Saturday, April 25, 2020
You're invited to a live stream event and an evening of virtual community, celebration, support, and fun. Hosted by CalTrout Executive Director Curtis Knight and CalTrout Board Member George Revel, owner of Lost Coast Outfitters.
The broadcast begins at 7pm on May 1st. Lots of great prizes, and trips to bid on. Show your support during this challenging time for the fly fishing community and conservation.
For more information go HERE: https://event.auctria.com/ad603ff1-b806-478b-9274-e4b6e260a1b5
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Original artwork by local artist Karel Hendee
Sunshine and water, shimmering reflections
Bubbles and foam lines converge
Seams of joy
Searching, drifting, hoping
The take, the line goes tight
A battle of wits
Victorious, a scoop of faith
Admiration, vibrant colors glowing
An image to share
A memory to last forever
The release, water splashing
Disappearing once again
Taking in the experience, smiling happily
The Brookie Master knows nothing else.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
The free living caddis, also known by old school fly anglers as “the green rock worm”, is the most well known caddis fly, and also one of the most important food items available for trout. They prefer to live in swift aerated sections of cold water within a rich river system. They do not make protective cases of pebbles or organic material like most caddis fly larvae. No way, these critters are as tech as you can get. The two main genus I encounter are Rhyacophila, and Hydropsyche. Their body profiles are slightly different from each other, and also their behavior varies to some degree. This is the aquatic insect that really turned me onto the whole fly fishing/entomology world, so much in fact that my first brochure for my guide service featured a hand drawing of a Hydropsyche larva on the cover. Free living caddis is very prolific in all of our watersheds, from our valley rivers, to the upper Sierra freestones.
Hydropsyche larva is plump with a juicy green body, and a large blunt black head. I’ve seen them as large as a size 10 in the Blue River upstream of Dillon Reservoir in Colorado, and as small as a size 18 on the Yuba River. At the ends of their legs and at the base of their rear section is hooks that they use to cling to rocks. They are very well adapted to their environment. From the “Net Spinner” Family, they build permanent structures made of pebbles that serve as deflectors from the heavy current. In between these structures, they produce silk webbing that can be in the form of mesh fences, elongated tubes, and bags. These web formations collect algae, fine organic particles, and tiny insects that become food. Hydropsyche larvae lead a busy life of cleaning and repairing their nets around the clock. The adult is known as the Spotted Sedge (shown at the top of the post).
Rhyacophila are mostly plump in the mid-section of their body, and their head and rear are noticeably skinnier and tapered. Their bodies are various shades of olive, sometimes bright green, and their head is brown to black but much shorter than Hydropsyche. Rhyacophila is the purest form of the free living caddis, and are the most primitive representatives of that order. They also use their own silk as well, but as an anchor line like a rock climber rappelling down a face of granite. That’s some really cool evolution right there. In his book “Caddisflies”, Gary LaFontaine discusses his increased success fishing with net-spinning caddis larva patterns when he colored the last 18 inches of his leader white to suggest this silk anchor line of the natural. That is so Gary, always thinking so far outside the box, that the box didn’t even exist. Most are predacious, but a few will eat organic material being scavengers. When I sampled the Yuba River for aquatic life after the huge water events of 2017, these caddis larvae was always the first to appear in the samplings. They are very hardy and resilient. The adult is known as the Green Sedge.
The larva, pupa, and adult forms of free living caddis make up a very high percentage of a trout’s diet. Often it is the most where populations are prolific. Because the larva is so actively working and feeding, they are susceptible to being dislodged and thrown into the drift. A trout also has a good chance of eating them when they are in their behavioral drift, meaning the larvae periodically crawl out of their shelters, let go, and drift downstream 40, 50, or even 100 feet, thereby relieving competition and allowing the colonization of underutilized areas. This activity occurs on a daily cycle, and peaks near sunrise and sunset.
