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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Early Season: Truckee & Little Truckee Rivers

         Let'em Breathe!
Relative to this year's huge snow-pack and the melt that we're currently experiencing; my March 3 2019 post, Springtime Trout Fishing...Timing, Venues & Strategies remains spot on.

For sure, a minimum of 4 weeks, more likely 6 weeks, behind a "normal" season remains a viable/reliable prognosis...gleaned from my four decades being laser-focused on Truckee area waters.
In lieu of late-May thru July, I project early-July thru August being prime-time for all tactics; entailing "dredging" or "purist" dry-fly angling in the north Tahoe area; especially the LT nd BT
In the "Grand Canyon of the Truckee"...fall-time, not now!

     "...May to the start of June can be an “iffy” proposition for the start of optimum fly fishing conditions; wholly dependent on what remains of the previous winter’s snow-pack, its percentage of water content and resulting melt/run-off. During this period, one’s best methods are to hug the river’s bottom strata; where the fish rest.

     Waning spring marks the arrival of the unbeknownst, but locally beloved, “Big Bugs of June”; Western Green Drakes, Golden Stoneflies and huge, winged, Black Carpenter Ants. The Green Drakes and Golden stone adults do not appear in great numbers, but they are present and the trout are aware. The former two insects will emerge over a three-four-week period while the Ant’s appearance in the region is more intense and short-lived; as brief as 3-4 days only
     These food items provide hungry spring trout high-caloric morsels. The trout are on alert. Tactically, search for these ambush feeders; toss your big dries along cut-banks, under over-hanging stream-side vegetation, shallow-riffles and pocket-water. In the past out-sized trout, in the 20”-25” class, have abandoned caution and succumb to their voracious appetites, vacating  the depths to bust the surface for these big bugs. During this waning “post-melt” period, you can experience explosive, top water takes."  ……….Truckee River Primer, California Fly Fisher, November 2017

So, a fly-fan’s first, real chance to trick a trout to the surface remains the month June. Now, water temperatures supplant flows as the more important consideration...most especially on the BT. The stream occupants are aware of the "Big Bugs of June" and on the lookout for the opportunity to ambush such high-caloric morsels.  

HINT: NOW! is the time to search the small creeks (still too high & cold!) and lake inlets, subject to access.
a throw-back..."Have Boat*...Will Travel"..
* in lieu of "Gun"

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Watching the Truckee River's Flows

Ideally, a smooth melt; as opposed to an erratic preferred during this early-spring on Truckee area waters.

Pre-melt angling HAD been picking-up...until the rising waters that have occurred starting the 1st week of April...It has been changing day to day. With the receding snow; access is readily available.

There are two phenomena I observe this time of year; water flow and water  temperature. Right now, of the two, water temps are of lesser concern. Tactically, with high-volume, early-melt flows...simply, look for the proverbial "soft-water". Something to think about...the "precise holding water changes with the tempo of the snow-melt and rise and fall of the flows" (quote...Dean da Raven).
Along the Glenshire sector at 1800cfs
Lots of water to share...right now

Thursday, April 4, 2019


Recently Jon Baiocchi wrote an extensive article in California Fly Fisher magazine about Skwala stoneflies.

I saw the below, succinct fishing report about Skawala angling on Montana's Bitterroot river from an old acquaintance from my Hat Creek days in the '70's, Chuck Stranahan . Chuck owned Hat Creek Anglers and moved to Hamilton Montana in the early 80's (?).

I though I'd re-post here because it is very timely advice right the Truckee area.

"Dry fly skwala action continues on the Bitterroot - in spurts, but it's great if you catch it right. You have to be out there casting. Early afternoon, when water and air temps are best, produce the best dry fly fishing. Nymphs, from #8 skwalas to small food-form nymphs, soft hackles, and (ugh!) pink San Juan Worms work best when fish are not on top.Sunny days are slow on top, overcast days are best. Fish are robust and in great shape."

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Sage Words from the Icons #15

"I fish because I love to fish. Because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are  invariably ugly.
Because…my fishing is at once and endless source of delight and an act of rebellion…

because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed, or impressed by power,
but respond only to quietude and humility, and endless patience…

Because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters…in the woods I can find solitude without loneliness…

finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important,
but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant

…and merely not so much fun"


NOTE: All images of southern Chilean Patagonia...There's absolutely no  need to travel to the distant southern and great trout fly fishing is in your it!

Monday, March 11, 2019


Let'em Breathe!
This Frankism  seems to work considerably more than the  majority of the time...

 Use of Weight:

"When in Doubt...Add"

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Springtime Trout Fishing...Timing, Venues & Strategies

"Musing About Spring" was published in Sierra Fisherman's Spring 2014 issue. As mentioned in the first paragraph; we were in the midst of the 3rd year of the four year draught; broken by the heavy winter of 2016-17.

 If I'd  have to make a projection as of this date of our forthcoming angling conditions in the mountains; my collective conscious says the season will be a MINIMUM of four (4) weeks later than a "normal season and I'm thinking 6 weeks behind as more likely. So plan you angling venues...timewise... accordingly.   As mentioned in the last paragraph of the article; this is not intended to be  complete primer on projecting springtime angling strategies. The intent is to pique anglers' thinking, regardless of the previous winter's precipitation and snow.
Musing About Spring
 "With some initial reluctance, we were hesitant to write this article on spring-time fly fishing strategies on California’s moving waters. Then on second thought, considering the below precipitation and the dreaded D-word, fly anglers should envision thinking tactics 6-8 weeks earlier than a “normal” season; as in late-April and May, replicating June and early-July conditions. 

