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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Truckee Area...Late Winter

Let'em Breathe!

My wish is a March Miracle (...not Miracle March!). It has been 3-4 weeks since we received any significant precipitation that deposited snow on the ground that didn't melt-off in a day or two.
Back-yard forest...Normal snow amount in late February...Ain't happening!

Right now, my prognosis is the fishing will start in earnest 4-5 weeks ahead of normal...assuming we don't experience my above wish. I'm thinking...hoping...we're currently experiencing a "false spring".

Truckee's watershed's eight (8) monitoring sites are cumulatively measuring 60% of average snow-water content. Total seasonal precipitation is also not spectacular at 56% of historical average to date.
My unscientific snow-melt calculation .60 x .56 equates to 34% of normal melt.  Yikes!! Fortunately, we've had two of three "good water" years.
My preferred "early-season" flies...
via "old-school" High-Sticking"

There's been no dramatic change in the fly angling since my last post of 1/31/20. There are less Little Black Winter Stoneflies flitting about and a slight up-tick in sightings of its larger relative, the Skwala Stonefly. BWO's are a good choice to imitate; either on the surface; during the sparse hatch/rise activity you can encounter, or, trailing a large Stonefly nymph or Flesh Juan Worms when dead-drifting "Low & Slow"; probing the bottom on the stream...where the  trout are. Sleep-in, simply fish the most pleasant time of day, 11AM-4PM when you'll find the progressively, warmest water of the day.

 Don't forget streamers now, they are always a good choice in early season for out-sized river trout.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Truckee Area...Winter Bugs

Personally I like to fish dry flies in winter...if conditions and access permit. Locally, in the Truckee area, currently there three aquatic bugs to consider if you're looking for surface feeders. I'm intentionally not mentioning midges because they are ALWAYS present, 365 days per year. I haven't observed intense bug hatches, but the below bugs are emerging...and trout are selectively eating them at the surface or in the surface-film.

Best time-frame to be at the stream has been noon to 3PM. I prefer a bit of cloud cover because there is less solar-heating to dry the adults' wings;  their wings have to be structurally sound before they  alight off the water. The longer they drift, the more susceptible they are to be eaten.

NOTE: Unless specified the images are mine taken in Truckee area

Little Black Winter Stoneflies:

When they are about, you'll see them "peppering" the snow-banks; either crawling about as winged adults or as nymphs preparing to split their thoracic wing-case to emerge.  Today they were fluttering at the water's surface in slow-running runs; otherwise they are very difficult to observe in the drift. Trout, generally, ingest these diminutive insects with gentle "slurps". Thin, 6X tippets are suggested for these size 16-18 aquatics. Consider two patterns; one that sits flush on the water's surface or a high-profile pattern with splayed wings, mimicking the top-water, fluttering adult (egg-layer?)

Blue-Winged Olives:

The existing BWO hatch is this year's "first-brood" emergence. I believe there may be three broods; winter, spring and fall...heresy? These small bugs are more visible while floating because they are "up-wings" as opposed to being a "down-wing"  relative to the two  stoneflies mentioned in this post. I prefer "old-school" Quigley Cripples, sparsely-tied ParaDun or CDC ComParaDun patterns; attached to minimum 10'-12' leader and a wispy 6X tippet. My first 20" RainBow of the 2020 season was fooled by the latter-mentioned pattern; size 18. Using the thin tippet, the hope is there are no obstructions while playing the trout.

Skwala Stonefly:

A bit early, but we brought one to hand today. We anticipate a more robust emergence starting about the 3rd week of February. While at rest on the water they can be difficult to see being a "down-wing". The telltale of their presence is an aggressive swirl or bulge at the surface; unlike the gentle slurp for the Little Black Winter Stones. When the trout become aware of this stonefly adult, I like doubling my chances of a hook-up by trailing off the bend of the #8-10 Skwala dry a pattern such as a  #18 JuJu Baetis or Flash-Back WD-40.  A 5X tippet will suffice; being sturdy enough to "turn-over" the big fly fraud.
image by

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Montana's "Wide Missouri"...a 2020 option

Big Sky Montana
I again returned the Missouri River in  Montana for a few days of drift-fishing during late-summer/early fall of 2019. The guiding and bedding was provided by Wolf Creek Anglers; 2-3 miles from Holter Dam. I'll return in 2020; August 29 to September 6. 

Below you'll find my journal entries...roughly UNEDITED. So please enjoy the gist of the fly angling we experienced and disregard the grammar, absence of sentence structure and my obsessive dots. Generally, I'm not a compulsive "fish-counter" but I include numbers in these entries to give a perspective of the tempo and "drift" of the fly angling.

