Month: June 2017

We’ve been nymphing and throwing streamers most of this year and really didn’t expect anything different when we made it to South Fork, CO and the Rio Grande River.  We met our guide, Aaron Horrocks, at Wolf Creek Anglers, talked about which section of the river we’d be floating and headed out.

As usual, the guide gets the boat ready, backs it down into the water, drives their truck/trailer up to await the shuttle, and comes back down and we all get in.  The next step is to rig up our fly rods.  As Aaron started this process, he said “double dries” today.  We were both VERY pleasantly surprised by this, but were still a bit skeptical given other guides had talked about fishing dries during our floats but it never panned out.  However, that skepticism disappeared in about 5 minutes when we hooked up with our first fish of the day;  it hit a small, black caddis and the fishing was on.

Throughout the day we fished caddis, stimulators (a bit of everything fly), drakes, yellow sallies, stoneflies, mayflies and a few I’d never seen before.  When one “hatch” stopped, another was already starting.  We lost track of the number of fish we caught because we were all laughing and having so much fun watching these amazing trout come up and sip or devour our dry flies.  It was truly a “Dry Fly Daze” we were in and it was awesome!

We took time out for lunch to interview Aaron in his boat on the Rio Grande.  We found out that Aaron was a middle school math teacher, but had taken a job as Assistant Principal of the K-8 school in the area.  Furthermore, we found out his school was going 1-1 iPads this fall.  While we shared a few Apple stories and jokes, we still kept our focus on fishing and fun, as you will see in Aaron’s “Guide Talk” on the Rio Grande.

Mo

By TB

Don’t get confused by the title of this post.  It’s NOT about the Missouri River at all, but our guide on the Big Thompson, Jeff “Mohawk” Curran of Kirk’s Fly Shop.  When you watch the video, it will become apparent why the nickname.

We’ve really enjoyed all the “characters” we’ve met along our Ramble and Mo is no exception.   When we asked him about his perfect day guiding on a trip, he summarized it in one word, FUN!  We had a blast fishing with Mo, sharing stories, and seeing this beautiful landscape that surrounds the Big Thompson River through his lens.

Mo took us to really cool places to fish, IF the river had not been raging as it was.  I’m sure you’re seeing a theme of our western adventures, lots and lots of water.  However, seeing them with Mo, you could easily imagine when the flows are normal, how special fishing these locations would be.  Needless to say, we’ll be coming back to the Big Thompson and to the streams of Rocky Mountain National Park again to fish with Mo.  For now, please enjoy our “Guide Talk” with Mo, on the banks of the Big Thompson River near Estes Park, CO.

We’ve heard the stories about the Big Hole, especially at this time of year… “Sammietime”… Salmon Flies.  Everything was setting up nicely for our June 14th trip on the Big Hole, except for one thing; the Big Hole was nearing flood stage and flowing at over 7000 cfs.  In other words, yet another western river flowing very fast and very high.  Add to that, there was more rain in the forecast.

We did see evidence of these huge flies that trout love to gorge on in the trees and bushes along the river.  However, because of the strange weather, the big bugs weren’t landing in the water and more importantly, no fish were rising.  So, as we took off in our drift boat, traveling over 10mph on the water (aka. fast) with our dry/dropper rigs, we were hoping to lure them up, or if not, have them eat the rubber legs we were nymphing about 3 feet below the surface.  When that didn’t work, we realized the fish were down, and we switched to dredging nymph rigs, which proved successful.

We had a great day on the Big Hole fishing with Cory Calkins.  While it was difficult fishing, Cory kept swapping out our rigs to find the right combination of flies that ultimately brought fish to the net.  We can’t wait to come back and actually hit the famous Big Hole salmon fly hatch with Cory.  For now, please enjoy his “guide talk” on the banks of the Big Hole.

Ramble On

When we looked for hashtags for some of our Instagram posts, we encountered #californiaadventure.  This hashtag made sense given that our time in California turned more adventure than just fishing.  Why?  Water…. and more water…. and more water…. and not just any water…. raging, dangerous whitewater that was much more suited to thrill seeking kayakers than anglers.  At any moment, if you had a slip, a flip or a misstep you could find yourself in real danger.

So what could have been a normal fishing trip to seven different California rivers became an adventure finding safe, fishy water.  We had to hike deep into forests in search of small tributaries to fish the Kern.  We sloshed through marshes thick with mosquitos to fish the waters of the Owens.  We bushwacked along the Truckee to find waters that looked fishy.   We carefully navigated the banks of the McCloud, flowing at over 5 times normal, and hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail to catch the McCloud Rainbow.  We event took the “Road from Hell” to fish near the McCloud River Preserve.  We had a lucky encounter at a fly shop in historic Dunsmuir that led us to a spot on the Upper Sacramento where, after we traversed several railroad tracks, we caught a couple of bows.  We hiked over 7 miles along Hat Creek in search of trout.  About the only spot where we fished in what might be a “normal” way was on the Fall River, and even then, we had to lay down in the boat to get under one bridge to get to the hole where we ultimately had success.   All in all, the California rivers on the TU Top 100 trout streams list were challenging, exciting, and definitely provided us a #californiaadventure.

