I finally made my maiden journey to Heenan Lake on Friday October 21, 2016. It was a beautiful day and informative though I still don't know the go-to fly. I arrived at the parking lot and was surprised to see two dozen trucks parked. Thinking this can't be good I took a look at the lake and found a flotilla of float tubes. More thoughtful looking determined that people were fairly well spread out including a significant number of bank fishers. The lake is much larger than I had pictured and comprised two principle zones. The first, located behind the dam and extending almost 1/4 mile. Beyond the lake opened to a broader east-west section. A southwest wind was blowing white caps across this area most of the day. Fishers were everywhere but mostly in the near section.
Eight of our Chapter members rendezvoused in McCall Idaho at the end of July for 5 days of fishing in the area. A dedicated foursome then went on to Stanley to fish the Salmon River while two others went on to Oregon and Washington.
Contact had been made with guide Ron Howell for two days of fishing. Weather was warm and streams were low in the McCall region and fishing ended up being directed to lakes. Four members in two boats went to Brundage Lake the first day. Fishing comprised casting large flies, mostly Chernoble Ants, to fishy locations. Strikes were numerous and quick and the catch ratio was fairly low. I believe that members caught 3-10 Rainbows, Cutthroats and hybrids during the day. Two more persons went back the second day fishing similarly and caught 3 and 8 fish. Fish were mostly 10-14 inches in length with largest a beautiful 15 inch cutthroat. One angler tried using a smaller Ant and increased his catch ratio. Two anglers fished the Payette River and a small creek the first day with no success. Trout were rising just out of reach in one pool and otherwise was to low and warm. Others sampled float tubing with limited success. On the third day four tried shore fishing at Goose Lake with modest success. The others went exploring to Riggins, the Little Salmon and Rapid River. We all returned the next day to sample Rapid River(small and fast) and the Little Salmon. Rapid River was a modest climb into a steep canyon. Some caught 1-3 fish and some went fish-less. The Little Salmon was an attractive stream in a dry region. It was worked pretty hard with one 15 inch chrome beauty landed. An interesting day in new territory but a loss at fishing.
Another day of Lake fishing was attempted at Granite Lake. It sounded like a classic sierra lake but turned out to be flat and shallow located at the top of a ridge. One nice fish was caught on a first cast with no more to be found. We then returned to Brundage lake for fishing near the launch site where we caught 3-5 fish apiece. Strikes were numerous. One member had tried float tubing which was difficult in the wind. The final day we drove around the mountains to the upper reaches of the South Fork of the Salmon. The area was replete with old wildfires. The road followed the river but was far above it at many locations. We found it to be small at the southern end and growing to the north. We sampled several locations extending up to the road closure. About half the people caught 1-3 fish. Again, it was an interesting experience with limited fishing success.
We pushed on to Stanley for the second week. Navigation proved difficult due to the Pioneer Fire north east of Boise. Our best day of fishing occurred the following day when we tried the Salmon River at the mile 199 Bridge. The best water was taken by others while we rigged up. None the less we caught fish nearby. About 11 AM the others left and we proceeded to catch fish downstream from the bridge. We ended the day with people catching 6-21 fish. Again typically 12-15 inches in size. It was an extraordinary day as we found a couple of days later when we were unable to duplicate it. We fished the region for two more days mostly exploring for better spots. We caught a few fish here and there but nothing appropriate to the fishy water we selected. On the second day we had to go through a road block to return to camp due to another fire a couple of miles down the road.
All in all it was a successful journey with lots of new country to be seen and a few things learned about fishing the region. We usually caught a few fish every day with one outstanding day. Now we have a year to plan next years journey.
2015 was a unique year in the lateness of the run. Notes below show that a sighting on Secret Ravine on December 17th signaled the apparent start of the run. Mike Healy of CDFW speculated that water temperature caused the delay and noted that runs were late in other watersheds also.
Because it was hard to know when fish would be present we weren’t able to recruit enough volunteers to cover many reaches, but we greatly appreciate those who did turn out and there were many others checking in by email. We focused on Secret Ravine and upper Dry Creek which are usually most productive.
In trying to compare this year to other recent years it looks like the total would have at least doubled if we had been able to cover more reaches.