9/11---Our nation's "NEVER FORGET" day

Holter Dam to Craig: We indo-fished in the rain from 9AM-1PM; not really comfy, but we were prepared with the right clothing and stayed warm. It cleared to over-cast/drizzle in the afternoon. The productive fly pattern was a #18 or 20 Black Zebra Midge (silver bead), with a  6' drop to one BB shot. We netted good-sized RainBows in the 16"-18" range; strong, deep-bodied...some with 3-4 high aerials, others with long, first runs. There was one 12" Brown and a 15"-16" Whitey. No numbers  but enough to keep us interested...guessing me at 8/5 and Bob at 12/8; approximately 20 hook-ups and more than a dozen netted.

9/12---“Sunny today with a high near 71. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 5-9 mph in the morning”

Wolf Creek Bridge to Stickley Creek:  Our "slowest" day. As in past years, we meet-up with the day's guide in front of the WCA fly shop at 8AM, and on the water guessing 8/7  (hook-ups/netted); all RB's in the 16"-18" range and one brown at 13"...all were jumpers with the exception on one thick, 18" RB that made head-long, pull-downs attempting to bury itself in the rooted, waving, bottom weeds.. Bob hooked about ten and boated the boat cumulatively hooked a dozen-and-a half and a dozen were brought to hand.
The Wide Missouri
We saw Tricos in the AM until 11; no trout were slurping them at all. Throughout the day we saw sporadic “one & done” bulging trout  chasing emerging  Brachycentrus caddis ("Grannoms") at/near the surface; Productive patterns were #16 Green Machine, #20 Black Zebra Midge and a #6 Crawdad pattern; a short drop of 4 feet to the upper fly, no lead under old school, stick-on  Pulsa indicators…ideal for shallow-water, indo-fishing on the LT!

The weather cleared today. It was balmy, low-70's with mostly clear skies, and occasional puffy cloud and mild breezes with...very comfortable.

9/13---"A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly between 3PM-5PM. Increasing clouds, with a high near 75. South, southwest wind 7-12 mph increasing to 16-21 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph."

A non-fishing day; a grand tour of watersheds of Little Prickly Pear Creek and the Blackfoot river east of the town of Lincoln Montana. We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the orientation for future alternate fishing when not drifting the Big Mo.
The Blackfoot River...of the "River Runs Through It" fame

53 Grizzly present in this one valley!...we turned around

9/14---"Cloudy, with a high near 77. Southwest wind 6 to 15 mph."

Dearborn to Prewitt: Best numbers day; Cumulatively, guessing 40+/24+. Sub-surface in AM & dries in afternoon (minimum 3/4 of count) …sunny skies & gusty winds…RB’s 10”-“18”, Browns to 17”…one small Whitey…9 mile drift...Indo in the AM with a #16 Frenchie, at "outstretched hand to outside nipple" drop to one BB...dries in the afternoon, #14 green-bellied Elk Hair Caddis and #16 Parachute Black Ant. most ate the latter by a wide margin.
Bob with a typical Missouri Rainbow

Mid-Canyon to Pelican Point...30/20, missing many takes...The smallest brown and biggest Brown of the trip, a dink at 5 inches, along with two decent Browns at 17" and 20"...both ate a #12 Black Fat Albert (my favorite southern Chilean Patagonia dry fly).  Otherwise most of the surface-eater trout ingested a #12 Parachute Ant. The morning's best patterns via indo-fishing was a #14 Red Copper John and #16 Green machine...on a short drop, 4' indo to one BB shot.

Several fish hooked played the "grass-release" routine mentioned in the 9/12 report. Once hooked the trout dives for the bottom, attempting to bury themselves in huge matts of both floating and rooted aquatic vegetation. eventually, the weeds slide down to the trout's mouth and unhooks the trout!
..a dry fly eater
The Untouchables Bridge of the "Untouchables" movie fame
Bob with one of numerous hook-ups on the "lower" water

vistas and uncrowded conditions

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A Truckee White Christmas

As the song says "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas...". Except, I don't dream it, I live it. Today the winter solstice is officially here. We wish everyone a pleasant Christmas and a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year.

Thus far we've had a very busy,  social holiday season with a bit more until the arrival of  2020. From here on it is snow-shoveling, blowing and pushing major winter cardio/muscle-toning exercise.

