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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.
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.
Awarding congratulations for completion of the Fly Fishing Fundamentals Class of 2019 after the “on stream” practical session is Kent McCammon…
But let’s digress for a minute. How did we get here, in the middle of nowhere, five miles up a National Forest road next to a gorgeous gin clear stream?
Well, our story begins with Kent and Rob organizing an on-stream day of final instruction before turning loose these new fly fishers on un-suspecting trout everywhere. The target was Beaver Creek, an excellent early season small creek with very willing small trout, when the North Fork of the Stanislaus is ripping too fast with 800 cfs of cold snowmelt. So off they go with six (Warren Wagner, Charles Brown, Charles Wortham, Joey Tchang, Mark Evans, and James Sprecher) accompanied by Alan Wyosnick for teaching advanced nymphing, Tom Vargas for teaching the fine art of streamers, and Rob Farris teaching “frustration with the dry fly”….
All was well on this little stream with 2-4 feet of depth for the trout, until this busload descends mid-morning. “Wader up, boys” is the call as the group splits up with the three instructors for some seriously fun education.
The group heard a repeat of the Flyfishing Fundamentals class about wading safety, reading a stream, approaching the fish without spooking, fly presentation techniques, prevention of ‘drag’, rigging and fishing a nymphing indicator rig, and once in a while even hooking and netting an un-suspecting little rainbow trout.
Special congratulations are in order for Charles Brown for the loudest scream when a voracious small 5” rainbow rocketed up from the depths to attack his dry fly. Condolences are also in order for missing the hookup on that one Charles! Surprised you with the quickness of the take, eh?
The weather was great (72 degrees), the stream temperature was a brisk fifty degrees for those wet wading, the fish were cooperative with numerous caught, and the meandering free range cows serenaded us with their cowbells. All topped off with cold drinks streamside after the event, and then early dinner at the Lube Room in Dorrington.
Joey Tchang summed it up for everyone afterward in an email and commented, “Thank you very much to all of the instructors and to Kent for planning and teaching the stream trip yesterday. I learned so much more than I expected. The application of the information provided on the water was so beneficial. I can't wait to apply what I learned on my next trip. Thank you again for spending time with us novices!” Joey, it was our pleasure…
Another two day trip to Hat Creek this past week as the “bug season” is well under way up there, and I just can’t pass up a good hatch or two. Hooked eight with four to the net from 10-15”, including a very nice and active 15” rainbow who put on a great show in, out, and above the water. Also raised in excess of 25 risers between AM fishing at the Powerhouse and the evening fishing down at Carbon Bridge; all on dry flies so a very active two days with lots of casting to rising fish.
Typical situation at Hat Creek with the most activity in the early AM until noon, very slow mid-day, and then really active hatches with the mosquito attacks at sunset. So I started with E/C Caddis “leftovers” in the early AM which enticed the largest fish of the day; switched to Parachute Adams around 9, and then on to PMD’s when the hatch came off in the riffles around 10 AM, just like clockwork. There were only four of us in the PH#2 riffles until they all left at noon and they were all fishing under indicators and skunked. I think that the fish in the riffles see so many nymphs flung at them that they are very skittish, hence my move to dries to take advantage of the rising hatches.
The evening was a spectacular sight down at Carbon Bridge with multiple hatches coming off just about 8 PM. The Little Sister Weedy Sedges are in full flight right now, and I was on to to them with Henryville Down-wing Caddis. Landed two, but the rest of the fish must have been on to me as they were a real challenge to get on the hook. And as quickly as the Caddis came they left 15 minutes later, to be followed by a blizzard of Pale Evening Dun mating swarms above the shoreline with the spent spinners falling and collecting in the shallow quiet water. Quite another very quick but spectacularly thick hatch that caught me by surprise, and by the time I had tied on a Rusty Spinner it was over. Easy come, easy go I guess. Next time I’ll be rigged and ready for that hatch.
Weather is still a major determinant up at Hat Creek, and it seemingly changes every hour this time of year. I had sun, overcast, periodic wind, rain, rainbows, and occasional thunderstorms so one has to be prepared for what you are going to get. Got cold the previous night and local Mt. Burney and the pass over to Redding both had fresh snow in the morning. But the bald eagles were out fishing too; fresh new families of Mallard ducklings (one with 11) as well as Canadian Geese families were also in the creek with deer on the hillsides so it was a National Geographic type of trip. A nice time of year to be up there if you can handle the weather changes.
