Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Fly Wednesday: Hogan's Little Amigo

Learning my lesson about designating days to blog posts....barely making it here at 6:29pm. Enjoy!

First Fly For New Fly Wednesday is “Hogan’s Little Amigo” … This fly comes in sizes #16-20 and Brown and Olive to imitate all the small olive and Brown mayfly nymphs on the Lower Sac and Lower Yuba River. That said as I developed the fly I have fished it all over the west. I have been working on this fly for a long time. Basically as soon as the S&M came out and gained mass popularity I figured I needed to come up with a new small mayfly nymph to fish as everyone and their mother was now fishing my old one…the S&M. So I tired all sorts of ideas, hooks, materials, natural, synthetic…you name it. Always keeping in mind my tried and true may fly principals of may fly nymph design, Trim profile, straight shank hook, darker wing case then thorax, and minimal flash.

I have fished the Amigo side by side the S&M and it fishes as good or better most days…some days fish want one or the other more but they are different flies. The Amigo has more movement in the thorax representing gills along with having a slim flash back with epoxy over it. It also has natural fibers as legs which gives the fly a bit more action in the legs. It is a different fly then the S&M and while my goal for my own fly box was to develop a fly that replaced the S&M but it didn’t do that at all. Many days I fish both at various times and catch fish on both nymphs. I am currently working on a PMD to accompany this line and should get to fish it a bunch this spring so look for some additions to this line as the years role by…Here are some Pics.

Little Brown Amigo

Little Brown Amigo
Little Olive Amigo

Little Olive Amigo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Fly Wednesday!!!!!!!

So, as many of you may have heard, know, or will learn hear this very minute.... my flies will be produced this coming year, 2015, by Montana Fly Co...Lovingly known as "MFC". I signed on with MFC early this year and have been working very hard with them to develop a line of new flies to be released to dealers, guides, and consumers this coming year.

Many of you are familiar and up to speed with the chaos, espionage, back stabbing, corporate take over, douche baggery, crookedness, and many more expletives that I will refrain from, that have surrounded the Idylwilde/Umpqua saga.  Umpqua attempted to strong arm me into a contract by telling me that they were going to tie my fly patterns weather I signed a contract with them or not, basically saying they were going to rip off my ideas no matter what I did, said, or what the ethical thing to do was.

I spurred the beast though and refused to sell out as many of my fellow Idylwilde tiers did. While I could of signed with Umpqua, and made a fat stack of cash, my principals and ethics are not for sale. If money was important to me I wouldn't do what I do....I would of worked a little harder to get that cumulative GPA in high school up over a 3.0 by not spending an inordinate amount of time calf deep in the Yuba River and Deer Creek...and get into some college other then a community college (I love community college and encourage and support the community colleges system but lets be honest if your goal in life is to stack money you don't shoot for a community college)....Long ago I learned Quality of Life is what is important...I believe sunsets and sunrises on the river, smiling people, time with my kids, and the sound of water in my head are things that money will never buy...that said everyone follows their own path so no judgement here if those things don't get your blood going or your soul warm.

Now Umpqua has proved themselves consistent and is tying well over 10 of my patterns and offering them to dealers in the 2015 catalog even though I asked them not to under the auspice that fly sales pay for things in my house like groceries, pre school, PG&E, and T-Ball AND it is just a messed up thing to do to rip off my ideas...all that said they didn't seem to care. Apparently making money was more important then ethics and what the right thing to do is. I know I should not be surprised as the business world is full of this type of thing, but the fly fishing industry is a small world and I was always under the impression that if I did right by people they would do right by me...not the case but at this point there is not a lot I can do except....

Continue to innovate, spend days on the water, ask questions, and solve problems with fur, feather, and steel at the vise and on the water. I started tying flies to catch fish for myself cause I was young and fished with anglers that were way better then me on a river that got fished a ton...I believed that if the fish hadn't seen my flies then  maybe they just might eat them a bit better...when I started guiding I was a young guide and I continued to tie to help my clients catch more fish as I was the rookie and knew I didn't know enough or had logged enough years to have the experience to be as good as the veteran guides, maybe if I had flies they didn't I could hold my own...

I have always tried to keep my original focus when it comes to fly design: tie flies that catch myself and my clients fish, by addressing fishing situations while I am on the river...if that translates to commercial sales then so be it. Bottom line I never started tying flies to be a contract fly tier or make money. I signed with Montana Fly Company cause they get that, everyone there has been a guide, and long before they worked in the corporate side of the industry, long before they were guides, they were fly fishermen. They slept in the dirt, drove all night, drank shitty beer, chewed cheap tobacco, wore the same fishing shirt for a week, got funky foot fungus from wearing waders and wool socks for way to many days in a row, and never lost sight of the fact that as we all try to pay our bills through this industry the real reason we got in to it was to maximize our time on the water not money in the bank.

