what they have been dealt will always succeed the most. At least there are more fish in the lake. When we have a day with 13 fish to the net and I’m thinking it’s on the slow side, that tells me things are getting back to the normal rhythms that Lake Davis is known for.

Glassy conditions with a high sun can be frustrating, the trout are spooky and hard to catch. Fishing from a boat requires my guests to cast at least 40 feet when the lake is like a giant mirror. That boat puts out a pretty large foot print on the water’s surface, so you need to place your fly as far away as possible. That’s the beauty of choppy water, it masks your mistakes, and gives you an advantage. Do yourself a favor and practice your casting for 20 minutes three times a week for months before a trip to the lake. As a guide, it allows me to make your day much more productive, I have more to work with.  Pray for the ripple, it really helps. 

Same story…cover water, find them, bang them…move on. With the warm weather there has actually been some hatches of size 34 midges in the afternoon, enough to see a few risers. When you see rising fish, it gives you hope. If you’re catching smaller fish in a certain area and you want bigger fish – Move to a different location. Big fish are bullies, and they’ll push out those smaller fish where there is abundant food and prime feeding areas. Quality or quantity, a choice you have to make at times.

Big flies with moving parts, Jay Fair stuff. Rust in the morning with a little red, burnt orange in the afternoons. Keep it moving, vary the strip cause these fish do not like a fly stripped with perfect rhythm, mix it up, make that fly look alive like a real creature swimming underneath the surface. I love a fly like Jay’s trolling fly (a stripping fly for those that are sensitive to the word trolling) that can do it all, and is easy to tie. When the fishing is on the slow side, it’s the intricate details that often make the difference. Don’t just fish, strategically think as you fish and decipher the ever changing daily conditions.

Big wind today, up to 30 mph. That’s a good thing, it will stir the pot and disperse food for the trout all over the place. Power is still on here thanks to Plumas Sierra Rural Co-Op. I had planned to go back to Nevada City last night, but with no power I’d rather stay here and get some work done on the computer before banging out my last three trips. October is so beautiful, yet lately in our ever changing world, can be so cruel. Poof, gone, up in smoke, with only ashes and memories remaining. A tough reality. It’s really easy to forget about how vulnerable we are when your floating on the water stripping bugs in t-shirt weather. Keep praying for my home town where I sowed the seeds to be where I’m at today, keep praying for Paradise, and the next towns that are on the hit list. 

My plate is full for the next two months. I’ll finish up the best fall season in 8 years here at Lake Davis, a 3 day trip to the Trinity River for my own fishing with my buddies @shogun_of_denver and Brian Clemens as our guide, then prepping for my 2nd So Cal Presentation tour to 7 clubs in 10 days (I’ll post the details soon), come back home and bang out a bunch of Lower Yuba River trips… next would be my full day of “Insights to Nor Cal Eastern Stillwaters” with Delta Fly Fishers on December 7th, then a 3 week-long trip to Colorado to go fishing with my best friend Cat, while ending it with some Christmas cheer and the last Star Wars movie (that’s some serious Rebel Alliance closure for me since it all began in 1977). When the gate drops, you got to pin it, to win it. Boom! Hole shot! I’m gone!

See you on the water…

Monday, October 21, 2019

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 10/21/2019

I traveled back down to the Lower Yuba River from the Northern Sierra for a few trips, and just as expected, the river is fishing really well. Saturday’s weather was cold in the morning with a stiff east wind, but there was an ample amount of cloud cover, and with it, all sorts of adult aquatics out. Sunday was super nice and warm with bright conditions, not the best trout weather but that didn’t matter at all – Those silver bullets were chowing down all day long. 

Fishing pressure has been heavy at times, and you may have to go off the beaten path or wait an angler out if you care to fish a particular spot at the more easy access areas. There have been no new redds where I’ve been guiding on the river, yet I still see salmon migrating upstream through the riffles at various times during the day. The water is very clear and the flows from Englebright reservoir have been right around 1,350 cubes. The rainbows are podded up and where you find one, you’ll find five of them. From "Da Dean" of guides Frank Pisciotta, "When the fishing is slow, move fast, and when the fishing is fast, move slow". Sage advice.

