Thursday, September 16, 2010

Return to Virginia Lakes

I always see TV shows or read books and magazine on how cool it is to catch Brook trout for fly fisherman. Living here in California, it's kinda of hard to satisfy that urge. It can be done, but one must goto the highlands to accomplish this Endeavour. The Virginia Lakes of Hoover Wilderness is one such of a place. There are 5 lakes in the immediate vicinity, so everyone fish & the place doesn't become too overcrowded. I went there for the first time back from 2007. I was still in the learning process of flycasting (not like I ever finished learning) and playing in Stillwater. At 9700 feet above sea level, I had succumbed to altitude sickness and I didn't really enjoy the time there. However I did catch my first Brookie. I had to satisfy my crave for catching this beautiful creature and boogied on up to the Virginia Lakes.

On the way there, one could see dark clouds massing over the Sierras. I brought along my father-in-law who happened to be visiting from Germany. I was thinking it was going to rain for sure. He confided in me that it would not rain. He was right, it snowed. When we got there, the snow had not yet fallen and the sun was fighting through the clouds. We scouted the area and decided to play in Blue Lake. Blue Lake was about a 15 minute hike from the main area and there wasn't anyone fishing it. It was so peaceful and quiet, except for the sound of fishing splashing up to the surface of the lake. So we ran down to our campsite & grabbed our float tubes. Then we boogied back up to Blue Lake. The sun was still getting through and we felt we made the right decision. One hour into the fishing adventure, the white fluffy stuff started to fall down onto our heads. The winds had picked up and The fish activity had ceased as well. I was feeling that this adventure had come to an end and it was a good time to start up the campfire.

As I was kicking for the shore, BANG!!! Tight lines!!! I was able to hold on to the fish & lo behold, it was a Brookie. Ok it was only an 8-10 inch brookie, but it was brookie nonetheless. I was stoked. Cold, but stoke. I tried to endure a few more minutes, to see if there were any of the fish's brother and sisters still in the area. No Go!!! I could not take the cold any longer & headed back to the campground.

It took me the rest of the night to shake off the cold that was deep in my bones. However when I awoke the next day, the sun was shining brightly and there was no one on Turnbull Lake. My father-in-law & I took this as a sign from the Fly Fishing Gods to take action. I fished Turnbull Lake for 5 hours in the middle of the day. I was only able to catch one more brookie, but my father-in-law witness the event. It was his first time seeing a brookie.

"Jason, Jason, ein rote forelle" Ok, he was calling a Red Trout, but he didn't know.

Still it was a lively brookie. I was able to bring the brookie in my float tube, hold it up and it made the leap for life. I was just happy to entertain father-in-law. I was able to catch 4 nice size Rainbows and I did take them home to Moma for the table that evening. I usually don't take fish home, but I wanted the Brookies to have less competition. Tight Lines my friends!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

the need to stop slacking

Ok I admit, I have been slacking. One of the many things I have wanted to do this summer wanted to get my MCP from Windows XP, fish the Rubicon, get in better shape, & start my blog back up. I haven't stopped fishing. In fact, I have achieved some milestones. Like catch my first Crappie, my first Carp, & my first Striper on a fly. Ok, they are not very hard goals to achieve, but for me it shows that I can allow me to give up my reliance of bait fishing. That is how I started to fish. You know, putting that nightcrawler on the hook like my dad showed me when I was like 8 years old. Those days are farther & few in my fishing life. Now that I know that the flies that I tie can actually make fish go crazy, I don't need the the bait techniques any longer. Ok, all 3 of the aforementioned species that I caught for the first time were on the small size. (the striper was 12 inches, the crappie & the carp were barely 3 inches) Still I am getting geeked about fishing anywhere with a fly & knowing I have a chance of success. It wasn't like that 5 years ago when I first started flycasting. Those times have changed & I look forward to exploring more frontiers to cast my flies in. Tight lines my friends & if you have any fish stories, please share them here

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Rube: Chicken Soup for the Soul


So far this week has been a total drag for me. I had a crappy game on Sunday for my new Soccer team. It was my first game as goalkeeper and I totally didn’t play to my best level. Then the next day, I lost my job. I won’t go into any specifics on that, because I am trying to stay positive about that situation. So on Tuesday I needed an uplift. I had this list of places that I wanted to fish before the year’s end and I always wanted to fish the Rubicon. I hear all of these fantastic stories of the Rube (as it is called here by us Fly guys in Sacramento). Ok, there are some horror stories too, because the area is rugged. People get hurt all of the time trying to access this major tributary of the Middle Fork of the American River.

