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Who doesn't love a good trip report? Members are welcome to post their reports here or on our Facebook group.
April 27-28, 2020
Hat is a tale of two times; mid-morning hatch and late evening Caddis hatches.
Day 1 AM: typical with clear water, a touch below average depth at Powerhouse #2, and 54 degree water temp. Four guys at the riffles, all spread out top to bottom. Everyone, except me (the dry fly purist and Euro guy), was fishing indicators. Note that PG&E has closed the gates for the back access road to Carbon Bridge and the downstream section below highway 299.
I started swinging a #14 wet fly (mayfly) downstream before the hatch and had my first fish (6”) on the 3rd cast. I then moved to an indicator rig with dual nymphs including a PMD bead for the point and a pheasant tail up 9’ above anticipating the bug movement to the surface. Bingo! Another two fish in the 12” range.
At a precise and a historically consistent 9:30 AM it began… and so did the most fun I’ve had on dry flies in a while. I moved on down to the bottom of the riffles in the flats with lots of visible risers, tied on a #16 hackled PMD onto 14’ of 6X, and lost two quick fish by setting too quickly (are you excited, or what??). “God save the Queen” before you set, dummy! Changed to a #18 PMD /Comparadun and landed that cute little rainbow you see in the photo (about 16”, but probably lost some weight and size from all the jumping…J)). The hatch lasted until 11:00, and then just as quickly it was over.
Just before it died, I hooked into another nice fish on the #18 PMD again, and that was it for the morning. So back to check in at the hotel, and maybe a snooze after leaving that morning at 4:15 AM to make the hatch.
Day 1, PM: Hat is known for its epic late day Caddis hatch and I thought I was ready. But as they say, “the best laid plans”… On the stream by 6:00 PM but the hatch didn’t start until 7:30 PM.
Had the entire stream to myself that night, so I was practicing maximum social distancing for extra points I guess. The hatch was awesome and very prolific in 14’s and 16’s. Couldn’t ask for anything more as I dove into my Caddis dry box to give it a workout.
Normal Caddis for Hat Creek is the Henryville Downwing Special. Nope, not in 14, 16 or 18’s. Adjust with 40-45’ of casting with parachute, pile, wiggle casts, downstream presentations, and aerial mends to do everything to minimize drag. Nope.
How about my favorite Emerger/Cripple Caddis? Nope. Tan Elk Hair? Nope. Black Elk Hair? Nope. Small Stimulator? Nope. And very few surface risers; go figure. So I finally picked up a nice fish (15”) by going down with an orange Caddis Poopah 6X dropper under my small Stimmy and catching it on a Leisenring lift at the bottom of the drift. Talk about having to work for it. And then it was dark and a challenging walk back across the riffles.
Round 1: 5 caught, 9 lost, at least 15-20 rises with tough downstream presentations and hookups.
Day 2 dawns bright and sunny. And, I am ready after a good nights sleep. Spent the previous evening rigging up both my Euro and dry rod with the #18 Comparadun PMD and 14’ of 6X that worked on Day 1.
Showed up at 7:30 and had my pick of which claim to squat on. Got two 10-12” fish during the initial 2 hours on the Euro rod in the mid riffles (PT’s and Perdigons). Picked up my dry rod stashed on shore and was in the ready position for the 9:30 fire drill.
And oh yea, here they come…not the fish; 6 other people right at 9 for the hatch! But I’m defending the best downstream riffle section with 50’ sloppy dry casts in all directions and my best hearty scowl at anyone even thinking about encroaching to protect my social distancing requirements (sure…).
