Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lower Sac, Upper Sac and Pit have been excellent options and where we've been spending majority of our time the past few weeks. The vast majority of our trips are being rescheduled due to the COVID-19 craziness but there is some great fishing to be had with very few folks out on the rivers. 

Lower Sac: Great trout fishing right now. PMD, Baetis, and March Brown hatches have been heavy the past few weeks. We've had some great windows to throw the dry fly to big sippers during some of these hatches as well. Primarily a nymph game but the these dry fly windows are an absolute blast when they happen. Weather patterns look good and fishing should remain the same. 

Upper Sac: Midges, Baetis and Stoneflies have been catching fish.. some very nice fish that have moved up from the lake are around along with plenty of smaller fish. Primarily a subsurface game until April/May when the big stoneflies start flying. Great walk/wade option right now. 

Pit: Has been fantastic. The trout haven't been discriminating much on the food they want. Stoneflies, caddis and general attractors will catch fish here right now. Great option especially with the weather beginning to warm up. Awesome place to tight-line nymph and not run into many other anglers. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Northern California Fly Fishing Report Jan 21, 2020

Northern California Fly Fishing Report January 21, 2020

Happy New Year everyone. We are excited for the great memories and fish to be caught in the coming year. Hope to see you on the water!

Best Bets: Feather, American, Trinity amd Klamath - Steelhead, Lower Sacramento River - Trout, Sierra Foothill Lakes - Bass and trout, Pyramid Lake - Cutthroat

Lake Almanor - Trout
Rating: Fair Hit or miss between storms 
Flows: Dropping
Water Temps: 34 - 39 Deg
Clarity:  8 to 12 ft

Fishing Report:  Catch rates have been good on slightly overcast days and challenging on stormy ones. Most rainbows are in the spawn now so be gentle if you get one. There are some sterile holder over planted fish that have been eating in coves mixed with wild prespawn fish. Additionally browns have been cruising targeting crawfish and smelt. 

 Fall season on Almanor got off to a slow start but the bite is picking up. The key has been been getting out when it isn't blowing like crazy or snowing a bunch. On days between storms the bite has been great. Rainbows have been eating small midges and other insects while the browns have good deep and are eating smelt. Expect fishing to be good in between storms all winter. Although this type of fishing isn't for everyone for those who have plenty of layering and gortex and looking for some big trout Almanor is one of the very best at producing trophy trout.

Guide Tip: Weeds and shallow sloping shorelines are key spots to target. Long casts and 14 to 18 ft leaders are required for success in these clear conditions.

Best flies: Midges, leaches Crawdad and smelt patters


American River - Steelhead 
Rating: Fair to Good
Flows: 2,000 CFS
Visibility : Cear

Fishing Report: Fishing on the American after the January 1 opener was very good and then seems to have dropped off a bit after as the fish in the system have been fished pretty hard. Most larger adults have been higher up in the system. There seems to be more half pounders and smolt being caught this season than last year. The lower stretches of steelhead water seem to be holding quite a few fish but smaller ones for the most part recently. That may change with recent precipitation in the North State. 

Winter steelheading is in full effect and it has honestly been a bit of a grind although trips have been productive. It is imperative to keep an eye on your indicator if you are nymphing as this can either make or break your day. Swinging has unfortunately not been as productive recently. There is more rain in the forecast which is good. If this rain keeps coming February should bring in some fresh fish and they will key in on bugs a bit more. Stay tuned! There is more rain in the forecast and this will definitely bring in some fresh fish into the system.

Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U name its, Olive Sculpin.

Striper Flies: Stay Hungry Streamers, Byng's Baitfish, Angel's Chartreuse and White, Angels Delta Danger and Angel's Smolt, Toby's Rainbow Clouser 4/0, Toby's A.R. Rainbow 4/0, American River Special 3/0, Clousers - chartreuse/white, gray/white

Guide TipWhen fighting a large strong fish, let go of the fly line immediately when it goes from fighting it holding the line to the reel. In the brief moment of transfer from stripping to the fish putting you on the reel, many people feel the need to continue to pinch or grab the fly line/spool and then they break off the the fish. The drag should be properly set on the reel, and when you keep grabbing the line after it is on the reel it can apply too much pressure for the tippet to take. 

Lake Berryessa- Bass
Flows: N/A
Temps: 59
Clarity: Poor

Fishing Report: Bass on Berryessa are into their Winter mode, which means float and fly zone. It has still been a bit slow on pour recent exploratory trips but this should change in the next couple weeks or so. On Berryessa and our other Northern California Foothill lakes we fish a very productive and surprisingly enjoyable technique using suspended fly patterns along structure or drop offs. As we said things are still a bit slow as of the writing of this but expect things to change shortly. March, April and May are traditionally insane on Berryessa and our other Nor Cal Lakes so stay tuned!

