March 22, 2010

The Accidental Brown

Not many waters on this side of the sierras are red hot yet, but a couple are still in shape, which gives people a little hope. The Yuba is one of them, but I'm pretty sure I didn't miss much on the Yuba this last weekend. Heard stories of a big March brown hatch that produced zero risers, as well as reports upwards of 12 boats below the Hwy 20 bridge. The general rule of thumb is that there are about 4x-5x as many waderettes than boats, making the head count around 96 people on about 2 miles of fishable water. That's about 12 people fishing every 1/4 mile, or about 1 person every 60 feet..... No thanks.

Meanwhile, as the prespawn bass and striper fishing quickly approaches with these higher temps (but not here yet), we had to get a quick fix. Back to The River we went.

Winds were brutal pretty much the whole day, making casting ridiculous. Tough day, nonetheless we caught some fish. Managed one fish early on:

Things got pretty slow until about 2:30 when the BWOs started busting all over the place. Dry fly action was pretty good during the hatch. Saw some skwalas on the water, a couple with eggs. Fish were chowing! Nothing like casting a big fly to a big fish.

Lost my epic shades into the drink when a skwala tried to eat my eyeball underneath my glasses: It's like when a fly lands on a camera lens, and all the person behind the lens sees is this HUGE nasty flying thing, but substitute my eyeball for the lens. I don't think I screamed like a girl, but I did smack myself in the face... and down went the shades, skwala in tow.

Both Louise and Scott got tight with some really nice fish, but the story of the trip is Scott's accidental brown trout...

So I see this HUGE brown trout rising right in the soft water above this big rock. Pretty consistent with some big slashing caddis-type takes; olives are coming off everywhere. I'm way below the rock trying to cast up into the current seam and Scott is standing on top of another rock just above the fish. Scott's busy working another fish on the other side of the rock.

I work this fish for probably 30 minutes or so, changing flies again and again, but just can't get it to come up again. Getting a good drift from my angle was pretty gnarly, so I moved up above the fish and tried working down to it... still nothing. I yell at Scott to turn around and cast at this fish. He takes one or two casts and says, "Angle's not right... can't get a good drift."

Finally I give up, and Scott gives up on his fish too. With his rod in his left hand, hanging over the side of the rock, Scott slides down onto another rock about to hop into the water. Just then, his dangling fly hits the water and POW! that HUGE fish comes up and takes a bite. Scott didn't even have to set the hook... well... he didn't even know the fish had his fly until his rod was bent.

He called it the accidental brown. I think I may have left an accidental brown in my shorts when it came unbuttoned...

March 17, 2010

Why did God invent beer?....

So the Irish wouldn't rule the world.

Happy St. Patty's Day.

March 16, 2010

Truckee Tribulations

Spent a few hours with Louise on The River this last weekend looking for some lonely red-sides to tangle with. Action was pretty slow with the water temps in the mid 40's and slowly rising as the day went on. Water was gin clear for the first couple hours and turned emerald green by about 2 o'clock. Air temps were low, but the wind stayed away which helped to avert the attention away from the fact that we weren't catching anything, "At least it's a beautiful day..."

There were midges coming off all day long with a few baetis here and there, but no fish heads until nearly sundown. We fished all types of flies and managed to pick up a fish here and there including another state record whitey.

Whitey likes the bling...

I know it's been awhile since my last pay day on The River, but I really felt like we paid some dues this last Sunday. Next trip... 20 fish day, guaranteed! I did manage one fish that was questionable. She was foul-hooked when she came to hand, but was clearly on the top fly for the fist couple of runs. I'm guessing that top fly came unbuttoned and the dropper had found its way into her side as she was running. It happens. Hot fish though, and with some beef in them fins.

When the sun got a little lower we started to see the baetis sailboats a little more often, which was promising. Louise looks over at me a says, "Wouldn't it be great if there was this awesome hatch right before we left?" And like god was listening, clouds of midges started popping everywhere. So thick that I could taste them as they flew into mouth and eyes. It made talking a little harder, but who needs to talk when fish are rising all around you?

First real dry fly action of the year, and it was well-worth the dues paid earlier that day. Next trip, we'll be sure not to forget the Glenlivet.

March 9, 2010

Sierra Trout Slam

Off the Hook Fly Shop in Placerville, CA presents local (and not local) anglers with a new but simple challenge, the Sierra Trout Slam: Catch five distinct species of trout within the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The fish don't have to be native to their waters, but they do have to be caught and released in the Sierras on a fly rod. The five fish can be any of the following nine species: brook, brown, rainbow, golden, lahontan cutthroat, tiger, lake trout, mounain whitefish ,and paiute cutthroat.

Complete the challenge with photographic evidence and applicants will receive a certificate similar to this:

With a picture of each of the submitted species of trout caught.