Many of the wild resident rainbows are in the 10 to 14 inch class and super-hot. A real handful for those new at this game, and my best advice is to not horse them in and let them take plenty of line out when they want to run, while still keeping tension. It’s tough for a rookie to take everything in at once, and there are so many steps involved until the fish is in the net. Everyday fishing techniques that are second nature to many of us, are serious summits for beginners to conquer. Think about it. A new fly angler needs the right rig with the right fly, the proper presentation to get the grab, a solid hook set, then fighting the fish effectively, and lastly sliding it softly into the receiving end of a net. I'm always so proud of my guests that put all the pieces in place to get the job done.

As for the bugs I saw a few different size caddis, BWOs, some really small PMDs, and larger Mahogany duns. I have heard of a few reports of Gray Drakes but I have yet to see one myself and cannot confirm it firsthand. The boys from Guidebox Fly Fishing also told me there is some decent dry fly fishing just before the sun sets, so keep that in mind. All types of rigs are working right know, and sub surface indo set ups are consistently producing the best. With more spawning salmon in the system, EGGS are a must right now and the best bead colors have been mottled natural roe, tangerine dream, and dark peach blood spot. I’ve also got some new innovative coatings with various shades of nail polish that really seem to do well and all I can say is “think outside the box” – Try different coatings the trout have never seen before. So with the indo rig, I’ll start with an egg about 9 inches down from my split shot, then I will trail a #16-18 Hogan’s S&M or Military May in dark olive, brown, or black, 14 to 18 inches below. Rubber legged stones have been picking up a few fish too. Try a dry dropper rig with something bushy on top in yellow or orange trailing a small baetis pattern in the shallower water below major riffles and the side water, you will be surprised. Lastly, solo dry fly, and depending on where you are fishing on the river will dictate what fly you will use for that. Observe more, and look at what type of bug the trout are actually eating and at what stage before making a selection from your box. Every section and riffle from the highway 20 Bridge downstream to Daguerre dam can have totally different hatches, and quantities of them, from prolific to sparse.

I want to thank John G. from Diablo Valley Fly Fisherman for organizing another great outing, the Lower Yuba River Dry Fly Workshop. We are planning many more events for the club in 2020. If your club would like to do the same, just contact me at baiocchistroutfitters@yahoo.com / 530 228 0487 and we can set up a totally custom event to cater to the club's needs. My full 2020 schedule for special events like the Native Sons Fly Fishing Tours which include the Truckee, Lower Yuba, North Fork Yuba, the Lost Sierra, and the Middle Fork Feather, and other specialized workshops, outings, and clinics will be up just before the first of the new year so you can plan ahead and get on my calendar. Well, a few days off to prepare for a week long battle, then back up the hill to the Northern Sierra in search of large trout. I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of my boat the “Lilly Bob”. See you on the water… 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Lake Davis Fly Fishing Report ~ 10/18/2019

Fall colors are peaking at Lake Davis, and so is the fishing. The key to having a really good day right now is locating fish and staying put. I keep saying that but you don’t leave fish to find fish. On the other hand major pods of rainbows can move a good distance from day to day. Fellow guide Ed Dillard told me he found a large pod of rainbows near Catfish Cove towards the dam, and a few days later they were gone, but then found them on the east shore south of Lighting Tree. If you’re not catching, move along to another location. I’ve been taking my guests to Lightning Tree, Long Point, Bluff Cove, Fairview Point, and especially the Freeman Creek arm – Where ever the fish roam…and you can bet I’ll find ‘em.  

Water temps dipped a degree from my last report as yesterday I recorded a 52 on the surface. Days have been seasonably warm for the most part but there have also been some big wind events. Factor that situation with the lake turning over a week and a half ago, and the coots ripping up weeds, and you’ll notice there is a lot of crap free floating near the top water column. Nights have been cold and the wind yesterday had a real bite to it. Conditions vary greatly from being in the Honker Cover parking lot and being out on the lake. Dress in layers to be warm. Doing so allows you to able to adjust to any weather related temperature or condition.

