Monday, May 15, 2017

Cast Hope - A Victory for everyone involved

If you read this Blog and/or know me you know about Cast Hope. You have most likely heard how my friend Ryan Johnston and I have worked to create this organization from a crazy idea for Ryan’s MBA project he shared with me at the bar in Tres Hombres in Chico, CA to a full fledged non profit impacting lives and sharing the outdoors throughout Northern California and Western Nevada through the sport of fly fishing…and soon further. Many of you have sent in donations, donated time, been to a fundraiser, watched a video, shared our posts on social media, or just plain talked about it with someone else. For all that…the big, the small, the intentional, and the unintentional, we could not achieve the things we have without everyone’s support.

As Cast Hope has grown it has become an animal in and of itself…needing to be fed with time, money, and hard work. That is the blessing and curse of growth, it became a long time ago less of a hobby, or side project, for us.  Now most weeks it borders on a full time job and others it is all consuming….and to be totally honest there are just as many times where it is a huge pain in the ass as times where I get more out of it then nearly any thing I do in my life. There are times at the bar where Ryan and I hang our heads in despair and frustration, asking our selves what the hell are we doing with our lives, cast hope, and all this work we put in….How much do we have left in the tank for this thing, can we work this hard for another 10 years or hell 6 months..…then there are times when we see and feel a room full of people “get it” and I am literally brought to tears, and I look up to the sky and say I will fucking kill my selves, give away all my belongings, work until my hands bleed, and my mind is fried for this cause, for these kids, and for these people who believe in us.

I think those feelings go hand in hand with anything in ones life that means something, and that they are truly invested in. I think about my kids…many times they nearly bring me to tears with the amount of love I have for them and then like last night when they left their klean kanteens out at band practice and I had to drive back out North of town to our practice space after a REALLY long day and get them I was ready to dare I say go Homer Simpson on them. What you care about is never easy or without challenges. In the end you get what you give I believe. When you put everything into something it gives and takes everything at any given time, that is what makes it so important and meaningful.

Yesterday we had one of these moments at Cast Hope. We met Dakota over 7 years ago when he was ten years old. He is now 17 and we put him on a plane yesterday to start his guiding career at Barnof Lodge in Alaska. To say Dakota has over come a lot to get to this point is like saying climbing Mount Everest is a small afternoon hike. Many of us will never face the challenges this young man has, and will crumble under half the weight his shoulders have beared in his short time on earth. While I truly believe that we all bear our own burdens and no one person’s burden is heavier then another, but I can truly say, personally,when I look at my own life between 10years old and 17 years old I would not have made it if I was Dakota.

One of Many fish along the road...
Licensed to Guide 
I explain what Cast Hope is about to people daily. I have sat down with millionaires, corporations with check books deeper than some nations, anglers who work all week at dead end jobs to just get a few days a month on the river, guides who work daily on the river and barely make ends meet but love the life they chose, people who don’t know a fly rod from a bait caster, and everyone in between and around AND not everyone understands what we do. At this point in the game I think you either get it or you don’t….At some point I lay out the numbers, and to be honest in the non-profit world our numbers don’t blow anyone away…Ya we will put 500 kids through our program this year, we have nearly a 100% retention rate, we have given out hundreds of free fly rods, reels, and gear, our pull through is 81/19 - well above the national average and expected healthy mark for a non-profit, I can tell stories about showing kids stars without the glare of street lights for the first time, how we got a kid through high school with fishing as the motivation, brought kids from the hood and peninsula together via the sport of fly fishing….AND yes that is impressive BUT we are not Wounded Warriors, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The National Cancer Society, or some other national corporate non-profit with a budget bigger then, certain small nations we mentioned earlier, solving the worlds problems…so people smile and get that blank stare at times and nod there head…I can’t say it doesn’t get frustrating, end in long nights at the bar, or those moments where I question my own life choices and what the hell I am doing with it….
Its been a long road my friend...