Now here's my little twist.......... try catching all five in the same lake/stream/river....... it's been done by at least one person I know.....

March 7, 2010

Ain't goin' out like that...

I'm not much of a hunter, and I'm definitely not into hunting just for trophy animals... but... I just had to share this one...

Possibly the gnarliest hunting video I've ever seen... If you don't like hunting, or seeing animals get shot, don't watch this video... however... if you want to see a grown man scream like a girl as a 150 lb cat tries to eat his heart out after it gets shot in the leg... watch it, cause it's pretty good!

Whoever said that a hunted animal is helpless is out of their mind.

March 3, 2010

Kailua pupule

Spent 8 days on the big island this last week with the fam. Weather was good, vog was thick, sand was soft, and the tsunami was a joke. There were 12 of us in all, half of which spent a day on the water with Captain Russell Nitta of the Lepika out of Honokohau harbor near Kailua-Kona. Captain Russell was a great guide and treated us all with great respect, not to mention the nearly 700 lbs of fish he put us on... but I'll get to that later.

Somehow we scored this huge house in Kona right across from the ocean (right in the meat of the tsunami evacuation zone) with a view of the ocean, a pool, a pool table, a big screen tv, outdoor showers, screened lannais (patios), 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms...... this place was stacked. I have no clue how my sister hooked it up... but she did. The big screen was rolling Olympic highlights every day... I should mention... watching the winter Olympics in board shorts and flip-flops was a new one for me... I'm not saying I couldn't get used to it, but it definitely felt a little weird watching the US-Canada hockey prelims in an open-air bar with 20 other people draining frosty mai tais 50 ft from the ocean. Again... not complaining... maybe just rubbing it in a little.

Back home while this winter continued to prove that central California may never have a good salmon and steelhead run ever again, I was hooking crazy reef fish from the volcanic shores of Pele's version of heaven. The reef was loaded with all sorts of fish mostly feeding on the reef, but every now and then the crazy Charlie I was tossing would piss one off bad enough to get a take.

Did I mention that the reef has some crazy fish in it?

I have no clue what this fish was, but it changed color when I put it back in the water. It turned white when I tossed it back.

This is a trumpet fish. This fish could swim backwards like a mutha'. When I was pulling it out of the water it tail walked backwards like flipper for about 10 ft. If you skated your fly across the surface, two-hand stripping as fast as you could, ten of these trumpet fish would chase the fly like tiger sharks. All of a sudden there would be like 10 fins chasing the fly.

These were just appetizers for our blue water trip the next day.

Like I said, Capt. Russell was the man. Although we didn't fly fish much, he did try to get us tight-lined at an off-shore fish habitat buoy. However, by the time we got there a bunch of rough-toothed dolphins had beat us there, and they were chowing down on freshly hooked fish on the ends of people's lines. Before we had got 5 casts off Capt. Russell pulled bait and we rolled out. On the way out we saw two guys reel in nothing but fish heads. It was a bummer but Tony made up for it with a 300 lb blue marlin on the way there.

On the way back we found another pile of dolphins (I guess these are the "good" dolphins) and started trolling though the pile with hootchies (we left the women at home). Before Capt. Russell had the last bait in the water, an Ahi came up and train-wrecked one of the plugs. This was my fight, and it was a good one. Good for 137 lbs.

Sashimi anyone?

After my fish, Capt. Russell set up this crazy jumping squid rig that I can't even try to describe. It looked so ridiculous, but the captain said it'd work, so I believed him. It was basically as close to dry fly fishing for 150 lb tuna as you can get. Capt. Russell said to watch the baits close cause the takes would be pretty good, and he wasn't lying.

First pass, Sam was in the chair and one of the squids went down, but the Captain kept yelling, "Not yet! Not yet!" And then right before Sam started reeling, a second squid went down. You know that feeling you get when you get a double hook-up on a dry dropped rig... well multiply that by about 40 lbs. Sam was in hog heaven...

Two 20 lb skip jack tuna that we took home to eat.

But we weren't done just yet. After several more passes through the dolphins with the crazy jumping squid rig, there was on more take on one of the dancing squids. This time is was a monster Ahi that came flying out of the water at one of the squids like a caddis-eating rainbow on the E. Carson, except it was a 188 lb flying tuna!

No good trip happens without a little drama... as Gregg's fish was being hauled-in through the back gate, about 300 gallons of water comes into the stern of the boat, and Capt. Russell goes, "Oh, that's not good..." and everybody on the boat was quiet. The bilge pump in the stern had gone out and the entire rear hull was filled with water.......

After a quick scramble we were able to bail the water with an auxiliary livewell pump but not until after a quick flash of my life before my eyes....

Good times....