Sunday, January 30, 2011
I fished the Lower Yuba yesterday with Greg DeYoung and his son Tucker. I always get excited when I get a chance to take a father and son team fishing. It's what I always think is the best thing about fly fishing. Getting out with your family or friends and enjoying the outdoors.
The bite was a little slow in the morning with the weather a little colder and then the fog clearing out by mid morning for a generally clear and somewhat warm day. We picked up a few fish swinging flies in the tailouts and nymphing the edges when we were hiking and wading in the morning. We fished the edges along the runs was slow in the morning session. Just a couple of fish. But that has been the trend lately. The fishing has typically picked up as the day gets warmer.
At about 12:30 we started floating down the river in my drift boat and found fish in the lower portion of the runs where the water was deeper and moving at a medium to slow walking speed. The after noon was not red hot by any means but consistent. We didn’t concentrate on the willow runs with Skwala Dries much, but Tucker did manage a nice 17” +/- rainbow on a foam Skwala Dry.
We located a few pods of fish stationed in the lower ends of the runs a fair ways above the tailouts where we got hits on most passes through with deep indicator methods and landed quite a few. All and all we had a pretty productive day.
At about 4:00 we went down and through a chute and I eddied out in the corner of a riffle. As soon as I eddied out at the riffle corner, a fish hit Greg's nymph and freight trained down stream. Before we knew it, gone. That's that way it goes sometimes with a big fish. They hit, take off downstream and before you know it or can even get a game plan together, gone. The only thing left is the questions, steelhead? and how big?
As we still pondered that fish, I headed down and eddied out in the next corner of the riffle and the same thing happened, off to the races. I followed this one down and we managed to work the fish to the side and after a couple of spirited runs Greg and I were able to get out of the boat and were able to net it. Whew! It fish was the fish of the day, a fat chromer that went 20” or 21”.
I had a great day with Greg and Tucker and it is one of my favorite experiences getting a father and son on the river. It was a treat to see them enjoying themselves on the river and of course catching fish. It's my hope to see more of this in the future. Like I've always said.
"It's about Life and Fly Fishing"
Notes and Impressions
It’s still my overall impression that the fish are looking up opportunistically on the edges and there just aren’t enough Skwalas to have them really locking in on a very sparse emergence. This will change in the upcoming weeks as the real Skwala emergence starts up. Stay tuned.
Flows: 3000 out of Englbright and about 175 out of Deer Creek for a total of 3175 +/-
Color: Bluer than Green with visibility of about 8 feet
Bugs: A number of PMD’s, a couple of Skwala’s in the drift. I searched the rocks along and below the riffles and didn’t see many Skwala cases.
Bugs of the Day: Best Producer, still the Rubberleg Stone in a light brown with a green tint, copper johns, 7mm natural troutbeads.
Rigging: Deep Indicator Nymphing with heavy shot. We were having enough success with nymphing that we didn’t really try a dry rigg with a Skwala Dry much. We had success when we swung the lower portions of the runs above the riffles, but not right above the tailouts where the current speed picked up.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
For the February 1st meeting of the Gold Country Fly Fishers, I'm going to be presenting a 12 minute slide show, plus or minus, you know how slide shows go, prior to the "Guides Panel" question and answer session about fishing the Lower Yuba River.
The "Guides Panel" will consist of Gold Country Fly Fisher's members, Tom Page of Foothill Fly Fishing Expeditions, Keith Scott of West Slope Drifters and myself representing Fly Fishing Traditions. The moderators will be Trent Pridemore and Frank Rinella. They will start the question and answer session with some questions and then open the questions up to the members.
Here's a list on questions that we've been tossing around to give you an idea.
(1) How do you go about deciding what flies to use on any given day.
(2) How do you tell which places on the river are the best places to fish.
(3) How do you determine what is the best fishing outfit to use on a given day, dry rod, nymph rod, switch rod etc.
(4) If you were going to make a suggestion of the best, all around outfit for fishing the Lower Yuba and you could only afford one, what would you choose? Rod, Reel, Line.
(5) What are your top five attractor nymphs that you could not do without?
(6) What time of year would you say that the average fisherman would have the best chance of being successful on the Lower Yuba?
(7) What is your favorite hatch on the Lower Yuba and why?
(8) What is the most productive method of fishing the Lower Yuba River.
(9) How do you like to rigg for indicator nymphing and why.
(10) If you had to pick one thing that most anglers need to improve on to become more accomplished anglers on the Lower Yuba River what would it be.