While living in Breckenridge Colorado in the early 90’s I kept finding samples of Hydropsyche in the Blue, South Platte, and Arkansas watersheds – Like a lot! I didn’t have a fly to copy, or the luxury of the internet to comb though, so I just laid out my tying materials with a specimen in a test tube of alcohol, and went to work. Immediately the pattern was a success. My good friend and fishing buddy Chris Fukuchi @shogun_of_denver and I caught so many nice trout on that first pattern. He called it the Killer Green Bug, which morphed into the KGB caddis. It quickly spread within our tight knit fly fishing crew in Breck including the fly shops, and about a year later there it was in the Orvis catalog “Killer Green Bug”. I was not even fazed due to my relentless pursuit of fishing 24/7. I simply didn’t care. Another great tip from Gary and aslo featured in his book “Caddisflies”(which you should all own, if not already) “A good imitation of a Rhyacophila larva is going to catch a lot of trout in swift, bouncing stretches of a stream. The same fly is going to do poorly in slow areas of the same stream. A fly fisherman can avoid wasting time in the wrong sections of a stream by working leap-frog fashion instead of in a straight line. If he is using an imitation of a fast-water insect he should fish only the swift, broken currents, skipping past the slower current areas. Likewise, if he is using an imitation of a slow-water insect he should only cover the quieter pools and flats.”
I tried a bunch of stuff to make the free living caddis look more real, but in the end the pattern I use today has been the best. A plump green body with segmentation, whitish feelers at the rear, a big black head, and rubber legs is really all you need. In my opinion, these are the key elements that induce the trigger mechanism for a trout to strike when seeking free living caddis larvae in the drift.
Here are some tips when tying your free living caddis patterns. For sizes 10-14 use medium V-Rib, for sizes 16-18 use the small size. The end of the V-Rib material can be bulky when applying it onto the hook. I like to cut the end of the material at a 45 degree angle so there is a thinner section to tie on. One of the really cool innovative ideas I had when first tying this pattern was to wrap the hook shank with lime green krystal flash before wrapping the V-Rib. Being that the V-Rib is clear with a pigmented color, the krystal flash reflectiveness punched through, and the overall color glowed. I’ll take a brown sharpie and coat the top of the Krystal flash before wrapping the V-Rib so it is darker than the bottom of the fly, making it look just like the natural. You can experiment with different colors of flash to get the custom look you desire. When it comes to putting on the legs with the rubber floss, I will take my bodkin and split the material in half for a smaller size so it looks more natural and not so bulky. Lastly coat that big black head with clear nail polish for a wet glossy look.
Hook: TMC-2457 #10-18.
Hook: TMC-2457 #10-18.
Thread for body: olive (8/0 for small patterns, 6/0 for larger patterns)
Thread for head portion: black (8/0 for small patterns, 6/0 for larger patterns).
Body: Larva Lace V-rib.
Under body option: lime green krystal flash.
Legs: J Fair rubber floss, olive.
Tail hooks: white antron fibers
Thread for head portion: black (8/0 for small patterns, 6/0 for larger patterns).
Body: Larva Lace V-rib.
Under body option: lime green krystal flash.
Legs: J Fair rubber floss, olive.
Tail hooks: white antron fibers
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Before I get into the details of the Lower Yuba River I thought I would get you up to speed on what I’ve been doing during our recent “Time Out”. Tying lots of flies has consumed my time, and filling custom orders for long time guests of mine. It’s been a whole lot of fun to be honest and reacquainting myself with the moves that each special pattern requires. You can check out my flies HERE on Instagram, or HERE on my Facebook page. I’m also riding my bike now that the snow has melted from the Highway 20 trail system. It’s pretty rad to be able to go door to door on some epic rides from here at the ranch. There are so many downed trees and limbs all over the trails from the last big low elevation snowfall we had in mid March. Mother Nature’s pruning in full effect.
Here are some ways you can help support me and keep the machine going. First, I have 10 different educational handouts on a variety of subjects like “Pontoon Boats for Rivers”, Lake Davis & Frenchman Lake Fly and Hatch Info”, and “High Water Tactics” to name a few. These are very informative handouts that are worth every penny, and at $10 a piece you will have the PDF file forever. Go HERE to see the entire list and purchase some through PayPal.
Many past guests are also buying full and half day trips with no date picked out yet, just a credit for the future. You can do that as well, or leave a deposit HERE.
