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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer Mode in Truckee

Lot of consecutive warm and breezy afternoons. The BT has receded, we're seeing more airborne bugs throughout the day...and at times, intense, evening caddis emergences, thick flights of Little Yellow StoneFlies and sparse mating-swarms of Sulfurs (?). 

Middle Truckee water-temps range 51-59. Picking-pockets within boulder gardens temps a lot of feisty (read smallish 7"-10" RainBows). The largest I've witnessed is an 18" RB which ate an #18 Black/Red Zebra Midge, it was stationed at the riffle-inflow of a deep-pool. I've netted RB's to 16 inches; via a #16 PMD Hackle-Stacker. I've heard of a19" trout eating PMD emergers, at dusk (below image)...But, no first-hand nor grapevine Browns; most especially those of out-sized proportions.
Magic-Time on the Truckee's "Toilet Bowl"

As you proceed downstream below either Prosser or Boca dams; you'll  experience two things; heavier flows AND cooler water-temps, 1-3 less. The aforementioned is enlightened angling strategy as we progress into the heat of late-summer to early fall-time.

Don't forget you'll encounter lots of commercial rafting below the inflow at Boca. They are legally permitted to enter the main river at the Boca dam's inflow of the LT no earlier than 10 AM and off the water no later than 5PM; at Floristan only. During the entire trip from Boca to Floristan; the rafters can not disembark.

Water-temps are not an issue on the Little Tricky (LT); being a bottom-release tail-water. My last reading of the inflow from the dam was 46; it should remain in 44-46 degree range...warming as it meanders through meadow,  "canyon water" and into Boca.
Fooling one at "The Willow"
Last Saturday, Stampede looked like it was dampening the spillway. It was ramped-down to "I-don't- like" 70cfs for about two weeks (my preference is 125-250); dropped quickly to 50 cfs and immediately to its current 126cfs...I like it! During an up-ramp my go-to sub-surface, searching, terminal-rig entails  a #14 FleshJuan ... trailing anything small; #18-22 Black Zebras, JuJu BaetisRubber-Legged Red Copper Johns.

As for the bugs?...the usual suspects for mid-summer: BWOs, PMDs and Western Green Drakes.
LT BWO...Be aware of a "masking hatch"
Late-morning to mid-afternoons are your best opportunities for the mayfly emergences. Thus far, unfortunately, the hatches and corresponding surface-feeding has been less spectacular than I've anticipated. Overall, bring your "A-Game" or be humbled here.

HINT: Stillwaters
                                             Yeah!!!..a collector hat 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

ThrowBack Truckee River Regulation Sign

My recollection is that the below California fishing regulation sign was mid-'80's; guessing '84-'86. I consider it the second-generation sign in that the first special regulations for the Truckee River were instituted in either '82 or '83. These C and R rules made the Truckee River a new addition into California's "Wild Trout" program.


Last Saturday in April through November 15


Minimum size limit: 15 inches total length.

Only Artificial flies or lures with

Barbless hooks may be used

(B) Truckee River from the confluence of Trout Creek downstream to the Glenshire Bridge.
artificial lures only
(C) Truckee River from the Glenshire Bridge downstream to the mouth of Prosser Creek.    
artificial flies only
(D) Truckee River from the mouth of Prosser Creek downstream to Boca Bridge.
artificial lures only
(E) Truckee River from Boca Bridge downstream to the confluence of Gray Creek.     
no gear restrictions

               CCR SEC.  7.50 Title 14
Resources Agency of California

The first generation sign had just two special regulation sectors, not four as noted above. From Trout Creek to the Boca Bridge (the old one...closed when?) it was barbless artificials only, two take, minimum 15". From Boca Bridge down stream to Gray Creek it was any gear, two-take, no size requirement. General regs from Gray Creek to the CA/NV border; any gear, 5-take, any size.

Below is the current Truckee river reg sign; 4th generation. These rules were instituted in 2008. Main change was the river being open to angling during the winter; November 16 to the last Friday in April. 
There will be new regulations forthcoming in 2020; the Truckee seems to be included; along with other local waters. If such occurs, then there will be new signs posted. These will be the 5th generation signs. The new signs will be produced and hung throughout the area by volunteers from the Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers...such has been done in the past.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

SummerTime in Truckee

...Bring it on! Flows & water temps are near-perfect alignment...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Seek & Find Uncrowded Truckee Angling

Progressively, as the Big Truckee and Little Truckee water flows become more "user friendly" there are likely crowds at these venues. If you want to avoid such; explore other regional waters within an hour's drive of the town of Truckee. You'll likely find some solitude at popular spots, venture way upstream or down and think about boats for difficult access.
Have Boat...Will Travel
Even on well-known  waters one can find no other
Waiting for the hatch...and heads

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Brookies & Bent Rods...Truckee Area

I love fly fishing small waters...been doing such for eons in the Truckee area. There are numerous  tiny brooks and creeks within a hour's drive of my home. Some are "secret"...others not. If new to the region study your topo-maps and start exploring. A few provide us the chance of bringing-to-hand the area's "Hat Trick"...brookies, rainbows and browns. In the near future Lahonton Cutthroat will be available; creating the area's unique "Grand Slam". A trophy is  in the 12"-13", most are 6"-10"...perfect quarry for a 3 weight rod...and dry flies.

There are important  considerations when seeking such waters. Below is an excerpt from my Destination Theater's presentation at Pleasnton CA's 2019 Fly Fishing Show

a) initially, the water temps are too cold and flows are too high
b) then, the flows are ideal, but water temps remain too cold
c) finally, flows and water temps are optimum for about 10 days ONLY
...then flow and temps are too low and warm!
if there's water , there are trout
Your first cast is the most productive for these opportunistic feeders
Above and below..."pan-size" or shall I say "hand-size" stream-bred trout
"OK, rise again..."