(11) What is the difference between a steelhead and a trout on the Lower Yuba River.
(12) Should I fish for trout and steelhead when the salmon are on their redds?
(13) Is it necessary to carry specific patterns to match the hatches on the Lower Yuba River? If so, which hatches?
(14) What the heck is steak and eggs?
(15) Why would you suggest that someone hire a guide for a day on the Lower Yuba River and what should they expect.
(16) Who do you admire most as a fly fishing mentor, author, or educator.
(17) Are there any books, videos, etc, that you would recommend to help a fly fisher improve their game.
(18) Where are your secret spots on the river. Just Kidding!
So, if you've got the time try to make it to the next meeting of the Gold Country Fly Fishers. It will be on Tuesday, February 1, at the Ponderosa Building (formerly known as the Senior Center) in Nevada County Fairgrounds - Grass Valley. Use Gate #2. The General Meeting starts at 7:00 PM.
I'll also be doing a table clinic on the Skwalas on the Lower Yuba prior to the general meeting starting at 5:45.
Come on out it'll be a fun meeting.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
With this spring like weather and consistent flows on the Lower Yuba I've been trying to get down to the river as often as possible. It seems like we often get this warm stretch of weather in January, it just seems right to take advantage of it. That and the fact the Skwalas should start really showing up soon.
I made it back out on Friday with Mike Williams and his son Todd. I had offered to help Mike get more comfortable rowing the river in his Hyde drift boat. My plan was to sit in the rear seat and coach him down the river, help him line up correctly for the drops through riffles and shoots, maneuver around the corners, coach oar strokes and such. I did, but I also fished more than I was planning on. The fishing was pretty darn good.
We had been picking fish up on rubberlegs and trout beads about equally last week, with an occasional fish on a Copper John, Prince, or similar attractors, but on Friday it was definitely the rubber legs, about 4 to 1. The fish continued to be holding in the runs, further below the riffles in walking speed water. This was the main target area.
We spent about 2 1/2 hours hiking and walk and wade fishing and then floated in the afternoon. We had success wading but the float fishing and side drifting was the most productive.
As far as fish numbers, which I'm not very good at counting, lets say it was about as good as you could ever expect on a January day. No fish was landed over 19 inches and no obvious steelhead, just a bunch of healthy looking fish.
Weather: The weather was clear and warm enough that you didn't need a sweater. There was really no breeze to speak of and seemed more like a warm spring day than a day in January.
Flows : 3000 out of Englbright and about 175 out of Deer Creek for a total of 3175 +/-
Color: Blue-Green with visibility of about 5 to 6 feet
Bugs Seen: A handful of BWO's, a handful of Skwala's in the drift
Skwalas: A few Stonefly cases in the rocks below the riffles, not many, a few crawling around the stones or in the bushes. Again just a few.
Flies: The best producer: Brown Superfloss Rubberlegs
The Rest: Natural Troutbeads, Copper John's
Rigging: Deep Indicator Nymphing with heavy shot. We were having enough success with nymphing that we didn't really try a dry rigg with a Skwala Dry much.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
In the letter he commented that he had noticed that in many magazine articles, he often reads phrases such as "triggers the hatch" and "when the water temperature reaches," all referring to specific temperature ranges that cause insects to hatch. He stated that these statements give the impression that specific water temperatures or ranges are the causative factor in emergence. Though not unrelated, this is only part of the story.
The rest of this story will be quoted verbatim.
"All aquatic insects require a certain thermal history to mature from egg to adult. This thermal history is measured in degree days, where a degree day is defined as the average water temperature during a 24 hour period. Here's an example of how it works: Let's say a mayfly deposits eggs when the water is 15 degrees Celsius. At the end of 24 hours, the eggs have accumulated 15 degree days. For simplicity, let's say the water temperature averaged 14 degrees for the next 20 days; that would be an additional 280 degree days. As the water cools down as winter approaches, we'll say that the water temperature averages 10 degrees for the next 60 days, providing am additional 600 degree days for a total of 895 degree days thus far into its development. This continues until the immature insect has accumulated the required number of degree days to mature into an adult, then it emerges. The number of degree days required by each insect group varies both with species and geographic location. Actual values are know for only a few species, and determining these values is tedious work.
The point here is that insects do not necessarily emerge when the water reaches a specific temperature. It only means that they have acquired their necessary number of degree days to complete their development.
This doesn't invalidate angler observations that a certain hatch often come off at a certain temperature. What it means is that in a normal average year when temperatures reach that magic temperature, the necessary thermal history has also been attained. If water temperatures for a particular year have been below average, hatching times will be delayed. . .