Guide Tip: Have the right bobber! Primary points are best to target right now.

California Delta Striper 
Rating; Poor
Flows: NA 
Water Temps: Mid to high 40's
Water Clarity: Color varies depending on the area. You have to search for clean water

Fishing Report: Fishing has been so so on the Delta. It is definitely not red hot. It has been windy and rainy making for some challenging days. Sinking lines have produced best and sometimes a slower retrieve and some pauses needed to get fish to eat. Were finding half a dozen fish right now per trip but are working for them for sure. Most of them are 2 to 4 lb but 5 to 8 lb fish were also caught this week.

Going forward we will continue to fish the Delta however it will be dependent on weather and the casting ability/stamina of the anglers. If you are expecting to hammer striper in warm weather then now is not the time. If you have the ability to cast and are ok fishing for a half dozen fish or better and the weather permits we can get you out.

We had some fun Summer smallmouth fishing this season. It wasn't quite as good on the top water poppers as we have come to expect in recent years but still many willing top water fish caught and even more on the streamer or "popper dropper" technique. With the cold temps the smallmouth thing is a wrap. We are booking next Summer's trips so look to fish mid June through early September. 

Coastal Steelhead Rivers - 
Rating Poor to Good!
Flows: Fluctuating
Temps: Mid to high 40's
Clarity: Murky but clearing

Recent rains have finally gotten fish moving on the Coast and there are a few windows of opportunity opening in between storms. Several of our streams should be dropping into shape by monday. Give us a ring at (707)287-2939 to get more info and get in on the action!

Foothill Bass Lakes, Lake Oroville Englebright etc. - Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass etc.
Rating: Good to Great!
Temps: 49 to 53 degrees
Clarity: Clear 6 - 8 ft

The Float and Fly technique has really been producing for Ryan, Chuck, Hogan and our guests!

Fishing Report: Action has been solid this Winter on our many Sierra Foothill Lakes. Good numbers of fish are being landed on any given day rain or shine. We have been averaging 20 hookups per day utilizing our float and fly technique. Average size has been good as well. Lots of healthy spotted bass right now with full bellies. Action has been best in the early morning and has been tapering off mid day and ramping back up around 3:00 p.m. but were still getting fish all day. Realistic looking Pond Smelt imitations are doing a bang up job. Basically a small white minnow pattern with a little "motion" built in will do the trick. There are even a few trout around in the normal spots we find them at the lake heads.  

The float n fly that we employ on these waters is a great tune up for the Lower Sacramento, Feather and Trinity trout and Steelhead fishing as it requires quick reaction times and good arc on ones rod to keep fish hooked up. For now fish at your own risk or stay tuned for an updated report in the coming weeks. 

Winter fishing can normally be off or on but it has been good all winter. Fishing has been consistent and we are expecting it to stay good throughout February and be prime in March and April is always as good as it gets. 

Bass Flies: Leaches, Woolly Buggers, dark rabbit bass flies.

Trout Flies: Bellyache minnow, olive or black leaches, buggers, small clousers or bunny patterns.

Guide Tip: Covering water is critical right now. We are constantly on the move searing for schooled up. When we find a pod of fish we usually get 3 to 4 good hookups and then its time to move again. 

Russian River Steelhead
Rating: Poor
Flows: 1,500 cfs Guernville!
Clarity: Terrible
Water temp: 50's

Fishing Report: Recent storms spiked the flows on the Russian to 4,000 cfs today it is down to 1,500 but there is more rain in the forecast. There are a few fish in the system but murky water would make locating them with flies very difficult. Steelhead fishing on the Russian is a late Winter early Spring affair so no need to panic. Unfortunately the Russian blows out first and clears up last of our California Coastal steelhead rivers. Stay tuned as all the water in the last two years should give us a good return. Fingers crossed and stay tuned! FYI there were several nice adult fish caught this week on some of our other North Coast rivers. Let us know if you want to get out and swing for unicorns. We believe in miracles and have some great photos and memories to back them up. 

If you would like to get on our first come first call list for when conditions are ideal give us a ring at (707)287-2939. Once things are about to jump off we'll give folks on the list a ring. 

San Francisco Bay - Striper 
Rating: Poor?
Flows: N/A
Clarity: Fair to terrible
Water temp: 52 to 64

Fishing Report: We honestly have not been out since Winter storms hit several weeks ago now. Water is murky and cold and the truth is we have steelhead on the brain. December and January can provide some striper fishing opportunities on the Bay but this definitely not peak season. We will be getting out soon between trips on the North Coast so stay tuned and if you simply must go give us a ring.