So I leave the house around 1 and get to the spot at around 3:30pm. I had to wait around for a minute or two for the people working on the road. When I get there though, I am the only soul around. One bad thing though, I thought I brought my wading shoes. I didn’t think I could go with the Tevas. Since the weather is in the triple digits, I figure I could go wet wading. Like a knucklehead, I left the wading shoes at the house and I had to traverse the canyon with my river shoes. I made it to the Rube in one piece, but I had to be very careful.


The main purpose for me fishing this time of year was to find some Brown Trout. I thought they might be running from Ralston Lake. I was not able to find any browns, but I saw plenty of fish. Most of them were in deep pools. I wasn’t able to get my fly down to them. The ones that came up from below just hit my flies. I saw there were a lot of caddis shucks all over the place. The flies didn’t really come out, until the sun went further below the horizon. I did manage to catch one lil’ bow (Yes Mr. Backman, off a dry fly), but that was it. I needed to head back & find a better trail, because I figured that I would be moving in the dark. Of course there was only one trail back out. It was the trail that I came in with. The only problem was the fact that it was about a 20 foot climb to get back to the trail. Then I was in the dark. Luckily, I did bring my headlamp, which the button doesn’t work correctly. I was able to crawl and squirm up the face of that cliff, but there were times that I was chanting some prayers, cause I did slip and slide down the face of the rock cliff. I made it out in one piece of course, but was it worth for one ‘bow? Well I thought so and I plan on going back to get some more. Tight Lines my friends & hopefully you will be hooking it up in the end!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Excitement on the Silver Fork

Tuesday afternoon and the temperature is starting to rise in Sacramento. It’s going to be another 90+ degree day. Thinking of ways to cool off. Oh I know, I take the dogs with me and we will go chill in the Silver Fork of the American River. Actually, I haven’t been there since June of 2008. I was just discovering it and found a couple of good holes. I guess it was a good time to check those holes out. Hell, it’s only about an hour and a half away from the house. Load the Rover with my gear and my dogs and we head out.

When I got there, the shadows were just starting to form. Still a bit warm. So I hike a bit to this place were a creek runs into the Silver Fork. There are a couple of waterfalls and I was thinking that in the pools where the two streams meet, there are fat trout at the bottom of those pools. My Chow Chow, Zhita, thinks that the place looks cool too and jumps in. I freak out. I carefully, but with extra zest place my pole down on a boulder and look for a place to grab my Chow out of the falls. The waterfall has two steps. Unfortunately, Zhita already went down on the first step. I can’t see her. I find a way to grab her from going down the third step when and if she comes up from the bottom of the pool. Luckily, she surfaces. I wade around carefully from the drop of the second step. It was only about a 5 to 8 foot drop, but I could not tell how deep the pool is. Also, that water is heck of cold. I was able to wade carefully & Zhita is a good enough swimmer to come closer to me. I was able to get her out in one piece. I take a breath of relief. One good thing about the situation was the fact the excitement the dogs get a bit tired out after the drama.
I head back down stream and finally I am able to start catching fish. First I find a flat where I get some fingerlings. I am happy now that I won’t get skunked and my dogs will be alive, so my wife won’t scream at me ;) I keep moving down stream and the fish are getting bigger and bigger. I was only using my 4 weight, so the fish hit a bit harder. Well in my mind anyway. I find this bend and bang!! I get this jolt and my reel begins to sing a bit. At first I was startled, but after about 10 seconds I was able to gain control of the situation. The fish on the Silver Fork are not that big, so I knew I wasn’t dealing with a monster. After about 5 minutes, I was able to get bring the fish to me. Of course like a knucklehead, I forgot my net. I did not feel comfortable trying to take a picture of the fish. So I apologize for the lack of fish porn with this entry. I will work on this in the future. Promise. Getting back to the story, the fish was only about 10 – 12 inches long. It did have some girth to it. I quickly unhooked it and let the fish swim out of my hand.