All that said it is finally time to share with everyone the fruit of my last 3-4 years of labor. Why do I say 3-4 years? cause believe it or not that is how long it takes to develop a fly pattern...I take the fact that MFC, their reps, a fly shop owner, and most importantly a fly fisherman or woman is going to spend their hard earned money on my fly pattern seriously. They are going to put faith in my idea that it will catch fish on  one of their few days they spend on the water, so I have to do my do diligence and make sure it works!

So stay tuned for NEW FLY WEDNESDAYS STARTING TOMORROW NOV 19TH! I will share some photos of all the new flies that are coming out through MFC and tell everyone a little bit about them and why I developed them.

AND... Be good to each other, drink some good beer, sip some brown water, and listen to the river a bit before you cast into it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

My contribution to neglecting responsibilities on a monday....

Recent Observations…aka fishing reports

So, Northern California has seen two “storms” or significant rains this season so far and a few observations about future fishing conditions has come to light. Neither of these were huge storms but more like a good day or evening of rain…This rain has colored up the Lower Sac for a few days and added substantial color to the water lower in the river. Both Cow Creek and Battle Creek pumped some pretty serious color and now the river has color from Keswick down stream. The Feather colored up this weekend as well from Oroville down. What is happening is sense both Shasta and Oroville are so low due to the drought as it has rained the rain has run down mud banks and has in essence blown out the lakes therefore pumping off color water down river. Now this has by no means “Blown out” these rivers and there is no rain forecasted over the next week so if you have a fishing trip planned you are fine. What it has shown though is that a big storm when it does come will add some serious color to the rivers even if it doesn’t had flow AND color up the reservoirs for a LONG time. The amount of exposed mud on the banks of Nor Cals major reservoirs I have a feeling if we get the winter we need is going to play serious havoc with water clarity this winter.

Feather River – Every time I go here I swear I am never going back…same deal. I went I swear I will not be back….Here is the skinny though, with some great returns the last few years the crowds and out of town guides have shown up so the river is pretty damn crowded in the low flow. Usually by November the high flow starts fishing, spreading out guides and wade fishermen. With the low flows and warmer water temps in the High Flow the salmon have piled up into the low flow in search of cooler water so the steelhead are not holding like they usually do in the high flow….So the high flows is not a great option though you can run into fish moving up river. Couple that with the fact we need fresh fish to give the ones in the rivers mandables a break….I won’t be back for 2 weeks minimum.

Lower Sac – Trout and steelhead fishing has been good to great. Clarity on the lower river has been an issue but should be fine by early this week on all stretches as I heard by the end of yesterday pretty much everything was fishable. Get after it on the Sac ASAP this year as I have a good feeling that the first big rain is going to blow the lake out and the river will done for a while.

Lower Yuba – heard nothing but good things…haven’t been there in a bit. Should get some days over there this month.

Rock and Roll music – Been listening to the Menzingers from Scranton PA on Epitaph Records…good rock/punk/emo band. The newest CD is Ok…I prefer “On the Impossible Past”…

Booze News…I am trying not to drink to loose weight…I made a deal with myself. If I get down to 195 I get a new tattoo. It was a close call but I decided I like eating better then drinking calorie rich IPA’s so I have cut beer out for a while…yes I know they make light beer but they also make water and I like water better I think. We’ll see how this all goes…first trip where a client drops a steelhead of a life time look for me in a gutter with an empty 12 pack of Torpedo.

Sports Report
I have been a giants fan sense I can remember. May dad use to take me to giants games at candle stick and would always buy a 6 pack of tickets most years. I remember watching Kevin Mitchel, Will Clark, Robby Thompson…I had the Pacific Sock Exchange and Bash Brothers posters next to each other on my wall with Bo Knows on the other wall and I think the Jordan “Wings” Poster on the ceiling. I remember the 1989 world series and being crushed when the Giants were swept…

Then there was 2002 where I watched on what I remember as about a 12-14” black and white TV in my first apartment in chico while my future wife did her homework in the living room…I had sworn off all homework for the duration of the world series, hence my future wife graduated a full 3 semesters before. I had a tendency to “swear off homework” for things like sporting events and steelhead season…I watch what I thought would be an easy 5-0 win in the bottom of the 7th inning turn to a 5-6 loss and an eventual 7 game defeat by the Angels. That o

ne hurt. It was brutal.

