Monday, September 15, 2014

thoughts on stripers on the Sac...

September is a transition month for most of us fly fishers…summer is kinda ending and fall is kinda beginning, but really it is still summer and it is not fall yet. The days are getting shorter for sure and evenings are cool but midday it is still in the high 90s…even over the century mark on some days.

I spend a ton of time guiding June-August and this year I told myself and my family that I was going to take some time off in September and fish for myself, stay home and watch Notre Dame games live not recorded, watch the pennat and wild card race that the giants are part of, and just be home with my wife and kids before the craziness of fall and winter guiding season set in.

My goal has been to get out striper fishing on the sac at least 2-3 days a week, so far so good. I have had some of the best striper fishing of my life over the last few weeks and even have tried to get some guide dates sense the fishing has been so good but I have had no takers so I keep going fishing on my own. The Sac is low and is going to get MUCH lower come the first week of October as the flows will be cut to 3250cfs out of Keswick.

One of the most apparent results of the drought on the Lower Sac, up and down the river, has been the huge amount of weed growth. From Redding down to Butte City the weed growth is insane! With the low water and lack of any substantial run off this winter/spring the weeds have thrived this year more so then any year I can remember. There are areas up through Redding and Anderson that look like a spring creek with huge flats of waving and flowing weeds, which I can’t help but think will mean some AMAZING baetis hatches this fall/winter. Down low out of chico the scence is the same, but with warmer and slower moving water there are huge weed beds up to the surface boarding the banks and coming up in any water shallow enough for weeds to get some sunshine and perform photosynthesis.

The weeds in the lower river have allowed for an explosion in the bait fish population, pike minnows, bluegill, small bass, shad…striper food. There has been very good spawns the last 2 years and there have been schools of stripers in the 2-3lb range and the explosion of bait fish should feed and help grow the juvenile fish. I have seen some of these schools sense July grow from about 12” to solid 16+” fish. The biologist for the river in this area is a good friend of mine and we were talking the other day and he is predicting a HUGE explosion in the resident striper population over the next few years as a result of all the food and likely low water (even if we have a big winter most of the water will be stored in reservoirs and while this section of river can blow out from creek and tributary flow with out massive reservoir releases the chance of big water flows is pretty slim).

I know stripers in the river can at times have a bad wrap as people say they eat salmon and steelhead head smolt and trout in general. I am sure they do and I even fish for them in the winter with patterns that look like salmon fry. BUT trout and steelhead in the upper river, pike minnows, suckers, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, cat fish, and farmers pumps with out fish screens (which there are many of between Los Molinos and Butte City) throughout the river eat just as many salmon and steelhead fry. I would argue pike minnows, bass, and other trout eat just as many if not more fry and eggs then stripers…especially pike minnows who live in the same exterior bank habitat that out migrating smolt and fry take up residence in.

With all the talk about drought and gloom and doom with regards to water levels I thought that a bit of positive news with regards to the low water was in order.

Here is some solo shots...aka fishing alone.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September Striper fishing on the Lower Sacramento

September striper fishing on the Lower Sac can be some of the best of the year. While numbers are not huge it is when we get the most shots throughout the day at "Big Fish". Fish seem to concentrate and school up and while the bigger 20lb fish may follow your fly inevitably a nice 8-10lber will rush out and grab it. That happen to me today over and over and over...while I am not complaining every time I had a big fish in my sights a "smaller" fish would rush out and grab the fly away from it. Only a matter of time before one of the big hogs eats the fly though...Here are some pics and if anyone wants to get out fishing should be good through september.

Open dates September 13, 14, 20, 21, 27

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reports, Tunes, Sports...all the things we labor for.

