Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day Get-A-Way

Lower Yellow Creek

After a long week, this Memorial Day weekend was a perfect time to get away from the world and fly fish. Manda's parents were out of town so we planned a house-sitting, fly-fishing, and get-away weekend. The weather on this particular weekend was overcast but warming. We were told that Quincy had been getting rain for the past few days which was good news. My target this weekend were trophy trout on the Middle Fork of the Feather River fly fishing with streamers.

Yellow Creek
On the way up to Quincy we planned a stop in Belden to hike and fish Yellow Creek. Yellow Creek is a tributary of the North Fork Feather River and is better known for its spring creek fly fishing in the Humbug Valley outside of Chester.  The spring creek section eventually enters a canyon where it forms the traditional riffle-run-pool. I've fished Yellow creek at the mouth once before but stopped about a quarter of a mile in, so on this trip we set out to explore further upstream.

First Hellgrammite Find!

When we arrived around noon, I noticed that the weather was warm and overcast; the fishing should be good today. Every fly fishermen knows that flipping over rocks can be a great way to gather intel about the stream your fishing. Match the hatch. I found a lot of mayfly nymphs and even a hellgrammite larvae this trip so I tried nymphing first.

The water was pretty low and nymphing was unproductive so I tied on a red humpy and the rest is history. Although dinks, these trout fought harder than most trout their size. My first catch bolted downstream as soon as it was hooked and the chase was on. Past the boulders, rapids, and finally into a pool where it was landed. I didn't realize I was steelhead fishing! Overall we hiked about half a mile in and the fishing was pretty good until the sun came out.

Yellow Creek Fighter

Lower Yellow Creek is absolutely breath-taking! The clear cool water reflecting the yellow rocks, the warm rain rippling the water, and the canyon walls full of green. This creek is one of the reason why Plumas County is one of my favorite counties to fish. There are endless beautiful streams to explore and tons of fish to catch.

Scenic Yellow Creek

Feather River Middle Fork
The Feather River Middle Fork is truly a wild and scenic fishery. Enclosed within canyon walls, the only way to enter and explore the Middle Fork is to hike, rock climb, wade, bush-whack, and boulder hop. If you want to feel like a true adventurer then this place is for you. The Middle Fork is difficult to access but extremely rewarding in fishing and sight-seeing.

Scenic Middle Fork

The target I was searching for today was a trophy trout. A sculpin pattern on a sink-tip was my go to rig. I had never fished a sculpin pattern before so I didn't have much confidence at first, but that quickly changed when I hooked my first fish.

Covering water is the number one rule when fishing streamers. You want to look for a big aggressive fish that is pissed off or hungry enough to eat a 4'' sculpin. After covering a bit of water I found a deep slow run that looked like a prime holding spot. I threw my prototype Hero Sculpin upstream and started stripping in my line to imitate a darting sculpin. Halfway through I stopped for a second because I thought I hit a snag. It wasn't a snag. On my second cast I made the same retrieve and got a take, and its a big one! First fish, trophy fish!

Middle Fork Trophy Bow

I continued to adventure downstream and hooked several nice fish. The clear water allowed me to watch as the fish chased and attacked my sculpin fly with no mercy. Their response was an aggressive kill reaction rather than feeding behavior. Most of the fish I caught were over 12'', a nice change from catching dinks. After about 6 hours in I finally lost my sculpin fly on a snag and decided to call it a day.

There is a lot of water I haven't been able to explore on the Middle Fork and I am looking forward to seeing a different part of the river the next time I visit.

No dinks today

Fly fishing with a sculpin pattern is an awesome way to look for trophy fish. Now that I've discovered how well they work, I will continue to tie and use them. I'm sure someday one of my "fish of a life-time" will be caught on a sculpin pattern

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