Pinch me, I must be dreaming

Ahhh, back on the road again, exploring new waters and absorbing the grandeur and brilliance of the new places I visit.  Along for the ride with me for a bit is none other than Jordan Romney: guide,  conservationist, fellow fly fishing enthusiast and undoubtedly one of my favorite people to go fishing with.

Jordan with a giant brown

Jordan with a giant brown

I drive through the night and we arrive in the early hours of the morning at a river I had never heard of, and one which I have been sworn into secrecy not to share; the river who’s name we shall not speak. All I can glean through the darkness of the night are steep canyon walls silhouetted against the starry sky and the sound of a river nearby. Its late and the moon has already set; camp is quickly thrown together for a few hours of sleep before the sun rises and it is time to fish.

I awake to the sound of birds and bright light pouring through my tent. I open the flap and am momentarily rendered speechless. It’s as though I have been transported to a different dimension. I know we had headed north but the landscape brings to mind the canyons and shearing rock formations of New Mexico or Arizona. Red earth, steep canyon, a brilliant sunrise and amazing rock formations carved into the canyon meet my gaze and astound my still sleepy thoughts.

The savage desert beauty is still assaulting my senses when it occurs to me that I’m going to be fishing in a desert canyon. Fishing in a desert? Ok, sure, I’m game; there is always a first time for everything. As we grab our gear and head down to the river I’m not sure what to expect. And then I see it; the river.

I feast my eyes upon a plethora of noses slurping bugs off the surface. I am immediately taken aback at the size of these fish!  Then I see the way the fish swing their tails out when they eat and I know not only are these big fish; these are big browns.

Next stop brown town

Next stop brown town!

It turns out these fish are gorging on Tricos, scientific name Tricorythodes, which are a small crawler mayfly. In my experience, Trico hatches are a pain in the ass; trout get picky and the tippet you must use  (6x-7x) can be the difference between landing a fish or breaking it off. Despite the frustration of the Trico hatch (aka the white winged curse), I still catch a fish on a beetle. Ha, take that Tricos’.

The hatch is over by around 10 am, and then the fishing becomes more versatile. While at this river we caught fish on terrestrials (ants, hoppers and beetles), PMD’s (late afternoon hatch), and various nymphs.  Different from fishing most rivers in California, all the fish I caught were good-sized browns. Not a single rainbow to be had. Also not a small fish to be had.

I can’t believe a place like this exists: the abrupt, jutting architecture of the canyon walls, the vivid colors of the landscape  and insane fishing. It’s juxtaposing contrast of cold water and hot dry air along with the astounding scenery is the stuff of fly fishing dreams.

Jordan, thank you for sharing this amazing spot with me; thanks for also putting up with me two energy drinks deep and then exhausted the next day after a crazy long drive. Such a trooper 🙂

Fly fishing: the next generation

Getting out on the river lately has been difficult due to work related inconveniences, i.e. too much of it. So I have had a LOT of time at my desk to reflect upon recent fishing experiences. I keep coming back to the Fishmas Eve fundraiser. During the event, TRTU president Stefan McLeod announced that the organization had reached the $10K fundraising milestone, which is no small feat considering the state of the economy over the last 8 years. Currently, TRTU is is planning on allocating these funds, along with other sources of funding for a $500K restoration project on the Little Truckee River.

A worthy cause, as the current topography of this river offers a very limited amount of areas for fish to rest; creating a high pressure fishing environment and stressed out, spooky fish. As of late, I have heard too many stories about fish being landed with broken mandibles and fungus from being over handled on this stretch of river. The restoration project will allow for greater stretches of the river to be hospitable for fish, creating a better habitat and less pressured fishing areas.

The Truckee chapter of Trout Unlimited is a group of industry experts that decided it was finally time to establish a “REAL” conservation group based out of Truckee, CA. Their inspiring initiative to pass on the watershed to the next generation in BETTER condition than it came to this one, pretty much sums up the bright future that TRTU is creating.

Fun fact: the board members’ of TRTU average an age of 29! It’s not everyday that you find a group of young individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to make a huge difference for the local watershed.  Time is a major factor in making it all work, and at such a young age, time is in high demand. Along with working on their careers or starting their own businesses AND having a life: Stefan McLeod, David Lass, Morgan Hargrave, Matt Hargrave, Jordan Romney, Matthew Heron, Brian Slusser, Morgan Thalken (VP), George Walker, Dan LeCount, Jason Renfro and John Jewett have diligently donated their time, expertise and hard work to making it happen.