Fishing pressure still remains on the light side but then again everything is on fire as far as the fishing goes in Nor Cal. Catch rates have been the best they have been in the last 5 years at Lake Davis, or longer. It’s amazing how good the fishing can be when a “put and take” fishery is actually planted with good numbers and sizes of trout by Ca DFW – and to that I say “Thank You!”

The fish are super hungry right now and are putting on the feed bags. Forget about the indo rigs and small bugs, these fish want substance. Larger patterns in the classic fall colors of burnt orange, cinnamon, rust, fiery brown, and black are best. What kind of patterns? Flies that have moving parts like Jay Fair wiggle tails, trolling flies, and woolly buggers are best. Every day is different with the strip that the fish react to, from long slow strips, to faster shorter strips. Experiment until you find the one that consistently works. 

If you’re in a tube or a boat, use an intermediate line and one that does not sink too fast. Every intermediate line is different from each manufacture, and what the IPS (inches per second) states on the box is usually not the case - many lines sink way too quick unless your constantly moving in your personal watercraft. In open water, and the shallows, the fish are in the very top column down to 4 feet. If you’re fishing off the bank, use a floating line. You may want to bring a 7 foot RIO Versi-Tip in a 1.5, or a 3 IPS just in case you need to add it to your floater and probe a drop off, like an old creek channel. Also the grabs have been very aggressive so use 3X (rope). 

I’m so stoked right now about Lake Davis, I’ve been waiting a long time for the fishing/catching to get back to normal! As long as DFW continues to plant larger fish we all win, that includes the greater Portola/Graeagle area including all sorts of businesses that rely on folks coming from out of town, fishing up at Lake Davis, and spending money. I tell ya, right now Lake Davis is a thing of beauty. See you out there… 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Lake Davis / Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 10/13/2019

If you’re a fly angler, October is the best month of the year for good fishing in the Northern Sierra, as well as across Nor Cal. Fall colors, and the seasons changing guard are a stark reminder that another year has flown past. It’s been a great one while fishing/guiding on the water, and there are still plenty more good trips to be had. Nights have been cold, enough for me to make adjustments on where I’m camping out like up on a hill instead of down by the river or the lake. Cold air sinks to the bottom of any basin, so keep that in mind as well as if your camp will get early morning sunlight. The low air temps will increase a little bit in the upcoming days and during the daytime the highs will be mild with near 70 degree autumn weather, with a noticeable shorter length of daylight from sunrise to sunset. October is just plain special, I just wish it were stretched out over a three month period.

Lake Davis – Fishing has been great, the best it’s been in a long time but still you got to put some work in and locate the fish. Water temps have dropped a tad to 52 degrees, and during the sunny days the shallows will be a little warmer so look for trout to be there as there is abundant food and comfortable conditions. Colder water can spread fish out and that’s exactly what we are finding at Lake Davis. A higher lake level will do that too. I find that the lake is still a little too full for my liking which is currently at 80% of capacity. 65 to 70% is best for fly anglers who like to fish off the shoreline and prowl the peninsulas, points, and shoals. Fishing pressure has increased, but far from being crowded though. More conventional gear guys and gals then fly anglers.

I’ve been guiding the lake more this year than in the past 5 years and it’s been a lot of fun. Because of such I’ve noticed some variables that really effect the fishing. Glassy conditions make for tougher fishing as the trout feel more vulnerable from threats above water – They’re scared, they really are. Once there is a ripple on the water the bite will turn on. On last Wednesday’s trip we had big wind with white caps and rollers and the catching was on fire. During such conditions there is plenty of cover for the fish just under the surface, with lots of food being dispersed in the drift. The lake turned over last week meaning that there is no thermocline of cold water on the bottom with warmer water in the top column. It’s all mixed together with an up welling of nutrients from the bottom giving the water a green color with visible bio matter. The more water you cover, the better your catch rate will be, and when you do find a few stay put and fish that area hard.