Planning early season fly angling can be a conundrum. Some consider May and June as the two best months for fly fishing on the Sierra‘s west-slope and valley waters of California. But, the same months are generally the critical times for both rain and snow melt to adversely affect fishing conditions. Spring days are longer, water is warmer and the most prolific hatches occur. Progressively the fly angler wanders up-slope to higher elevations during July and August for prime-time along the Sierra crest and its east slope. Eventually, they will strap-on a back-pack and trek the golden trout waters during August and September.

In truth, not all of the below ideas may be pertinent because this the third straight year of waaaaay below rain and snow in California. All can change on the west coast if we experience another “Miracle March” as happened several years ago. Since this is being written in early February; only time will tell if we experience a “miracle” weather event.

The below concepts may be more appropriate for mid-western and east-coast readers because those regions have had a really wet year. Then, the bulk of the chronological strategies suggested may apply. Nevertheless, as fly anglers we always have to adjust what Mother Nature dictates; so be flexible. As always, success will be determined by being on the water at the right time and the hackneyed “what, where and how".

Spring trout are hungry, making them aggressive and not too finicky. They have waited the whole winter for the increasing cornucopia of food items in the drift. The best plan during this period is to appear stream-side at midday because the water’s temperature is at its warmest. Warming flows triggers both hatches and trout activity.

A sunny day in early spring can activate a midge hatch and sipping trout. Also, an emergence of early-brood Baetis mixed with sporadic March Browns may be on the menu. Be alert for fading remnants of both little winter and Skwala stoneflies. This season, at least in California, anticipate premature emergences of Golden stones, Green Drakes and Pale Morning Duns accompanied by caddis at dusk. For the latter four aquatics it is suggested that one fishes sub-surface, deep, bouncing along the bottom. If one is a trophy-hunter, big river trout require large caloric intakes…in one bite…so streamers and bucktails are always a good play in early season.

So, how does one plan for early spring angling excursions in the Sierra? During a normal season consider that most alpine streams are snow-fed, and the thaw is in progress. This melt means that your preferred mountain stream may be a ragging cascade. Then what? Consider these reasoned options: 1) fish “pre-melt” freestone streams above snow-line, 2) venture below snow-line during run-off, and 3) seek controlled flows, below dams; fish tail-waters.

In early spring above snow-line, the melt is weather related; it can be steady or erratic dependent on the climate changes. The amount of sun exposure dictates the rhythm of the melt and affects when the stream temperatures start rising. Sudden sun exposure results in turbid water and quick run-off; usually about the time when the willows, alders and cottonwoods start sprouting buds. In the Rockies, this upper-elevation, pre-melt period is called an “Indian Spring”. It happens here in California, most especially in the Sierra and Cascades ranges. Everything is energized; wild flowers bloom, birds sing, insects hatch…trout feed.

Streams, below snowline, are good choices for springtime fly fishing. Generally, snowline is about 5000 feet. Good planning entails perusing U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps. There you will get a perspective of gradient which will assist you in determining what type of stream you will encounter.

Timing is critical. It is always good strategy to seek a stable or falling river rather than attempting to fish when the flows are rising and/or discolored.  Be aware of snow-pack above; its percentage of water-content is more critical than the existing depth. As already mentioned, weather patterns impact the speed of snow melt and corresponding run-off.  Rising water, whether snow melt or rain, forces trout from habitual lies. It will take a trout a few days to acclimate after a rapid rise in flows before they settle into both predictable holding lies and commence feeding regularly.

During melt and run-off periods, tail-waters are more predictable fisheries than freestone streams. The flows are generally stable and water temperatures constant. Another of those pesky conundrums is that, assuming most of us are fishery conservationists, we consider dams as needless and harmful. So, the positive view is that we utilize those streams which are already dammed…for our unabashed, angling pleasure. They’re there, might as well use them. A term I use for such behavior is being a “situational ethicist”.

Get to know who operate dams, use appropriate apps or bookmark websites which will likely have charts on existing and/or a history of prior releases. If you visit a specific water regularly, you will establish what the optimum flows are for your best fly angling success.

This article is not intended to be a complete primer on assessing springtime water conditions and how they will affect success or failure on your early season outings. The intent is to pique anglers’ interest to focus attention on weather and its impact on hydrology and seek different types of water that can provide optimum fly fishing prospects. During the unpredictable climate of spring remain optimistic, one can find streams with near ideal water conditions, wild trout, and solitude…if one is inquisitive, does some research and thinks out of the box."

Friday, February 15, 2019

...And It Continues

This current weather event is the third 3'-6' snow-drop in 3-4 day storm cycles we've experienced in the Truckee-Tahoe during February. Currently, the snow-water equivalent is 161% of historical median and precipitation is 127% of average to date. According to my calculations, projected snow--melt/water run-off is 204% of normal (161 X 1.21= 204).
It sure is "purdy" when there is a break in the me an opportunity to do some snow-clearing on the back-deck via  pushing and shoveling.
Then it gets dark again, wind commences with drifting snow and at times there are white-outs. In-between there is serenity and quiet.
and then it dumps again!
and we provide some fodder for the little, non-migrating, chicadees