And so it begins at 9:30 with quite a few takes all up and down my “turf”. But I and can’t keep the #18 PMD in their mouths and lose a good number of fish to tough downstream fly first presentations, including two big slabs as they turn down and dislodge the small fly even with downstream hooksets. I get maybe another 15-20 rises, so plenty of fun activity casting to fish and chasing them up and down about 40 yards of water without the previous day’s success. But now I’m frustrated and humbled, so I change tactics and tie on a #18 PMD vertical hanging CDC emerger on as a 6X dropper, and voila (!) a nice 15” fish comes home to Papa. And then, it’s over, again…
I grab my Euro rod on the way back across the riffles and hook into something big on my first cast right on the bottom, except strangely it doesn’t fight. I bring it up and it’s a 20” rainbow foul hooked in the Adipose fin, AND… it’s dead. Probably 2-3 days as it still had color but was stiff. What skill with the Euro rod; I can even catch dead fish? So I call the high court of Prince, McCann, and Spruiell and ask for a ruling; does it count? Only if I claimed it as bringing it to hand, but not as a caught fish was the ruling by a unanimous and sanctimonious 3:0 court decision…
Round 2: 3 caught, lost 5, with numerous rises, and one more 20” rainbow brought “to hand”.
And rather than wait around for another late Caddis humiliation, and an even longer 4.5 hour drive home, I decided to pack it in and get an early start. What a great mental health break trip after the SIP of the last six weeks. Feeding rainbows are calling…but do be careful out there, make your own decision as to SIP requirements, and take every precaution that you think is necessary to stay safe if you do go out.
Chasing Skwala’s on the Yuba or “How I learned to hate the cobble”
February 28, 2020
A third trip to the Yuba east of Marysville in the last two months chasing those hatching Skwala flies, again. If it’s not Steelhead on the Feather, this is the big game in Northern Cal right now unless you want to make the long hike to Pyramid for Lahontans, or maybe a guide trip down the lower Sac. So off I went after being well armed from a discussion I had with Jon Baiocchi at the Pleasanton show on where the fish were in the system this week.
Jon had directed me far downstream from Hammond Grove Park where I geared up. That meant crossing the river and hiking a substantial distance down the obnoxious cobble from the gold mining tailings. This stuff is hard to walk; like walking on bowling balls and softballs but I expected a workout and got all I bargained for.
The hatch was awesome for a mid-winter hatch. They say that this is best year in the last 4-5 years for Skwala’s, and if you know where to look for them you will see hundred’s of them during the day sunning on the rocks, or even crawling on you. They don’t spend much time on the water, so the fish are looking for those that fall in due to wind near shore, and cautiously avoiding potential predators.
The river is gin clear, as they say, and the fish can see you coming from a long way off. So once on the stream, I was employing all the stealth my knees could manage to kneel down and out of sight while fishing a key run about 125 yards long multiple times. Which is to say that I really exercised all my casting abilities as well with the required downstream presentations with 14 foot leaders from said sore knees. But at least it was warm in the high 70’s, with water temperature from 50-52 degrees over the day.
The real attraction is top water dry fly action but I only saw four rises all day in the main current seam. Other guys on the river were remarking that “you should have been here Saturday” with the river alive all day long with rises everywhere. Of course; story of my life to have to do things the hard way and one day late. Nevertheless, I pitched four different Skwala dry fly patterns (Bullet, Double Dutch, Unit, and a Skwalameister)to no avail in all the current seams and soft water, and then sunk a tungsten Skwala nymph four feet beneath a Unit Skwala as an indicator. And the result was a nice 16” fat and feisty Yuba River rainbow. The Yuba is known for these fighters that have Steelhead genes with broad tails and this fish didn’t disappoint. Aside from Steelhead I rate these rainbows as the best fighting in California. They are fast with broad shoulders, head downstream quickly, tire slowly, and always take 3 or 4 runs before being landed.
As exciting as that fish was, it was my only during the day with only one more quick grab. So I fished dries, dry droppers, high stick/Euro style, and even an indicator with a good deal of weight for the fast current spots. The Yuba is not known as a high fish count experience, but the strength of these fish is awesome and will likely bring me back one more time before the end of the Skwala season this month.
January Feather River and Yuba River trips (4)
We’ve had several Club outings up on the Feather for steelhead this year, and a two session Skwala workshop on the nearby Yuba River as well.
