Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Visit To The Lower Kings River

Lower Kings River Riffle

The Lower Kings River is a tailwater that flows below Pine Flat Reservoir. The river is divided into two sections, a put-and-take fishery that is open during trout season (Last Saturday in April to November 15th) from the Pine Flat Dam to Pine Flat Road Bridge and a catch-and-release fishery from Alta Weir to HWY 180 that is open all year.

Water is an important resource in the Central Valley that is primarily managed for agricultural purposes. In the winter the Lower Kings is lowered to a minimal 100 CFS in efforts to save water. The flows are gradually raised during the spring and summer and can reach over 5,000+ CFS. 

The trout that occupy the catch-and-release section are hatchery "brooders" that are planted by the CDFW. With the help of the Lower Kings Fisheries Management Program this planting program continues to provide an opportunity for anglers to catch and release trophy size trout. These fish are hefty Kamloops that often exceed 18''. During my visit with relatives in Fresno, I managed to sneak out and explore the Lower Kings.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fly Tying: Unreal Egg

The Unreal Egg is a fly pattern that is a popular go-to when salmonoids are spawning. This egg pattern does an excellent job at imitating the eggs of different species of salmon and trout. Although the use of egg yarn to hide a bead on a hook is nothing new, this egg pattern simplifies the illusion with very few materials.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How Do I Fish This: Deer Creek

Deer Creek is a tributary of the Sacramento River that begins its headwaters on Butt Mountain traveling downstream through the Ishi Wilderness Area to it's mouth near Vina. This stream is one of the few undammed tributaries of the Sacramento River that continues to support wild runs of chinook salmon and steelhead.

Deer Creek is split into two sections by the natural barrier of Upper Deer Creek Falls. The stream that flows below the Upper Falls is anadromous water that is catch-and-release with artificial barbless hooks. The water above the Upper Falls is stocked by DFG and is mostly a put-and-take fishery with no restrictions on gear.

This creek is where I learned the intricacies of fly fishing. The rich diverse insect life, beautiful scenery, and countless numbers of small wild trout make this stream one of the gems of the Tehama County.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

TFO Finesse Rod 5wt 8'9'' Review

TFO Finesse 5WT

Long leaders, accurate casting, and delicate presentations. These are the some of the most important elements of technical dry fly fishing. Fish that scrutinize every aspect of your presentation are fish that are worth spending hours trying to catch.
The TFO Finesse rod was made for this type of fly fishing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Yuba Rainbow Rising

Foam Is Home

"Picky bastards aren't they?" yelled the angler across from me. We were both standing in a cold winter flat casting dry flies to rising fish. The sky was overcast and fish were in a frenzy slashing, sipping, and splashing the PMDs that were sailing down the river. The only PMD dry that I had in my box was one that I had taken off a trout's back earlier in the day. Needless to say I was totally unprepared.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Some Dry Flies & A Lot of Luck

Winter Flats

After a bit of sporadic on again off again rains the Yuba is stable and sitting at 1,200 CFS. I have a bit of a tough time nymphing and swinging at flows above 1,000 CFS so I focused on catching risers instead.

BWOs were the game as they emerged through the tail-out I was standing in. Throughout my time there I stood and watched as fish rose around me. I stalked the risers for several minutes to make sure they were comfortable in their feeding lanes before I made my first attempt.

My patience payed off as I finally rose and landed one of the nicest dry fly Yuba fish I've ever caught. It seems like this day the smaller fish liked the duns and the big fish liked the emergers. I rose a few other fish after my first but a couple of false sets and they were gone. There were two hatch times, the first at around 9am and the second at around 1pm. The earlier hatch had a lot more fish rising than the latter.

Dry fly fishing the Yuba is spring creek levels of challenging which is both exciting and fun. Winter is good.

Small BWO Emerger

Big Yuba Dry Eater

Emerger Eatin' Yuba Bows

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It's Winter Time

Hard Fighting Winter Yuba Bows

Christmas songs are officially on the radio now which means winter is here. Fly fishing the winter means big winter steelhead, great BWO action, and layers upon layers of warm clothing. I primarily enjoy fishing the Yuba and Feather during the winter whereas they are some of the best winter fisheries that are open during this time of the year.

