Evening Sessions: Valley Heat, Caddis and the Great Mind Suck.

We never thought social media would turn into such a chore and mind suck. Following this and following that, working for that next sweet image or grip n grin just to keep traction and continuing growing. Sounds fun right? Then you learn that if you post too much or not enough or at the wrong time or if your fish isn’t in the water you are penalized or reprimanded by the ever changing algorithms or the authorities in charge of the circus that so many of us seem to be addicted to. Did you tag everybody, what about hashtags? Were they the right ones? Why is that person bashing us, we don’t even know them? What’s a troll? Ugg. At first it was entertaining and actually amusing seeing what our friends, family and other fly anglers were doing in the fly fishing community. It slowly turned into a job, a slow burning addiction and a quest to make our posts look as good as possible and keep up. Keep up with who though? Does anybody really care? When it comes down to it, how real is this stuff? Is the quality of life now measured by how many followers you have? Or how many likes you get from a post? Is the”need to belong” and stay up to date, perpetuating a fear of missing out? Having a business, people will tell you its mandatory to have social media and to be honest if we didn’t have our guide service we would probably abandon it all together. But for what we do it is necessary, to a point. But where does that point end? We try to keep our posts positive and celebrate the experience. That part is fun, creative and enjoyable because we love our job and we most definitely love our office. The experience we share with our guests, friends and with ourselves on the water is truly precious. No words or images can ever convey what that is besides being there. But where does this endless cycle become overwhelming and too much in this modern 24 hour world with social media dominating the lives of so many of us? Like many things in life, balance is critical. Do you have a balance with social media? Do you wake up and check it? How about before you go to bed or have a spare second? So we started tracking how much time we were spending on social media. We were completely surprised by how many wasted minutes, turned into hours and were exhausted for what? Nearly all of our phones currently have ways to track usage and the amount of time spent at each place. We challenge you to track it for one week and see how much time you spend and where. You might be surprised as well. So here we are, writing some random words for a paradoxical post on a media site telling you not to do it so much. Like our stuff, follow us, tell your friends but stop using social media and your phone so much (laughing). If you don’t find the absurdity in that Catch-22 funny, we are 100% making up for you as we write this conflicting and laughable blog post. With that, we leave you with an evening photo session on the Lower Sacramento River at the finale of a hot summer day. The caddis were popping and instead of trying to get the perfect shots that people would love on the intraweb, we took some snapshots. So go, get outside as much as possible, even if you’re busy, capture it and share it! But do it with good people and try to turn off your phone as much possible. Social media and your phone are a huge mind suck. Find your balance, whatever that may be and go fish.

Caddis, see? Will it work?
fly fishing the Sacramento River
River fishing in Redding California for trout
Tip up.
Happy campers.
The obligatory Grip and the Insta Grin.

So go, get outside as much as possible, even if you’re busy, capture it and share it! But do it with good people and try to turn off your phone as much possible. Social media and your phone are a huge mind suck. Find your balance, whatever that may be and go fish.

Arguably The Worlds Most Iconic Trout Stream

The mountains are stacked and packed in resplendent white and the lower valley’s are tasting the first flavors of spring as Northern California slowly inches out of the clenches of a truly heavy and wild winter.  Many rivers are still high or too muddy to fish.  But in the months to come that will all change as the weather settles down.  The parched State of California has water for the first time in five years which should make for great fishing and adventures through summer and into the fall season.  With the massive onslaught of precipitation, we have lost the old reliable Lower Sacramento River in Redding to dirty water as Lake Shasta is filled to the brim with muddy water.  It may be a while before it gets back some of its clarity.  When that happens is anybody’s guess, even though the Bureau of Reclamation reports that the water releases out of Keswick Dam will be reduced to 13,900 cfs by Saturday, March 11th.

Our mainstay for guide trips the last month or so, has been the Trinity River.  Although, overall fish numbers have been down compared to previous years, it has been a godsend and has produced fantastic days for our guests.  If we had to choose a bunch of fish with a bunch of fisherman or fewer fish with fewer anglers, we choose the latter.  To be honest, fishing has been challenging on the Trinity some days, but its been real steelhead fishing, giving us opportunity to teach our craft and do things differently. It has been a welcomed change.  The Trinity River looks to be the best option for float trips this March, which is one of our favorite months over there.  It is truly a magic time as insect hatches increase and spring starts to pop.  Grab you’re favorite guide this month and book a trip with them.  This winter has been rough for the guide community and we know a trip with their favorite clients can help tremendously.  Get outside and put in some river time, you’re soul will thank you.