The 2002 world series was followed by a 10-3 Notre Dame season but then was quickly followed by a 5-7 and 6-6 season and a 100 win season by the giants but a 3game to 1 exit to the Marlins in the Wild Card game…At this point I made a deal with the sports gods that all I wanted to was a world series and a National Championship in my life time, I figured that was a fair request and many people never get either. When the Giants first one in 2010 it was an amazing feeling…I have never had that feeling before…I have won Section Titles, League Titles, All Star Games, and many many “Big Games” as a high school baseball coach but it was something completely different to watch “My Team” Take down the world and win the World Series.

2012 I was just happy to have made it past  the Reds, after loosing the first 2 games of the division series at home and then taking 3 games ON THE ROAD to win the series I thought the season was a HUGE success! I figured there was no way we were getting past St. Louis as they were STACKED THAT YEAR! Well ounce again we are down 3 games to 1 AT busch stadium and Zito pitched one of his greatest games of his Giants Carrear to get the team home to win in 7…At that point I though Detroit was going to take us down…They had Cabrera who won the Triple Crown and Verlander who was UNTOUCHABLE at that point…then Pablo hit 3 jacks in the first game off Verlander and I believed…We went on to sweep, I couldn’t believe. Everyone was now a giants fan and jumping on the band wagon. I was a little bitter as many hadn’t paid there dues, sat through a wind fest at Candle Stick, watched Matt Williams do his babe ruth impersonation, lived through ’89 and ’02, or still have your Pacific Sock exchange poster rolled up in the closet, I threw the bash brothers one away.

This year…what can I say. I had written the giants off man. So, many injuries, missed opportunities, UGLY games, inconsistency, you name it…The back bone of the teams success was pitching and timely hitting for the most part and if you watched any of the 2014 regular season neither of those things were in large supply. I watched most of the starting line up for the world series play for the Fresno Grizzlies up until July and August. I regained some hope when they were rallying in Late August/ September…They sweep the Brewers in Milwaukee, take 2 out of 3 from Detroit, win series against the D-Backs, Rockies, but then win only 2-6 games with the Dodgers and get swept by the Padres…We crept into the wild card and seemed to creep our way through the playoffs to an unexpected WS win…If you breat air you know the story.

In the end the Giants have won 3 out of the last 5 World Series and 9 straight post season series where they have not been favored in ONE! I love baseball more then any other sport in that it exemplifies life in many aspects. Baseball is about failure and how you respond. The best hitter succeedes 3 out of 10 times, success for most teams is winning half your games, a series win is determined by not loosing as many as the other team, it is life on a field full of grass, dirt, and c

Monday, October 13, 2014

reports, sports, fermentation, and rock an roll

I realize that fall started a few days ago…I don’t know maybe a week or so ago to be more accurate….but a date on a calendar rarely signals the beginning or end of anything in nature. Fall starts slow with a mild shortening of the days, a realization that it is getting darker sooner, evenings get cooler, we don’t really use our heater or our air conditioner, and I keep a close eye on the wild card and league leaders in the MLB. Baseball playoffs, meaningful college football games, and an idea of who is and who isn’t in the NFL usually moves me into October…Placing a order and buying nail polish and tooth picks at Walgreens usually comes at the same time.  Fall is here in nor cal by all signs, there is even some new snow on Mt. Shasta, and fishing is days away in most spots from getting really good, though how long it lasts is very dependent on fall and winter rain.

I spent the last weekend on the Lower Sac floating from Red Bluff down to Los Molinos looking for trout and steelhead. We hooked 2 nice steelhead and a fair number of trout. Fishing was good but there was no salmon to be found up on reds and that stretch really needs fish up on reds to go off. That said hooking into big wild tributary steelhead is always a treat.  From what I hear the upper stretches are fishing pretty darn good as well. Until we get some substantial rain I think the L. Sac is going to be one of the better games in northern California.

Floated the Feather River a few times looking for steelhead this past weekend as well…crowded would be an understatement. I have never seen the river as crowded as I did this weekend…boats, salmon anglers, poachers, you name it and they are all there. We hooked a few nice fish but I will not be back until salmon season closes  Oct 15 and maybe even after as it usually takes a few days for the people to get the hint and clear out.

I have not been over to the Lower Yuba river but I have heard fishing has been fair to good…I have had a little hard time pulling the trigger on taking clients over to the Yuba as the flows are so low and when the flows get as low as they are it can be a bit of a junk show competing with wade fishermen.