My dogs were tripping a bit, but they seemed to enjoy the whole scene. These guys love the nature and cooling off in the higher altitude climate. We begin to make it downstream to this pool that I am really familiar about. The Pool is deep enough to where I feel that the fish can survive over the winter. I caught a nice ‘bow from that same pool last summer. There I was able to catch four more ‘bows, but I want to catch a Brown Trout. I know that they are there, because I have caught one there before. I go further downstream, where I know the Browns are. Unfortunately the sun was going down and my dogs were getting a bit ancy. However, I took the gains of the afternoon and the fact that my Chow is still alive as a plus. There are always streams to explore and fortunately for me, I am centrally located to them. Now the summer is leaving land, I need to figure out some other objects to focus on. Tight lines my friends!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dog Day Sierra Adventures

Well, I have not been too busy to post on this blog. It’s more that I am lazy in this intense heat of a Sacramento summer. True, that the heat is a welcome sign. It means that the Alpine streams are available to check for trout. However, the heat does make me want to act like a lizard and just lay around on the ground. I do have some epic excursions to rap about.

Like my return to the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American in July. I was inspired by a speech that I heard from Bill Carnazzo at a Granite Bay Fly caster meeting. He was speaking about the wonders of the American River drainage system and I felt drawn to visit it again. The last time I made it to the North Fork; I almost killed myself, due to the high flows. I felt the flows should be in order now. When I got there, they were. My main goals for this trip, was to checkout how far the North Fork trail follows the river. Secondly, how long would it take me to get to the convergence of the North Fork and El Dorado Creek. Of course, to catch some fish would be in line as a goal too. I was able to complete both goals. The trip to the convergence took me only 45 minutes. I was extremely happy about that. I didn’t net any fish, but I did get several hits & takes on my flies. I know what I did wrong not to net these fish, but again, this was mainly an expedition. I now know I can go back here and find many wild fish to catch. I know that I need to use flies that are size #14 or smaller. I think I will head back here in the fall & see how this fishery is doing.

On August 12th, I played hooky with a couple of my work buddies and we headed over to the Carson drainage system. We got to the junction of CA Highways 88 and 89 around 7am and started casting into the West Fork of the Carson. There was a slight frost on the ground when we got there. I know in the middle of August…brr
Anyway, we all got into fish. My buddy Van’s nephew pulled out a fat 28 inch Brown Trout. It had to be a planter, but hey who would complain about that score. I was able to get some bites and pulled out some nice planters. Ok, they were only about 8 to 10 inches, but I didn’t smell like a skunk. After a couple of hours, we headed over to upper section of Hope Valley. I like it over there. It’s a bit more rural…like I wasn’t in the boonies anyway. It took me a bit longer to find the fish, but I did find one feisty trout that was eating caddis from up top. It took my size 16 mosquito imitation down hard. I had to fight it & drag it out of an undercut. I love fights like that.

After a couple hours there, we headed over to the East fork of the Carson. The weather warmed up. The water level was low and there a lot more people fishing on the East Fork. I did what I like to do best. Hike out of the way. It paid me dividends. I reluctantly started to use my nymphing technique using an indicator. I was able to get a lot of hits & catch a few fish this way. After a couple of hours, it was lunch time. Everyone ate, except me. I had dreams of going into the wild trout area of the East Fork of the Carson. I heard some many good things about this place. I really wanted to go. The problem was my buddies were not the type to go for this. They were gear guys that wanted the quick hit and catch their limits ASAP. Also, I wasn’t the one driving. After my constant whining, I convinced my buddies to go for it. Once in a lifetime trip. Something we would tell our grand kids about. The Trophy Section of the East Fork of the Carson. So we headed there. We got past the Indian Creek Reservoir and headed down a dirt road. I guess the location of the Wild Trout section of the Carson is why it’s considered a trophy section. People have a hard time getting to it. We found out first hand. We got stuck in a soft section of the road. Unlucky for us, we didn’t have a 4X4 car. I had to hike up to the main road and was able to flag a fire crew down for help. They contacted the Sheriff and we had wait for a couple hours for him to help bail us out. When the Sheriff arrived, I explained the situation. Then he made me get in the back of his truck and we headed back to my buddies. I didn’t like that fact, but the advice that he gave us did work and we were able to get out of our rut.