Striper flies: Clouer style 1/0 or 2/0 offerings in white/chart, Olive/white, Black/Chart

Fall River  
Rating: Closed
Flows: Not Applicable 
Water Temps: Cold

Fishing Report: The Fall River closed November 15 and will reopen the last Saturday in April. It is one of the largest spring creeks in the United States and a real Northern California gem. To learn more about it or plan your Spring trip click the link below or give us a call at (530)242-4122.

For more on the Fall River click here...

Feather River - Steelhead
Rating: Good to Great
Flows: Low Flow - 790, High Flow 2,980
Clarity: Mostly clear to clear

Fishing Report: 
Steelhead fishing on the Feather has been strong this Fall and seems to be continuing going forward. It is nice to have such a productive fishery this close to Sacramento and the Bay Area. Indicator nymphing by far being the best producer however not the only way to catch fish. The egg bite is still going well although the Salmon are all gone. It was a very strong run of salmon this year.

Classic red and orange egg/bead colors are working well and some partially dead/lighter colors are working as well. Other than eggs fish have been eating some typical attractors such as red trinity johns size 14, stoneflies with orange beadheads, size 12 prince nymph with a hotspot, size 14 olive/tan birds nests and also a variety of small baetis.

The fishing has slowed just a little bit with the drop in temperature but is often remedied when there is fresh rainfall. We are having some of our biggest Feather fish of the year be caught lately and good fishing should continue into February and perhaps March. Traditionally it's good until the river blows out sometime in the late Winter or early Spring like it did last year. We still have a ton of key dates open on the Feather so if this is your thing give us a ring.(707)287-2939!

Guide Tip : If your favorite spot is crowded, don’t sleep on nearby side channels

Nymphs: Caddis, small mayflies such as BWO's and EGGS!!!  Red X May, Amberwing Prince, Dark Lords - 12-16, Hogans S&M and Mercers Micro May in 14 to 18 (black and olive producing best) Red Copper Johns 16 - 18, Hare's Ears and Birds Nests both beaded and non. 14 -16.

Hat Creek - Trout
Rating: Closed
Flows: 150 CFS 
Clarity: Clear

Report: Hat Creek closed November 15 and will re-open the last Saturday in April. This storied catch and release fishery is one of our favorites. To learn more about it or plan your Spring or Summer trip check out the link below or give us a call at (707)287-2939.

Klamath River - Steelhead
Report: Great
Flows: 900 to 1,000 fluctuating daily
Water temps:  High 50's
Clarity - Slight tinge of color.

Fishing Report: Things are poppin on the Klamath. There are good numbers of half pounders and some adult fish being caught on the swing as well as via nymphing under indicators. There are quite a few fish all the way up to Iron Canyon but recent rains are bringing the largest adult fish into the system. It has already been a good year on the Klamath. It is time to get up there and get in on the action.

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U Name Its, Olive Sculpin.

Steelhead Nymphs: Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Black or Olive Poopahs and Princes 14 -16. Micro Mays 14 to 18, Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10 and eggs and Micro Spawn ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine) 

McCloud River Trout : Closed

Report:The McCloud River is a perennial yearly favorite which closed on November 15th. It will re-open the last Saturday in April. Until then we will dream of warm weather and prolific hatches. We had another epic season on the "Mac" that ended this Fall with a bang. If you would like to schedule a trip to remember click the link below or call us at (707)287-2939. There is a memorable brown or rainbow out there waiting for an encounter.

Napa River - Striper
Rating: Fair
Clarity: Chocolate
Temps: 49

Fishing Report:  Fish are definitely in the system... now if we could just get the right weather for things to clear and we be able to hit them around Christmas. We will just have to wait and see. This Fall saw tons of bait come into the river and as a result the fishing was good earlier and may continue longer than in years past. Thank you to all our guest who fished the Napa River with us this year. Looking forward to what 2020 has in store.

Guide Tip: Try 1/0-3/0 baitfish imitations in grey/white or chartreuse/white, Olive/white.  T-11 or T-14 lines to get your bugs down. Try a long slow retrieve with long pauses. 

For more on the Napa River click here... 

Pit River - Trout
Rating: Good
Clarity: 1 to 2 ft
Temps: Mid to high 50's
Flows: Fluctuating from around 1,000 to 2,000 cfs daily

Fishing Report: The Pit continues to pump out good fishing and nice fish for those willing to put the effort into getting on this Nor Cal gem. Flows are fluctuating daily so be aware of that but are ideal for productive fishing. Nymphing the myriad of pockets and runs on the Pit with Rubberlegs, Amber Wing Princes and Dark Lords are the top producers. Remember to wade carefully and take advantage of the great late season and awesome scenery in Northern California. Remember now that Winter is upon us to bring chains, extra fuel, food, clothing and winter camping gear even if you aren't planning to spend the night. You never know when you might be glad you came prepared.