Monday, June 10, 2019

Lower Sac & A Near Death Experience?

The Lower Sac...sort of reminded me of southern Chilean Patagonia
Recently, I've been spending some time fishing well-known tail-waters of the West; the BeaverheadBigHorn, Missouri and the Green in Flaming Gorge; the latter three being BIG, tail-waters, below really huge dams within sometimes wide and sometimes narrow terrain.  (see images at bottom).Then I realized we have a famed and productive tail-water in the Lower Sac; right in our proverbial "back-yard".
Mike Brugh with a typical LS RainBow
So recently I spent two fun-filled days drifting the Lower Sac with members of the local fly fishing group; Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers. Suffice it to say; we netted respectable numbers of RainBows which made long runs, pulled hard and were healthy and strong.
 The LS is an "urban" fishery...along Interstate 5
The fallen tree, right-side of image, just missed the drift-boat
Peter, the fella in the center of boat has new name, " Woody". The fella in the stern was brushed by the tree as it broke into pieces as it hit the port-side of the drift-boat.…really lucky nobody got seriously injured. We were up river around a bend and our guide Shane received a cell-call from Peter. The other boat in this image was drifting behind and saw the whole thing; seeing and hearing the tree falling and smashing on boat.

the Wide-Missouri
...a wadable Missouri side channel 
The Green River...entering the infamous Flaming George
One of the few rapids on the Green  River
The across-stream footpath covers the entire 7 miles of the Green's Section A
the BigHorn….with its ugly terrain
BigHorn Brown
BigHorn RainBow

Monday, June 3, 2019

Ants!!...Truckee Area

Today is my first sighting of the Flying, Black Carpenter Ants, one of the three infamous "Big Bugs of June". I didn't notice them yesterday on the LT. Now, we await the Green Drakes and Golden StoneFies on the BT to make their sparse and unpredictable appearance.

As for Truckee area's fly fishing. This is the opportune time to encounter a hefty river trout; not numbers, but quarry measured in pounds. Our second opportunity occurs at lake inlets in fall.

Well, we're experiencing still heavy flows on moving waters and the still-waters are at near-maximum pool; both water-types make for challenging conditions. It seemed the snow-melt/run-off was waning and then we had an uptick in with the melt this last week. There still remains a lot of snow at the higher, north-sloping mountain peaks. Prior to the increased river flows we had some mid/late-spring, dry fly action; BWO's and March Brown and the occasional terrestrial pattern. Both huge attractor/indicator flies to sparsely dressed, small emerger patterns all fooled the sighted surface-feeders. Netted trout were RainBows ranging from 12"-19".

Guess I'm going to fashionably "redact" my 5/7/2019 post saying "Now, water temperatures supplant flows as the more important consideration...most especially on the BT."  Flow volume has re-entered our angling strategy again; along with its equally important partner; water temps. We're still awaiting a sustained warming period and the last-waning melt; thus triggering the early sequence of seasonal hatches.

The BT is flowing high and clear in its upper reaches; 835-1920 cfs from Tahoe City to Prosser Creek's inflow. Below Boca dam, there is less clarity and it is raging at close to 3000cfs. All these flows are ideal for kayak and sturdy inflatable fans; less so for us fly anglers...but be patient. As for wading the river...forgetaboutit! Besides, no need to be in the water, the trout have dispersed to the stream-edges, avoiding the turbulence of the main flows; resting and preserving energy behind obstructions that create deep, quiet eddy water.

 The productive techniques remain going deep, "low & slow" along the river-bottom. Suggested searching rigs adhere to the small/large concept; either a #12 San Juan or #6 Pat's Rubberlegs trailing a #16 FB Pheasant-Tail or Green rock Worm larva. I've no fly selections relative to Euro-style sub-surface fishing; if I did I'd be lying; being old-schooled in NorCal's tight-lining or high-sticking.
We're a MINMUM six weeks from the lower flow in the above image
Here are three FRANKISMS relative to angling during high water periods:

1---"Stick & Move"
2---"If fishing is slow, move fast, if fishing fast, move slow"
3---"When in doubt, add" related to weights

The LT below Stampede dam recently ramped-up to 760cfs; still too high for my jaded, liking.

 If you are resolute fishing there, I suggest the same BT advice as above. The exception being a #8 Green Drake nymph for the anchor-fly and the trailer being a size #18-20, black or red midge larva pattern (off-set the hook!).

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Being A California "Old-Timer" Fly Angler

You know you're an "Old Time" California fly angler when:

1---You fished  the Upper Sac starting in  '70 way before "the '91 spill"

2---You fished  Martis Lake at its "Wild Trout" opening in '79 and  it's hey-day of the '80's

3---Your first flyrod was a fiberglass 8' 6-weight...'70

4---Your first graphite rod was the industry's first production rod by Fenwick...'74

5---Fished  the Truckee River before there were special regulations...'70's

6---Fishing the McCloud River before at the arrival of the Nature Conservancy...'70-'73

7---The nostalgia of "Opening Day" in California; when there was no winter trout stream angling

8---Being one of only three (3) fly fishing guides in the Tahoe/Truckee area...'84...currently a joke!

9---Reserving a cabin and fished Hot Creek as early as '72...using the hot springs before its closure

10-Fishing the Merced River in winter; outside western entry to Yosemite, highway 120...mid '70's

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."