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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Throw-Back Truckee Fly Angling

Somethings change, somethings do not...a reprint:

                                                                                Paul Dillon Image
Currently PMD emerger patterns are the most effective for surface-feeders

My apologies for this long delay. I was unaware how many cyber-surfers bookmarked this UPDATE, and actually read my comments! Thanks for the vote of confidence on the reliability of my written word. I will  attempt to be more timely for the rest of the season.

We are now experiencing above-normal warm, mountain weather in the High Sierra. During the last four weeks we've had a mixed bag of climatic conditions; sunny and clear skies, endured rain, hail, snow in the higher slopes, blistering winds that at times made it almost impossible to cast or even lob a cast to showing fish or suspected lies. To compound matters relative to fly fishing; regulated federal flows out of Lake Tahoe into the main Truckee had been erratic and unpredictable, maxing-out to 1500 cfs!!! During the last 10 days they've been relatively stable...angling conditions on most waters are now superb. 

MARTIS LAKE as been sporadic at best. The lake is settling into its mid-summer pattern of warm water temps; 71 degrees in the shallows at mid-day on Wednesday the 15th. The bloom of surface vegetation makes it almost impossible to float-tube the inlet area. The inlet channel is clearly defined, with observable, midge-slurpers in the morning; before the wind starts-up. Prams or pontoon boats are best in this area; float-tubes are fine for the rest of the lake. Aside from the midges, be on the look-out for Callibaetis, both duns and spinners. During the day search the drop-offs and lake edges with Damsel or Dragonfly nymph imitations or your favorite searching streamer...HINT: the red-side shiners have an iridescent red stripe on their sides. I've used a foam beetle with much success in the past during hot summer days; they should be in your lake-fishing fly box. Blood Midges and small dark midges appear in the evening. A BB Midge or Blood Midge Cripple, on a dead-drift or slow draw (creating a V-shaped surface disturbance), attracts cruising fish. You must discern the "decent" gulpers from the planted 7"-10" Cutthroat & Rainbows.

TRUCKEE RIVER flows are ideal; water temps are spiking at 66-68 degrees, admittedly warm and on the upper cusp for triggering the trout's ideal feeding metabolism of 55-65. Some anglers are starting split-session excursions; early and late. Adult Little Yellow Stoneflies, Green Rock Worm and Spotted sedges, the river's three featured hatches are present in good numbers; in addition to the small, #16-18 tan caddis (Glossosoma?). 

Dry fly fishing has been good. High-Stick/Short-Line and "stick and move" in th pockets, or precise drifts to showing fish gorging on emerging PMDs and Mahogany Duns in the runs and tail-outs of pools. HINT: Swing  #14 Partridge and Yellow or Grouse and Orange soft-hackles in front of targeted risers if you are getting refusals. Best surface patterns have been a #14 Glickman Yellow Stone, Orange or Yellow Parachute Humpy, and #16 Grey Elkhair Caddis

Sub-surface,  search with nymphs/larvae/pupae suggestive patterns.  Try a #6 Golden Stonefly, #10 BeadHead Prince, a #14 Foster's Turkey BeadHead, a #16 BeadHead PT or BH Green-Sparkle Caddis pupa. Wild Rainbows and Browns to 19" have been netted.

Increase flows into the LITTLE TRUCKEE rom Stampede dam have made the stream very fishable. There have been a mid-day PMD hatch which can keep you busy casting to rising trout. The trout are not spooky when they're working the surface. But, be forewarned; the feeders are very selective. A Mercer PMD emerger works very well. Your presentation has to to float in the exact feeding lane...accuracy is imperative. Unfortunately the fish are smaller than last year. I attribute this my observations that too many large spawners/broodstock were being harvested last year. DFG has a lot of data and angler input on this fishery; they've been indecisive...this fishery needs special regulations with limited kill and gear restrictions.

Guide client, Paul Silva of Santa Clara, received my coveted TRUCKEE CONSERVATION AWARD for "actions above and beyond the call of angling" for rescuing about a dozen, stranded, Rainbows and Browns who faced certain death in standing pools of water; the result of a sudden flow draw-down from Stampede dam. A tip of the rod to this unselfish act!

