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.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September Striper fishing on the Lower Sacramento

September striper fishing on the Lower Sac can be some of the best of the year. While numbers are not huge it is when we get the most shots throughout the day at "Big Fish". Fish seem to concentrate and school up and while the bigger 20lb fish may follow your fly inevitably a nice 8-10lber will rush out and grab it. That happen to me today over and over and over...while I am not complaining every time I had a big fish in my sights a "smaller" fish would rush out and grab the fly away from it. Only a matter of time before one of the big hogs eats the fly though...Here are some pics and if anyone wants to get out fishing should be good through september.

Open dates September 13, 14, 20, 21, 27

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reports, Tunes, Sports...all the things we labor for.

So I am going to try to up date my blog a bit more often here…So fall is definitely on its way. Dove season opens today, deer season is open in some places, people are salmon fishing, and I even pegged my first bead this weekend. Here is what is happening and what I see coming up… 
Lower Yuba River – Remember The upper river above the highway 20 bridged is closed until dec.1. The flows have dropped down to 747cfs and are still dropping, not sure what the final flow is for this “Fall Drop” but I would imagine 700cfs is most likely. The river through Marysville is 533cfs. This is kind of a double edge sword…the fish that have not moved up river yet will struggle coming up the river at 533cfs but the ones that are up in the river and will be spawning here very shortly and will not see their beds de-watered and left high and dry with a flow drop. Bottom line, hope for a big winter and some early rain. The fishing should get REALLY good here over the next few weeks. The Lower Yuba sees the fall egg bit first, usually the last two weeks of September first week of October and this flow drop will really get things going on the Yuba with regards to the egg bite.
Lower Sacramento Trout – Trout fishing on the L. Sac has been fair to good. Being on the “right float on the right day” is key but there is no control over that. I floated a few different stretches lately and had fair to good fishing on all of them…some days are better “big fish days” others are better  “number days” just depends. Salmon seem to be MIA as salmon fishing pressure up through the barge area is pretty light. I did see a full parking lot at Woodson Bridge though on the way up river the other day so maybe the bulk of fish is down lower still. The word on the street is that the river should be dropping to 3200cfs by Oct 1, this is crazy low but again very similar to the Yuba in that atleast the spawning salmon won’t get their beds left high and dry. Look for the egg bit to get going mid to late October and the steelhead fishing to get going in the lower river around the same time.
Lower Sac Striper – Striper fishing remains pretty good. Getting away from the salmon anglers is key but there some really big fish around. Striper fishing can remain good through October or until the river blows out. Just seems that most people loose interest or focus on the fall trout and steelhead fishing or turn to the delta for stripers.
Sept 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27
Oct 19, 25
Nov 22, 24-26, 30
Dec 20, 21, 27-31
Jan 2, 4-10, 17-19, 24, 25
Feather River – Most of the salmon guides I know have been over on the Feather leading me to believe there is some good numbers moving up river. The Flows remain at 1150 in the low flow,  600cfs coming out of the afterbay, 1750cfs total high flow. Good flows for moving fish up river. I would imagine that steelhead fishing should start picking up here mid sept with the prime time being mid October through November. Key to fishing early is staying below the salmon and looking for the steelhead below the riffles that are kegged up with salmon.
 Sports Report – Gotta love the start of college football season, fantasy season, and the fact that the giants are playing SOLID! Coming off of a sweep of the Brewers and heading into a week where they play the Rockies 4 times and then off to Detroit which will be a real test. Notre Dame looked great in their opener against Rice and it is fun to watch the spread offense with a QB that actually poses a run threat…sorry Tommy I love ya but you are not a run threat. Next weeks Michigan game is a huge game for the Irish and one that is always a huge event at the Brown house. Fantasy season…year 3 of the fly guides fantasy league draft is in the books and I am going to try to not come in second to last this year.
Beer News…the fall sampler is out from Sierra Nevada and the Octoberfest is so good…I have had this beer plenty of times at Octoberfest and around town on tap but I can’t remember a time they bottled it. The other beers in the pack are the Tumber Autumn Brown which is a good and some Viena beer that is OK…the Octoberfest over shadow all of them. I also had the Anchorsteam IPA in bottle recently, I reall really thought this was a great beer…Nice classic anchorsteam flavor with an IPA. Good stuff. 
Tunes – The new Gas Light Anthem CD is GREAT! I love this band and this album is a real departure from their last few but also has so much of their classic sound tied in. A real evolution I think for them. To be honest I am still really digesting it all as it is a beast at 16 tracks and has a lot of different types of songs and sounds…Also picked up the new Chuck Ragan CD “Till Midnight”, Chuck is the long time front man for Hot Water Music who if you great up listening to punk, emo, hardcore in the late ‘90s to early ‘00s need no explanation. His solo stuff is different but the same heart felt, chest pulling tunes you come to expect.

 Fly news…I also saw the first page of the new Montana Fly Co. Catalog with my flies in it, new patterns and old patterns coming VERY soon so stay tuned for more…here is a sneak peak.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Lower Sac Summer Striper from last week

September is going to be a wild card this year as we are on the back end of the driest water year that I can remember and while drought/water shortage is a real issue there is still going to be some good fishing this september.

Sept. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 
Oct. 19, 25
Nov 1, 11, 22, 24-26, 29, 30, 
Dec 20, 21, 27-31
Jan 2, 4-10, 17-19, 24, 25, 

Stripers - Water temps remain in the mid 60's to Low 70's on the Lower Sac outside of chico and while flows are low fishing has remained fair to good on any given day. Lots of small fish with some nice mid size fish mixed in. On most days we are getting a shot at a "big" fish in the 10+lb category with a few in the 20+lb range. There is a healthy population of resident fish in the Sac and while numbers of fish are not always the reward there is a shot at some BIG fish. 