Sports News
So the giants and Irish keep pulling on my heart strings and taking years off my life but heck they keep winning! I hesitate to call them the Giants as the starting roster is really a combination of the SF Giants, Fresno Grizzlies, and Richmond Fly Squirrels roster from July and August…Talk about a team thrown together and missing key parts. The Irish on the other hand between the Standford and UNC game I have a whole new patch of grey hair. Good lord lets not fumble and throw INT’s for a change !!!! this weeks game is huge with Florida State at Florida State. While I don’t think Florida State belongs even in the top 5 let alone #1 or 2 … Great time for sports man great time!

Fermented Grains
Been enjoying two Sierra Nevada brews lately…Nooner Session IPA and Snow Whit IPA. My sister in law hooked up a few cases of these two brews. They were originally part of the IPA sampler but I don’t think they were to popular and there was a bunch left over….so I am helping eliminate them. In a few weeks with some colder weather might got get myself some brown water and get this fall thing really kicked off proper.

Rock and Roll

Been listening to the newest Dave Hause album Devour…great rock album just plain old good. He is touring with Hot Water Music this winter for their 20th anniversary tour. In other music news I saw a great solo acoustic set by Chuck Ragan up in Grass Valley a few weeks ago. Chuck is one of the main song writters and singers in Hot Water Music and has one of the most distinct voices around. His solo stuff is great and Hot Water Music is a CLASSIC punk/emo/post hardcore band in my life…couple that with Chuck being a straight up nutty fly fishermen…. it was a cool show. Check Chuck’s solo stuff out…

Monday, September 15, 2014

thoughts on stripers on the Sac...

September is a transition month for most of us fly fishers…summer is kinda ending and fall is kinda beginning, but really it is still summer and it is not fall yet. The days are getting shorter for sure and evenings are cool but midday it is still in the high 90s…even over the century mark on some days.

I spend a ton of time guiding June-August and this year I told myself and my family that I was going to take some time off in September and fish for myself, stay home and watch Notre Dame games live not recorded, watch the pennat and wild card race that the giants are part of, and just be home with my wife and kids before the craziness of fall and winter guiding season set in.

My goal has been to get out striper fishing on the sac at least 2-3 days a week, so far so good. I have had some of the best striper fishing of my life over the last few weeks and even have tried to get some guide dates sense the fishing has been so good but I have had no takers so I keep going fishing on my own. The Sac is low and is going to get MUCH lower come the first week of October as the flows will be cut to 3250cfs out of Keswick.

One of the most apparent results of the drought on the Lower Sac, up and down the river, has been the huge amount of weed growth. From Redding down to Butte City the weed growth is insane! With the low water and lack of any substantial run off this winter/spring the weeds have thrived this year more so then any year I can remember. There are areas up through Redding and Anderson that look like a spring creek with huge flats of waving and flowing weeds, which I can’t help but think will mean some AMAZING baetis hatches this fall/winter. Down low out of chico the scence is the same, but with warmer and slower moving water there are huge weed beds up to the surface boarding the banks and coming up in any water shallow enough for weeds to get some sunshine and perform photosynthesis.

The weeds in the lower river have allowed for an explosion in the bait fish population, pike minnows, bluegill, small bass, shad…striper food. There has been very good spawns the last 2 years and there have been schools of stripers in the 2-3lb range and the explosion of bait fish should feed and help grow the juvenile fish. I have seen some of these schools sense July grow from about 12” to solid 16+” fish. The biologist for the river in this area is a good friend of mine and we were talking the other day and he is predicting a HUGE explosion in the resident striper population over the next few years as a result of all the food and likely low water (even if we have a big winter most of the water will be stored in reservoirs and while this section of river can blow out from creek and tributary flow with out massive reservoir releases the chance of big water flows is pretty slim).

I know stripers in the river can at times have a bad wrap as people say they eat salmon and steelhead head smolt and trout in general. I am sure they do and I even fish for them in the winter with patterns that look like salmon fry. BUT trout and steelhead in the upper river, pike minnows, suckers, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, cat fish, and farmers pumps with out fish screens (which there are many of between Los Molinos and Butte City) throughout the river eat just as many salmon and steelhead fry. I would argue pike minnows, bass, and other trout eat just as many if not more fry and eggs then stripers…especially pike minnows who live in the same exterior bank habitat that out migrating smolt and fry take up residence in.

With all the talk about drought and gloom and doom with regards to water levels I thought that a bit of positive news with regards to the low water was in order.

Here is some solo shots...aka fishing alone.