So I am going to try to up date my blog a bit more often here…So fall is definitely on its way. Dove season opens today, deer season is open in some places, people are salmon fishing, and I even pegged my first bead this weekend. Here is what is happening and what I see coming up… 
Lower Yuba River – Remember The upper river above the highway 20 bridged is closed until dec.1. The flows have dropped down to 747cfs and are still dropping, not sure what the final flow is for this “Fall Drop” but I would imagine 700cfs is most likely. The river through Marysville is 533cfs. This is kind of a double edge sword…the fish that have not moved up river yet will struggle coming up the river at 533cfs but the ones that are up in the river and will be spawning here very shortly and will not see their beds de-watered and left high and dry with a flow drop. Bottom line, hope for a big winter and some early rain. The fishing should get REALLY good here over the next few weeks. The Lower Yuba sees the fall egg bit first, usually the last two weeks of September first week of October and this flow drop will really get things going on the Yuba with regards to the egg bite.
Lower Sacramento Trout – Trout fishing on the L. Sac has been fair to good. Being on the “right float on the right day” is key but there is no control over that. I floated a few different stretches lately and had fair to good fishing on all of them…some days are better “big fish days” others are better  “number days” just depends. Salmon seem to be MIA as salmon fishing pressure up through the barge area is pretty light. I did see a full parking lot at Woodson Bridge though on the way up river the other day so maybe the bulk of fish is down lower still. The word on the street is that the river should be dropping to 3200cfs by Oct 1, this is crazy low but again very similar to the Yuba in that atleast the spawning salmon won’t get their beds left high and dry. Look for the egg bit to get going mid to late October and the steelhead fishing to get going in the lower river around the same time.
Lower Sac Striper – Striper fishing remains pretty good. Getting away from the salmon anglers is key but there some really big fish around. Striper fishing can remain good through October or until the river blows out. Just seems that most people loose interest or focus on the fall trout and steelhead fishing or turn to the delta for stripers.
Sept 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27
Oct 19, 25
Nov 22, 24-26, 30
Dec 20, 21, 27-31
Jan 2, 4-10, 17-19, 24, 25
Feather River – Most of the salmon guides I know have been over on the Feather leading me to believe there is some good numbers moving up river. The Flows remain at 1150 in the low flow,  600cfs coming out of the afterbay, 1750cfs total high flow. Good flows for moving fish up river. I would imagine that steelhead fishing should start picking up here mid sept with the prime time being mid October through November. Key to fishing early is staying below the salmon and looking for the steelhead below the riffles that are kegged up with salmon.
 Sports Report – Gotta love the start of college football season, fantasy season, and the fact that the giants are playing SOLID! Coming off of a sweep of the Brewers and heading into a week where they play the Rockies 4 times and then off to Detroit which will be a real test. Notre Dame looked great in their opener against Rice and it is fun to watch the spread offense with a QB that actually poses a run threat…sorry Tommy I love ya but you are not a run threat. Next weeks Michigan game is a huge game for the Irish and one that is always a huge event at the Brown house. Fantasy season…year 3 of the fly guides fantasy league draft is in the books and I am going to try to not come in second to last this year.
Beer News…the fall sampler is out from Sierra Nevada and the Octoberfest is so good…I have had this beer plenty of times at Octoberfest and around town on tap but I can’t remember a time they bottled it. The other beers in the pack are the Tumber Autumn Brown which is a good and some Viena beer that is OK…the Octoberfest over shadow all of them. I also had the Anchorsteam IPA in bottle recently, I reall really thought this was a great beer…Nice classic anchorsteam flavor with an IPA. Good stuff. 
Tunes – The new Gas Light Anthem CD is GREAT! I love this band and this album is a real departure from their last few but also has so much of their classic sound tied in. A real evolution I think for them. To be honest I am still really digesting it all as it is a beast at 16 tracks and has a lot of different types of songs and sounds…Also picked up the new Chuck Ragan CD “Till Midnight”, Chuck is the long time front man for Hot Water Music who if you great up listening to punk, emo, hardcore in the late ‘90s to early ‘00s need no explanation. His solo stuff is different but the same heart felt, chest pulling tunes you come to expect.

 Fly news…I also saw the first page of the new Montana Fly Co. Catalog with my flies in it, new patterns and old patterns coming VERY soon so stay tuned for more…here is a sneak peak.