I went out and hooked a few on dries but couldn't land any. Later after the hatch was over I swung an egg and nymph and hooked some goodies.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rainy Day On The American

Paradise Beach Combat Fishing

This morning I dropped my fiancee off at the Sacramento Airport where she is flying to visit her brother in Nebraska and since I was already about halfway there, I decided to explore some more of the American River afterwards.

Rain, rain, and more rain. That was the condition I was dealt with this visit. I explored two new river access points this trip: Paradise Beach and Hagan Park.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beautiful Autumn Day On Butte Creek

Butte Creek Plateau

Butte Creek is a tributary of the Sacramento River that is quite unique in that it hosts great runs of endangered spring-run king salmon. Anadromous fish swim up from the lower reaches of the creek navigating their way through the endless sloughs in the valley to get to the furthest point upstream, a natural barrier about one mile below the Centerville Head dam.

Despite the many signs along the road stating "Closed to fishing" the creek above HWY 99 to Centerville Head dam is open between November 15th through February 15th and is artificial lures with barbless hooks only.

The day after opening day, let's go fish Butte Creek!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Eat Like A Trout, Fight Like A Steelhead

Bright Fall Bow

The Yuba fished pretty darn good today. Finding the salmon seem to be the key in finding the trout. I spent the majority of the day swinging an egg and nymph pattern and got some really good tight takes. It's been awhile since I've had a sore arm from fighting strong Yuba bows. You can't beat swinging flies on a 5wt rod!

Yuba In The Fall

The river was looking great right at 900 CFS. The Yuba is one of the best year-around fisheries in California and the fall and winter season is when it's at it's prime.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fort Bragg With The In-Laws The Weekend Visit

Third Visit to Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg has had a long history in the course of my life-time. My first visit to Fort Bragg was when my high school academic decathlon team and I vacationed there during my senior year. Earlier this year I asked my fiancee to marry me there and now we're back for my father-in-law's birthday. It's a small quaint town but a great one.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Roaring North Fork Fun

Roaring North Fork

The North Fork of the Feather River has gone through many flushes throughout this year. Flushes that raise the flows from zero to a hundred can have a huge impact on the fishing if you don't plan your trip accordingly. For that reason in addition to high flowing tributaries from the recent rain, this visit to the North Fork was pretty tough.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Short Fall Outing On The Middle Fork

It's been a while since we've had a truly wet October. I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of the storm up in Plumas County which allowed me to fish the MFFR for a few hours. The canyon was at it's fall prime with beautiful shades of yellow, orange, red, and green.

Fall On The MFFR

Nature's Beautiful Transition

The flows have gone up to spring-run off levels which is amazing. The river is at least two feet higher than the last time I was there in September, any higher and I would have just gone home. Wading was tough, the flows were up, and the water was moving fast but I still managed to find a few hungry fish. In hindsight I should have brought my 3WT but the 2WT managed just fine. I saw a few caddis and BWOs coming off which was a good sign. Fly fishing Plumas County in the fall is simply the best.

Fish Of The Day

Saturday, October 29, 2016

CA DFG Fishing Regulations: Feather River & American River

Feather River

Both the Feather River and the American River rely on landmarks to mark areas that are either closed or open to fishing. Sometimes it can be difficult for anglers who are unfamiliar with these landmarks to know which section they are fishing. Here is a bit of a cheat sheet to help pin-point the sections and fishing seasons of both the Feather and American river.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sifting Through Trash For Feather Steel

Earlier this week I fished the Feather again for the ever elusive steelhead. I wanted to give the high-flow section another try since the low-flow section has been packed with anglers in almost every run. I stuck to swinging my Sculpinno the entire day as I worked my way up the Oroville Wildlife Area. Although I didn't hook any steelhead I caught fish.

Right Between The Eyes

Yellow Steelhead

From past experience I've found that spring-run steelies like to hold in the high-flow section more than their fall-run cousins. After this trip I'm going to call it quits on steelhead fishing until the salmon die off. I wonder if I'll be more successful once the salmon are gone...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fly Tying: Sculpinno

Introducing the Sculpinno

Spey casting and swinging big flies is my favorite method of taking fish on a fly rod. Although the number of fish I land while swinging is low, the takes are absolutely heart-stopping. There are thousands of streamer patterns that have been designed to catch fish on the swing but with so many on the market it can be difficult to find "the one".