Moments like yesterday though give it all value. The long weekends, late nights, presentations where you pour your heart out to a room or conference table and all you get is blank stares…all the money on gas, time away from family, sleeping in the truck, shitty hotels, out and back flights to places, and doubt…doubting all the time if this is really worth it, if you are earning your donors money, putting it to work in a way that makes a difference,  asking your self  while your flight is delayed hours if you should just pile it all up and give it to curing cancer, are you REALLY making a difference, doing right by the people that support you, and just in the end living the life you believe in and doing what is best for the world around you….

Knowing that what I have done changed Dakota’s life gives it all meaning. I know, even though at times doubt creeps in, Dakota is not the only one I have helped via Cast Hope and I know what we do has value.  I know that Cast Hope changes lives, preserves our wild places for the future, AND is what I am meant to do with my love and passion for the outdoors and the sport of fly fishing. BUT DAMN it is nice to see it all pay off in such an amazing way! We fucking did it!!!! It is a long road for Dakota but we are off the back roads where the pot holes and obstacles are EVERYWHERE and on to the freeway now where the chances of safe arrival at our destination are a bit higher.  

Cast Hope will never be McDonalds or the Boys and Girls Club or some organization that can say we served 1 million kids this year…that is not what we are about. Even if we (hopefully when) grow throughout the nation I can’t imagine putting millions of kids through our program. I want to put thousands and know them all, be able to tell all their stories, walk them from 10 years old to 18 or 20 years old and send them off to college or to guide some where and help them start their careers and their lives. I want them to fish ounce every two weeks with a guide and their mentor, go on trips with other kids from all walks of life, learn about their local watersheds and ecosystems, and fall in love with rivers, lakes, oceans, and the lands that surround them so that they will be the ones to do what Ryan and I do with Cast Hope for their generation any way they can.  

I end every discussion or presentation I make about Cast Hope with the following quote. It means a lot to me personally and I think speaks to everything I rambled on about here….


Good Luck Buddy!!!!

“What you have done for yourself alone dies with you; what you have done for the others and world remains.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2017, sports, tasty morsels

When multiple people email and message you and ask “whats up with the blog…are you posting somewhere else…are you not blogging anymore….” Its time to post…The reason for the delay is April/May are just straight up crazy months!!! With 4 little league games a week with my boys, putting in my garden, yard care, trying to find fishable water, school wrapping up….just chaos. So what have been doing…well holding down a lawn chair at chico east side little league 3-4 days a week, yard work, and chasing bass and stripers are the main things as well as working on a record, playing music, and working on a Cast Hope expansion and 2 big fundraisers…no big deal right?

Fishing Report

Lower Sac Striper fishing Flows have come up again but so has water diversion so it somewhat equals out – 16000cfs at Ord Bend – 13500cfs at Keswick. The canals are pumping a TON of water! Fishing for stripers has been hit and miss. There is a TON of migratory fish around but they were on the spawn last week so that shut the bite down and the clarity below some place between Woodson and Irvine Finch goes from good to like a 1’ for some reason…May go look this week if I get a chance. May is a great month for multi species fishing on the Sac. Last week we got smallmouth bass, largemouth, blue gill, and stripers. Fishing should be pretty dang good this month and only get better over the next month. This summer is going to be AMAZING striper fishing.

Carp and bass fishing has been pretty decent to if you can find clear back waters…fishing the creeks coming in on foot has been best for carp and bass and a few of the flats are clearing. Carp fishing is going to be really cool this year with all the flats cleaned out and full of water.

FULL Irrigation canals

22" Striper...
Nice Smallmouth from the Sac. 
If anyone wants dates there are only a few left and these will book soon…after the dates are full I will be booking Captains Chuck Ragan ( and Darrin Deel

My open Dates:
June 27, 28, 30
July 6, 8, 11, 19, 22, 24
August 19, 26,
Sept 2, 23

Shad Report – I can’t say that I have much faith for a good shad season. Shad need to see the fly and the clarity around the area I guide for shad is not really that good as it relates to shad fishing. Their maybe some options above woodson if you can get above what ever is muddying the river up. No idea yet as I have been mainly focusing on stripers and bass.