On the last week of August, I succeed in one of my goals that I had set for the summer, to make the hike to Kirman Lake in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. I heard rumors of a short cut, but I did not see one when I got into the vicinity of the lake. This lake is renowned for the Trophy size brookies that get fat from the scuds that inhabit the lake. I brought my float tube, so I could get out to the fish. The hike wasn’t as bad as I first thought it would be. It took me only one hour to make the 3 mile hike. That was the first thing that brought a smile to my face. The Second thing was the fact that I was all alone at this place. Now, the hard part, to find the fish. Stillwater fishing isn’t one of the things that I am that good at. I have been constantly learning techniques and trying to figure out which flies to use. I knew going in that my midge patterns would gain me some success. Also leech patterns might help me achieve my goal. The first hour, there was a little breeze and I was able to make it to the northern part of the lake. However that breeze picked up velocity and it made it a bit colder for me. Waves would start to break over my tube and I began to get wet. It was a bit cooler at 7200 feet up. I soon noticed that I had blue fingers. Uggh!!! A two plus something hour drive. Then an hour hike and I get cold hands. Not good. Also, my camera took water as well. I was thinking ok, I know how to get here and I can figure out how to fish this place better the next time I come up here, but now it’s time to go. Then I got my first bite!!! It wasn’t that big, about 10 inches, but it had girth. It was a brookie!!! I quickly warmed up. I fought that fish for about 10 minutes, before that brookie shook off my hook. Hmm, I can hang out a bit long to see if I can get one of these monster brook trout that I heard about. It took me a bit long and I had to put on a damsel nymph imitation. Bingo, I was able to hook into a big fattie!@! This time, I took my time & netted this fish. It was the biggest Brook trout I had ever caught. 20 inches long. However, that record was quickly broken as I brought in an even bigger brookie. It was only one or two inches bigger that previous one I caught, but I was able to net it. I felt awesome. I looked at my watch. It was 6:30 pm. I was thinking maybe I could hurry up and get some cast in on the East Fork of the Carson. Not true. I was just able to get to my car by nightfall. Then I experienced problems with my VW Bug as I descended over the Monitor Pass. The engine light showed that my car was overheating. I had to take a bit slower down the Pass. Then all of the deer that were in the highway. I was lucky that I didn’t hit any of them. Now it is the end of the summer. I am hoping that I can get a couple of more epic trips in. Also I hope to take some pictures, so I can litter my blog. So far, 2009 has been a totally epic year in my fly fishing career. No, I won’t be producing any flies that go down in history and everyone will be using, but I am starting to figure out how to get to the fish and how catch them. I know how to tie those flies as well. Tight lines my friends and I am sure there are more epic tells for the future.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Keepin’ it live on HWY 49

I always like to read Andrew Harris’s book about Plumas National Forest Trout Fishing Guide. The book helps me dream at night when I sleep. A couple of things that I wanted to accomplish this year were to be more productive in Stillwater trout fishing and to catch a brookie or two. I have been reading about how nice the Lakes Basin is in Harris’s book. There are tons of lakes to fish. Some you can drive up to them and some you have to hike to them. I liked the idea of fishing Young American Lake. It was totally off the beaten path. The hike didn’t seem to be that bad. I looked on my Plumas national forest map and saw the hike was only a mile long. I read that I could drive to Tamarack Lakes and make a cross-country hike. It seemed very doable in my eyes.

After hashing out the trip w/ my wife, who is worried I will get killed on my adventures, I left the house around 11am. I was thinking that I would wait for the sun to warm up the bugs & the fish for me. I was going to be about 7250 feet above sea level. I remember on my last trip to Red Lake that the fish were more active in the warmer parts of that lake and I was thinking the fishing should be very similar. Also, I was thinking if I drive to Truckee, go North on California Hwy 89, and then link up with California Hwy 49, I could save some time. To get to the Lakes Basin on Hwy 49 from Nevada City, one has a lot of turns and curves. Plus descents and climbs out of the South, Middle, and North Fork Yuba River valleys. I was thinking I should get there in over around 2 hours. I was totally wrong, because on the way, there was so much road construction. Then the final climb over the Yuba Pass, I had to wait for a pilot car to take me over, as Hwy 49 became one lane because of construction. Ok, I could live with that. I got to the Sardine Lakes road around 2.5 hours after leaving Sac-Town. Then I was faced with another unseen dilemma.

On my map, which is the Tahoe National Forest map, I guess the Lakes Basin is on the boundary of the Plumas & Tahoe National Forest regions, the road that I thought would take me up to the Tamarack Lakes, was nothing more than a goat trail. In fact I couldn’t even drive up to the Upper Sardine Lake. I came to a part in the road where my left front tire would just spin in the loose gravel. Shucks!!!! Luckily for me, there was a hiker on the road that knew all about the Lakes Basin. She laughed at me when I told her I wanted to drive up to the Tamarack Lakes. She knew of only one way to get there and that was turning off of Packer’s Lakes road, which I past by to get to where I was located at and to hike to Tamarack Lakes. Only then I could get to Young America Lake, but I would need to take to trail to the Sierra Buttes, the highest point in the region and hike down to Young America Lake. She told me that I would be playing w/ survival, because the hike down would be treacherous. Also, she thought if I did do it, I would need to start early in the morning. Damn!!!!