Generally, the snow accumulation is minimal and manageable...
On right, our front- entry...before the heavy snows
back patio decks, upper cleared , lower not...before moving BBQ 
under the extended/sky-light eaves

then the snowfall and pack gets serious...Such is the time when I manually clear our back-patio decks in a TIMELY fashion; if not, ice forms making for difficult clearing. I do not do the lower deck, but make sure I clear the upper-deck section to assure our windows are clear and free of snow. If not, we'll live in snow-cave since all the other windows on our 1st floor,  we're we do 95% of our living, around our 6500' elevation home are covered in snow from the sloping roofs' constantly "unloading".
After a "big dump" 
After my shoveling/pushing...beautiful mountain snow & sunshine!
In the front drive-way we have a plowing service, but I still have to "blow" snow with my handy Honda snow-blower to keep our garage-side entry door accessible; since our real "front-door" is not available when the deep snow-pack arrives at our 6500' elevation home
Deep snow view of backyard Tahoe National Forest 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tahoe-Truckee Region...Fall Journal 2019

Let'em Breathe!
I was looking for signs of early, migrating Browns...too early.

About 1330 I fished in intermittent sleet and snow....everything was damp. Regardless, for the next 1-1/2 hours I saw steadily rising, in-the-film or just below, slurping trout.

I believe the heavy rain/sleet/snow prevented any emerging aquatic bug breaking through the meniscus with the heavy pelting of sleet and wet-snow....amazing that the trout could pick-out a food item.

Worked a disperse pod at Papa's.. Unbeknownst to me, during about 15" of casting to the working feeders, I realized that I been!  a #18 BWO, foam-top-emerger fly I'd had attached to my 5X tippet must have popped-off on my back-cast because of my inattention to the high willows behind me....duh.

It was getting nasty; so I decided to make a hasty retreat from the weather. On the way-out I observed a minimum of 1/2 dozen upper-water-column feeders at both the 610 and Richard's Pool.

Snowing again! Hope it melts soon and I'll have an opportunity to get my drift-boat "off the mountain"...Where? I haven't decided yet, favoring Greg's place in Auburn, so it will be in close proximity for drifting the Yuba.

I'm guessing the Boca dam's re-enforcement work for the season is finished or on hold for completion in 2020. LT's Boca inlet is rising-up-river; inflow recently up-ramped to 132cfs (40 is historical average) with the out-flow at Boca at 92cfs (110 average)...hence rising pool of Boca.

10/1---Retrieved net in Sparks...amazed at Sparks; reminding me of developments in the East Bay once BART increased its tracks/

"...Wednesday and Friday I'll be 'dialing-in" (exact times of hatches and surface-feeding) for fall fishing."

10/3---fished the BT along Glenshire Drive for all of an hour. I'm getting to old scrambling up, over and through boulders in a freestone fish.
BT in the canyon...Water too cold.

 10/4---Well, I'm sure I will not be lucky again...lost the net again!!! I'm looking for blame and blaming it on ORVIS for not putting a center belt loop on their light-weight wader. Hence my long-handled "de-liar" net slips out and away if goes downstream. Had to buy an expense net at ACE for my guiding in Friday.

checked-out the LT inlet to access conditions today. Two fly anglers there and one hooks into a heavy fish. He didn't have his camera and I took a "grip & grin" for him before the release of a 24"-25" RB. It ate a #20 non-descript nymph under an indo, sans lead and in a shallow riffle. We're still waiting for the Browns to "stage" before going up-river.

Guided a 1/2 day on the LT today with a first-time client from Georgia. I love guiding anglers from the east-coast or southern states because they seldom catch wild trout beyond 12". He was elated that he hooked 4 and netted three wild RB's; two at 15" and one at 16". The productive flies were a #20 silver-beaded, Black Zebra Midge while  indo-fishing with two BB's and #18 copper-bead, generic BWO emerger pattern via a dry/dropper rig.

There were few rising trout and sparse adults in flight. All four aquatic orders of adults were observed; second-brood BWO's and an unknown larger mayfly, the ubiquitous midge, three different sized  caddis. the largest one is what I call the "False Fall Caddis" or Cinnamon  Caddis...people mistake for the real October Caddis (Discomeous), which in my opinion is larger and has a darker colored wing. The last bug viewed was the Olive Stonefly. Interestingly, JR  stomach-pumped a brown trout that had numerous little dark stonefly nymphs.

10/7--I've actually refused 4 days of guiding for this week and the next. Guess I'm getting a bit burnt-out PLUS I'm not receptive to guiding on a short-notice basis especially new clients...not to my liking; exception being long-term clients.

  "…generally if no surface, showing fish; indo with 4’ drop to #4 lead, worm trialing #18-20 midge pattern (silver-bead Zebra Midge) or generic small fly. If showing fish “bulging” at or near the surface; a visible dry indicator fly, trailing by 18”-24” a midge pupa an/or larva or JuJu Baetis…Fish the first riffle entering the lake, the vertex of the two converging currents OR the 'slick' water.