Lastly you can order Baiocchi’s Troutfitters merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies, custom bug trucker hats, water bottles, and coffee cups HERE.
So, onto the Lower Yuba River report, the weather is back to being warm and the rattlesnakes are out! I nearly stepped on this guy, just inches away! For the past two weeks I had been getting some excellent reports from close friends who tell it like it is. No BS, and plenty of pictures too. I went out last Tuesday with a close friend and it sucked. My mentor Jimmy was out there too with 2 other anglers who are great sticks and they got blanked as well. Just one of those days I guess – That’s the Yuba for you. Our last storm was pretty significant. Deer Creek came up quickly with a sharp spike of flows up to 4,291. It’s currently at 84 cubes. The Lower Yuba rose to 5,465, and is perfect right now (flow wise) at 1,085. There is color to the water and some days there is 3 feet of visibility and other days down to 18”. This is caused by clouds of sediment coming into Englebright reservoir from the South, Middle, and North forks of the Yuba and passing through the dam. I’ve seen the same conditions like this before that last for weeks after a good flushing from a heavy spring storm.
Lots of folks out fishing too, including spin anglers with barbed treble hooks at the bridge. Saw one fly guy standing on redds upstream of the bridge as he was hooked up. With the water being colored up I’m sure he did not realize he was crushing eggs. Oh well, I’m not a cop, but I do like to nicely educate people if they are willing to listen – Most don’t want to listen LOL! The poppies, lupine and some other varieties of wildflowers mixed in are going off right now! So cool. I must admit it was great for the soul just hiking around through all that magnificent color. What a game changing attitude adjuster that was.
So many aquatics out right now, it’s unbelievable to be honest. The Yuba’s bug population is off the charts and bodes well for the future. Caddis flies everywhere including several different sizes. Olive, tan, ginger, and bright green bodies have been observed. Believe it or not, the Skwalas are still out and a report from Poncho last week stated there were hundreds in the drift on the lower river for about 3 hours. Golden stones are out as well as the salmon flies (Pteronarcys), and in pretty good populations, more than I have ever seen on the Yuba. Yellow Sallies are out too, the smaller ones (aloperla). Mayflies – PMDs, March Browns (I’m seeing more spinners than duns), a few BWOs, and am waiting to see the Gray Drakes pop which should be any day, if not already. Also some Pink Alberts in the mix too. As always after a big runoff period and colored up water, stones, eggs, and legs under the indo will be best if you’re all about the catching.
Overall the Yuba is fishing decent with some spectacular days, and some off days. I’m starting to venture up to the Northern Sierra to scout and fish, but I cannot guide on Forest Service land at this time as there is a state wide closure for commercial guides. All I can say during this mess is to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, it is our saving grace. See you on the water.
Friday, April 10, 2020
Another helpful post in my current state of mind of reaching out and sharing my thoughts and knowledge on all things fly fishing. I do find such to be comforting during this unusual period of our lives. So for those new to the sport, I hope this brings some enlightenment, and answers a few of the questions on casting that you may have. Special thanks to my past guest Seth for the topic, it's been really cool to see his skill set improve to the point he can now go out and be successful on his own.
I’m not a FFI Certified Casting Instructor. I do know how to break down casting instruction that is easily digested though, and often in baby steps as to not flood my students with too much information. I think that is key, to just take each step slowly so muscle memory is at least opened up to having good habits form. Below are the most faults I see while instructing on a day to day basis, or simply watching another angler from afar while out in the great outdoors of water, flora, and fauna.
Overpowering your cast – I’m guilty of this at times and it’s typical of most men to do, thinking more power will equal a greater distance. This is why most women excel at casting because they rely on finesse and timing. When overpowering rods that are a slow and medium action, they will fold and collapse with wasted energy, and not reaching the rod’s fullest potential. All one has to do is slow down their casting stroke while relying on the basic fundamentals
Often, it is the last final forward cast where the entire series of casting strokes fail to become a good presentation because the caster will force the rod forward, which will deflect the rod energy more than the previous casts and ruin the tempo, thus affecting the loop and the final delivery which most often results in the tailing loop.