The SMALL CREEKS, surprisingly, are fishing quite well for this time of year. A 12" trout is considered a "hog". Attractor dries are sufficient. Use your USGS topo map. Next report will have a detailed report on MILTON LAKE. until nest year...Tight Lines!

*This  UPDATE was initially on my early website onl ...eventually, per request,  I e-mailed it directly to near-400 recipients

Sunday, July 8, 2018


Green Drakes here for 6-Weeks!...first BT then LT

Well, still mobile, having pulled a calf-muscle...Nevertheless, been busy enjoying and gratified by mid-June into early July's guiding, clinics, tours and both TTFF's ( Cliff Frazier Memorial Youth program and Novice Clinic. While not "working" I made every opportunity for personal angling.

The "Big Bugs Of June" all made an appearance on the BT. The Winged Blacked Carpenter Ant were first during an intense 3-4 day period. The trout were aware, creating a great surface "searching" pattern on all moving waters and lake inlets; beyond the ant's short availability.
Winged Black Carpenter Ant dries also produced in creeks...
...and at stream inflows at accessed via boats

Mid-morning to noon emergences of PMD's and March Browns made for happy sight-fishing to rising trout.
Pancho bent during the predictable late-morning PMD hatch

The trout were very selective; so we increased the odds of a grab by tailing soft-hackles or generic bead-head nymphs behind our flush-floating dries. Little Yellow Stonefly adults were and will continue to be a bug to imitate for the next 4 weeks; most especially at dusk. Also, nice adult imitation to use as your indicator fly when dry/dropper fishing while  methodically "prospecting" pocket-water. 

As usual the phantom hatches ( in sparse numbers) of the other two "Big Bugs"...Golden Stonefly  and western Green Drake followed the black ants. We have been on our ritualistic, sunset "Drake Watch"...even though, personally, I saw them at mid-day. In the Drake's absence there are volumes of Little Yellow StoneFlies, micro-caddis and non-IDed mayfly spinners


On the BT; warming waters; hence morning and evening times. Remember that below dam inflows such as Prosser and Boca there will be cooler waters than above and more flow. 

The LT currently has Drakes (started last week of June); so they'll be around for another week. Be aware of a "masking hatch"...PMD's. My hope is releases from Stampede dam do not get any lower. It is crowded...practice amiable stream-etiquette.

Small Creeks are finished locally, seek higher elevations.

Lakes...Locally wait for the big Browns staging at the inlets this fall. Milton is a choice now. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Anting, Worming and Turding...

HINT: For eons, this time of year we fish the inlet streams into local stillwaters. For you creek junkies explore small creeks remembering that they have a 7-10 day window of prime angling conditions...your choice at a "Hat Trick" of Brookies, RainBows and Browns...a 12 incher being a trophy."                            (May 17 2018 blog post)

Both surface and sub-surface feeding trout found in the deep pools...
Maybe another week for prime conditions on the  inlet streams and creeks. Water temperatures start in the high 40’s to 54 degrees by mid-day. Waters are clear and the melt is almost complete. There are a lot of aquatics flitting about BUT the Winged Black Carpenter Ant about and the fish are keyed to them…aggressively slashing at the surface. Early-season  patterns such as  San Juan Worms and "Turds" (Pat’s RubberLegs) produce in the deeper runs and pools.
fast riffles..
A” record”12-inch Brookie, relative to my decades of experience in the Truckee area, was netted/taped after eating a small dry in one of the local brooks.
...and deep runs
The BT ‘s flows are receding nicely with water temperatures nearing ideal 55+degrees.
Currently we’re on the Green Drake Watch; we’re also awaiting the Golden StoneFly adults.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day...Never Forget...

...those who honorably served and made the ultimate sacrifice...their lives.

Memorial Day remembers and honors those who died to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today...Never forget them.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Spring FlyAngling Report & a RetroSpection

 Let'em Breath!
I've got to admit; I'm loving this unpredictable, wet, early-spring. This wet weather is really refreshing the entire region.

