Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Monday, July 27, 2020

Lost Sierra Fly Fishing Report ~ 7/27/20

The flows have dropped for the North Fork Yuba River and the creeks of the Lost Sierra which isn’t a bad thing, it only concentrates the fish into the deeper pools, runs, slots, and pockets. Water temperatures are running between 57 degrees in the morning to 63 in the afternoon depending on the watershed. It’s been so nice wet wading in the cool bubbly water on those hot days! Fishing has been great if you can appreciate small to very small wild trout, solitude, and the natural world. It’s wonderful to know there are many fly anglers who are grateful for such things. 

Last weekend I did my first trip in the Truckee area of the year at the tailwater and it was kind of a culture shock for me. Hundreds of people lined the shore of Boca reservoir. At the inlet there was a group guide trip with 15 people. Masses of people everywhere - Total Covid overload. Until then, it had been months since I’ve seen another guide. What a stark difference compared to dropping into a remote creek, deep in the Lost Sierra and seeing nobody, just like yesterday’s trip. My guests and I are enjoying it all immensely, but I’m also looking forward to autumn, cooler water temps, and the Northern Sierra rivers and stillwaters to fire up.

I get asked often what is the difference between a stocked fish on the North Fork Yuba River, and a wild one. Above is a stocked rainbow. Notice the pale color and the large head and skinnier body.

Though much smaller, above is a wild rainbow. Brilliant colors, orange white tipped fins, and par marks on the side. Wild trout will lose their par marks when they are about 10 to 12 inches long. When you look at both pictures side by side you can really see the difference.

Terrestrials and caddis are the main dishes being served up at the café for the trout, and a smidgen of the smaller Yellow Sallies for desert. Ants, hoppers, and beetles are plentiful, and there are caddis from a size 18 to a 12 out in full force. If you want to catch more fish use a smaller Elk Hair caddis, and if you want to keep the really small fish off the end of your line, use the bigger Stimi. Shorten up that leader too, when your high sticking a dry fly in the pocket water, there is no need for a long leader.

As I grind out trip after trip, I’m in tune with what my guests are yearning to learn, and the common mistakes that hinder their success in catching more fish. As a guide who takes pride in sharing the knowledge and instructing the finer points of fly fishing, here is some invaluable information:

-With smaller trout, one must be lighting quick with the hook set, and once you do make a solid connection, one has to back off with the force of such or you will launch them out from the water into another dimension. Quick’s the action, and sharp the word. That’s all good until you fish for larger trout which requires a totally different approach, like waiting for them to dip below the surface before setting the hook. If not you’ll pull the fly right out of their mouth. With very small trout you’ll also be used to just hauling them in once hooked. With big trout, once you make contact be prepared for all hell to break loose. You must keep tension, but also allow them to run, or it’s “Snap”! Goodbye.

-The fun of fishing smaller water is covering sections quickly, and then moving upstream to fresh unmolested water. One needs to study each section from afar, then devising a plan of attack. My first move is to go right to the meat of the pocket, or run. Basically the area that will give me my best chances to get a grab. For beginners this is difficult as they are still learning to read water. My dad taught me long ago to mentally record where and what type of water structure you are catching your fish in, and then duplicating that same water as you move upstream to new areas. Make a plan from right to left, or left to right, and near to far. Also factor in obstacles like bushes, and overhanging branches from trees that may hinder your casting or presentations.

-When fishing pockets of water linked up to each other, the water is turbid and often blurry. It is harder for the trout to see you with those conditions, so you really can get very close - in fact a lot closer than you think. Moving slowly into position and keeping a low profile is still extremely important though. The calm tail outs of pools or the skinny tail outs of runs is where you will need to go full stealth mode and be undetected in order not to spook your quarry.

-Trout in small waters and creeks like a dry fly offering that is floating high and dry. Great care must be taken in order for your fly to do such. False casting to dry your fly off between presentations is often needed. If not, your fly will become soaked in a very short time. Another mistake I see all the time by my guests is once they are in position and ready to fish a section of water, they take their dry fly off and let it go into water, then take too long to make their cast. This causes many problems like having the fly swept downstream into rougher white water, and drowning it, or even worse snagging it under a rock in deep and fast water. Here is the answer…Unhook the fly from your rod and hold it in your hand, position yourself and set up to cast, let go of the fly… then SECONDS later make the cast. Keep your fly nice and dry for greater success.