Elevated casting plane – If your fly, leader, or your fly line is hitting the ground on your back cast, your casting plane is too elevated. This results in frayed leaders, broken hook points on your flies, and sometimes snagging the ground behind you. An elevated casting plane also affects the final forward cast where your fly line dies out, comes up short, and does not reach the intended target. I see this type of situation the most. To understand this better, let‘s look at an even casting platform. The rod stops at 10 o’clock on the forward cast, and 2 o’clock on the back cast. Drawing an imaginary line from the forward stopping point to the backward stopping point displays a level horizontal line. An elevated casting plane occurs when the rod stops at the 10 o’clock position, and on the back cast at the 3 o’clock position, or even worse as far as the 4 o’clock position. Now draw that imaginary line between the two points, and you can envision that upward unwanted angle that makes your cast die out and fail. Reverse the scenario for a downward casting plane, where your fly, leader, and line come down too aggressively and crashes onto the water’s surface (not ideal for dry fly fishing LOL).
Breaking the wrist – There will always be some sort of wrist movement when casting, it is the excessive movement of the wrist at the wrong time that robs the caster of producing a nice sexy loop. It is a problem that can affect all casters from beginner to expert.
I see this all the time too with most of my guests. When a caster breaks their wrist between the stopping points of their casting strokes it moves the tip of the fly rod off a horizontal casting plane, and the result is sloppy at best, both on the forward cast and the back cast.
Cracking the whip – We’ve all done this when we first started, and it’s not pretty. When I’m guiding, I like to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. Lots of flies can be cracked off to faraway places and disappear in a short time. This is caused by not letting the line full extend on the back cast, while rushing the forward stroke.
It’s ok to look over your shoulder and watch the line fully extend before starting your forward cast, at least then you can see what adjustments you need to make to be successful. One must be patient to achieve this. Remember, the more line you have out, the longer the pause between strokes, even if its fractions of a second.
Too much false casting – Depending on the length of your presentation, it should only take 4 casting strokes at a minimum to achieve your target, and dry your fly off if your dry fly fishing. This fault is painful to watch because 80% of the time the new student is doing a great job and only needs to send it, but they continue to cast, and cast, and cast until the rhythm is lost resulting in a tangle, or a wind knot. “ok, you’re good, drop it in”, “ok next forward cast send it!”, “ok, next one for sure…..” Then it all goes bad.
Practicing a good sequence of casts then laying it down will do wonders. Practice that in sets, over and over, and you’ll be dialed in no time.
Unsuccessful lob cast with nymphing rigs – Whether I’m teaching indo or tight line nymphing, many of my students struggle with making the proper lob cast back upstream after a drift has been made. First a typical nymph rig has a lot of moving parts and hinge points. Anywhere you have an indicator, tippet ring, swivel, added split shot, and multiple flies there is going to be hinge points. Add all those up together and much can go wrong resulting in some of the most horrific bird’s nest ever to be created. When starting the lob cast back upstream, be sure your line is fully extended and taut downstream. This simple act will help the rod load and be able to function properly. Next, bring the split shot, and flies near the surface so there is a clean exit from the water. Too many times I have witnessed my students trying to make the lob while the heaviest part of the rig is near the bottom of the river, 4 feet down. Add slack in the line, and the motion of making a lob is fruitless. So, after the drift is made, extend your arm downstream, make sure the line is taut, bring the heaviest part of the rig near the surface, then bring the rod up and slightly behind you and make the lob cast with a slow to fast acceleration. As the nymph rig exits the water, continue the motion of the rod upstream, stopping the tip to your intended target.
Here’s a bullet list of some sound fundamentals to think about when your practicing, or better yet – Fishing!
- Keep a level casting plane.
- Abrupt stops at the end of each casting stroke.
- Wait for the line to fully extend before making the motion to the next stroke.
- Slow to fast acceleration from the beginning to the end of your casting stroke.
- Keep a slightly off center casting plane to your side to keep the loop away from your body.
- Send it, earlier than you think.