Jon Baiocchi’s Skwala Workshop on the Yuba was attended by seven TVFF members and was focused on proper rigging, Skwala fly selection, reading the water, and mostly dry fly presentation techniques. Both sessions concentrated on the fundamentals through lunch, and then spending the PM on the river fishing with Jon’s hands-on instruction and assistance. The rainy and overcast weather was a bit marginal for the Skwalas who like warm weather to emerge, but numerous were seen on the rocks with the fish beginning to focus on them in the current, and especially late in the day on sunny afternoons. The two days consisted of early season fishing with 3 rainbows to the net and numerous rises, so nothing really exciting yet as the season gets underway. The fish are beginning to look up and that should bode well for the remaining month or so of the Skwala hatches which I will be fishing actively this year.
Meanwhile we have had four trips (Wyosnick, Nishio, Dueltgen, McCann, Spruiell, Farris, McCollum, Hyrn, Vargas, Loomis) to the Feather for fresh steelhead with mixed results in January and February. The trips in early January brought a few good sized fish to the net; however the general feeling was that the water was a bit lower than last year and that the overall success rate was also down. Recently the TVFF groups have been hooking more fish up to about 24” as more of the river is getting explored rather than the traditional spots. Alan Wyosnick had a conversation with the hatchery who explained that their fish counts were up and that they had encountered a “sold out” condition on one day early this year with over 1,000 steelhead coming into the hatchery for egg harvesting. So that’s a huge uptick that was also coupled with a huge salmon migration this year as well. All great news.
The most recent trip this past week (Feb 7th) saw an improvement with seven fish to the net from over a dozen and a half hooked, so activity has picked up. The challenge right now is avoiding the shallow gravel redds and the spawning couples which are numerous. At one spawningg run spot I saw no less than 8 spawning couples in a slower section of the river within 50’, so the activity is hot and amorous right now. It’s great to see so many large and colorful fish in the system, but fishing now needs to be concentrated away from the redds and in the faster riffle sections where they tend not to spawn.
Interestingly enough the fish have still been eating at this stage while they are staging for the spawn, although it’s been inconsistent on the flies with fish taking mayfly nymphs, rubber legs, stonefly nymphs, an infrequent egg pattern, and caddis nymphs. After a month now of intense fishing activity around Oroville, they are also very spooky and indicator shy and will move aside from imperfect presentations or even seeing an indicator float downstream. That makes high sticking being a good alternative style although certainly indicators correctly mended can still work effectively as both Chris and Mark both recently found out.
Wading is good right now on the Feather with the water levels down, but it can also result in a dunking if you are not careful on the slippery rocks as two of us have found out this year. If you plan on going, please make sure that you are not alone for safety reasons. These rambunctious steelies can be quite challenging as they run downstream so having a good net guy close by helps immeasurably on landing one as well. Best to be prepared and plan on buying a beer for your net guy across the street at the Exchange or the Oroville Brewing Company afterward. Enjoy…pictures from some recent sessions are on the Events page https://tvff.wildapricot.org/Feather-River-Steelhead-2020
Three trips to Putah Creek in last two weeks
OK, I’m a glutton for punishment with lots of streamside brush, tough wading in the pocket water, widely un-predictable fishing, and fluctuating water this time of year. And tough fish to land, which you’ll see later on. I’m on the water in 1.5 hours from the house, AND there are big fish lurking if you know where to find them. And they are rising. How could I resist since I couldn’t take 4 hours to Tahoe or Shasta and an overnight?
Trip 1; on my own with water at 300 cfs (normal for this time of year). Fished a new section at Access 5 at the base of the upstream rifles. Looks like great feeding lies (lots of oxygen and food flow). But no; nothing after a good 2 hours of changing depths, flies, and presentation with euro nymphing. Well, I did lose a few flies since I was definitely dredging the bottom. Hmmm... Key new information observed in the downstream flats: heavy male and female Trico hatching at 9:30 AM as well as midges, followed by #16 Glossosoma Caddis hatch, followed by BWO hatch in 18’s. So I moved downstream and into some other riffles where I got into one frisky 12” rainbow, and hooked a big guy on a 5X Euro setup (Zebra midge) between two rocks. And you can probably guess what that led to. Loss of fly, loss of self-esteem and loss of fish over 20”. So it goes at Putah Creek. Drowned my sorrows at the Putah Creek café with a draft and a great personal pizza at the counter, so all was not lost.