-Far too often I also see my students hook into a fish, big or small, and strip in too much line as they try to land it. They struggle with putting it in the net, or with a smaller fish, grabbing the leader to place it in hand. How much line should one strip in? That varies. Once the fish is close, raising the rod high will bring it towards you. There should be enough line out from the tip of the near vertical position of the rod that the fish is still in the water. Simply net or grab the leader at this time, then lower the rod tip and there should be an ample amount of slack to unhook the fly and marvel at your catch.

All the above can only be learned by time on the water, fly fishing is a perishable skill, and one must fish often to increase their skill set and knowledge of such.

One more month of small water for my guests and I as we head into the dog days of summer, then it’s off to Colorado again for a few weeks of hosted trips and some Jonny time. I’m really looking forward to getting back out there! Dates are filling up quickly from now until the end of October for the Northern Sierra. I have these dates available as of now: 8/9,10, 20, 21. 9/17, 27, 28, 30. 10/3, 4, 23, 26, 27, 31. If you want to book a trip let me know asap. If we get good weather into November and the snow stays away, I’ll continue doing trips at Lake Davis with the boat – Then it’s a transition back down to the Lower Yuba.

Take care and be safe – See you on the water…

Scarlet Lily 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

WildStream Searcher 106-3 Rod Review

The WildStream Searcher 10 foot 6” 3wt. is a specialty fast action rod designed for American Tight Line nymphing (also known as Euro nymphing). The construction of the rod is made of IM 10 weave graphite (intermediate modulus) that features a thinner wall for extra sensitivity and a lighter feel. The key to any good Tight Line nymphing rod is a flexible tip that will transmit every tick on the bottom substrate and the lightest grab from a trout. Though it is a 3 weight, the butt and mid-section is of a 5wt. caliber for fighting larger fish.  A Grade 4A cork full wells grip, beautiful reel seat, and a fighting butt complete the operator’s controls of the rod. Single foot guides for even more sensitivity and ultra smooth wraps complete the Searcher. It also has an extremely appealing finish with a pearl accented veneer. 

A longer rod will allow you to reach areas a shorter rod cannot, plus you’ll have better control resulting in a more effective drag free drift. If you’ve never fished with a rod longer than 9 feet, it takes some time to get used to it. You’ll need to be more careful walking down a trial near the river, or bringing the rod inside your house. The last 4 inches of the rod to the tip is very delicate and does not flex that much and can snap. Be extra cautious when pulling on your leader and fly line out from the tip, the more vertical the rod is, and the more the tip is at risk of failure. It’s wise to set the rod down and pull the leader or line straight out of the tip.

WildStream Ambassador Cat Toy https://flyfishingwithcattoy.blogspot.com/
Photo courtesy of  Mike Hinckley Media

While fishing you may have to stand farther away than you normally would with a shorter rod. Netting fish alone with a longer rod also takes a new approach. Reach your rod hand out and up behind you with the reel turned away. When you slide the fish into the net, angle your body to the creature and reach quickly with a fully extended net arm. Ninja warrior style! This gives you the reach you need and will help you from possibly breaking your rod.

I first fished this rod on the Yampa River, in Colorado, and it was very interesting Tight Lining with a size 22 fly. The takes were so subtle, but I could either feel them, or the sensitive tip would make my sighter section dance. A Galvan Rush Light reel with a RIO competition nymphing line was used and I must say I do like the smaller diameter fly lines for this style of nymphing. I hooked several fish that were very big and at first I was concerned the 3wt size of the Searcher would not be able to handle them. Fortunately the over sized butt section did its job and it was an advantage to be able to use the fighting butt while playing the fish. I’m impressed!

A few days later I fished the Searcher 106-3 on the Arkansas River. The trout were not as big as the Yampa River, but there was more water and I got a feel for how well the Searcher performed while nymphing faster and heftier water conditions, plus a heavier rig. Not only is this rod fun to fish, but it is an amazing tool for Tight Lining. If you had to choose one rod and style of fly fishing for consistently putting fish in the net, the Searcher and Tight Lining would be it. I’m looking forward to fishing it as soon as I can, this rod is a winner!