Lower Sac Trout Fishing – The flows dropped down to 7K but have sense come up to 13.5K which is a good flow. Will need to do longer floats but that is kinda nice as you cover more water and just don’t have to back row the same runs. Clarity is pea soup but the tribs like cow creek and a few other are dumping clean water so the clarity is a lake issue. Fish are mainly eating beads, rubber legs, and occasionally nymphs. I fished Anderson to Balls this last weekend and things have CHANGED dramatically on that float! I would say 30% of the water is completely different. We got some nice fish and landed some numbers but there was a good number of places where I was clueless where to fish as it was all new. As tail water trout fishing the sac is really the only option right now and fishing should be good down through Bend but I am not sure if anyone has gone down to fish it yet.

Lower Yuba River – Flows come up and down…every time I think they are going to get close to 3-4K the river blows out again. I am sure this will be a late June/early July year for the Yuba with all the snow melt coming down.

Sports Report –
Yes the Giants are playing Terrible…I will not say they ARE terrible as I can’t see how players that have been so good just went to crap in one year but you are your record and right now they are officially the worst team in the MLB. I keep watching though…Last night against the mets was brutal to watch. I can’t say I watched much of the Cincy series either as that was pitiful. 31-5 over 3 games…no Bueno. In other news the Irish had their spring game and it was nice to see the “new” Irish. A completely different coaching staff from the coordinators to the strength and conditioning coach…The new O and D schemes looked good and Brandon Winbush looked like a BEAST! He is big, strong, and fast which is exciting. The defense is going to be the issue this yeas as I am pretty confident the O is going to be fine…we will score points we just have to stop the other team from scoring points.

Music News -
Personally the Royal Oaks and myself have been working on finishing our first full length album…Like most things it is taking 2-3 times longer then we thought, but what do you expect for guys with kids, day jobs, and lives. I think we should finish up in the next month or two, have a release show, and put it out for consumption by our few friends, parents, and random people…meaning like maybe 50 people. Its not that we suck just who knows what to expect with a bunch of fishing dudes with kids, jobs, and no time to promote a record…

Listening wise I have been really loving Arliss Nancy…Great rock and roll band. Similar sound and vibe to Lucero but that is a GREAT thing!!!! – Earlier Lucero, not full horn section lucero. Other then that listening to some of the new Hot Water Music Album that Chuck shared with me...I am going to be honest if you are a HWM fan it is going to blow your mind. REALLY REALLY GOOD!!!!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Just opened April 18, 21
May 6, 29,
June 13, 27, 28, 30
July 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 17-19, 27-29
August 2, 19, 26,
Sept 2, 16, 23

Open Shad and Evening Bass Dates
I am taking bookings for evening shad/bass dates on the Lower Sacramento River. These trips cost $250 for two anglers, include drinks/snack, use of rod/reel, and flies. We usually meet around 5pm and fish the evening bite.  
May 2-5, 10-12, 16, 17, 23, 26, 

June 6, 7, 8

Lower Sacramento River Trout – Fishing for trout up out of redding/anderson is improving. The flows out of Keswick are a perfect around 10,000 cfs but clarity remains the issue. That said clarity is improving daily and fish are being caught and guides are out on the water. It is not great fishing but after a winter and spring so far of NO fishing any fishing on the sac for trout is good news.

Lower Sac Stripers/Shad/Bass/Carp – Flows are still pretty high lower down the river but not unfishable high. Flows at Ord Bend are 20,467cfs but are continuing to drop a bit each day. Spring will be an interesting game on the Sac. I am expecting the migratory push of stripers that traditionally only make it up to Colusa or lower to push well into the chico are this year. Fishing out of Colusa so far has been pretty slow for most conventional anglers which may mean most of the fish have moved through on their way up to Butte City and Chico. Shad fishing should get going at the end of April but will be VERY dependent on flows and water clarity. Shad need to see the fly and off color water can really shut down the shad fishing . Bass/Carp the good news is the clearest water around is in the back waters of the sac where the carp and bass live. Fishing for bass and carp this year should be really good as much of the weed growth that choked out various areas in previous years is gone and high flows have filled areas that were not open in nearly 10 years. Personally this is where I have been spending my time fishing.

