The Mac Attack

We had the pleasure of guiding four consecutive days on the McCloud River with our friends from Cal Trout. We had beautiful conditions with the fringes of fall starting to show and settle in. Wet wading season is over on this river until next year. The october caddis are starting to make appearances and the browns are headed up river to the spawning grounds. Take a minute to watch the clips from the McCloud River but also take a moment and look at CalTrout and learn how you can join in on the fun!

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

Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides

www.FishKennedyBrothers.com

 

McCloud River Flow Advisory Notice

The McCloud River is a frequented hot spot in the month of October and into the first two weeks of November for many anglers.  The river is home to the world’s most famous rainbow trout and the watershed is a magical destination particularly when decked with brilliant fall plumage.  Whether it be camping at Ah-Di-Nah campground and fishing the Nature Conservancy or staying at one the private stretches like the Bollibokka Club we know there are many folks out there with plans for a visit before the end of trout season.  For those planning a visit please take a look at the notice below before making the trek.  Predicting weather is always tough, so at this point it’s only an advisory.

McCloud reservoir spillway

McCloud Reservoir Spill Expected this weekend as weather systems pound Northern California.

McCloud Reservoir Spill Notification from PG&E  

“This is an advisory notification only.  Based on the upcoming storms and the James B. Black Power House Unit 1 outage, PG&E may be spilling McCloud Reservoir over the weekend. With the amount of rain forecasted, the unusually high flows on the McCloud River are expected to last through the end of next week”.

PGE logo

 

 

fly fishing McCloud Reservoir

Still one of our favorite photos of McCloud Reservoir with fly fishing guide Greg Dean making the cast from his red jet boat. His wife Kimmer captured this awesome shot.

 

Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides

www.FishKennedyBrothers.com

 

 

The One That Got Away From Chuck

Every so often in the fly fishing game you come across a particular fish or run that will haunt you. The haunting often comes because the fish can’t be caught or because maybe you’ve managed to trick the fish into eating your fly only to have it break you off or throw the hook.  Either way, the proverbial fish that got away keeps you coming back if it doesn’t drive you crazy first.  One of our good friends Chuck has a particular run he likes to fish at a particular time. There is one fish that has eluded Chuck many times so he comes to visit his fish for about a week straight and studies him as he begins to slurp down caddis in the surface film when the the sun leaves the water.  It’s a love affair that has grown over the years and as Chuck has become a proficient angler, the fish in this run to say the least have become very savvy to any angler attempting to even get close.  The fish that resides on the far bank is not the biggest in the river but because of the location in the current it is a very difficult spot to get a good dead drift.  With a dry fly it requires getting the fly at least 10 to 15 feet upstream with a series of perfect mends and line feeds while also allowing the fly to drift well past the target before being picked up.  One bad cast or missed mend and the fish usually go down and its worthwhile to pick and move to another location .  Typically, like pictured below after a good presentation one of the unseen rainbow minions grab the offering which offer a consolation prize but also spooks the run and put the wiser fish down.

trout in hand rod in mouth

Meet Chuck, and the fish he wasn’t going for although Chuck is delighted with anything pulling on the other end of the line. Chuck enjoys the pursuit and everybody involved loves the Chucky factor.

 

One evening Chuck was making crisp casts and presenting the fly cleanly to the far bank with impeccable precision.  As Chuck took his time watching the rhythm of the rises we took some video knowing it was finally going to happen.  Chuck took 3 or 4 minions from the edges and patiently waited for the nose he was hunting to show back up while letting the run rest and watching the insects drift down the far seam. After numerous attempts we started running out of storage on the memory card and it appeared that Chuck was going to have to come back tomorrow and try his hand at another river poker game.  With the camera off of course Chuck’s next cast just like the one before that and the one before hit the target and drifted flawlessly into the impossible seam.  Boom! Fish on! Watch what happens next….

 

 

Fish Kennedy Brothers

Professional Fly Fishing Guides

Northern California Trout and Steelhead

www.FishKennedyBrothers.com

 

Fish your Feet

We bush wacked our way downstream into the flat where we could see heads softly nudging and sipping the PMD spinners under the elephant ear. And of course, the fish consistently rising were on the far bank.  It was easily a 50 foot cast, which was at the extreme end of my clients powerhouse.  The problem would be in achieving the perfect drift in the flat velvety water even if the fly hit it’s target.  Immediately my client wanted to deliver a cast. I told him to wait and lets just see what else we are missing. I knew if we made a cast to the fish on the far bank we would most likely spook the entire flat and particularly the fish that might be in between.  As we sat there, the fish on the far bank continued in synchronicity, gently sipping and following into rhythm while throughly taunting us.  My client was like a quivering labrador retriever and those fish were the tennis ball that was just thrown across the river, he couldn’t focus on anything but the prize on the very far side.  I couldn’t blame him, they were getting to me too.  I could feel his impatient desire to get it done and at the same point also slowly starting to loath his guide.  I wanted those fish on the far side but I wanted to pick several opportunities and turn this flat from a one fish run into a multiple fish run.  Several minutes into the silent recon a subtle head showed in the shallows behind a small rock on our side, a small lie that looked too shallow to provide enough protection to hold fish. Thirty more seconds and another rise on our side but from another fish. The fish on our side had slow rhythm and only broke the surface every 3 to 5 minutes but they were there and they were moving around. If we would of waded out for the fish on the far side we would have never seen them.  We lengthened our leader by putting on some fresh Rio Tippet, pulled out some extra fly line and devised our plan of attack on the fish closest to us.  It would be a one cast shot, high sticked and then the rod dropped followed by an all out feed maximizing our stealthy drift without notifying other fish we hadn’t seen.  His first cast fell short and I hastily blurted, leave it!  He followed through with our plan even though it didn’t reach its destination and bam!  A nice fish slapped his dry fly, fish on. I let out a silent sigh of relief.  We kept the rod tip downstream and towards the bank and angled the fish towards us and away from the others.  We admired the moment and the freckled rainbow with a small dry fly hanging from the upper mandible.  We continued this game and started playing “battleship.”  A-1, A-2, A-3 and so on.  We were able to get 6 different fish to take our fly with a few refusals.  Eventually 30 minutes or more later we were at the fish on the far side.  He made one of the best casts of the day and hit the target. But in attempting to make the mend to the far side in order to get the perfect drift he spooked the wily fish.  It was an almost impossible shot. We let them rest and changed our attack but they never took our fly that day.  Fish your feet, be patient and work slowly into a run.  And most important enjoy the hunt and everything it encompasses.

Fly fisherman high stick fishing in the McCloud River on Bollibokka

Notice the small burble on the surface of water just below the anglers line? This was just enough to hold a few fish before we attacked the small seam under the elephant ear on the far side.

 

Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides

Trout and Steelhead

www.FishKennedyBrothers.com