The Sculpinno is a pattern I designed specifically for swinging. My Hero Sculpin was great for stripping however it was a bit too heavy for swinging. It took a few trips before I was confident in the Sculpinno but it has since proven its design.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First Rainfall Of Autumn

Yuba River

I can't remember the last time it rained... maybe in April or perhaps as far back as March? Fortunately Northern California got a lot of water during the last El Nino storm in March that filed many of the local reservoirs. It's been a long hot summer but thankfully fall is starting to show its colors.

The first rainfall of autumn usually signals the opening of the fall steelhead season. Fall is infamous for the "egg hatch" that happens on rivers where salmon are present. Both resident trout and anadramous steelhead key in on these nutritious red eggs that are dislodged below the salmon and their redds.
After fishing the egg bite for several years I've simply grown out of the hype. It can get crowded with anglers camping at the most productive holes both nymphing and swinging in addition to boats drifting through them. Early bird gets the fish I suppose.

Monday, October 10, 2016

First Casts On The American

American River

The Lower American River is one of the shortest main tributaries of the Sacramento River from it's mouth to Folsom Dam. I've always looked at the American River with a bit of skepticism since the Sacramento area isn't quite the ideal fly fishing destination. What the American lacks in scenery, it makes up for in fish density. The American boasts runs of anadromous fish such as American shad, striped bass, salmon, steelhead, and the famous Eel/Mad-River strain steelhead.

This was my first time wetting my line on the American River and I was ready to explore and find out what makes this river so special.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Just Another Day On The Yuba

Blue Gin Yuba

I spent a few hours on the Yuba trying to figure out where the fish live around Hammon Grove. I'm at that point where I don't really care if I catch a fish or not, therefore I'm just swinging big flies. There are a few salmon around but they aren't cutting redds yet. I was able to get one grab and a few nips.

I'm getting a bit bored of the Yuba so hopefully I can find some time to get to the North Fork of the Feather soon. The fall egg bite is meh.

Tug Is The Drug

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tight Swung Rainbows

Streamer Eater

I took some time to swing flies on the Yuba and was lucky enough to hook and land two beautiful rainbows. While flipping over a few rocks I found a fat juicy short-wing stonefly.

Although I've never fished this hatch before the huge number of shucks along the banks have convinced me to start trying.

Stub-Wing Stonefly

Friday, September 16, 2016

How Do I Fish This: Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake is a shallow turbid pond that is located along Wildwood Avenue in Upper Bidwell Park. This pond was originally built as a reservoir in the 1930s to irrigate the Bidwell Golf Course but was abandoned due to the cost of maintenance.

This pond is stocked with channel catfish every year for the annual Hooked-On-Fishing event that usually takes place in May. Due to the limited clarity of the pond the majority of anglers who fish Horseshoe Lake use bait.
Bait fishing works well for the catfish that inhabit Horseshoe Lake but fly fishing will grant you the opportunity to catch the big three; largemouth bass, channel catfish, and carp.

The very limited fishing opportunities in Chico (BCC closed during the spring, Butte Creek closed most of the year) made Horseshoe Lake the only nearby body of water that I could legally fish during the spring. This lake was very challenging to learn with a fly rod however once I cracked the code the rewards were amazing.

Fly Tying - Chenille Minnow

Chenille Minnow Getting It Done

The chenille minnow is a bit of a specialty fly that I came up with to fish Horseshoe Lake. Snagging and losing flies that take a fair amount of time to tie was a huge issue that I ran into while learning the lake. After a few trial-and-errors I was finally able to design a pattern that was bare-feathers, easy to tie, and most importantly worked.

Monday, September 12, 2016

When In Doubt, Fish The Midge

Late Summer Morning On The MFFR

Fall is beginning to come upon us as the sun begins to rise sooner and set earlier. Although the afternoons are still warm, the mornings are nice and cool. This weekend the missus and I visited the in-laws in Quincy. The MFFR was going to be were I spent the morning the following day after relaxing and visiting with the family. The fall transition is still in its early stage so this visit to the MFFR could have either been a hit or a miss.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

After a bit of a hiatus I am now back to writing more content.