- Learn the single haul as your skill set progresses, increased line speed is your friend.
Improving your casting does not have to be painful, or too technical that you just want to give up. Make it enjoyable by keeping it simple and fun. The goal is to be able to make a successful presentation in real time fishing conditions that will enhance your experience on the water. Your cast can be compared to a golfer’s swing, once you learn the proper mechanics, one can tweak the cast to their own personal style that suits them best. For further reading on the subject go here: https://www.fix.com/blog/fly-casting-faults-and-fixes/
One of the best certified casting instructors ever, Jeff Putnam has not only taught me a lot about my own casting, but some very helpful tips to teach casting more proficiently with my students: https://www.jpflyfishing.com/
Sunday, April 5, 2020
I receive many emails from fly anglers most everyday on all types of topics. Many of them are questions on rod selection for different applications, or the type of water they intend to fish. I always take the time to answer such emails, and it’s not for increased business, it’s just the type of person I am – I like to help others, always have. Just that simple act alone has given me an honest reputation with the fly fishing community that I am very proud of. When my dad got me started in the early 70’s our family was just making ends meet, we didn’t have the funds to buy excessive amounts of fly fishing gear. Waders? No way, we used cut off Levi’s, and dad also glued carpet to the bottom of worn Converse All-Star high top sneakers for wading boots. We completed our outfit with machine sewn homemade fishing vests too.
Our rods were Fenwick fiberglass models, the yellow ones (I don’t remember the model number). My rod was a 7 foot 5wt. My dad had the longer models in 5 and 7 weights, which is all he used while fishing for trout and steelhead, and it’s all he needed. We caught so many fish with those rods matched with Pflueger reels, and the Cortland 444 weight forward Peach line. Since I had only one rod, my dad taught me how to get the most out of that rod by using different techniques and casting platforms while practicing on the lawn, and most importantly on the water – fishing. Fly fishing is a perishable skill, the more you go, the more you know, and your progression rate rises sharply towards the top.
In today’s world we have the availability to select a rod, reel, and line for every type of condition, technique, and species of fish we target. An endless sea of choices from multiple manufacturers. While I raced motocross there was a saying the old timers had, “Run what ya brung.” I use that same theme with my students for the equipment they already own. Learn your rod’s characteristics by fishing with it as much as possible, and know those subtleties well, including the good, and not so good. Personal preference is an important factor in the equation. What works for Larry, doesn’t necessarily work for Kim. There are 9 different ways to achieve the same goal in fly fishing, choose the one that best suits your style or needs.
I do not get paid by any rod companies as a representative, or as an ambassador, and I don’t own a fly shop selling rods either. I have chosen the rods listed below (most of these are in my own personal quiver) by having the personal experience of casting them at trade shows, and coming to my own conclusions to what’s best for me when fishing for trout and steelhead. I still think the most important aspect of owning and using a rod is to simply become one with it through different fishing experiences. The rod you fish is your best friend, and you should know every little detail about it.
Redington Classic Trout 8" 6" 3wt
Sage Dart 7' 6" 0wt.
With a lighter weight rod, you will be able to feel the weight of a small trout much more while fighting it. This results in an increased level of fun! You would think shorter is better for the creeks, which is true on those that are choked with heavy brush. How about a more open piece of small water where the length of the rod can be longer? A longer rod equals in providing a greater reaching distance, and providing more pockets to pick from one location. The 7 footer, or the 9 footer? Split the difference.
All Rounder: (Trout)
Redington Vice 9' 5wt
Orvis Helios 3 ~ 9' 5wt.
Scott Radian 9' 5wt.
Sage X 9' 5wt.
Multi-functional…a rod that does it all, and does most everything well. From nymphing (indo, tight line), dry flies, streamers, to stillwaters. The most used rod that fits this title is the tried and true 9 foot 5 weight. Each manufacturer’s all rounder model will have advantages and disadvantages over another company’s all in one. If you can fish your buddy’s rod that you are really interested in, even better as you can spend time with it in real time conditions. This type of rod is usually the first rod most every new fly angler buys.