. . . As a retired stream ecologist, I've been "Jousting at this windmill" with anglers for some time, and find that deep-seated beliefs are hard to change. I hope this explanation convinces a wider audience of anglers that absolute water temperatures in relation to insect emergence are relative and not causative."
An interesting thought to ponder, I thought so anyway!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Welcome to the “New” Fly Fishing Traditions Website for 2011.
The new Fly Fishing Traditions website should be online by February 1st, so I thought I'd put together a preview of the site's content and how to navigate around the site. I'll post another notice for everyone on the day it actually goes live. The address for the new website will be www.flyfishingtraditions.com which is the current FFT Blog address when it goes live.
For my current followers, you can use the following link to view a temporary "Preview Site" at the following address http://www.fft.dhughes.net
The new website has been created and is provided for your enjoyment and education by myself, a fly fishing dad, father of Zack, husband of Laura, Clay Hash, who in doing so is taking a big leap of faith to share the world of fly fishing with family, friends and new acquaintances and to become a fly fishing educator and guide. My wish is to constantly remind everyone that fly fishing is much more than catching fish, it’s about the wonderful natural environments that surround us, the sound of the rivers and streams that we journey to, the beautiful sunsets that we encounter at the end of the day and most of all the relationships with our friends and families and our natural environment. It’s about Life and Fly Fishing.
For those of you who have been following this FFT Blog, I came to realize that I wanted to provide much more information about Fly Fishing here on my home river, The Lower Yuba River,and Northern California than the blog alone could facilitate. Thus the creation of the new Fly Fishing Traditions web site.
This website is the product on countless hours devoted to the fly fishing public, young, old and in between. It has been created to educate and pass on fly fishing, stories, musings, tips, techniques, bugs, and fly patterns that can be integrated into your fishing strategies here in Northern California. It’s goal is to encourage sharing the knowledge that the we all have gained and foster an environment of teaching to those who want to learn and raise their hands with questions and ideas.
So, have some fun, start exploring the website and let’s start a “New Tradition“!Like I mentioned the new Fly Fishing Traditions Website should be online by February 1st. It's a full fledged website that will hopefully be informative, fun and educational for many people no matter what their experience level is with fly fishing.
I'm not quitting the Fly Fishing Traditions Blog, it will still continue on and the best stuff will feed into the website. The FFT Blog will have a new address, bear with me, as I'm not sure what it will be yet, and will always be available from the new website on the top Navigation Bar.
I've been working on this for over 8 months, there's still a few bugs in it, but I'm ready to let in fly.
Navigating the Fly Fishing Traditions Website
The Fly Fishing Traditions website is divided into 9 main pages.
- Home Page
- Hatch Chart
Video #1 - Introduction to the New Fly Fishing Traditions Website
As another reminder the pre-view site address is www.fft.dhughes.net
This video will show you the Home Page and what you'll find on the Home page
(1) Fly Fishing Traditions Navigation Bar to access all the sites main pages
(2) The FFT Side Bar which you will find as a column on the right on many pages
(3) The content of the main body on the Home Page
Video #2 - Part Two of the Introduction to the New Fly Fishing Traditions Website
This 2nd video will show you the;
(1) Blog Page
(2) Bugs Page
(3) Lower Yuba Hatch Chart Page
(4) Techniques Page
Video #3 of the Introduction to the New Fly Fishing Traditions Website
(1) FFT Gallery Page
(2) Clinics Page
(3) Guiding Page
(4) Contact Page
Video #4 - The Lower Yuba Hatch Chart
The Lower Yuba Hatch Chart is probably the page that has taken the longest to put together. I've got a listing of the most prevalent bugs found on the Lower Yuba, Caddis, Mayflies, Stoneflies and Other. Each bug has information pertaining to;
(1) Emergence Sequence
(2) Patterns to match the Bugs
(3) Attributes of the Bugs
(4) Habit of the Bugs
(5) Basic Presentation Techniques
So, that's an overview of the site, check it out, I hope the time spent on getting it up and running will be valuable for anyone checking it out.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
I was fortunate enough to get all my honey do's done and sneak out and fish the Lower Yuba again yesterday. That's sort of the way fishing works if you're not a real "Trout Bum". You've got to collect enough "Brownie Points" to get out. That's the way it works for me anyway.