Middle Falls on the McCloud River Painting by Janet Franco Velez

The point of this post wasn’t intended as a fish report but it was about the famous McCloud River, America’s iconic trout stream.  This time of year as seasons change, more rivers open and become viable opportunities.  This is when we start dreaming about the change in venues.  Currently we are planning excursions for our own adventures.  The Green River float/camp trip, the Owyhee River 6 day upper float and a multi-day whitewater adventure on Oregon’s Illinois River are in the crosshairs.  It also includes floats on the rivers flowing into Lake Shasta as they typically have a short window for being floatable and prime for fishing conditions (click for a closer look at the Upper Sac Float Trip).

Mt. Shasta, from McCloud River Painting by Thomas Hill

One river that never seems to go away is the McCloud.  Imagine what it might have looked like before the dams changed the river forever. Imagine an Alaska type scene being played out, a river teeming with thousands of salmon and steelhead, swimming and spawning in its mint Listerine colored water. Doesn’t that sounds like a special kind of heaven?  We didn’t know the river as it used to be, in fact very few are alive today to share the first hand stories about what the river used to be.  Recently we lost one of our clients and good friend Peter, who shared stories about fishing the McCloud River in the pre-dam era.  Young Peter would take a train up the valley from the city and spend 2 weeks every year exploring the untamed McCloud River canyon with a fly rod.  They would go up and fish the Sacramento River and at Simms they would take a pack train of mules and horses and tote their gear over the mountain into the mysterious waters of the mighty McCloud.  His stories were something out of a dream and they captivated us beyond explanation.  But the sadness in his eyes of watching a wild river shrivel up and change forever was painful.  You could feel the enormous weight of loss as he told his stories about one of the most magical rivers of the world.  Take a minute and watch the video below from CalTrout that shares the story of the McCould River today and what it used to be.  There is currently a big movement to deregulate the laws in place to protect many of our rivers and the clean water that ensures their existence.  When is enough, enough?


How Can I Get Involved?

-Join CalTrout and help produce more awareness and protection for our rivers in California like the McCloud River  CalTrout.Org

-Join Trout Unlimited. We currently have a new chapter in Northern California: Shasta Trinity Cascades.  We need your help. TU.org

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Northern California Fly Fishing Guides



Fly Fishing Northern California in the Wettest Winter in 5 Years

Recent downpours of heavy rain for the month of March so far have sent lake levels in the Northstate through the roof and still we are not done yet.  Will Shasta Lake overflow?  There is a good chance if we can keep pace.  Officials said it would take at least three years to fill up California’s largest reservoir but it’s happening at a much quicker rate than expected.

rainbow trout on Sacramento River during rain

We endured monsoon like conditions during the storm events and even found some nice trout and solitude.

Early Monday morning, Shasta Lake was at 79% of capacity and 103% of historical average for this time of year which puts us on a good path towards reaching peak levels and possibly over flowing it’s spillways with future storms and snow melt.

Continue reading

Downtown Brown Trout- Redding, CA.

It all started off in the eye of a severe storm system, in the middle of a sopping wet January in 2016.  It was a three boat, guided fly fishing trip, with 6 anglers total in the group.  Our target river for that day was the Trinity River in Northern California and steelhead were on the brain as the last of the group downed the final sip of coffee.  The light reluctantly etched its way into the soggy and drenched landscape, the fog hung in eerie suspense almost as another Continue reading

The California Drought and Fly Fishing

The 2013 calendar year was without question the driest on record for most of California. There is very little to no snow pack in the Sierra Nevada range or Trinity Mountains, and the forecast for the extended January period is dry with a high pressure dominating the sky. Yes, we are in a drought. But we still have three months of possible wet weather remaining so anything is possible, we could be begging for it to stop a month from now.  There is a chance 2014 will not become a drought year but it’s not looking good up to this point.   Thanks to political campaigns by the state’s governor drought or no drought, after last Friday Californian’s have something much more to be concerned about.