Place: Upper Owens River, 05/15/2015, 05/17/2015, Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Cutthroat
Spring time in the Sierra brings the migration of the big REDS. Cutthroat trout migrate from Crowley Lake up the Upper Owens River to spawn. These fish are abundant in the river and very aggressive to swat a loud streamer or indicator pattern. Timing is key when fishing for these trophy fish. We landed nearly 40 fish between 3 anglers over two days. Releasing all of them. They are in there
Place: West Fork Trinity River, California, 01/24/2016, Rainbow trout
We have finally been getting a decent amount of rain and snow this winter, over the past five years California has seen almost every watershed turn bone dry. Topographic maps show blue lines where nothing is left but dust and rocks. Fish retreat to the depths of the lakes and wait it out. Year after year, I have hiked my way around every tributary and runoff point pouring fresh water into these reservoirs, ponds, creeks and lakes. Waterfalls come to life, plants grow, insects hatch and the world is beautiful. I have always made it a point to go out after rain and snow to check my holes and sure enough, like clockwork, these trout run up the waters and make their way into pools to spawn every winter and spring. It took me many years to figure this out. The Cycle.
42 Mile Tract is another easily visible and accessible spot on the river near the turn-off before Strawberry. The rest of the party joined us at 42 Mile Tract, after cleaning the areas at Riverton and Indian Springs. They included Eric, Stan, Pat, and two other guys whose names I didn't get. The river at both Eagle Rock and 42 Mile Tract looked like beautiful trout water. With experienced fly fishermen like Ron and Eric with us, I had high expectations that some of our party would catch fish. But once again I found that Sierra streams produce few fish and those that are caught are usually very small. We all zeroed out except for two 3 inchers and one 7 inch. As we sat around a picnic table, talking flies and streams, I learned that all the access roads and turn-outs into the El Dorado National Forest along Hiway 50 are open to the public even if there are cabins located nearby. Gordon and I returned to Eagle Rock on our way back home and fished for a couple of hours. He caught two 5 inch rainbows on a dry fly. I had two small hits on a #16 parachute Adams, but no hook ups. It was a pretty spot, but the trout were sorely missed. So in the past month I have fished both the upper and lower end of Caples Creek with the hook and line assessment and Eagle Rock and 42 Mile Tract with the clean-up on the South Fork, all with little success. The Caples Creek trips required greater hiking effort to access. I saw no hatches or rising fish on any of these trips, which were typically during the afternoon.
Nine intrepid anglers from El Dorado TU treked to Caples Creek on July 17 to make a hook and line assesment of the fishery. Seven went to Kirkwood Meadows and hiked down the Kirkwood Creek trail. The two others went to Fitch-Rantz Bridge on the Silver Fork and hiked up. Kevin Weddle was the high stick with five fish to 12 inches, one Brown and 4 Brooks. CP Johnson helped out with six fish to 6 inches. John Ladasky caught two small Rainbows, 4 and 7 inches, on the lower section. The water was clear and cold, 12 deg. C. Fish were very spooky in the clear water. Water level was moderate with fishable areas near bends and trees. Many shallow slow runs seemed to be fishless. The Kirkwood group fished about 1/2 mile above and below the trail entry. All fished about three hours.
Eight of our TU anglers gathered expectantly on Thursday June 27 to survey fish stock in Caples Creek. Five members met at Safeway Pollock Pines and traveled to the Lake Margaret trail head on highway 88. Three other met at the Bank of America and went to the Fitch-Rantz Bridge on the Silver Fork. The team angled for 3-5 hours and caught a total of 17 fish. All were "small".
It was a beautiful day, the creek was clear and flowing and the fish were hiding or being selective. Some of our crew saw many fish but could not attract them. Meadows were wet with water. Mosquitoes were plentiful.
Erik Holst was high rod with 8 fish. Berni Bahro caught 4 and 3 or 4 caught the skunk.
Seven chapter members performed a survey of the Silver Fork on the evening of July 19. The members broke into three groups and fished varied sections of the river from the flat up into the canyon. They fished for about two hours with all of the fish caught about 7 PM The canyon group caught 16 fish while the others caught 3 and 1. Fish varied from 7-12 inches in size.
The canyon is rugged in character requiring hill climbing and boulder hopping. Some of the flats are quite accesible from the road. Other sections require modest climbs and descents. The area is largely clean of litter as evidenced by our cleanup day in June.
I fished Caples Creek in support of the DFG Heritage and Wild Trout Team on October 11. I fished Silver Fork from Fitch-Rantz Bridge to Caples Creek. This section is plunge pools with runs. Access is dificult due to extensive boulder hopping. The bottom mile of Caples Creek is in a tight canyon with difficult access, rocky and woody debris. Above that the creek takes on a meadow character. I was able to catch only two 6 inch rainbows in Silver Fork. I mostly walked the Caples section with limited fishing. Cameron Zuber, John Hanson and Spencer from the Heritage and Wild Trout Team each caught 3-5 small fish in Caples. We each fished 4-5 hours. The streams were well used but were free of trash.