Trip2: this time a week later, with Todd Hyrn at my side. Big creek changes as water dropped to 45 cfs (25% of normal) and were really skinny due to some downstream creek bed work in Davis. We both Euro nymphed our way from Access #5 all the way to the top where the flows were very thin under the bridge. Todd did pick up a little guy in the riffles below the bridge but that was it for the two of us. Kind of embarrassing but in our travels we did spot huge pods of fish from the streamside banks. Water was crystal clear and very low so not much chance of getting close to them, but it was useful to put in the library of knowledge where they were holding. So after some pretty good trips up to Putah and starting my year of with a 26” rainbow in March, I go home skunked. Oh, the shame of it all. But “Ah Ha…!!!”, I now have a new section of the creek to fish after spotting all of those pods, and seeing some good surface activity about mid-day (didn’t have my dry fly rod and setup as I was committed to Euro nymphing that day). Dinner at Putah Creek café was typically great (homemade fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, etc.). And Jordan Romney (our September Club speaker) was there as well and came over to say hi.
Trip #3: Wednesday this week (the 6th) on my own as well. I’m coming armed this time with BOTH my Euro stick and my dry fly rod/setup. Water is up marginally to 70 cfs (still 25% of normal). Show time! On the river flats right at 9:30 and ready for the surface activity and rigged up on the dry with an E/C Caddis indicator fly (Hopper) followed with 7x and a #22 Trico dropper. Light surface activity but little beyond two swirls at the dry (after trying both male and females and a Trico spinner). So I shift to changing out the Trico, lengthening my leader, and dropping a #22 Zebra midge underneath. And voila (!!); fish on! Caught two 12” jumping rainbows (great dark coloring) before my indicator fly took a huge plunge and a 18” fat rainbow leaves the water twice to show off. Of course you know the end to this story too, as 7 x tippets, and an aggressively jumping 18’ fish don’t mix very well. But all is not lost as I finished the day with 6 fish from 12-16” in the net, with 10 hooked, and another dozen or so grabs on the Zebra midge. And topping it all off with another 18” rainbow attacking my Elk Hair Caddis dry late in the afternoon, but not liking it that much unfortunately. I did fish downstream for much of the day below a guide and his client who hooked a big 22” rainbow, but they lost it as well. So goes Putah Creek. The big fish are there, however they take some serious work and thought to land. But I’ll be back…and soon, as the creek is open all year, except for the voluntary spawning closure from Dec-Feb.
Lower Sac Rainbows – October 21-22
Six of us fished the lower Sac on Monday and Tuesday Oct. 21-22 with the help of Jim Roberts, and two other guides. On Monday Ted Orzechowski and I fished with Roberts and Al Mansky and Don Jower fished with a guide named Ellis. Ted is a colleague from work and came as my guest. We fished from the Posse Grounds to Anderson. Ted and I had a pretty good day and hooked over 30 fish and of these we boated about 20 with perhaps 13 being in the 15-20 inch class. I fished all day with an egg, a caddis imitation, and a copper john and caught fish on all three flies. Ted got the record small as well as 6 or 7 like the one shown here. My best fish and I are shown below. We didn’t measure the fish. Ted and I got a nice double of almost identical fish. (I think mine was bigger). Al and Don didn’t get a thing! Guides do make a difference.
On Tuesday It was Al Mansky and Alan Wyosnick with Jim Roberts and Richard Tarbell and I with Jim Pettis. We fished from Bonnyview to Ball’s Ferry. Al finally got into some rainbows with Roberts’ help and landed nine, of which three were really nice ones and lost at least nine. Tarbell and I did almost as well although I thought Monday’s fish were a bit bigger. Tarbell and I spent most of the day using a different technique that JIm Pettis had developed. It consisted of two eggs on a really long (≈20 ft) leader with a small shot and no indicator. The long leader was difficult to manage and took some getting used to. Also with no indicator there was no mending. The eggs were allowed to roll along the bottom and the takes were quite subtle. I found it an interesting technique and would like to try it again. I couldn’t help but think that, with no bobber, Hal Wilson might be willing to try the Lower Sac. It was fun for me to get back fishing again.