The BT is getting into nice fishing shape. Still a bit high for my liking at 543cfs along the Glenshire stretch and 902 cfs below the LT inflow at Boca. It is remains a sub-surface game. There are few adult bugs in flight, sparse BWO's and March Browns...along with a rare, yellow, leggy CraneFly. Consistent or predictable surface-activity; still remains a minimum of 3-4 weeks away. A good sign from a recent seining reveals a dense population of both Western Green Drake and PMD nymphs. The former being one of the three Big Bugs of June; along with the Winged, Black Carpenter Ant and Golden Stonefly.

Before the angling hordes arrive (pre-4th of July), explore the upper river along state-route 89;  Tahoe City-Trout Creek; flows out of Lake Tahoe currently at 195cfs. There will be wild, stream-bred trout available ...before they get harvested for the table since there are no gear or size restrictions and five (5) trout take. the "canyon"

So, currently, fish the river going down; deep along the bottom substrate... where the fish hold & rest. With the water temps still in the mid-to-high 40's and the occasional 50-51degree (if sun is present) your presentation has to be precise and methodical because the trout will not move much for your offering...force-feed'em. That will change when the water reaches the 55-56 degrees; then the feed-bag is on, whether sub-surface or on top. I haven't heard of 20"+ trout via the local "grape-vine".

As far as fly patterns on this river, people know I'm a big proponent of proper presentation & "size matters" first...shape and color to follow, if doable. So select your favorite attractor/impressionistic fly of choice. Remember to "stick & move"...your first good presentation in a new drift being your highest percentage of a take from an opportunistic feeder.

The LT below Stampede dam is too low for this time of year at 98cfs. One-fourth the historical 425 cfs release below the dam. I'm attributing these marginal releases to construction raising the dam-face 11'.  My main concern right now is how it will impact the PMD hatch/rise activity angling beginning late-June, at its height thru July and into August.  The caveat being there will be unseasonal, high releases then... ruining the dry fly fishing!
LT Inlet at high water

Recently Browns to 21" and RainBows to 19" have been netted. Productive flies have been #16, legged Copper Johns and #18 lime-green, Midge larva. I'm hearing of some selective, surface-feeding (remnant Black Winter Stonefly adults!), but mostly indo-fishing in the deeper runs & pockets and using dry/dropper rig in the riffles. The spawn seems to be waning...stay away from the redds as the eggs incubate.

HINT: For eons, this is the time of year we fish the inlet streams into local still-waters. For you creek junkies explore small creeks; remembering that they have  a 7-10-day window of prime angling conditions... your chance at "Hat Trick" of Brookies, Rainbows and Browns...a 12incher being a trophy.

By comparison, here's a last-century, UPDATE* by CyberFly!! ... May 30 1998

"Finally, sun and blues skies. This past week we've experienced four consecutive days of late spring snow, cold air & grey skies...Locating "micro-climates" is always good strategy...Be patient for 1-2 weeks, we have  both old and new snow to melt.

TRUCKEE RIVER is cold; in the high 40's...should improve with the coming sun...The outflow from Tahoe is currently 706cfs. The water is clear, but deceptively deep...From my log: "...lots of water, lots of work, minimal returns".

The LITTLE TRUCKEE in the Meadow is at 800cfs. I'll rate this as "challenging". As the flows decrease, angling success will increase...

SMALL STREAMS & CREEKS are high & cold; 44-47 degrees,. Most are clear, one remains murky. The small wild trout have fallen for a #12 Yellow Stimulator...trailing a #16 BeadHead Prince. A rare #20 Black Winter Stonefly was viewed while bush-wacking a small brook..."

*This  angling report was e-mailed to a over 400 recipients until 2004. It was THE printed angling report featured  at  ACE Mountain Sports & Hardware Sports.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pro-Tips Revisted...Early Spring

Bright sun and trout 

A beautiful spring snowfall in Truckee! We received 4" last night at my  6500' home. Sun is out now.

Thankfully, because of 2018's MIRACLE MARCH; there will be sufficient water flowing during spring.

Below is a "Pro-Tip" excerpt I authored that appeared in the Spring 2012 Sierra Fisherman magazine. The advise provided are point-on suggestions and concepts we fly anglers consider during spring's snow-melt/run-off during high flows/pool on running and stillwaters; respectively.
High Water of Spring in the "Fornicating Rock" area of the Big Truckee

Early Spring
Most freshwater fly anglers anticipate springtime.  Unfortunately, every year’s conditions are unpredictable; dependent on the amount of rain or snow that has fallen during the winter. Eventually both will run-off immediately or melt into the waterways and lakes; respectively.  It is important to remember that the snow-pack’s melt in the higher-elevation mountains is weather related; it can be steady and gradual or unpredictable and erratic. One general assumption is that the waters in early spring will be high and cold; eventually subsiding and warming by early summer.