What defines a good dry fly rod is one that flows smoothly while casting resulting in a gentler presentation with medium to extra small flies. These rods will also have a softer tip to protect break offs on the initial hook set, especially those explosive takes and runs with larger fish. Glass rods are some of the best dry fly rods available even though they are not popular anymore.
Tight Line/High Stick Nymphing:
Shadow X 10' 6" 4wt.
Sage ESN 10' 6" 3wt.
A key factor in a modern Tight Line Nymphing rod is having greater sensitivity in the tip section. With a more sensitive tip, the user will be able to feel the fly ticking on the bottom, and also strike detection (the grab) from a fish. You can also see the subtle movements on your sighter section of your leader, which again will aid you in detecting strikes. Current TLN rods are much longer, some up to 11.5 feet which really help to reach out further, and target areas that are far off.
Sage Igniter 9' 5wt.
My favorite big stillwater rod ~ Sage XP 10' 7wt.
Two characteristics I look for when choosing a streamer rod, or for big stillwaters is a rod with a strong butt section for fighting large apex predatory trout, and the ease of casting larger fly patterns at a greater distance, with minimal effort. Being able to punch 60 feet out into the wind is another great quality of these super-fast action rods, especially on the wide open flats like Eagle Lake.
Each one of these rods will handle differently depending on your line choice, and even the actual weight of the reel you choose which can affect the balance of that particular rod set up. Rod reviews on the internet, firsthand experience from your fishing buddies, and the right local fly shop can all help in your decision making. In the end though, adapting to the equipment you have to work with, is often the best solution to your rod selection questions.
Run what you brung…
Friday, April 3, 2020
On Monday March 30th, my guest Nick hooked this athlete in a very swift run on a Redding Fly Shop March Brown parachute. It was a long and fierce battle that required light pressure while fighting it on 5X tippet. Biggest fish ever landed by a guest of mine in the 10 years I have been guiding the river.
December 29th marked the first day I saw a Skwala adult crawling about on the cobblestones. For the last 3 months this medium sized stoner has provided some incredible dry fly fishing. As of last Tuesday, they were still out in force. 2020 - The year of the Skwala Stonefly will never be forgotten.
There is nothing like being able to approach a pod of rising fish 15 feet away while being camouflaged by the blurry water of a side current meeting the main flow. The shorter your presentation is, the more likely you'll have a successful hook set.
Fellow Gold Country Fly Fishers member Dave Earl sitting side saddle on his kayak while drifting a nymph rig through the Aquarium. A new and different technique I had never seen before.
With the dry and warm spell of weather in the middle of winter, caddis flies were hatching earlier than normal. Populations of the adults have really increased in the last two weeks with many different sizes out. Bright green, tan, and ginger body colors seem to be the most prolific.
Some folks think the Yuba Gold Fields are an ugly backdrop. I disagree...Especially in Spring time.
The long battle Nick had with the taped 22" athlete. The water was so swift he had to slowly wade backwards into the shoreline for the net job. I'll be honest...We got lucky.
This colorful wild Yuba River rainbow was caught with 8 feet of line out and fell for a Unit Skwala with a fly first presentation under the overhanging willows by my guest. Pure magic.
I spotted my first of the year Golden Stone adult last week. The population is much smaller than the Skwala stones, but you got love the fact that the trout have the opportunity to eat a floating prime rib dinner.
Home of the March Brown clinger mayfly nymph...The fast riffles.
I had many private pontoon workshops this winter, and the conditions for such couldn't have been better. It's awesome to be able to share the "freedom of the drift" with my guests and show them how to set up their craft, to rowing techniques, and proper etiquette when encountering other anglers fishing from the bank, and professional guides in drift boats.
A common sight like this happened many times in the last 3 months while playing the Skwala game. We didn't always get them in the net, but the hunt alone is so addicting, and super satisfying.
The head of Shaw's riffle on a spectacular Spring day - Pure bliss.
The nymphal shuck of Pteronarcys californica, aka the Salmon fly. An even smaller population than the Golden stone exists on the Yuba River. The biggest of the big bugs at nearly 3 inches long.
Explore your natural world...See ya on the water!