It's time again to hunt for the giants. The beginning of fall brings the opener for Pyramid Lake. I have been fortunate to fish the last two openers an had tremendous success, unfortunately this year has been a little slower. It's amazing how spoiled one can become at this amazing fishery.
This year I was up there with Dennis Rankin and Mark Spruell, weather was a little cooler than past years and surface temps were 62~63, again lower than in previous years. Winds were mild to moderate, and we worked from Windless Beach all the way up to Monument Beach. Observed quite a few large schools of tui chubs in the shallows. We each were able to hook a few each day up to 24".
Will continue to search for the schools and update the post.
Tight lines everyone
Well myself and Rob Farris made a short two day trip up to Baum lake outside of Burney Ca. I was able to coax Rob for an early start and we were on the water by 9:30 am on Thursday. The lake was quite and there was only a guide boat launching, otherwise we had the lake to ourselves. Temps were mild and there was some cloud cover, not much wind until the afternoon. Although the fish were not rising, there was a good bite. The guide was nymphing with indo's while Rob and I were stripping. I am happy to say the fish were receptive to the presentation, on my third cast I hooked a beauty, right out off to the east of the launch ramp. The takes were subtle but the fights were epic.
Between the two of us we landed over 90 fish in the two days, nothing under 14" as most were 18 - 20" range. What a couple of days of rod bending. In fact both Rob and I caught our personal lake best fish at over 24". Although it's a long drive, the action sure made worth it.
Montana Week 1 Trip
And so they went; the intrepid TVFF Week 1 group on the annual sojourn to Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Arriving by plane, motor home, and truck, everyone had a different method but all targeted on a week of exceptional fishing, housing, meals and comradery with other TVFF members. And what a great and successful week it was. Am hoping that the Week 2 group has just as much fun.
Todd Hyrn, Marty Loomis, and Rob Farris all joined up and drove up in Marty’s truck with stops at the Owyhee in Eastern Oregon, the South Fork of the Boise river in Idaho, and then the final leg into West Yellowstone. A few fish were caught along the way but a passing storm the day before quieted down the Owyhee, leaving us a full day on the SF of the Boise. What a terrific and beautiful river with a wide diversity of water, few folks fishing, and great campsites. Better fishing as Marty hit a few big rainbows while Todd and I were heavily prospecting resulting in my getting three….mountain whitefish. Now they fight hard and long, but a bit of a disappointment at the net. But “Whitefish do Matter…” J. I am still longing to duplicate Marty’s big rainbow in the SF though.
On to the gorgeous West Yellowstone house on Hebgen lake to meet up with Gary Prince, Dave Fontaine, Bob McCollum, and our hosts for the week, Jim Roberts and his nephew Brandon. And a first night of rigging up for the week based on Jim’s recommendations (he does know his stuff very, very well as you will hear).
We fished a different river or section everyday including the storied Madison River below Quake Lake (a story there if you haven’t been) at Reynolds Pass and $3 Bridge. Now the Madison has a reputation of great fishing and HARD fighting and fast running rainbows in the heavy current. Oh yes; they jump, run upstream with screaming reels, and then test your large arbor reels with abrupt U-turns and quick runs downstream in heavy current. They know the game, and you are in their house. Not prepared? Come back another day after you learn how to control them because they take no prisoners. Great fishing though, and an excellent learning experience on how to find the right seams in fast water, present your flies accordingly with a tight line rig, hook a big rainbow, and then HANG ON…. The views from this river are incredible with the mountains casting of shades of green, yellow, pink and other colors. Fast moving waters with quick changes in structure add to the challenge of fishing but also add to the reward of a fish in the net.