Lower Yuba River - Spent a day this weekend on the Lower Yuba and fishing was fair. Flows have dropped to 1200cfs and should drop again here shortly. I did see a pod of salmon moving up river in the lower river and a few stray fish shooting through the riffles in the upper river. We did catch a few nice fish in the 14-16" range on nymphs. Most of fish were caught on rubber legs, red copper johns, and birds nest. Nothing seemed to be the "hot fly" is seemed it was more about finding feeding fish. There were a few caddis fluttering around but only saw a few fish rise throughout the day and nothing constant, typical Yuba one and done fish. Fish seemed to be spread out in the shallows, holes, and runs...not much of a pattern as to where we caught fish. Seemed to be when the fish were hungary we caught them first pass through the run. Changing flies, weights, drops, etc didn't seem to matter. Traditionally the egg bite here starts the last week or two of september so plan accordingly. 

Lower Sac Trout and Steelhead - With warmer water temps in the Lower river the salmon are not holding up, they are shooting up river to find cooler water, moving what salmon are in the river into the upper reaches from Bend up. Trout fishing I have heard has been good and I imagine that with the warmer lower river water temps the steelhead are moving up river quickly as well. Late September and early October should be good this year but the word is the bulk of the salmon run is still hanging out in the ocean waiting for cooler water temps....maybe a two stage egg bite or just a late one this year. Flows are suppose to drop to 3500 as of Oct 1...this is really low but it is good that the flows are dropping early to avoid dewatering salmon reds like last year. 

Lower Feather River - Salmon are in and flows in the Low Flow are 1300cfs and the High Flow is 1700cfs...pretty skinny in the high flow but I think this is the new norm with low water in the lake and the busted up power house. September is a great time to catch a fresh king on the swing or look for some early steelhead. In the High Flow crowds can be an issue but there is plenty of room for everyone as many salmon anglers congregate in specific spots and with the increased flows in the Low Flow boats and wader fishermen have plenty of room.  I expect the steelhead fishing should start picking up the first week of October. f

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fall and Winter Dates

Fall and Winter Dates

Summer is still going strong but it is time to plan for the fall. 

This fall I will guiding the Lower Yuba, Lower Feather, and Lower Sacramento Rivers, along with Butte Creek this winter given we get some rain. October - Jan offers great fall/winter trout and steelhead fishing on all the valley rivers. Available dates are listed below. Look them over and book early as dates are already filling up. 

Oct: 4, 5, 18, 19, 25, 26
Nov: 22-26, 29, 30
Dec: 20-23, 27-31
Jan: 2-11, 17-19, 24, 25, 31
* Blog Post full of reports and normal ramblings coming soon...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Heat...

So it is HOT out…like really hot out and there is no relief in sight. I personally don’t mind the heat but it does affect the fish that I like to chase at times. I apologize for the lack of posts but between fishing, guiding, and vacationing time has been thin…So here is a catch up.

Most of my time has been spent guiding on the Lower Sac for Stripers…Fishing has been hit and miss as the bigger fish seem to have gotten a bit lethargic with the heat. The last few days it has been tough to get the big fish to eat. I have seen them and found them up on the flats but getting them to eat has been tough. Earlier this week we hooked a few big fish and lost them but the last few days have been mainly shaker and small schoolie fish and the only thing different is the heat…that said stripers are weird and can shut down and turn on day to day. Boat traffic has been pretty minimal as salmon fishing from what I have seen and heard is TERRIBLE outside of chico, ca as most fish are just blasting up river to find cooler water. Hopefully we will get some relief from the heat soon and fishing will pick up again.

Lower Yuba River – I guided the Lower Yuba river one day this last week and fishing was fair. We got smaller fish in the morning around the top of the float and found some bigger fish mid float to lower in the float. Most fish came on rubber legs and small mayfly nymphs. I didn’t see one fish rise or any hoppers around either. I imagine if one is willing to stay out past sunset there might be a caddis hatch or small PED hatch. The flows are good around 1500cfs and should remain this way until September. 

Lower Sacramento Trout – I guided Barge to Bend one day as well this last week and fishing was good in the morning but the bite got tough during the heat of the day. Most fish came on rubber legs and natural birds nests along with a new caddis pattern I am working on. Tried fishing Fox Poopa, Amber wing Princes, and a few smaller stone fly patterns with no luck.

BEER Report…
So, I totally dropped the ball on taking notes on every time I drank one of the beers from the Beer Camp Sampler…Bottom line on this was that most every beer in the 12 beer sampler was good…some were really good but none of them were beers I wouldn’t at least buy a 6 pack of. The newest beer outside of the beer camp 12 pack I have had is the Harvest Ale Single Hop IPA  - Equinox Hops, the 3rd beer in the Harvest Ale Series…pretty good beer not my favorite so far of the Harvest Series but pretty good. Also in other beer news the Flipside Red IPA is out but I have not had this years batch yet. Next stop at the store and I will pick some up.

The Giants… So they have won two in row after today…they got swept by the dodgers and played terrible against the Pirates. We are struggling, Cain needs surgery, we need a second basemen, we can’t hit…you name it. That said I am a fan and we are still a contender at this point.

Cool Experience...
I got to get on some private property on Butte Creek with my buddy John Sherman to help him photograph some of the rarest salmon around...Spring Run Salmon enter Butte Creek in March/April and spend all summer up in the Butte Creek Canyon without eating and then spawn in October/November. Pretty amazing to see these BIG fish up in tiny Butte Creek in July and know they have been in there sense the spring and they are still clean and healthy looking. Here are some pics John took...