It’s far from easy; being a new chapter, there are no prior board members or Presidents to ask questions and show them the ropes. “…at times, it feels like wandering around a dark room searching for the light switch…. BUT, we always seem to find that light switch and get the job done.”  That is an understatement, these guys are killing it! Bravo!

People tend to have the impression that fly fishing is a pursuit for old men; these “young guns” illustrate an entirely different picture. All hale the next generation of fly fishers who are passionate, outdoor-loving conservationists’ with a vision for the future.

When Stefan took the time out of his busy schedule to answer the questions I had about TRTU (thanks again!!!) , he mentioned the following on what everyone can do to help out. I implore you to heed his advice.

“Volunteering is crucial…. We urge people to visit our FB page and our website at www.tahoetroutbum.org to keep up on the events we have planned and scheduled for the year. As far as helping goes, just being a steward of the river is a must. Practice proper etiquette, leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, practice catch and release, and as always…. Take a kid fishing!”

The next TRTU event is June 28, 2013, I encourage everyone to attend. Come meet the people who are volunteering their time to make the Truckee watershed a better place to fish and enjoy for generations to come. You’re in for a great time and sure to learn something new. Oh and did I mention they will be raffling off a lifetime CA fishing license at the BBQ?! Awesome.

CALifetimeLicense

Click here to buy a raffle ticket now!

I’m on a boat!

Well, I definetly got my fishing fix for the week. I took my first float down the lower section of the Yuba river. Not only did I get to check out a new section of the Yuba, but I also had my first drift boat experience. Kick ass! I loved how much water we covered but didn’t neglect wading; stopping a few places to hop out and get wet.

The weather was spectacular, if a bit windy at moments, but that just allowed for some Belgan casting practice. A bonus for that day was hooking my first fish of the year on a dry fly (a PMD). Yewwww, it’s sexy watching a fish explode on a dry fly!

Jeff caught two nice rainbows and Jordan was an incredibly skilled skipper; also super patient… the wind combined with my bouts of general spaziness made for a few epic tangles!

A whole day spent fishing, taking in the sunshine (I’ve got a super hot forearm burn to prove it!), and hanging out with some pretty awesome dudes. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Its safe to say that life is always good, when you’re on a boat.

“I can hear the bull frog callin’ me….”

This week I had the opportunity to check off a location on my “wish to fish” list; Putah Creek. This beautiful creek and its feisty trout (browns and bows) are a result of the construction of the Monticello Dam in the 1950’s and stocking by the California Department of Fish and Game in the 1970’s. In the years since then, the trout have reproduced and the creek is now a thriving wild trout fishery. The scenery is abundant with wildlife among green, rolling hills; the water is cold and crisp, staying at a consistent temperature year round as it flows from the bottom of Lake Beryessa. It’s even been the muse for the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Green River.”

A fellow fishing enthusiast, Jordan Romney, who is also a guide for Off the Hook Fly Fishing and Fly Fishing Specialties as well as an active trout conservationist, grew up in Winters and has spent countless days fishing Putah Creek. I’d wanted to fish this area for quite some time, so when he proposed a fishing trip, I jumped at the opportunity to have a local expert show me around. Jordan has an ingenious method to fish the slower moving sections of the river; float tubes. It had been years since I last kicked around in a float tube, and I’d certainly never floated in moving water. It allowed for easier casting: helped reach spots that would normally be out of bounds from the bank: and made it more efficient to cover larger areas quickly. Not to mention it was seriously fun to be out and active on the water. Looks like it’s time to rustle up that old float tube out of storage!

Later, back on land, we waded a couple of other spots on the river. A few large fish were spotted, but before they could be lured in with the small nymphs favored on Putah Creek, a local river otter cruised by and spooked ’em. I was even so lucky as to have a good omen bestowed upon me…. Not a tree in sight overhead and a bird poops on my head. Priceless. It just makes me like the river more.

The fishing that day was slow on account of the fish still acclimating to an increase in flows from the previous day, but it was a great day of fishing (not that I’ve ever had a non-great day of fishing….). I look forward to going back again soon and often. John C. Fogerty’s words have never made more sense. “Well, take me back down where cool water flow…

For more information about Putah Creek visit: http://www.putahcreektrout.org

*Thanks again Jordan for showing me your home waters!