During my hiatus I fished a bit here and there but overall nothing too exciting. A lot of my local options are a bust during August. Despite August being my birthday month I tend to find very few good fishing opportunities during this time. The weather is hot and the summer fishing experience begins to feel "stale" as the weather remains consistent with bluebird skies and long hot days. The fish are over summer and I'm over summer as well.

September is now in the air which means we are getting closer and closer to the fall turnover. Cooler weather and rain could not come any sooner. We can also look forward to the annual salmon run and the trout and steelhead behind them.

So what's been going on the Yuba? Ever heard of a Short-Winged Stonefly? They seem to be everywhere this summer.

Summer Short-Winged Stones

Sunday, July 17, 2016

California Heritage Trout Challenge #2: McCloud River Redband Trout

McCloud River Redband Trout

Out of the six heritage trout on my list the one I looked forward to catching the most was the McCloud River Redband Trout. I had already caught a Lahontan Cutthroat from the Upper Truckee and now I was off to my second heritage trout. The McCloud River Redband was once the only trout native to the McCloud River system above Middle Falls. Natural barriers in the form of impassable waterfalls have separated this sub-species from their coastal rainbow cousins for thousands of years. This allowed Mother Nature to take her place on the easel and paint the bright red band we see today on these beautiful fish.

The McCloud River Redband is one of rarest sub-species of rainbow trout in the world due to it's small population. I would categorize the McCloud River Redband as the second rarest trout in California after the Paiute Cutthroat. Unlike the California Golden Trout and the Little Kern Golden Trout, many of the tributaries that hold populations of McCloud River Redbands are closed to fishing all year. The only place in the world where you can catch a McCloud River Redband legitimately is Trout Creek and Swamp Creek.

McCloud Redband Territory

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer Visit To BCC & Meadow Valley Creek

Big Chico Creek All To Myself

This weekend the missus and I spent the weekend with her parents in Quincy. Along the way we stopped in Chico for her haircut and some smallmouth fishing. With all the water flowing throughout the state's tributaries this summer the fishing has been on point.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Changes Coming & Yuba River Check Up

Hammon Grove

I'm currently working on a new feel for the blog. It's going to be a lot more earthy. I'm looking forward to revealing it soon.

The Yuba has been lowered to 1600ish CFS which is a big difference from 2,200 CFS. The river isn't quite crossable yet but wadeable. I had a hard time finding fish this visit. The big flows evened out a lot of river so good holes are almost nonexistent. The hours of hiking and fishing the Yuba yielded a nice little Yuba bow on a FMM nymph in the morning and a gnarly big bow on a Hero Sculpin that I lost.

Pretty Parred Yuba Bow

Once the Yuba hits 1200 CFS it'll be prime-time for river crossing and streamer fishing. As of right now it's tough out there but if you want to check out the new look of the Yuba these flows are a good preview.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

California Heritage Trout Challenge #1: Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

The California heritage trout challenge has always been an interest of mine since I started fly fishing. The challenge involves catching and photographing six different trout species from their native watershed. Easier said than done. Each species of trout lives in a different area of California ranging from the rocky Northern Coast to the remote High Sierra Nevadas. As a trout heritage challenger expect long hikes, curved and sloped roads, and beautiful Golden State wilderness.

The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout was once the only trout native to the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas other than the Eagle Lake trout. Historical documents recall LCTs that were over ten pounds living in their native Truckee, Susan, Carson, and Walker riversheds. However with the introduction of dams, logging, over harvesting, mining, and non-native species, the LCT lost over 90% of their native habitat. Today only small populations of LCT reside in their native range. The Upper Truckee is one of the few LCT fisheries in California where these are fish are self-sustaining. Independence Lake is also a note worthy achievement in LCT conservation.

After careful planning and consideration, I decided that the LCT would be my first qualifying heritage trout. A visit to the Upper Truckee drainage could easily be made in a day trip since the drive to Tahoe was only three hours. Time to get my first heritage trout.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Cabin Fever

Popper Power

Triple digit heat wave incoming! Not much is happening with me in this weather.

