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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fishing the Lower Sac - January 13th, 2010

Rainbow and Clouds on the Lower Sac

I was invited to fish the Lower Sacramento River by a local fly club member, Don Steffa,who is organizing a trip to the Green River in April. He was meeting Steve Cooper of "High Plains Drifters" who has a unique Fly Fishing Guide Service and guides on Eastern Oregon's Owyhee River and Southern Washington's Grande Ronde River. I had seen Steve's slide show and presentaion at the November meeting of the Gold Country Fly Fishers in Grass Valley. Don and Steve have a long history of fishing together. I was looking forward to a day on the Lower Sacramento and fishing with new acquaintances and listening to stories and experiences of fishing the rivers that Steve knows so well.

The weather was predicted to be raining and clearing in the afternoon so I was prepared with all my rain and cold weather fishing gear. It was raining hard the prior evening so my main concern was water clarity. The Lower Sacramento River rainbows are know to get tempermental and closed mouthed with any change of water condition, mainly change in flow and water clarity. The Lower Sacramento River is more of a tailwater river up around Redding but can be affected by recent rain storms. I just hoped the conditions would find the river in fishable condition.

I met Don Steffa in Grass Valley and we drove to Redding and Don told me about fishing for large mouth bass and strippers in the Delta. He spent a lot of years in the Stockton area. Steve also lives in Stockton and has spent a lot of time chasing fish in the Delta. When we first crossed the Lower Sac in Red Bluff it was running brown and looked blown out. I kept my fingers crossed that we would have fishable water clarity in the upper river by the Posse Grounds. We arrived at The Fly Shop in Redding and met Steve at about 8:15. The shop said that the upper section was "fishable" but would be "colored up". They recomended staying up high on the river.

We decided to float from the Posse Grounds to a takeout in the "Aqua Golf" bay. This is a float of about 3 miles. Steve needed to be off the river by 4:00 as he was giving a presentation at the Fly Club in Redding that evening. Fishing with Steve and Don was spent with two friends at their best and giving each other a hard time and joking whenever they had a chance. Just as I like it!

The river was lower than I can remember and was flowing at about 3200 cfs. As it turned out the water was off color and murky green. The visibility was about 1 1/2' to 2 feet. This meant we pretty much had to get our flies in front of their noses to get the fish interested. We rigged up with rubber leg stones or other more attractor flies and ran small mayflies behind them. We hit the river and gave it a go. Even with these conditions we caught some beautiful rainbows with deep red lateral lines. We also lost a few nice ones. But as we all know that's fishing. We saw one other drift boat on the river and had the river to ourselves except for some wading anglers at the Posse Ground riffle. The day turned out to be beautifull with a few drizzles but what was strange is that almost everytime it started drizzling we were in the full sunshine. When it would cloud over the drizzle would stop. Go figure! I had my raincoat on for a total of no more than 15 minutes the whole day and that was when I was rowing accross the "Aqua Golf" bay to get to the take out.

All in all it was a great day with new friends and a fun time had by all.

A Nice Rainbow with Steve Cooper

The was a typical rainbow for the day.

High Plains Drifters

Steve Cooper works for PG&E and schedules his vacation time to do his guiding in Washington and Oregon when the conditions are best. He sets up tent camps in remote destinations and provides a camp kitchen and a couple of rafts as well as getting his clients into fish. He also does slide show presentations at Fly Fishing Clubs here in California.

Grande Ronde River - Steve guides on the Grande Ronde that flows through the high plains of Oregon and Washington. He guides the remote roadless section from Highway 129 to the confluence of the Snake River. The two day float covers a 36 mile stretch of the river that offers stunning scenery, uncrowded blue-ribbon water and fishing for small mouth bass. You can expect to fish for quality Small Mouth Bass from one to three pounds with opportunities for trophy fish up to six pounds.

Owyhee River - Steve also guides on the Owyhee River which is located in the badlands of eastern Oregon. The river is a tailwater fishery that flows from Owyhee Lake. The river is a bug factory and grows an amazing number of large Brown Trout. Steve sets up river side camps and will show you how to hook up with these trophy browns.

You can contact Steve Cooper and "High Plains Drifters" and get more information or custom design a trip at;

High Plains Drifters

3047 Sleepy Hollow Drive.

Stockton, CA 95209



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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.