So how do we strategize our fly angling? For a start, this issue's pro contributors provide you with their astute advice. (will send upon request...Frank)

Water volume and water temperature are key factors governing strategy. In streams consider venturing-out at mid-day seeking warmer water exposed to solar heating. You’ll find warmth in “soft water”; mild currents such as edges, eddies, slow moving runs and pools. You can “load & lob”, fishing with big/small, tandem rigs or strip streamers. Whichever technique used think “low & slow”, but get it down along the bottom…where the fish are.
During springtime it is a good plan to fish lower elevation waters first.  As the days get longer providing more solar heating, start venturing out of the foot-hills and into the mountains. There, the hope is the waters have warmed, the melt has subsided, flows are ideal and the trout’s feeding metabolisms are in high-gear.

Frank R. Pisciotta
During the “early season” of spring, lake levels are rising, full or overflowing. In the mountains there will be super-cold inflows from the melting snow. Look for warm water. A productive strategy is to stalk along the shoreline’s shallows; frozen edges of melting ice/open water or visible underwater shelves that drop-off into deeper and darker water. Exposed shallow water along shorelines have warmer water temps, vegetation...and bugs, which trout eat.   
At ice-free shallows, solar-heating will provide a temperature comfort-zone for cruising trout in search of vulnerable food-items. Here, assuming the visibility is clear, an angler can sight-fish to slow-moving, foraging trout that feed sub-surface or in the top-water, surface-film. Also, in these areas the drop-offs and lateral shelves into deeper water provide a quick escape route for cruising trout wary of airborne predators.

Tactically, determine a cruiser’s direction, speed, and distance between rises and or sub-surface moves. You want to intercept these susceptible trout by presenting your fly ahead of the feeder; letting them come to your current-menu imitation. Dead-drift or impart movement as appropriate and let the trout ingest the fraud; merely lift, tighten-up, ”give it head” on its first surge if it is a powerful fish.
da Dean
Shoreline angling during high flows of Spring at LT inlet at Boca

NOTE: Tahoe-Truckee Fly Fishers member, Jon Baiocchi, has authored a very thorough article on High Water Tactics in the 2018 March-April California Fly Fisher. Additionally, he will be conducting two clinics; Streamer Fishing and High Water Tactics during spring of 2018. For details go to                 

Monday, March 26, 2018


Put'em Back Alive!
We'll take it...The water forecast for this coming trout season has improved substantially since March 7. Then we figured the melt into our trout-sustaining waters to be 43.7% of historical average. Now 20 days late,r we're at a projected 75.4% of normal snow-melt/runoff. Mother Nature has made a nice recovery in the Truckee area from an initial sub-par precipitation year. 

da Captain and da Entertainer discussing tactics for the high flows of springtime

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

After Blizzard Briefing

...guess I'm due for a post...been awhile.  I became focused on my re-hab on my new bionic hip and the Fly Fishing Show last week in Pleasanton CA. Now, "doing taxes", later in the month going to Virginia seeing close friends then looking forward to a mid-April trip to th BigHorn River in Montana....praying for decent weather, lots of BWO's and rising trout.

Yeah, we still need snow and hope for a Miracle March
...front door during our recent 3-day snow-event...actually a color image
To date, via the nine (9) measurement sites in the Truckee area at elevations of 6436' to 8801'... we're at 59% of the historical, median snow-water-equivalent and 72% of total precipitation.  Personally my focus is: How much water for the melt and run-off?...for the fish. Here's how I look at it; .59 x 76= 43.5% of projected water...Geez, we're hoping a  MINIMAL 50%!

Always some nice scenery in the mountains during and after the storms...from within a warm home and outside...
...back deck looking into the forest and  & "Donner Trail" to the Alder Creek camp-sight
One of our "north windows" during the storm

Again; there is a need for a Miracle March...NOT March Miracle!