Jim doesn’t coddle you and throws you into the Madison first. It’s a learning experience (at least for me) that will help you the rest of the week on the other five rivers fished. So off we went the next day to the Ruby River (a club favorite) with greenish water and many huge browns and rainbows (and yes a few Mountain Whitefish) to be had. Easily wadeable with everyone catching a good number of large fish; lots of chuckles, grinning, and ribbing to be had at no extra cost as well. We all enjoyed it so much went back a 2nd day later in the week and caught even more fish that you’ll see in the Event page gallery on Week 1. The flies of choice this year were a red San Juan, zebra midge and prince nymph.
Next up was the stunning and awesome Soda Butte Creek deep in the NE section of Yellowstone. Yea, it takes 2.5 hours to get there, assuming that the Buffalo aren’t blocking the way, and the “looky-loo” tourists aren’t overcrowding the roads looking for elk and wolves. A great part of the Soda Butte experience is the location is in the most prolific wildlife section of the park and its amazing beauty (again check out the photos in the galley). Your reward? The opportunity to catch a stunning Yellowstone Cutthroat trout in its native habitat. And yes, many were caught via the tightline nymphing and with dry flies, which is a great experience. TVFF pretty much had the stream to ourselves, with a few exceptions, and were able to spread out over a mile or so of prime water for a great day in the Park.
The next two days were also spent in the Park fishing the Gallatin (medium pocket water and a nice meandering meadow river in the NW), as well as the Gardner River up by Mammoth Hot Springs in the central area of the Park. Our day began at the 45th Parallel. The Gallatin was a bit slow but picked up in the afternoon in the undercuts and river bends with some nice browns, rainbows, and an occasional whitefish in the net. Did I mention yet that “Whitefish Matter” ?
But the Gardner the next day was a whole different story; faster current like the Madison, but not as big and burly. Everyone tackled a different section and by late afternoon Rob found and began to hook a lot of fish podded up in a nice riffle pocket. The hooting and hollering drew everyone to that spot and it was turned over to everyone to try their hand at working over the Yellowstone Cutts. Which everyone did, one after another. And then Jim came along and pulled a good sized 17” Cutt out on a Hopper (which were everywhere). Since when does Jim fish dries…? Check out Marty and Jim’s picture in the gallery fishing the “hole” with the Elk upstream keeping a close eye on them. After more yucks, laughter, giggles, and a local visit by an Elk across the stream, we all ventured off to Mammoth Hot Springs for the famous Huckleberry ice cream before heading back. The social fishing aspect of this afternoon will go undoubtedly be talked about for years to come.
With all that fun, what do you do next? Why, head right back to the Ruby River for more fun and games. Lots of fish once again as we all took turns working our way downstream and tackling the current seams and pools. Not quite sure of the accurate count but my bet is that the group caught more than 30 fish by lunch. It is that great of a fishery. Best of all; Dave broke his longstanding challenge with the Ruby and liberally washed the “skunk” off his hands for good…Check out Bob McCollum’s picture of a fat rainbow he picked up that morning in the gallery, one of Todd’s many fish, and Rob’s big Brown; all awesome fish with many others caught by everyone. The picture on the website Event’s page is from last year with four guys hooking up on the Ruby at the same time. It’s a very productive and fun river, and Todd’s favorite swimming hole. Not to be outdone by the river he did net Rob’s fish so his reputation as a top rate “net-man” remains intact.
As we left on the last day, Gary just couldn‘t bear to leave quite yet so he booked a late flight and spent a few hours at Quake Lake fishing the shoreline, which he was dying to do all week. And with his favorite hopper, ant, and beetle in hand he landed three nice fish right off the shore. What a great way to end the trip.
So the fishing was great, and the laughter and discussions after dinner were a lot of fun, with a liberal amount of “grape juice” and scotch added in. Especially so with Gary Prince regaling us with his incredible memory, in unbelievable and hilarious detail, from 30 years ago on obscure topics. How does he do it?