So, I made it down to the river yesterday and fished with Mike and Todd Williams. The day started with a low overcast and was pretty cold. There wasn't any precipitation to speak of just sort of a high fog. The river was still running at 3,000 cfs. and has cleared a bit more from last time. The water has turned to a blue shade, more blue than green on the edges with visibility of 4 or 5 feet. We floated the river and the further you go down the clarity got better.
The fishing was so so, I had a few fish to hand and had caught them when we had hiked up stream and wade fished. I was sticking to what worked earlier in the week with a Natural Roe Troutbead, different Skwala Stone Nymphs, and red Copper Johns. I was primarily indicator nymphing with lighter weight to avoid farming sticks. Whenever I would add more shot I'd hook a stick, and I'm talking trophy sticks, willows with whole root wads, I could have brought home quite a collection. So, I resorted to lighter weight and and some tight line nymphing.
As far as bugs goes, bad news and some good news. When fishing, I saw maybe half a dozen bugs, all mayflies, which in a days fishing is not so good. On the bright side, when we stopped for lunch at about 1:30, the full sun had come out for about an hour or more and we were sitting along the riverside in the cobble and the Skwalas started crawling around us. Not a huge number, but probably a dozen or so. I hadn't seen any in the drift though. While we were sitting and checking the bugs out, a big splash happened in the eddy pool in front of us. A Skwala rise if I ever heard one. So, maybe Skwala time is going to be happening pretty soon.
We ran into a couple of fishing buddies later, one was Ralph Wood, who said that he'd picked up two fish on Skwala dries. More thoughts to chew on. If we get continued warmer weather, get ready, it's coming.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I headed down to the Lower Yuba today with Frank Rinella with the intention of following our normal routine and floating about 2 1/2 miles of the river. I dropped Zack off at school, my daily routine, and we met in town at the coffee shop, showed Frank an updated slide show I'm working on about the Lower Yuba, drank a cup of coffee and waited for the temperatures to warm up a bit.
That's sort of what I like about this time of year, there's really no hurry to get down to the river, you can take your time, meet your buddies, sit around for a bit, drink some coffee, have a bagel, and shoot the bull about whatever comes to mind. Oh yeah, time to head out.
We got down to the river at about 10:00, dumped the boat in the river, took care of the shuttle, rigged up our rods and we were ready to go. I should say Frank rigged his up. I'm always a little hesitant to tie on the flies I'm going to start with until I get a feel for the days conditions, bugs, clarity etc. Superstitious or smart?
The river was running at about 3,000 cfs and was still a predominant green color. The clarity had improved from last weeks trip and the visibility was about 3 to 4 feet. Now we're talking. It seems that for the Lower Yuba to really start to fish, this is what you need, a minimum of that 3' to 4' visibility. When fishing in the spring after the run-off in Montana, this is what the guides all are waiting for. That doesn't mean they don't fish with less visibility, it's just they get more optimistic at 3' to 4'. So that's what was going through my mind, optimism.
Once I pushed off, got on the oars and got into the main flow, it looked like I had 6 inches, that's how deceptive the color is when it's running that glacier green color. Not only is the main current big and pushy, the clarity is at the edges and at the soft water. I thought to myself, "No problem, it's going to be an edge water day again, focus on the edges and soft water, wherever you have that 3' to 4' of clarity. Choose where you want to speed your time wisely". And so we did.
At Frank's suggestion we crossed the river, parked the boat and decided to hike upstream and walk/wade fish the the edges, pools, and tailouts up stream. I thought, "Now that's a great idea, less time at the oars, take a nice hike, fish some good looking edge water, let's go".
It was pretty clear once we walked upstream and had a good look at the river, where to fish. The clarity was 3 to 4 feet as long as the water moved at about fast walking pace or less. This is the water that we focused on as we hiked and fished up stream. We stayed in ankle deep to 1 foot deep water and methodically fished the water from about 8 feet off the bank out to about maybe 20 feet at the most. We found willing, healthy fish in these areas. Most were smaller fish in the range of 10" to 14" but we managed to hook a couple big brothers and sisters and Frank got one to hand.
When it came to fly selection, I started off with a rigg I was fishing last week. That is, I went right to the spot where I lost my 1st rigg last week, and pulled up the branch that I thought snagged it and there it was, all three flies. This was possible because the flows have dropped about 2,000 cfs from last week. We got a good laugh about that. So I started with a Rubber Legs that was brownish green, a San Juan Worm and a Skwala Stone fly nymph. The San Juan and the Rubberlegs caught fish. A big meal and a bright red worm, get the picture.