We always try to fish other waters than just the TU Top 100.  While in California, we wetting lines in Hot Creek, the Little Truckee and the Lower Sacramento.  We hiked down into the Hot Creek Canyon where Barb hooked a beautiful little brown that was hiding along the far bank.  The Little Truckee was flowing wild but we found time and a little spot to fish right next to a bridge.  As for the Lower Sac, we actually took a float trip with Matt Dahl and hooked into some big, beautiful California rainbows.

Speaking of rainbows, two strains of these gorgeous fish are local to California waters, the McCloud and the Kern river rainbows.  In fact, most all of the rainbows in trout streams around the world come from these two strains.  No matter if you’re fishing trout streams in Montana, New Mexico, New York, Argentina or New Zealand, when you hook a rainbow, chances are it came from the McCloud or Kern lineage.

As always, our trip isn’t just about fishing and we constantly remind people, “Its Not About the Fish”.  Our trip is as much about the people we meet and the places we visit along our Ramble.  California did not disappoint on both counts;  we were blessed with great guides at each stop.  Matt Dahl took us on a “Sac Attack” down the lower Sacramento when the Upper was dangerously high.  Matt also took us on our “Matt in the Hat (Creek)” adventure.  The venerable Ernie Dennison took us on the “Majestic McCloud”, even though it was flowing at the highest levels he’d ever seen and guided anyone on.  Matt Mitchell navigated the Fall River with us, even under the bridge, to experience the “Fall River Spring”.  As we headed down further south in California, “Stonefly Guy” Jeans showed us several Kern River tributaries which will go unnamed, but provided an awesome day of fishing small streams with 7’-3wt rods.  And finally, our man Gilligan showed us his backyard, “Gilligan’s Truckee”.   We’re already planning a trip back to California to fish all these rivers and hopefully fish for the Heritage Trout Challenge.   Our guides were awesome, and made our time on the water productive, interesting, educational and safe.

Even with all this fishing, we still had time for more adventures.  We took sightseeing trips to Lake Tahoe, the Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Forest, Dunsmuir and Mt. Shasta.  We’d have gone into Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, but, the roads into the parks from the Eastern Sierras were all still snow covered and closed.  Speaking of snow cover, we watched skiers and boarders STILL skiing at Mammoth Mountain, which is planning to stay open for skiing until August/September and Squaw Valley was also still open and planning operations until at least July.  Did we mention the BIG winter/spring snowfall CA experienced and the amount of water in the rivers? 😉

We also enjoyed some great food and music along the way.   We want to give a big shoutout to Crumbs in McArthur, CA.  When we were fishing the Fall River with Matt Mitchell, he recommended Crumbs to us and wow, what an amazing meal we had there.  This is a MUST VISIT place if you are in the area.  In historic Dunsmuir, you should definitely visit Yaks, a burger joint that made Yelp’s Top 100 list.  It had a great selection of local beers as well. Speaking of local beers, Mammoth Brewing and its Golden Trout Kolsch is not to be missed.  We also want to highlight Professor Colombo, a Huntington Beach band that was playing at Moody’s in Truckee.   Great music and vibe.

Finally, we hope you enjoy this montage of pics we’ve put together to highlight our time in California.   We try to highlight local musicians when we put together our state highlight videos and we are so very lucky to have music by the Stoneflys, an alternative/ska/reggae/jazz group from Kernville, CA.  What’s extra special to us is that this is Guy Jeans’ band!   Guy is a renaissance kind of guy as we found out during our visit to the “Nunya” creeks of the Kern drainage.  He was kind enough to let us use one of his band’s tunes for our “#californiaadventure” post.  Enjoy!

Ramble On

We started our California “Ramble” in Truckee on our way to fish the Mt. Shasta area.  We went through the area again on our way down the Eastern Sierra’s, to fish the tributaries of the Kern and the Owens.  Finally, we came back to Truckee to actually fish the Truckee River.

We setup the SaraLinda in a campground a stone’s throw from the river.  This proximity to the river made meeting  our guide, Matt “Gilligan” Koles, the owner/head guide of Gilligan’s Guide Service, a breeze (and let us sleep later than usual before a guide trip!).  When we met Matt, we saw he had a buddy with him; Elliott, Matt’s dog.  We proceeded to drive down the right side of the river on a one lane gravel road,  to a pullout above the river’s edge.

After gearing up, Matt, Barb, Elliott and I headed down the hill to the river.  The river was flowing very fast, so we fished from the bank and also waded carefully out into the water a ways, so we could hit some seams and soft areas.  Within a few moments, we’d hit into a few fish, including a really nice rainbow for Barb… and a very large brown for me.

What we learned from Matt, is that the Truckee is more about “quality” than “quantity”.   The Truckee did not disappoint, as all the fish we hooked were of a good size… and much more.  Matt was great getting us to the right spots to experience success and he also rigged our rods with flies specially suited for Truckee River fishing.

When you come to Truckee to fish, you need to make sure to call Matt, well in advance, and take a trip with him.  Until then, we hope you’ll enjoy this “Guide Talk” we had with “Gilligan” on the hillside above the Truckee.

Ramble On