Price for the Searcher 106-3 is $240, comes with an extra tip, case, and rod sock. There are other models available like the 10' and 10' 6" in 2, 3, and 4 wt. For ordering or more information contact James Kissinger of WildStream USA at 775.737.1306, or email him at wildstreamfishing@gmail.com

Monday, July 20, 2020

North Fork Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 7/20/2020

Good to be back on the North Fork Yuba River and guiding my guests with the finer points of short line dry fly fishing. It’s really cool to see an appreciation for the total experience of remote canyon water, small wild rainbows, 0 to 3wt. rods, and dry flies – Not to mention wet wading and keeping cool. There are lots of visitors in the canyon, and everywhere else in the Northern Sierra it seems. Population evading covid overload. We’ve been working the watershed from Downieville upstream to Bassetts Station where most of the cooler water is. Water temps in the upper most part of the watershed are 58 in the mornings at 8am, rising to 64 by the afternoon. The water levels are about average for this time of year and it’s amazing how the pockets, slots, riffles, and tail outs change after every winter.

Fishing has been great, especially if you get away from the more popular access areas. The further one hikes to the remote areas, the better the fishing is. Sometimes you get to present your fly to trout that have not seen an artificial all season long. There is a lot of young of the year fry in the side water, and overall many smaller fish from 3 to 6 inches. This bodes well for the future.

Many of my guests who have never been to the North Fork Yuba River before are kind of in shock when they realize how tough it is to navigate the boulders and wade. A wading staff, good wading boots, and being in sound physical shape definitely helps, plus it’s a whole lot safer. Another thing – Go slow and make every step count.

Good early morning hatch of Little Yellow Sallies (alloperla) are out in a size 18, also caddis, big meaty yellowish/tan crane flies, lots of ants, and hoppers are on the menu for the trout. Successful dry fly patterns have been Yellow Stimis, Elk Hair Sallies, RP’s Ant, Purple Haze, Elk Hair Caddis, and Adams Parachutes. Must have dropper nymphs include Jonny B's Ant Bombs, Hogan’s Red Headed Step Child, Flashback Pheasant Tails, Psycho Prince nymphs, and Red Copper Johns. The ant grab is really good right now! 

Spent Ichneumonid Long Tail Wasp

Many wildflowers have already expired like Western Azaleas while Scarlet Monkey flowers are just starting to come on. Not much wildlife on the river and we’ve seen only one rattlesnake – It was dead on the side of Hwy. 49 from a car strike.

I get numerous emails all the time asking for specific places to fish or access points and it’s so hard to answer that question when there is dozens of miles of river next to Hwy 49. What was good last year may not be that way this year. It’s best to just pick a section and fish it for an hour or so. If it sucks, get back in your vehicle and find another spot. Take note there is major road construction downstream of Jim Crow road (where Shangri-La Resort is at), and also just upstream of the Ladies Canyon Creek confluence. 

I've got some open dates for August, why not join me and get the Sierra Pines Resort package deal (http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com/yuba-river-fly-fishing/) that includes lodging, meals, and a discounted half day trip with me. Give Glen and Cindy a call or an email, and click the link above.

Good luck out there and see you on the water!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

WildStream Horizon 9ft. 5 Weight Rod Review ~ 7/14/2020

The WildStream Horizon 9ft. 5 weight is not just another run of the mill standard 5 weight rod you’ll find in the fly fishing industry. It’s a unique rod that is high in performance and the flagship of the entire WildStream line up. The Horizon would be considered an all rounder model that can do it all, and do it well. Wanting a dedicated dry fly weapon, I tested this rod a few weeks ago on the Yampa River in Colorado to get an accurate feel for it for two reasons – Precision dry fly presentations, and fighting large trout. It excelled magnificently at both.

The construction of the Horizon is made up of IM 10 graphite, a grade 4A cork full wells handle, top of the line snake guides, and nicely blended wraps with a slight flash of single gold bands. It is extremely light too. It doesn’t feel like a powerful rod, but once under load it has the ability to cast at a greater distance as I first found out last June while testing it at Lake Davis. This is a fast action rod that has a semi softer tip. I like my dry fly rods with a softer tip to help protect delicate tippets under large loads which results in less break offs. Faster action rods can definitely help beginner to novice fly anglers be more successful at false casting and distance. The most impressive characteristic to me with the Horizon was the accurate pin point placement of a size 20 dry fly with technical presentations to active targets.