I believe Frank rigged with a Troutbead, a stonefly and Red Copper John size 14. What he switched up to I'm not sure as we were fishing most of the time about 100 feet apart or more. I can tell you that when we discussed it later, the majority of the fish he caught were on the troutbead (natural roe), the San Juan Worm (red) or the Red Copper John. Hmmm, that's red, red, and more red for Frank.
My luck was with a Red Copper John, a troutbead and the Rubberlegs. So in my humble opinion, as we saw one Skwala all day which was about 5o feet from the water and two rising trout all day, I'd say all the fish we caught, hooked and didn't land or long distance released, were sitting in the soft edge water were they could see, out of the heavy currents so they didn't have to expend a lot of energy and were eating opportunistically at what they recognized as food, Eggs, Worms, and Stoneflies. In addition these were flies that they actually could see. Makes sense to me, anyway.
So my thoughts are, in the next month or so, I believe that this will be a successful strategy. That is if you, head down to the river, if the river is running at 3,000 cfs and if the visibility is about 3 to 4 feet. Thing is, it could all change next week. As the water clarity improves, other bug patterns will come into play, and so will the Skwalas, I hope. So, as you can see, it's an ever changing game. Look, watch and observe.
A couple of other notes. Remember the Skwala we found about 50 feet from the water? It was a female with eggs, the abdomen was more of a brownish/yellow olive and the thorax was way more yellow with just a hint of green. This backs up our friend, Norm's theory, keep the thorax and head yellow. I'm headed back to the vise so when the Skwalas really come out, I can test this theory out.
The other note is that we ran into a DFG team, doing the trout study of the radio tagged fish, (I believe they said that they have radio tagged about 250 fish to date). The one worker we met said they were picking up a lot of signals from tagged fish on the river and he was clearly up beat. He indicated that this was all good data and good news. In what way, I'm not really clear, except that they he said there are fish in different spots up and down the river from below Daguerre Point Dam all the way up to the narrows, scattered and in different spots in the system. When I asked where, he just smiled!
Get out there and give it a go. It's better than sitting around home and definitely better than working!
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I've been busy here at home for the holidays, nursing Zack back to health after he had 4 wisdom teeth pulled and 6 baby teeth. That's a bunch. I've cleaned up the World Headquarters of Fly Fishing Traditions, organized the fly tying materials and been tying new Skwala patterns. I've got about 4 prototype Skwala Dries, and a new and improved Skwala Nymph. I've purchased about every rubberleg material out there so I've got a bunch to test out. Hopefully the Lower Yuba will lower to fishable levels and the Skwala will be out soon, I can't wait.
So what's in store for 2011 here at Fly Fishing Traditions. Quite a bit.
Fly Fishing Traditions New Website
I've been working on a new FFT website for over 6 months and it's just about ready to launch. It will probably be live by next weekend. The website will still be accessed at www.flyfishingtraditions.com
The FFT Blog will be alive and well and will have it's own page on the new website. The FFT Blog is the heart and soul of the new website and it will carry on as usual. The new FFT website is sort of the "Best of the FFT Blog".
Fly Fishing Traditions New Website Features
The new website will have information gathered from the blog and new features such as;
- Bugs - There is a "Bugs" Page that gives the inside scoop on all the bugs that live on the Lower Yuba River. Their habitat, entomology, techniques for presenting your bug imitations and recommended patterns and pattern recipes.
- Lower Yuba River Hatch Chart - I have put together a page with a "Lower Yuba River Hatch Chart", that will tell you when and where you'll find the bugs on the river, along with specific patterns to "Match the Hatch", It will give you a quick look version of presentation techniques.
- Techniques Page - There is a "Techniques" page that has all of the worthy technique articles from the blog in one place so they will be easy to access. The articles will cover, "Musings of the Big Kahuna", Techniques, Fly Casting Tips, Drift Boat 101, and Nuts & Bolts. A ton of useful information and easy to navigate.
- Photo Gallery - There is a "Gallery" page with photos of friends, family and fishing destinations. There is a Video Page with worthy videos. (This page is still a work in progress, as far as the worthy goes).
- Classes and Clinics - There's a "Classes and Clinics" page that will give information of 2011 offerings, which will include a full day "Floating Fly Fishing Clinic" on the Lower Yuba River. There will be basic fly fishing courses, entomology classes and Drift Boat 101 for those people who want to learn the ins and outs of rowing a drift boat or for those that just need a little boost of confidence.
- Guiding - And last but not least I'm offering guided trips on the Lower Yuba River, the Feather River and the Lower Sacramento River.
So, Welcome 2011, and Happy New Year to everyone.
Best Wishes, Clay