Summer Fishing on the Truckee, Summer Danger…!!!
An evening on the LT for Gary, Todd, & Marty with Rob on the LT tying on his 14th try for the right dry fly
Ah, summertime fishing. Warm days and nights; camping, wet wading, avoiding the mosquitos, being outdoors, comradery with fellow anglers while social distancing, and catching some nice healthy fish along the way. And so it was on the Truckee Watershed “Tag Along” trip July 24-27 for Gary Prince, Todd Hyrn, Marty Loomis, Bill Potts and I.
However, everyone else seems to have the same idea these days and the area around Truckee was crowded in the stores, on freeways, and on the streams. Nevertheless we avoided most of the crowds by fishing in more remote areas that don’t see many fishermen on the Truckee River, by being on the Little Truckee early in the morning, and at the beautiful and un-crowded Milton Reservoir on the final day.
The trip started after camp setup at Stampede Reservoir where we had a very large group campsite for spreading everyone out. Then out with a late afternoon on the Little Truckee in the bottom meadow (Gary’s favorite spot). Of course he hooked into a very nice fish of 18-19” that didn’t make it to the net with its rambunctious runs in fast water and a scrambling Todd trying to catch up with a net. Not an auspicious beginning, but things would get better.
Fishing was generally slow on the Truckee the next day as we hiked up the canyon a couple of miles from Farad. This is the normal doldrums season on the Big T, and it was hot. You need to hunt fish in the deeper pools and fast water as the water temperature continues to climb (62-67 degrees on our trip) and the fish search for more oxygen and cooler water. Between us we managed to get five smaller (~12-13”) fish to the net, with Marty getting top honors with two fish. But a good deal of exercise was needed from all the beer, bourbon, Scotch, brandy and camping food consumed the previous evening.
DANGER LURKS !!!: Back to camp and an afternoon serious thunderstorm. It started over a mile away and we counted down as it moved toward Stampede Reservoir and the campground. Seeing and hearing lightning strikes only 1,000’ away was sobering and we all headed into our grounded cars for the duration. Unfortunately, it was deadly for an individual that was on the lake nearby in a Jet ski. According to the local Ranger he was hit with a direct strike and died on the way to the hospital. Another boat on the lake was also hit and the individual suffered a serious injury (biting off his bottom lip) as he was thrown into his console in the cabin. Late afternoon storms are a common occurrence in the Sierras during the summer, so please keep an eye out for them and seek immediate safe shelter if they occur near you.
Rob, the Fishmeister/Taskmaster, had everyone out of their tents with an early departure for a morning on the Little Truckee. Good thing, as we all got preferred spots on the normally crowded Little Truckee. Everyone managed to catch some excellent fish in the upper section with Todd bringing two very colorful and energized rainbows of 19” to the net on size 20 Zebra midges with his Euro nymphing.
Todd's beautiful and healthy rainbow on the LT
Marty and I both got into similar sized fish with Marty’s Euro nymphing and my use of Creamy Orange dry fly pattern (PMD look alike). Down below in the meadow Gary and Bill were also chasing a few nice fish with Gary getting a nice 19” rainbow in the net. Again, it was another big rainbow for Gary on a Squirmy Wormy.
On Sunday afternoon we packed up and headed over the Milton Reservoir to camp (minimal facilities). As usual, Milton never disappoints with its remoteness, beauty, quality fish, challenge and accessibility. I am fortunate to have fished the lake many times with great mentors, so was able to bring seven typical Milton fish of 15-16” (6 browns and one unusual rainbow) to the net during the first evening hatch while Gary and Bill were in the learning curve. Todd was also successful with an additional one to the net in the evening. That learning curve continued the next day (the lake is a highly technical lake) for most, with both Bill and I bringing five fish to the net including a gorgeous fat butter belly female brown of 19”. A nice morning, back to camp for lunch, and I can’t wait for the evening hatch.
A beautiful evening at Milton to cap off a successful Brownie hunt for Bill, Rob, Gary & Todd
Whoops, what was that I heard? A Thunderstorm approaching at noon??? Lesson learned from the previous day and we all got off the water and packed up for home. Overall it was a good trip with fewer numbers, but with an excellent quality fish of those caught. A word to the wise; afternoon thunderstorms are not to be dismissed lightly at high elevations. Fish hard, but get the heck off the water and seek safe shelter if they are approaching.