Feather Stripers and Steelhead – Flows on the upper feather are coming down but no where near fishable levels right now    . It is tough to find any forecast on flows that will be released to the low on weather spring steelhead fishing will be do able this month or next. That said I don’t think a plan exists. I think DWR is pretty much reacting to how much water comes in and managing it as best they can. So for now it is a wait and see deal…With regards to stripers I have been down out of yuba city looking for migratory fish and there are a few around. As with many places clarity is the issue. There was a bank collapse early this week that muddied up the river taking visability down to about 6”. Bait anglers have been catching a few fish but fly fishing has not.

Lower Yuba River – The Yuba is coming into shape droping around 4000cfs as of today and dropping at about 60cfs and hour…who knows what the final number or goal of this most recent drop is an how the warm weather will affect snow melt and the flows. I am really excited to get on the Yuba and see what is happening out there. Ounce the river becomes fishable throwing attrator dry dropper rigs and swinging flies is going to be really good. With all the new access that I am getting there is going to be TONS of water to explore and opportunities for shad, stripers, and trout.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fishing, Music, Sports, and my title fight with the Goliath

Well things are looking up! It is the First Day of spring and the weather even during a few rain showers truly feels like spring. With conditions changing each day I would encourage everyone to check on reports daily as the began to make plans for trips but here is a bit of a forecast as I see it…

Lower Sacramento Trout Fishing – Flows coming out of Keswick are 8410cfs and steady. This is a GREAT flow and more then fishable. If anything a bit on the lower side. That said the clarity is the issue. Lake Shasta is muddy and therefore the river is muddy coming out of the dam. I know there are people getting out and catching a few fish but nothing that I have heard resembling good or even fair. I have heard ambitious thoughts that the river may become fishable by the end of march and more conservative ideas of the end of April…either way it is a ways off. There is clearer water coming into the lake via the branches but it is going to take a while for the sediment to settle and/or the clean water to push out the dirty. Either way I think the fishing will slowly improve as the clarity slowly improves. I also think some of the middle floats will be the first to fish as clean water coming in from tributaries will “dilute” the flow and have a positive affect on the clarity.

Lower Sacramento River Striper/Shad/Bass/Carp Fishing…
River Conditions: River is muddy period though flows  atOrd Ferry are 18,329cfs and steady. As the tributaries clean up so should the clarity. That said there is cleaner water back in various sloughs and back waters, just have to search it out. The river itself supprisingly hasn’t changed very much. It just got cleaned out BIG TIME, snags and weed beds that had clogged up sloughs and coves for years are GONE. There will be access to flats, coves, and back waters like we haven’t seen in YEARS!

Stripers – Clarity is just bit off for confidence fishing for stripers, though I am sure there will be a steady clearing over the next month or so. I have confidence fishing for stripers on the river is pretty dirty water so in the next few weeks I am sure we should start being able to catch some resident and migratory stripers. There are a few reports of migratory fish down by Colusa and Boyds Pump but most guys that would be bait fishing for stripers are fishing for sturgeon so reports are hard to come by.

Shad – I wouldn’t count on a good shad year. I don’t have a lot of confidence catching shad in off color water and high water years are traditionally not great shad years. That said May is the month and there is plenty of time between now and then for things to shape up.

Bass/Carp – The back water bass fishing should start sooner then anything as I found clean water in the back sloughs and flats. Flats that have been weeded up for years are now open and I noticed this last week while out one my FAVORITE FLATs is open and clear for the first time in nearly ten years! There should be some great flats fishing this summer for carp and stripers like we haven’t seen in years. May have to kill the spider colony that has taken up residence on my poling platform in the back of my storage shed.