If you are interested in good numbers of fish away from the crowds and in truly wild country, then consider hiring one of our guides to take you to out. We still have great Winter dates available and the Pit will fish well all year long. Call us to get in on the fun(707)287-2939. The Pit remains open after the general trout season closes November 15, so keep this great fishery in mind this winter. 

Putah Creek
Rating: Closure
Flows: Too low!
Water Temp: 

Fishing Report:  What a great season it was on Putah Creek this year. We fell in love with this wonderful creek in the late 80's and a couple of our guides cut their teeth early on in their careers on this fantastic fishery learning the hard way about how to have success here. It is with a humble heart that I say confidently that no one has put more hours in collectively on Putah than our guides and the likes of Greg Bonovich, John Barry and Toby Uppinghouse. As of December 1st we are again leading out in the voluntary closure and kindly ask that you do the right thing and leave this fish alone to spawn. Putah is a California Heritage Trout fishery with wild trout. It will never be stalked with feeble stocked fish. If you like catching the big wild fish the rest of the year then please leave them alone so they can work on creating the creeks future residents. Off the Hook turns down scores of trips at this time because we would rather have great fishing in the future than make a few bucks(or a lot of them) in the short run. Thanks very much for your help.

Pyramid Lake - Cutthroat trout
Rating: Good to Great!
Flows: NA
Clarity: Prime

Fishing Report: 
Large pre spawn Pilot Peak fish are on the move! Pyramid Lake is essentially a large inland seas and is home to the Pilot Peak strain which is the largest sub species of cutthroat trout. This time of year it can be a very weather driven fishery. As the cloudy, windy and stormy days create dreary skies, they also call the  largest inhabitants of the lake onto the shallow shelves with less concern from depredation above. Thus allowing more opportunities for us shore anglers to target them. 
Some of the largest Pilot Peak strain will cruise this world class lake from now into the early Spring like great white sharks. If you are into big fish that Pyramid Lake is one of the best places on earth to tangle with 10 to 20+ lb trout. November and December are two of the best month to tangle with the very largest that this lake and Planet Earth for that matter has to offer. Call today to make some real holiday wishes come true. 

In the heart of Winter as the baitfish spread out the fish begin to shift their attention to small chironomids. These fish will slowly curise the shelves engulfing midges much like a whale eats plankton. While the water temps are cold and fish are a little more lethargic we switch to fishing under indicators. This keeps our flies in the strike zone longer than those casting sinking lines and retrieving flies. Currently we are catching fish all over the lake as this fishery is as healthy as they come. From the South end all the way to the North...fish are here. It is mostly a midge thing as we said with a few leach grabs thrown in. Midges of every color of the rainbow are producing fish. If it's a cloudy day think dark. If the sun is high go ahead and try a little bling. Notice we said a little. 

Lower Sacramento - Trout
Rating: Great!
Flows: 5,200 CFS from Keswick
Clarity: Good

Fishing Report: The Sac continues to fish well despite colder temps a little more color to the river. The Fall Salmon run is all through the spawn. Some really quality fish being caught of late. As far as bugs go... smaller size 18 X Mays, and other mayfly nymphs, caddis in 14 to 16. Gone are the crowds so guests are often having the river to themselves especially on the lower floats down towards Red Bluff. The lower reaches are producing some steelhead along with trout making for some good action.

We have quite a bit of availability for the Sac still so give us a ring to set up a trip for you on this phenomenal fishery! (707)287-2939.

For more on the Lower Sac click here...

Upper Sacramento - Trout
Rating: Good 
Flows: 600 CFS
Clarity: Prime

Fishing Report: Recent rains stained the Upper Sac and the flows came up to 300 to around 600 cfs as of this report. Water is clear enough to fish though so don't shy away form this Winter sleeper. Gone are the October Caddis and were back to small dark winter bugs. Small Baetis and midges are traditional and yearly produces as we head into December. 
Best flies: BWO nymphs, Zebra Midges, Princes, Micro Mays, P.T.'s and other small attractor nymphs.