Stripping flies has been way more effective than the bobber whether it’s out in open water, or on the bank. Jay Fair stripping flies, wiggle tails, and wooley nymphs just keep producing in the typical fall colors we love. Burnt orange, rust, fiery brown, black, and especially red are serious money. Some days a faster strip is better than a slow one and it’s best to experiment until you find the speed and action preferred by the fish for that day. The rainbows are showing more girth and bigger shoulders in the past few weeks which are proof they are eating well and bulking up for winter. A day off for me today, then I’m back up the hill for more trips. It’s been cool meeting new people at the dock who have given me praise about my website, blog, and reports. I really do care about sharing all things fly fishing and making sure my fellow anglers and guests are having a good time at Lake Davis, and all over the region.

Middle Fork Feather River – Conditions have changed rapidly in the last month that has affected the bite and hatches, namely colder water and air temps. I’ve been doing a lot of trips here as well and my guests and I have only seen one other angler, and it turns out he was a friend of a friend. The Chico connection is and always will be a big part of my youth while growing up and fly fishing in the town of Paradise. Water temps in the morning are at 50 degrees and the fishing is slow. Sleep in, eat a good wholesome breakfast, and get on the water around 11am when the water has warmed up. There are good hatches occurring in the afternoon with rising fish. BWOs and Mahogany duns (and spinners too) are the most prolific, and the BWO spinner fall occurs much later now and it is not as significant as the weeks prior. Caddis are still out including the false October Caddis and a few small species, I didn’t see one true October Caddis though in the last few trips even though I’m finding fresh shucks on the rocks. 

Northern California Tight Line Nymphing is the way to go, and with lower water levels you can effectively cover all the pools, pockets, and runs. I’ve really perfected my teaching skills over the decades of guiding and I can teach anyone how to tight line and be effective in a very short time. The rainbows are healthy and very colorful right now, yet mostly small, and 100% wild. Two things stand out this time of year on the Middle Fork Feather River. Solitude and blazing fall colors. Leave the crowds behind, and take a hike down the tracks, it’ll make your day that much better. See you out there…

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 10/9/2019

Peak fishing is occurring on the Middle Fork Feather River, and complete solitude can be found if one ventures off the main path. Fall colors are a little late in the watershed, but overall the autumn glow in the Northern Sierra has been a checkerboard of early and peak colors depending on your location. Last week has been warm in the afternoons, yet a little chilly in the mornings. You're going to want to fish during the warmest part of the day from 11am to 4pm. There is a big difference between a shady section of the river, and one with full sun. Choose wisely. Water temps are starting out near 50 degrees in the morning and the action is slow, yet catch rates pick up as the water warms to the mid 50's

The BWO spinner fall is occurring later due to the colder air temps, look for dimples in back eddies and slack side water next to the main current. Sparse hatches of BWO duns, smaller caddis, and a few October caddis are in the air with some of the caddis ovipositing during the day. Dry/dropper rigs are a fun way to fish and very effective, but Nor Cal Tight Line Nymphing is your best technique if you want fish in the net. Good dry flies include Orange Stimulators, E/C caddis, and Loop Wing BWO's. Top nymphs include flashback PT's, LaFontaine's Deep Sparkle Pupa in brown, and Hogan's S&M and Military May in olive. The trout are in the tail outs of foam lines in both runs and pools in the morning, and creep up into the faster water in the afternoon. Cover water quickly but slow down if you start catching a few as the majority of the fish are stacked up together. 10 to 12" fish are the norm, with a few bigger ones to 16". These fish fight extremely hard for their size and are close in athleticism to a Lower Yuba River wild rainbow. 

The Middle Fork Feather River closes November 15th, so if you want some good times on this awesome Wild & Scenic river, the time is now. Remember to click on any highlighted text for links to fly patterns, guides, or articles. See you on the water.

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