Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One That Got Away

Evening on the Truckee River

Don't let one get away.
    It happened to me just the other day. That's why I'm posting a beauty picture of the Truckee river instead of a shot of a great trout.
      I spent a long hot, non productive day on the Truckee around Farad.
    They say they've been getting some nice trout this year.
   I went, but due to my schedule I could not get on the river until nearly 11am. It was already getting hot.
    I fished deep pools, hoping for big fish. But things just shut down. I even had a guide with me, and he had no luck.

My first set up

   The next evening I was on the river by 7pm.
   I tossed a three fly set up and got a hit almost immediately.
    By 8:15 the hatch was in full swing. I saw it all. Various "stones" and other caddis. An occasional salmon fly - and a few mayfly.
  Fish were rising. One "mauled" my middle fly - and made a birds nest out of my line!

 I altered my set up - and despite conventional wisdom I put a blue winged olive dry as the bottom fly. I had a yellow stone dry, and a new caddis emerger I saw in the fly shop earlier that day, up above.

My second set up

        I let it drift through a seam. I felt it snag on a boulder, and went to retrieve the line to save my flies. It wasn't a boulder. I had a fish on! I set the hook, but barley could tell. My stiff 6wt rod didn't react much. I reeled in all my slack, and could still feel the small trout on the line.

     I decided to quit playing him and net him. Bam! The rod bent down and nearly jerked out of my hand. This was no little trout. It was a big one, and he had been swimming in my direction. Now, he was going his own way - and I could hardly stop him. He jumped and surfaced. I not only got a good look at his size, but could tell it was a nice German brown.
   I also could see my top two flies - meaning he hit the BWO dry on the bottom.
     And then it was over. The line slacked, and he was gone. On the verge of netting nice one, my knot slipped. I had not tied a good knot. My bad, and it cost me.

The moral of the story - learn good knots. Tie them well, and tie them tight.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saving Endagered Fish

We aired this report on efforts to save endangered Coho salmon and steel-head trout in the San Francisco bay area.

Check it out at:  http://youtu.be/gos8pgNnHrA

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Boy's First Fish:

    This is a special fishing story for me. I have to admit right now that we did not catch this fish by fly fishing. But this weeknd I took my boy fishing for the first time. We caught only one, but it was a beautiful rainbow. Jack and I were thrilled.
Father & Son's 1st Fishing

    Jack is only 3.  Still too little for fly fishing. He has seen me practice casting, but this was his introductory outting. This is the first time he has even seen a trout up close. He has heard dad talk about going fishing. And he has been promised to go some day, but this is the first time he has experienced what it's all about.
      I took him to an old stand-by. A place where I have never been "skunked".  I just wanted him to have fun, enjoy the outting, and feel success. So, we went to a pond in the rear of Donner Memorial State park in Truckee, CA.
     I brought my fly rod, but it was fairly gusty, making a good cast nearly impossible. So I resorted to a spinning rod and salmon eggs.
      I showed Jack how to cast. The hardest part for him was being patient. He wanted to shake the rod - and reel the line - and above all - throw rocks.
Jack's first trout

Fishing was slow. There was a break in gusts. You could see them coming by the chop on the surface of the pond. So, I took the opportunity to get a good cast.
    As I threw - I noticed a fish break the surface - and my line hit just a few feet from him. Pure accident.

   Within moments, I had a hit. I waited. I called for Jack, and he ran over. Then I had another hit - and another. I set the hook and the tip bent. I felt the power of the trout, and knew it was a good sized one. I let Jack take the rod - but assisted with reeling, as it was still a little complex for him.  
        Soon, I had the trout near the bank. The water was clear and Jack could see him well. I landed him and Jack was thrilled.
   The fish was hooked deep, so I could not release him. I measured. He was 18 inches long - and he was thick. We landed a beautiful raibow trout. Jack's very first. We took the fish home right then and there - and cooked him on the grill for dinner that night.

Jack meets fish

      It took 51 years for this moment to arrive in my life. It was perfect. I had not planned it before I took Jack, but this is the same spot I took my dad a few years ago. It was the last time he and I ever fished before he passed away. My dad loved to fish. He taught me all I know about the sport. He left us before Jack was born. I wish I could have shared this moment with dad, but to bring my little buddy to the place grandpa and I once fished - and to have success the way we did was quite special.

I shall never forget this day. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Family Fun Fishing: Balch Park, CA

I have wanted to fish Balch Park outside Springville, CA for many years. I have seen some beautiful pictures and wanted to see it for myself. I finally did it.

Road to Balch Park
 The park is not really that far outside Spingville, but getting there takes some time. After about an hour on a small, paved but rough road - we arrived at the park. There are a few good sized camp sites - and on this weekend, they were just about filled.
    There are two main ponds. One is partially surrounded by the main campground. The other is just across the road, and is about one third the larger, main pond.  Both are occasionally stocked, mostly with rainbows, or a hybrid stock trout called a "Shasta" trout.
Marshy area in distance

This a great family and kid friendly place. If you want to get away from people and fish naitive trout - this may not be the place for you. If you want  a nice, public camp ground, and a place where the kids can fish and actually catch something - this is ideal.
     Most people use bait - worms, salmon eggs, and power bait. Some people try spinners. And every now and then somebody tries a little fly fishing. It did it all.

Giant Sequoia

I had no luck with salmon eggs and spinners, but I did well fly fishing and using power bait.
     If you fly fish, bring waders because you will have better access, and can get away from bushes and trees that line the bank.
    I waded into a a marsh. Luckily there were no mosquitos! I threw a yellow stone dry fly with an orange body. The trout loved it. They swarmed the fly and nipped, bit and chomped on it. The only problem - I was getting hit by dozens of small fingerlings.
      They'd nip and tug on the fly, pull it underwater and drag it around, but were too small to even swallow the number 14 hook.
     I eventually got a small little trout who was big enough to hook, and promptly let the little guy go.
    I then worked my way around the pond. I came to a fallen giant sequoia.  The trunk extended into the pond. I climbed on and used it as a natural made dock. About halfway along the fallen tree I spotted a nice sized trout swimming parallel to the tree, heading to deeper water. I quickly started stripping fly line and trying to get a good cast going. By then the fish was about out of my range, so I had to cast.   

My second trout by fly

The fly hit about 3 feet behind and to the left of the fish, but he turned and spotted my fly. He circled back around - swam briskly to it - and hit. I hooked and netted him. I could have legally kept him - but I let him go.
    By now, the day was hot - and the fishing slowed. Most fish had moved to the center of the pond, to deeper cooler water. I did not think I could cast a beadheaded wooly bugger far enough to reach them, so that was the end of fly fishing for the day.
   I switched to split shot and powerbait, and caught a few more.

Hedrick Pond - Balch park

My overall assesment: if you want to take the kids and family, Balch Park is a great spot. If you want to fly fish, you certainly can. I would suggest early in the morning and in the late evening, and if you can fish off season - say September or October, you might avoid the crowds.

Here is some other useful info. No reservations at the camp ground. You can call the site manager at 559- 539- 3896. Not far away is the Balch Park Pack Staton. You can book various horseback rides by calling 559- 539- 2227 or go to http://www.balchpark.com/.