I matched a Sage Spectrum LT 5/6 reel with a RIO weight forward 5 Perception line to the Horizon which balanced it perfectly. If you’re not going to cast over 40 feet with this rod I would choose a RIO Gold line with its half size larger construction, or go a full line size over using a 6 weight line. For delicate spring creek presentations with smaller flies, a double taper line will enhance the Horizon’s performance for that particular situation. Wind can really affect a double taper though and why I’ve always used a weight forward line except for areas like the Fall River where casting far is not that important, but bump feeding a perfect 70 foot presentation is.

Like all new rods, it takes some time using them for the components to settle in like the reel seat, and the ferrules. I found on the Horizon reel seat it is very important to seat the first washer screw firmly, then tightening down the second washer screw on top of it. After an hour of use on the Yampa River, the ferrules settled in with no other issues. 

Some rods are more prone to this behavior like my Redington Crux rods I bought a few years ago. If an angler continues to cast with loose ferrules it can cause permanent damage to the port opening. Great care should be taken to make sure this does not happen. This is not a beater rod but a fine precision instrument that commands respect of being gentle while handling it.

I really like this rod, it’s so much fun to fish! Now I have a serious dry fly rod I can count on no matter the situation. Price for the Horizon is $295. For ordering or more information contact James Kissinger of WildStream USA at 775.737.1306, or email him at wildstreamfishing@gmail.com

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Colorado Fly Fishing Trip ~ 7/11/2020

I'm back home now and what a great trip to Colorado to fish with friends! Typical summer weather in the mountains and hot on the front range. I didn't get to fish a few of my favorite rivers due to them being still high and off color, but I also learned some new spots as well. 

The first couple of days we fished the Yampa River below Stagecoach reservoir in the tail water section. There are so many fish in this stretch! Imagine the Little Truckee with 4 times more fish - Like shooting fish in a barrel. 

Small flies is the name of the game here for both nymphing and dry fly fishing. I tight lined with my 106-3 Wildstream rod and had so much fun! I'm in love with that rod. Look for an upcoming review on it in a week or so on this blog. For dry fly fishing I used the 9' 5wt. Wildstream Horizon. This rod was also a lot of fun to cast small BWO patterns to close range targets. I'll be reviewing this rod as well in a few weeks.

The river was crowded both days. Once we got to a good spot to fish you pretty much had to stay there all day or you would lose it to someone else. I've never seen so many people in such a small section of river. Colorado fly anglers do things differently, like stream etiquette is unheard of, and using barbed hooks is ok. You may land more fish with barbs, but going barbless is better for the fish as they do not get their mouth all ripped up, easier to release, and it's safer if you get a fly stuck in your skin.

On day 2 we caught and released so many nice trout that we lost count. It was that good!

Native grasses and the iconic band of rock

Shasta Daisy

Sunrise on the lower river by Sarvis Creek

My buddy Chris took me to a few unnamed creeks to get away from the masses of anglers that seemed to be everywhere. They were a little on the high side with snow melt but still super fun.

There are so many brown trout in all the rivers, streams, and creeks of Colorado compared to California. If you want your brownie fix - come fish here!

Unnamed confluence

Old railroad bridge

Wildflowers were plentiful everywhere

Quartz Canyon

After releasing so many brown trout I came to the conclusion that they feel so different than our rainbows here in Northern California. They have a softer feel to them and more fish slime too.

Wild Iris

Tight quarters 

The last watershed we fished was the Arkansas River. I use to fish this river quite a bit in the early 90's near the Granite area. It's an awesome place to fish with scenic backdrops all around you, and very hungry brown trout. Both tight line nymphing and dry fly presentations were very effective.

KGB Caddis eater

Elephant Heads

More Brown Trout!

Productive side shelf into a slot

A common sight - Bent rods.

The Arkansas has a very prolific caddis population like the Log Cabin caddis pictured above. On one of our days the caddis hatch was so strong it was easily a blanket hatch, plus there were Green Drakes and PMDs mixed in. It was unreal!

I'll be back for the first two weeks of September for some more hosted trips and more Jonny B. time. Until then I'll be sharing the waters of the Lost Sierra creeks and the North Fork Yuba River with my guests. See you on the water...

Total Pageviews