I just got back from a 2 week trip back to my old stomping grounds in Lake Tahoe. Fall in the Northern Sierras…. what a nice change. Cool temps in the morning, bright sunny blue bird days in the high 70’s with cool breezes, and clear evening skies. For me,that’s hard to beat. It’s second only to fall time Permit and Bonefishing in the Keys. Fishing for just about everything turns on before old man winter sets in.
No filter used. Straight off the camera
Fall fishing seems to be in a lot of places a magical time of year. The changing of the weather patterns seems to motivate the fish to eat and makes for great fishing. And this is true in Lake Tahoe where my addiction to fly fishing all started. I would spend a lot of my evenings casting dry flies for small wild trout on a local spring creek, while simultaneously training a Labrador puppy to not be a lunatic when we were fishing and near the water. Needless to say, we spent most of our time spooking fish instead of catching them. But, it really didn’t matter. Looking back, it was more about the experience of training my dog and the solitude achieved through a little bit of hiking. The fish were totally secondary,but were a nice bonus. Don’t get me wrong, I love to catch fish, but, there is more to fishing to me than just that. The simplicity of fishing there is what I miss the most. All you need s a fly rod, a few hours and your two feet. You don’t need a boat, and fuel, way too many flies, coolers and ice, and multiple fly rods rigged for different species. If you were willing to hike a bit you could get to some pretty good fishing.
Overall, my vacation could not have been any better. I got to spend some time with old friends and my sister and niece, chased the golf ball around for a day, and got to fish. Nice weather allowed for all kinds of fishing excursions in the immediate area. I took advantage of the blue skies and did a bit of sight fishing for carp, and a little bit of river fishing for trout and squeezed in a few days of early season steelhead fishing. Trout fishing was as good as it gets. Lots of fish, most were small but it was consistent all day. We got to fish a private piece of water on the East Walker River on the NV/CA border. The section only allows 4 rods on it per day and offers fishing with WAY less pressure. The fish are plentiful, and it isn’t too tough to get them to make a bad decision and eat the fly. I have to admit, it was pretty fun to get back on the water and throw dry flies all day with my 4 wt.
Grizwald the red golden retriever, and probably the second coolest dog on the planet next to my Chowda dog my chocolate lab
Last years winter in CA was pathetic so needless to say the water flows on most of the rivers and especially on the freestone rivers are minimal. With the low flows, I was anxious to go back and check out some old carp fishing spots I had when I was living out there. But, the water level was was so low that it wasn’t flowing but a trickle in places. The deeper water still had fish in it, but, they were trapped in some pretty small areas. One spot had at least 50 carp in it with nowhere to go. I found this to be good and bad. I was able to get a bunch of shots at fish, but, as soon as I hooked one, the rest of the fish were on high alert. I found that I needed to rest the water for a while and let them chill out a bit before I fished to them again. Most of the fish in there were cruising around and not really working or actively feeding. I thought that they would be super aggressive and pounce on the first thing that they saw, but I was wrong. They were pretty selective, and made me work hard for them. I made quite a few casts before I got one to eat. I ended up 1 for 2 in about an hour or so, and then had to leave to go to a wedding. My go pro broke and I didn’t get a good pictures of any of the carp I landed.
This is a crappy shot but you get the hint.
The end of the week, I headed up to Redding,CA to hang out with a buddy and to try our luck at some early season steelheading. Higher flow bumps had triggered some early season steelhead to push upstream, and were said to be around in decent numbers. But, as soon as I arrived, they cut the water flow on the river by almost 60% and had changed the fishing a bit. We spent two days fishing, and searching for fish. One day on foot, and one day in a drift boat. The foot mission day was tough. We landed a few juvenile fish and smolts galore. We weren’t lucky enough to land an adult steelhead that day, but I did manage to hook my first king salmon on fly and got completely worked! I mean, it was embarrassing. He completely punked me. Day two on the river was a lot more productive. We did a short float trip and found a few fish. Low clear water made for some weary opponents, but we did manage to fool few. We hooked four adults and wrangled two of them to the net. I did get my revenge on a king salmon, but only caught 97% of it. We broke it of on accident as we leadered the fish. Oh well, that what you get with a pissed off chrome king on 8lb test.
A small adult steelhead I got on the long rod
Pat with a nice fish
The only evidence of my first king salmon on fly
If you ever get the chance to go to northern CA, do it. The weather is amazing and the different fishing options are limitless with a little driving. It was really nice to get back out there and enjoy some dry desert air. But, it was nice to get back home to my boat,my dog and the finest game fish in the world right in my back yard. Cheers