Have to get back there but there is cleaner water

Haven't fished this piece of water in 10 years...

Lower Yuba River – Flows are down to around 4000cfs,  Clarity is decent, and the boat ramp at Sycamore is open! So, that means the river is “fishable” I personally am not a fan of floating the river until it gets around 3000-3500cfs but with the changes who knows how 4k fishes. I plan on getting out on the Yuba here in the next week to check it out and see what things are looking like. With these flows to get a full day it would be a double float as the “Club Water” at Daguerre as many know has closed. That said I did secure a private put in up river from the bridge a bit so I gained a bit of water there. The Yuba should be an option here as long as flows stay stable and clarity remains good. I am sure with the run off flows will fluctuate but right now and option is an option.

Still Water Bass 
Still Water Bass – I have been spending most of my personal fishing time exploring various lakes for Spotted and Largemouth bass. Fishing has been good at times and tough at others. Learning and exploring lakes I have not been on in years has proved a bit of a re-learning curve as I am competing for fish with seasoned conventional bass anglers. That said it is fun and has proved pretty rewarding as there is some really unique and cool fisheries around that don’t fished with flies very much or at all.

Nice Spotted Bass thanks to the Mojo Impregnated HGB FLY FISHING HAT
March 25
April 1
June 3, 13, 14, 27, 28, 30,
July 6, 8, 11, 13-15, 17-19, 22, 24, 27-29,
Aug 2, 19, 26
Sept 2, 4, 16, 23

Music Report – A few new albums I have been listening to…Dave Hause “Bury me in Philly” so far so good on this one. I can’t say I hear any classics like his previous two albums but those two hit me at pretty transitional periods in my life and the theme lined up pretty in line with what I was going through at the time. Bury Me is rocking and straight forward up beat rock record in the line of Bruce Springsteen, Gas Light Anthem, and Lucero……Arliss Nancy “Wild American Runners” I came by this band in an odd way but I can’t believe I have missed out on them. From Colorado they are straight punk, Americana, rock. Very similar to Lucero in that degree even with the raspy, whiskey soaked, cigarette smoking voice/vocals. There is some great and really sublte yet creative song writing as well. They have a few albums out and ounce I digest this one I will get get the others.

Sports Report – Lots to talk about…March Madnees is in full affect and My dad and I went to the first and second round games at the new Arena in Sacramento. First Round games were fun but not close, pretty clear by half time who was going to win. That said the second round games were great, and it was really cool to see the new arena and get out with my dad and boys. Notre Dame flamed out in the second round against West Virginia and their relentless press defense so I don’t really have a horse in the race anymore…I saw UCLA play twice in person and they are a freak of a team with Welsh at 7’ Leaf at 6’10” and the phenom Ball.

Pumped! for some B-Ball and St. Patty's Day

Who doesn't dress up as a leprechaun on St. Patty's day?

Baseball season is fast approaching. I have really been enjoying the WBC and it has taken away from my following of the Giants in the Cactus league. I really enjoy watching the European and Asian/Pacific teams play as they play a very different style of baseball compared with the American and Latin teams.

Hogan Vs. The Goliath – On the Umpqua front, and my quest to get them to stop tying my flies not much has changed (see previous post for info on this). They pulled down a few of my patterns from their website but not my most popular. I have never heard from them either, even after mass support and pressure via social media as well as letters written to them on my behalf. In the end I want to thank everyone for their support as it was pretty overwhelming the amount of people that shared and supported my “cause”. That said I doubt they will ever stop tying my flies, as long as dealers across the country continue to buy them they will tie and sell them. I will continue to do what I can to put pressure on them, make customers, dealers, and the public aware of what they are doing and remain on the high ground to the best of my ability. If you reader are so inclined please share my tale and explain to anglers, dealers, and the public what is happening. I imagine I could get a lawyer, get dirty on line, and more militant, but at what cost of energy, time, and money. I in no way will back down but in the end I want people in our industry to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. I don't think that is to much to ask or to much to hope for in our small industry.