California's Drought look to effect more than just fly fishing and the guides who work on the river.

California’s Drought looks to effect more than just fly fishing and the guides who work on the river thanks to Jerry Brown. (NWS image)

On Friday morning an emergency drought declaration was signed by Governor Brown at a press event in San Francisco. California’s foremost environmental law no longer protects wildlife or the environment from the effects of the state’s response to the drought.

“The exemptions apply to the agencies in carrying out orders in the drought declaration relating to dam releases and transfers of water between the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Both CEQA and the requirement that agencies follow water quality plans serve to protect California’s beleaguered fish populations, including the Central Valley’s salmon runs and the Delta smelt, which is listed as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.”

This could mean more than just cutting back on watering the lawn and flushing the toilet for fisherman across the state but also stifle the health of our already struggling ecosystems. We are on the water daily as fly fishing guides based out of Redding, CA. Our business (catch and release only) requires not just clean water but clean practices.  It’s not about our jobs and providing income, it’s about protecting what we have.  Even in a drought scenario there are laws in place to protect resources for future generations, not just a term in a political office. Our wild salmon and steelhead runs having been hanging on by a thread and Governor Brown’s clandestine agenda’s may finally unravel and shred the last one. This is also the guy that wants to dig a billion dollar tunnel to ship water from the California’s central valley’s system  into Southern California.

As a fly fishing guide in Northern California working on the Sacramento River system I am worried not about what a drought might do to our natural resources but rather what politics might unleash in wake of a completely natural event that often occurs when you live in a desert.

What do you think?  Did you know what Jerry Brown meant when he declared a drought? I didn’t.

CA water storage and what it means to anglers.

CA water storage and what it means to anglers.

Here is a look at California’s drought scenarios. Maps, reservoir levels and a glimpse of what it can mean for your favorite river to go fly fishing at. Changes are coming: “Resistance is futile: Inevitable changes to water management in California.”

More info and Maps:

Sacramento River Reveals Great Trout Fishing Especially in Drought Years

The lack of rain in California has left some of the West coasts largest reservoirs under 50% capacity, and as a result, the Lower Sacramento River is the lowest we have ever seen: a whopping 3000 cfs (cubic feet per second). At these levels there are features showing that are normally hidden below feet of water. It’s almost like fishing a different river, and a sense of adventure accompanies the newness of it all. The weather has obviously been unusually dry and warm, yet the crowds are thin. I guess everybody thinks that there aren’t many good fishing opportunities out there without rain? Guess again. The fish still have to eat and the weather is about as good as gets. Come see for yourself.

WOW! A beautiful Northern California rainbow trout!

WOW! A beautiful Northern California rainbow trout!

We fished in Redding yesterday from the Posse Grounds, under the Sundial Bridge, down to Bonnyview. It seemed as though the recent drop in flows had the fish a little off, but with the help of some midday, mayfly hatches, we were rewarded for our efforts. As the morning temperatures began to rise, we encountered a small baetis hatch, nothing major, but it was just enough to get the fish active. The best flies during these moments were size 18 Hogan’s S&Ms in an olive color, Mercer’s Trigger Nymphs, olive Pheasant tails, and Mercer’s Poxyback BWOs, fished in the deep runs, from the end of the riffles all the way down to the tail-outs.

Another day on the Lower Sac and not a soul around.  Wanna fish?

Another day on the Lower Sac and not a soul around. Wanna fish?

In the heat of the day, the action slowed, but we began to see birds flying out over the river to flutter for a moment, then return back to the branch from which they flew. They were clearly feeding on some aquatic insect emerging from the water. A quick back row and a dropped anchor in the chop. All eyes on the surface. Small pale orange mayflies were bobbing through the waves headed downstream to dry their wings and fly away. We quickly changed our setups from olive to brown and yellow mayfly patterns and we were back in the water. Our first drift through the run informed us we were on the right track. Double! The best patterns during this hatch were brown S&Ms, yellow Flatulators, Poxyback PMD’s, and yellow Mercer’s Glint Nymphs, all in a size 16. The lesson here is to always be aware of your surroundings. As conditions change, so do the bugs and ultimately what the fish are eating. In an environment as large as the Lower Sacramento River these hatches can change run to run so stay on top of it. Sometimes it takes slowing down and observing rather than continuing to flog the water.