Truckee River 
Rating: Fair
Flows:  cfs 110 in Truckee, 40 CFS at Boca, 240 to 350 on Nevada side.
Clarity: Good
Temps: Cold (high 38 deg's)

Fishing Report:  Fishing is still decent on the Truckee but not red hot. Temps are cold in the morning but warming slightly throughout the day. Snow and cold temps have moved fish into their winter holding water. Fish are all throughout the system all the way down into Nevada.There is plenty of ability to cross the river right now so access is not a problem. As far as bugs go small midges, Baetis are the best bets however Winter stones are hatching West of town. Conditions should be right for a good February and March BWO hatch especially on overcast days. We offer float trips on the Nevada side which can be a fun escape during the Winter.

On the Little Truckee midges and small baetis are also the ticket and BWO's are hatching on cloudy days.  Expect good fishing in between storms.  

Nymphs: Small Midges and Baetis. Specific patterns include Golden Stones 10 to 14, San Juan worms, 16 or 18 Ju Ju Baetis, Hogan's Military May and S&M in 16 to 18 and size 10, Dirty Birds, GB Prince Nymphs and regular and GB Birds Nests 12 - 16.

Dries:  Extended body BWO 18-22, Adam's Parachute 16 to 20, Christian's GT Adult 18-20, Missing Link 14 - 18, Quiggly's Hackle Stacker 14 - 16, CDC Thorax 14 - 18, BWO Parachutes -18, PMD Hackle Stacker -16.

Guide tip: Fish the slower holding water that is flowing no faster than you can comfortably walk. (1 to 2 mph max.) Also don't neglect to throw streamers this time of year as well. 

Trinity River Steelhead, Fair to Good
Flows: 300 cfs (Lewiston) 450 at Douglas City
Clarity: Good

Fishing Report:  Fishing has ben so-so on the Trinity until recently when rain brought more fresh fish in to the system. Current guide trips are netting from 1 to 5 adults per day. More fish are coming into every day and with more rain in the forecast it is go time!!! Temps have been cold in morning and takes have been light so anglers will want to set on everything. 

The Trinity river remains one of the top rivers on the West Coast to catch Steelhead on a fly rod. Steelheading is never easy however this great piece of water is one of the most reliable year in and year out. Currently fishing is fair to good but about to go off! 

Remember to plan and dress for the weather. Having a warm sleeping bag in your vehicle along with chains, a shovel, extra food, and winter clothing is a must. Always be prepared for the worst and more likely than not you won't need it. However if you are unprepared you may regret it.

We still have key dates open so if you want to chase some chrome in the next few days give us a shout!

Steelhead Nymphs: Brown or Black Rubber Legs 6 - 10, Princes 14 -16, Birds Nests 10 -14, Copper Johns, Micro Mays 14 to 18,  and eggs ( Peachy King, Roe and Tangerine)

Traditional Steelhead patterns: Silver Hiltons, Anderson's Classic, Fly Fishing Specialties Alevin, Anderson Euphoria, Heisenberg, Green Butt Skunk, Falken's Tiny Dancer, Hartwick's Purple Hilton, Hobo Spey in black/blue and Black/Chart, Intruders, Perpetrators, Beach Bums, Olive Sculpins, Cream Soft Hackles and Blood Sucking Leaches. Olive buggers, U name its, Olive Sculpin.

Yosemite - Closed

ReportYosemite is now closed to fishing until April 25th, 2020. Another high water year made for some great fishing although we were forced to start later than normal. This Fall sure did make up for it though. Snow reached the valley floor again this week and the scenery is beautiful. If you haven't experienced Christmas in Yosemite we highly recommend it. Nice to cozy up to a fire place with the important people in our lives or catch up on some tying.

Yuba River - Trout 
Report: Fair
Flows: Average 1,850 cfs below Englebright
Temps: 56 - 57
Clairty: Clear

Fishing Report: The Yuba is still fishing well despite a little color again this week. It usually clears up fairly quickly as long as the rain isn't too heavy. The salmon spawn is done so fish are keying in on bugs more than eggs. Indicator rigs are producing best, but there has been a little bit of dry fly action on cloudy days as long as the wind hasn't put the fish down.

Some 16 to 24" central valley steelhead caught along with plenty of 10 to 16 inchers. This is a great Winter "sleeper" winter fishery as long as rains are not too crazy. Flows are very accessible to wading now so get out and give this one a go.

We had a fantastic Shad and Striper season on the Yuba. We already have quite a few dates reserved for 2020. Perhaps do like many of our guests have done and reserve your dates for next year so you don't miss out. For now though. Its time to chase trout and Steelhead!

Nymphs: BWO's, Caddis, Stones and EGGS!!! Two Bit Hookers, Hogan's 

Thanks for reading the report. If you enjoyed it please don't forget to like and share... If you have any photos or personal reports to share please email them to mike@offthehookflyfishing or call Mike at (707)287-2939.