So I went to contingency #1, parking the car at Lower Sardine Lake, then hiking up to Upper Sardine Lake. I was prepared to hump with my Float Tube on my back. I had been practicing for this, by going to the Sacramento Bar pond. One cannot drive up to Sacto Bar Pond. So I would rig myself for a 20 minute hike. After a couple of times, I got the rigging correct. So, I began my hike Upper Sardine. The hike was not a problem. I made the trip in about 15 minutes. A lil’ sweat, but I thought the sacrifice was worth it. It was a beautiful lake & there was no one there on it
Great or so I thought. In the back of my mind, I thought, maybe that was because there were no fish in the lake. I noticed there were some Damsel Flies in the air and some Dragon Flies too. Ok, I would give it a shot. After a couple of hours of casting and not seeing any fishy activities, I thought this was a lost cause. The sun was going down in a hurry. Hmm, contingency #2, the North Fork of the Yuba was right around the corner. So I didi-mau down to the confluence of the NF Yuba and Haypress Creek. I knew there was the Wild Plum Campground there could provide me river access. However, when I got there, I was a bit turned off. There was the settlement of Sierra City right there. Then I heard the dreaded noise from generations that miners use. I thought & didn’t even get out of my car. I would fish what I knew at the NF Yuba. I had a lot success west of Downieville. I thought I could still get there before the sun went completely below the horizon. So I quickly (as legally as I could) got to one of my favorite holes on the NF Yuba.
I got there with about an hour of light left. That was the best decision I made all day. There was a caddis hatch going down. Add to the fact there were gnats and mosquitoes flying around too. On the first cast, I was able to catch my first fish of the day. Eureka!!! This was what I was talkin’ about. It wasn’t that big, but there was something going on here that I could see & make adjustments. Like using two dry flies (Elk Hair Caddis and Black gnat imitations) on a leader about 12 feet. For the next hour, I was either losing grabs or catching fish. On my last cast, I had a strong tug on my flyline, but my last blood knot on my leader gave out & a fish took my flies from me. Now, I have to concentrate and begin learning to tie my most successful dry flies that I have used in the past month, Elk Hair Caddis, Mosquito, and the Black gnat dries. I have learned the smaller they are, the more successful I would become in catching. So now I am off to fly shop to get some #18 hooks and begin my next venture in fly tying. Tight Lines friends until the end!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Ode To Summer

So far June has been an epic month for me. I have experienced some awesome panfish action and had the opportunity to fly fish with dries on a freestone stream. You can’t ask for anymore, except a chance to fish up in British Columbia.

If you have been following my blog, you might have noticed that I have been whining about the strong flows in the Cali streams. While waiting for those flows to go down, I have been kicking in my tube at some local ponds. Except for one trip to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, I have had major success with targeting greedy Bass & Blue Gills. At the Delta the fish are a lil’ bit bigger & I was promptly broken off. I made me consider my leaders that I was using. I am discovering all leaders are not the same. I need thicker stuff when dealing with Bass that size and with a lot of weed growth. At the local ponds in Sacramento, I generally don’t tangle with large Bass. However at my last visit to the Sacramento Bar Pond, I did notice a fat 3 foot Carp cruising around my tube. Hmm, I think I have to figure a way to catch that darn thing.

Everyone loves to talk about fishing the McCloud River. I haven’t had a chance to fish this water until the other day. I have only been there twice, but I fish the Lower McCloud. I decided to take Simone & my dogs up to the Upper McCloud for a couple of days of looking for fishies I realized that on the Lower McCloud there is a lot of pressure. One has to move to where the fish are. Apply stealth techniques. On the Upper McCloud the movement needs to be very careful. I fell on my ass a couple times on the Upper. Hell, I thought I was on the Lower McCloud, but you can tell in the fish you catch. The fish are smaller. In fact the fish that I was catching were the McCloud River Redband Trout. They are not as big as the trout on the Lower McCloud, but they readily take your flies & hit them hard. There were a couple of times where I received a hit and the fish snatched my flyline out of my hand. Sorry I don’t have any pictures to show of my catch, but I was happy for anything the McCloud provided me. I fished three times on the McCloud and every time, it involved about a 30 – 45 minute hike to the fish. On the last day, it was more like an hour and a half to get to the fish. If you don’t mind hiking to catch some fish, check out the Upper McCloud. It is a trip that should be well enjoyed.