"Your advice worked wonderfully! I used a worm on top and one of those midges on the bottom fly with 5X tippet close to 18” behind. I had an indicator on and a bit of lead and caught a fish on my first cast!  Bam indicator down and I’m like what the heck set the hook and game on. Then I removed the lead when I moved to the faster water near that riffle where the LT feeds into the lake. I hooked three fish there on the midge. First two came unbuttoned but the last one I kept a lot of pressure on and landed a nice 14” rainbow. It fought like crazy. I kept him wet and he survived but I managed to get a quick photo of him. Thanks again!"  

10/16--Unbelievable Sam found my net where I thought I lost it. I'll pick-up at TU office in town. Promised Sam some flies or fishing time as the reward per note on my net handle

10/17--my PP for the club went well, bigger attendance the I anticipated...No one fell asleep and It went about 35"-40". Larry sent me an e-note (he's was in Mexico) and he said "...sounds like you hit it out of the park"...Well, I was confident that I would...da Dean speaking

10/19--too windy to fish...Boca inlet filling. There was a nice  cloud-cover, what I've been looking for, but not the gusts o f wind!... especially when I'm targeting surface-slurpers. Was not in a mood for sling heavy stuff.

Worked dimpling trout at LT inlet for an hour; not a touch, down to 22's and long, wispy 6X leaders...Then Dutch and I did lower meadow; nothing...Sure a nice Fall day...lots of psuedo's, Little Olive Stones and a lone October Caddis...gentle breezes as opposed to the inlet

Fall-time PsuedoCleons on both the LT and BT
"Pat---Nice seeing you...As I mentioned I'll not be at Pleasanton this year.

My booth, "Truckee Guide NetWork", will be occupied with people I work with fly fishing-wise with in Truckee...So I'll miss seeing Fanny in 2020; Remember when I gave a presentation to GWWF at the Fanny's house in the mid-90's?...When Mel was in the "dog-house".

Via a family friend, for his birthday, I got Stefan his first, three fly fishing books when he was in high school. He now lives in Reno.

GGWF has always been dear to my heart...I remember the unbelievable buffet/fundraisers they had at Fort Mason...the food was unbelievable. I was there when you ladies started as well when the International Women Fly Fishers was started at a dinner at the Yet Wah (sp?) restaurant on Clement Street. I gave a talk at the IWF's 10th anniversary at Squaw Valley (2005 or 6?).

Have any GWFF contact me anytime for an update on the ffing conditions..."

Had fun guiding/instructing for the TU fundraiser on the SFFCC...numerous fat trout caught by the 8 who each contributed $1500..$12000 for the trout! 

Grape-vine report of a 29" Brown...

Saw an image of a minimum 24" RB netted on the LT ..a very rare RB.

11/5--- Been fishing with Al and Dom in the afternoons on the LT. Tough fishing, no numbers and tiny 20-22 JuJu Baetis & Black Zebras. Bugs at surface & lots of sippers; dark-side has produced Dom has landing  a couple of 18” RB’s…Yesterday he did 7/3 (one break-off) during the 3 hour 2-5PM session. Al hooked-up 2-3 times, lost them after extended battles…he has to develop his skills on fighting the fish. He got a 16”-17” RB on the BT earlier in the day. 

11/12--Haven't been on the water is several days...diverted by football and politics.
Small Creeks...past their prime

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sage Words from the Icons #18

Fishing a side-channel

...noticed this quote on FaceBook recently:

"Fishing has a dignity, a simplicity, a ruggedness and honesty...little dreamed about in this materialistic world"


Solid hook-up...tiny the nib

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Truckee Angling, Last Century Throwback PART # 3

Let'em Breathe! 

Circa mid-80's Thy Rod & Staff's 8-panel brochure 
Inside Panel #3: 


If fortunate, the autumn angler experiences a glorious Indian Summer with only an occasional, 
shot-lived thundershower. Crowds are gone, nights become brisk, and the aspens and alders turn golden. It is a special time of year. Stealth become a prime tactic.
Fall...Crowds are gone
Solitude is the rule at Milton. If action is slow. one  can vacate the belly-boat and start prospecting for fall spawners leaving the lake and ascending the short stretch of the Yuba River's Middle  Fork. The same regulations apply.

In October, the Truckee basin lakes will produce the largest trout of the season. The migrating 
6-10 pound Browns are encountered in Stampede, Boca, and Prosser impoundments. Fly-rodders are starting to get their share.
JR with an inlet Brown
Ex-Truckeeite Stan McCleod with fall-time Truckee River RainBow