Fly Fishing Traditions

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"It's about Life & Fly Fishing"

Friday, May 9, 2014

Lower Sacramento River for Zack's Birthday May 2010

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

It was Zack's birthday last weekend and I took him for a belated fishing trip yesterday on the Lower Sacramento River with my friend and guide Mike Hibbard. About 3 weeks ago I had asked Zack what he wanted to do for his birthday. By asking I'm thinking a party at our house, miniature golfing or something like that and he says "Can we go fishing with Hibbard?" I wasn't expecting that and I said, "You know Zack, that's a good idea."

I talked to Mike and he said the river had been fishing a little tough lately. He said this typically happens in May when the Sacramento River rainbows move onto their redds and before the Hydrocyche Caddis start up in June. Mike doesn't like to fish the redds when the rainbows are actively spawning. He thought it would be best to fish a lower section of the river. He suggested that we do the Bonnieview to Balls Ferry float and that we meet at about 8:00.

I got Zack up at about 4:30 and we headed north. Zack slept while I listened to "Restless Kelly" and other alternate country tunes on the drive up.

We got to Bonnieview and we were the only one's there. Mile wanted to get a jump on the other boats and get an early start. Mike was getting rigged up when we arrived. Its always fun to get Zack and Mike together. We've been fishing together with Mike for about 6 years. Mike's sort of like Zack's fishing uncle.

Mike rigged us up and we headed down the river. He rigged me up with a new Idylwilde pattern "The Jimmy Legs Stone", a "Little Brown Bug" caddis and a PMD nymph. He rigged Zack up with "Yellow Sucker Spawn", a "Queen Prince" and an HBI nymph. He likes to always start with 6 different bugs to get a feel for what the fish want on any given day. Once he sees a trend he will adjust his pattern selection.

It was a simply gorgeous day, warming with hardly any breeze at all. Blue skies, big billowy clouds and distant views of the snow capped mountains. The fishing was a little slow to start off but Mike worked with Zack to get his casting, mending and presentations in order. We worked our way downstream and turned a river left corner and we fished the inside of a nice run, Zack hooked up a nice fish and we were off to the races. With Mike's patient direction and after the fish took a couple of nice runs we were able to get the fish to hand. Zack did an great job fighting this fish. Most people would not have landed this fish. He listened to Mike and when you do what Mike says you will be successful. "Keep your shoulder square to the fish", "Keep the rod tip up", "Get your line on the reel", "Let your drag do the work", "Keep his head up and lift the rod tip back so I can net it". The running commentary that enables success

How's that for the first fish of the day and a big happy smile.

We fished on down river and we stopped at a side channel and I waded and fished it standing in about knee deep water. There were some old salmon redds there and a nice pod of fish. They were stationed in the deeper drop-offs in the rollers and I was able to pick up a number of them. Mike coached me as how to best present my flies as they worked their way through. There's always new tips and techniques to learn and refine. It's one of the things about fly fishing that I enjoy, there's always something to learn and improve on. Lose your ego and you will learn and become a better and more knowledgeable angler.

Here's Mike with a typical Lower Sacramento rainbow. With Mike's help and knowledge we were able to have a great and successful fishing day even though the fishing has been tougher in the last couple of weeks or so. I'll say it again, if you're wanting to experience what the Lower Sacramento River has to offer, you can not do better than calling Mike Hibbard to spent the day with you as an experienced river guide.

Here's a picture of a Salmonfly that was crawling up Mike's leg. There are some of these large bugs on the Lower Sac but not in great numbers. This one was about 2 1/2" long.

I've always said that "It isn't always about fishing". We stopped and Zack build a cairn out of rocks and topped it off with a golf ball he found in the river. I think if we all had this attitude we probably would be better anglers to boot.

Here's another beautiful Sac Rainbow. Most of the fish were taken with a HBI nymph. We saw more PMD's on the river than any other bug. There were a few caddis and we were also able to hook up with caddis nymphs.

It was a most memorable day, rekindling friendships, bonds between father and son and keeping a "Tradition" intact. I am once again thankful that I can blend fly fishing, that is a passion that has been burning within me for most of my adult life, and pass it on to my son, family and friends.

Make your own traditions,


You can contact Mike Hibbard to book a trip at:

Cell 530-526-5535

Home 530 -247-3970

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