I would be remiss without thanking Jim and Brandon for an incredible time. The house was a first class facility with beautiful views, and Jim’s cooking three meals a day were always worth looking forward to. He does an amazing job. While he doesn’t “guide” this trip in the traditional fashion (at your side, changing flies for you, netting your fish), he is always checking up with attendees to make sure that everyone is catching fish, or adjusting and recommending changes to what you are doing. I can’t say enough of how much he personally helped me with fighting and landing big running fish, getting drag free drifts, understanding currents and prospecting in seams, and fly presentations.
If you haven’t yet done this trip, it is a terrific experience that cannot be duplicated on cost, or experience wise by doing it on your own. You owe it to yourself to do this at least once in your lifetime as a fly fisher. The experience offers nature’s beauty at arguably it finest; every “fish on” is sure to get your heart rate up; and memories of a lifetime will be created from the social activities of the week.
Truckee Watershed Trip Report July 28, 2019
(Check out over 30 pictures in the Gallery)
What a terrific trip with good Club participation by 9 members and 2 of Susan Hufford’s kids along for the fun on these world class, but challenging rivers. Joining us were Gary Prince, Susan and her two kids, Marty Loomis, Charles Brown, Mark Spruiell, Mike Prokosch, Rob Farris, Kent and Mitchie McCammon. And of course with Mountain Hardware in Truckee being the recipient of many fly purchases on the way in.
We opened up with a potluck dinner Thursday night at Stampede Campground (excellent spot, by the way), and also had Jon Baiocchi join us for dinner to discuss fly selection and rigging for both the Big and Little Truckee. The weather was warm, but much better than down here in the Tri Valley area and with only a couple of minutes of drizzle the entire weekend.
Both rivers are crowded this time of year so we split up into two groups so as not to overcrowd either one. These are always two very tough rivers to fish with the fish seeing lots of flies in the summer due to the great access to both rivers, and so the fish become educated very quickly. Both rivers are known that you must bring your “A” game to be successful. Having fished these rivers for the last 30 years it is pretty amazing now how large the fish can get, especially in the smaller Little Truckee. Thanks to strict regs and two good winters, the fish have grown much larger than in the past.
So what did we find? Excellent water flow conditions that were good for wading, although the Little Truckee as a tailwater, was running between 47-50 degrees all three days. Not a good thing to be wet wading for long on the LT. The Truckee was a bit warmer at 62 and just full of crawfish at this time of year, so crawfish patterns were out in force and resulted in one big fish hooked, but lost on the Truckee at Glenshire.
Gary led the Truckee group to the east Truckee tracks, “Horner’s Corner” and Farad, while Rob dragged everyone else up to his favorite upper parking lot spot on the Little Truckee, promising a profuse 9:30 AM hatch. And what a hatch it was with an early Midge hatch and a heavy PMD hatch interspersed with the Green Drakes. Fish rising everywhere including right at our feet.
The hatches came off as expected with three different PMD Hatches (cream/yellow, pink, and orange in the late afternoon). Green Drakes were also hatching and it was an infrequent pleasure to tie on #8 dry flies and cripples and pitch to the fish, rather than #22 Midges for a change. The challenge was what to throw; dries, emergers, or nymphs, and Drakes or PMD’s or Midges? And what color? Oh, and don’t forget the afternoon Caddis hatch…
It was a buffet line in the foam, however that does not mean it was a cakewalk. Far from it with few very discriminating fish landed. Rob hooked into a very nice big Rainbow on a #8 Green Drake that quickly left him with limp line at his feet. Mark however gave the big guy some time to sulk and then landed him, or his brother, about 10 minutes later on a Perdigon fished deep in the seam. A gorgeous and deeply colored rainbow (in the Gallery) and maybe Mark’s first big guy in a stream. Great job for a confirmed “lake guy”, Mark! And buck it up, Rob. You had your chance….