This TVFF trip was designed to catch the Salmonfly hatch of size 2-12 bugs on the creek, and we sure did. We had several resources say that it was too early, including one well-known Redding fly shop (un-named), but we witnessed a good hatch of these big guys throughout the two days we were on the creek. Pictures here: https://tvff.wildapricot.org/Hat-Creek-photos
They are just amazing to see, and as once described to me, appear as miniature helicopters as they flutter across the river. We saw them over the river never touching down, and they were also seen in the bark ridges and folds of pine trees near the creek if you looked hard enough. The results: I had only one strong take on a size 12 dry Salmonfly and it was aggressive. Sad to say; no fish to the net. The bugs only periodically hit the water, usually dropping from streamside trees so it’s not like fishing a profuse Caddis or Baetis hatch. Best approach is to fish Stonefly nymphs off the banks late in the day and just before night when they crawl out to bust out of their exoskeletons.
The rest of the trip was very good. Starting with Gary Prince knocking down a few rainbows in the first day’s evening hatch at Carbon Bridge with the largest about 16”. Hat Creek is a two stage fishery with hatches in the early AM, quiet at mid-day, and then a large amount of fish rising in the late evening, just before dark. And they have substantial cover being laid down by the mosquito hordes, which are just as hungry and must be on the trout’s payroll. Don’t go without your insect repellent! Nevertheless, Gary was persistent as usual, staying until there was no light available (8:40 PM) and returning up the trail via flashlight. Mark Spruiell, Chris McCann, Roger Perry, and I were all shut out with multiple takes and a shortened evening as we were all driven out early by the mosquito’s and the call of a cold beer.
Day 2 began at the Powerhouse 2 riffles with cloud hatches of tiny Tricos in the early AM as we arrived. No one wanted to tackle tying on a size 24 Trico dry fly imitation, but I’ll be back after those little guys in the future. Just because I’m a glutton for punishment with dry flies on 7X tippet with #22-24’s, and just because I want to say that I could. Quite a contrast to the size 2 Salmonflies. A few of us jumped into the riffles at the Powerhouse which were only running about 6” higher than normal with the strong winter, with Euro nymphing setups. We had early season company with about 6 other guys and another 4 or so downstream in the flats. It was a busy day at PH #2 for a while, and almost everyone left by noon as the fishery quieted down.
I had a good day in the riffles with dries raising about 20 fish, hooking eight, and landing five with the largest an unusual Brown at 14”. Based on past experience I anticipated that the Baetis and Pale Morning Duns would come off right at 9 and last until about 11:30, as they did. I ended up chasing pods of the rising fish downstream as they followed the drift and hatch, and then again back upstream. So much fun; so little time until the hatch died. We all packed up and then headed to the downstream side of highway 299 for an afternoon of fishing the riffles in the shade, and moving toward the final stretch before the creek drops into Lake Britton where the Salmonflies congregate. As I recall Roger netted our only fish that afternoon, which was a disappointment in such a beautiful stretch of the creek. When I caught up with him Roger was mesmerized by a 19-20” rainbow that was jumping and clearing the water way out of reach in the middle of the stream. Of course that kept us there longer than normal trying to get a cast to him, with no luck. We called it a day, while Gary, Chris, and Roger departed back to Carbon Bridge again to try and replicate the previous evening, but without much success this time around.
So off we went to all areas of Baum Lake on Thursday as the fully recognized “TVFF Flotilla” in our prams, pontoons, and fishing rafts. Reading a lake is tough for a stream based dry fly guy like myself, but not nearly so challenging for Mark Spruiell who headed off in his pram like he knew EXACTLY where he was headed further down in the lake. And he sure did, netting 10 rainbows over 17”. Mark is clearly the “Wizard of Baum” as he sure knows where, when, and how to speak trout. Chris is a good strong 2nd at Baum with his two rainbows, which is below his normal take rate up there, but he is still chasing Mark. A great job by Chris and Mark on a windy day for those of us in the pontoons and rafts that spent our day back rowing, dropping anchors, and flailing at the water. Overall, the trip went well with success depending on what type of fishing suited your style best, and we certainly had all styles represented. Weather was terrific as well, but the food in Burney? Very limited to non-existent options with late night fishing after 9 PM. So if you go; fish the mornings and evenings until dark, but you better bring your own dinner…LOL.