A couple of mornings have been spent playing with the new float tube and throwing poppers for bass. The topwater bite has been pretty good but once the sun hits high noon the fish retreat to thick cover and I retreat home.

Big Green Sunfish Like It Too

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hex & Damsel Stillwater Vacation

Almanor Hex Sunset

The hex hatch and the damsel migration are two of California's most famous fly fishing attractions. Both the hatch and the migration draw in visitors from all over the country to beautiful Plumas County.

Timing can be everything when it comes to catching the hatch. Too early and the fish won't be keying on them, too late and the fish will be too full from gorging themselves. Factor in weather conditions, water temperature, and the crowds and you have your timing equation.

Manda and I pushed our visit to Quincy from last week to this week in order to catch the warmer and hopefully more productive weather.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Beale Falls & Dry Creek Hike

Dry Creek

Beale Falls is a small waterfall located west of Beale Air Force Base that is popular hiking and swimming destination. A small creek called Dry Creek parallels most of the sloped trail as it winds up and down the foothills where it eventually reaches the falls.

This was my first visit to the falls and where there is water there are fish. Time to explore some new local waters.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fly Tying - FFM Nymph

FMM Nymph Eater

The Yuba River can be quite finicky during the bright summer months. Nymphs and dries that produced throughout the year will all of a sudden stop working. The common go-to flies like the S&M nymph and rubberleg stone will still get a few grabs here and there but they aren't going to be the hot flies of the summer. What gives?

Long story short, PMDs...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Checkin' For Some Hexin'

Fresh Hex

Rumor has it that the Hex hatch has begun. Seeing is believe so I set out to the Afterbay to check if the big yellow bugs are out.
The Lower Yuba's flow was going down but have since been rose to a high 2,300 CFS. So much for fishing a normal summer flow. Nevertheless there are still fish to catch out there.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Four Day Take-A-Teen Fishing Trip

Beautiful Yellow Creek

June is one of the best months to fish the Sierras. The high run-off on streams, creeks, and rivers are beginning to recede and the bugs are starting to become more and more active. Hatches of midges, mayflies, caddis, and stoneflies will have fish actively looking for both nymphs and dries.

Joined with my kid brother Nick, we drove up to Plumas County to explore our opportunities and fish for four days. The weather was windy and the fishing was a bit slow... 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wet Wading 101: How To Wet Wade Comfortably

It's Wet Wading Season

I hate waders. I don't understand how we are living in the 21st century where we have the technology to send a set of individuals to space but we can't seem to make waders that don't leak. It doesn't matter if they are expensive or manufactured by big names like Simms, Redington, Patagonia, or Orvis, if it can leak it eventually will.

Thankfully I live in the warm state of California where I can avoid wearing waders for half the year wet wading instead. Wet wading is my preferred method of wading because not only is it is a good way to beat the heat, it also gives you a more "intimate" feel with nature.

Wet wading can be as simple as wearing your favorite pair of shorts and sandals but wet wading comfortably is slightly more complicated.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Exploring Somewhere New and Somewhere Old

Chips Creek

It's finally happened... The first heat wave of the year and right on time. This weekend Manda and I set out to explore Chips Creek, a tributary of the NFFR, and visit the MFFR. The water is running a bit high throughout Plumas County but more is better than less.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Local Fun-filled Fishing

Yuba Quality

Another week of high Yuba flows means tough fishing and no pressure. I found the fish though, I always find them. Three hook-ups, three in the net.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fly Fishing Presentations For Shad

Technique! Technique!

I'd be an idiot not to take advantage of Feather River's shad run. Living five minutes away from the Feather is quite the pleasure, especially when the fish are present throughout the system. Although it's still early in the run, there are plenty of shad around to provide enough opportunities to catch a few. Plan on bringing you're A-game if you want to find and hook one.

"You tie you're own flies?" asked the boat angler in the middle of the river,  "Yeah!" I replied loudly. "Seems to be workin' pretty good!" He yelled back. I gave him a thumbs up. Little did he know that I must have changed flies about a dozen times only to find that what was actually working was the presentation I was using.