Meanwhile, our other intrepid anglers were diligently at work on the Truckee trying to fool those educated fish. Both groups had a good chance to check out the new weirs at “Horner’s Corner” constructed by Trout Unlimited (remember Sam Sedillo’s TVFF presentation this spring?) and they look just great. What an excellent stream improvement for a previously sterile environment, with Gary pulling a big one out around the first weir on a pink Squirmy Wormy. Mr. Prince took top honors with four fish in the net out of 9 hooked for the weekend, including a pair of nice 18” rainbows from the Truckee and Little Truckee. Nice job Gary…!
On Saturday we swapped rivers for the groups and headed out again before departing on Sunday, with Gary, Rob, Kent and Mitchie staying and fishing early Sunday as well. Over the three days fish were hooked or caught on Green Drake adults and cripples, PMD’s in various flavors, Squirmies, Adams, and Zebra midges. So we were able to catch the heavy winter delayed hatch just right and it was a good decision for us to delay it from our original July date. Thanks to all that attended and contributed to the potluck, the photos, consuming Mitchie’s wonderful selection of desserts, and the fun over the weekend.
I had an opportunity to fish Milton Lake on a scouting trip prior to our scheduled Truckee Watershed trip scheduled for next week. It was my first trip to Milton after hearing a great deal about it as “the ultimate stillwater challenge” and a small lake requiring your “A” game. And that it was, after a significant drive to get in there. It is located about 25 miles north of Truckee on highway 89 and then a 17 mile drive west on paved road to Jackson Meadows Reservoir, and finally a two mile drive down a dirt road to Milton Lake. And so it is not as easy to access as other Tahoe water, and thus sees much less pressure.
Milton is a 12 acre lake and administered as a CFW wild trout program participant with some trophy size trout found here, reputably as large as 30’ including both browns and a few rainbows. The deepest part of the lake is about 40’ on the west end near the dam, but it has many areas that are 4-7’ deep with weedbeds and mud bottoms making for abundant aquatic life. The elevation of the lake is 5650 feet. No motors are allowed on this lake so it is peaceful and calm, when the wind isn’t blowing in the afternoons.
The lake is small and fed by the Middle Fork of the Yuba flowing out of Jackson Meadows reservoir. Once at the lake, it is easily accessed from a few campsites for watercraft. The campsites are un-developed. I camped within 40’ of the lake and were able to leave my pontoon fully setup and “parked” on the grass launch after fishing for the day. Nice!
So what did I find? There is a terrific #14-16 Callibaetis hatch from about 9:30 each morning until noon and the lake gets alive with surface activity. Lots of gulps, dorsals, and heads bobbing about. But I got there too late after an 1 & ½ hour drive from Stampede and by the time my pontoon was setup, it was over. An awesome surface hatch and I missed it. Shameful for a dry fly guy! So out I went in the afternoon’s wind with Callibaetis spinners (still looking for the surface “fool”), dragging Wooly buggers, and pitching nymphs under an indicator as the fish retreated into the weed beds and depths of the lake.
The lake has a lot of sub surface obstructions, mainly trees that are still standing but with the top stumps about 7’ under the surface. And a perfect place for a large trout to break you off, as I learned quickly. Had a mid size Woolly hit by a freight train, which then decided to teach me about the lake’s hazards (and taking my Woolly and 5’ of 3X tippet). After fighting the wind for several hours I retreated to a sheltered cove and caught a nice 14” brown on a surface hopper; and quickly followed with a 12’ brown caught on a #16 EC Caddis. And so on to fix dinner, rig up for tomorrow’s activity, turn in, and get a great start on the next morning’s awesome hatch.
Except…there was none! I was on the lake at 6:30, all geared up with a dry and Callibaetis nymph dropper on one rod, and a dual Callibaetis nymph setup on my 5 weight for nymphing. I have no idea why the hatch didn’t come off at all. No wind, no major temperature change, and no changing water flows. It was a major disappointment as I thought that I was fully prepared from the previous day’s activity. Goes to show why they call it fishing. Only two other guys on the lake and not much for them either. So I packed it up at noon, but vowed to be back camping and fishing again at this awesomely peaceful lake, and on time for the hatch next visit.