Temperatures warming in anglers’ favor
Currently, the mountain rivers of Northern California are dropping to fishable levels. Our snow melt in the northern Sierra peaked in May and has consistently been below the historical “median” this year. Currently, the North Yuba is near 700 cubic feet per second (CFS) with a median of double that. What this means for the trout fisher is an early start for good stream fishing in the high country.
As a general statement, the flows are fishable but the temperatures are a little too cold for good insect hatches at the middle elevations and above. The series of storms a week ago reversed a warming trend and set water temperatures back.
One of the first major hatches of the year is the flying ants that normally show for the Memorial Day weekend. The heat wave prior to the holiday brought the ants out 10 days early with 80-degree days in Truckee. When the rain and snow returned the ants disappeared, and I think the annual migration is done for this year. But that would not keep me from fishing ant patterns for the rest of the summer.
The flying ants are just the beginning of the “big bugs of June.” As soon as the days heat up a few more degrees we can expect golden stones, lady bugs, green drakes and gray drakes, depending on the river you fish. My favorite time of year to fly fish mountain streams is at the tail end of the snow melt, when the river is still up a bit. The bugs are big and the fish are dumb.
I have had a number of requests for kokanee reports from Bullard’s Bar. Gary Gordon has been fishing there at least once a week and he reports that the bite has yet to kick into gear. Most years it is going strong by mid-June. We just need to be patient for a little longer. Currently the fish are still deep and not responding readily to lures.
The warming trend we are in has had a positive effect for anglers on Lake Davis. The major trout planting occurred just before the series of storms rolled in. During the holiday, wind and rain kept most anglers off the water and those who did brave the elements were not well rewarded for their efforts. Finally last Thursday Jerry Dollard of Portola saw fish working an insect hatch on the surface for the first time this season.
On Friday Ed Stember and Norm Sauer from the Gold Country Fly Fishers Club had a good day on the lake. They fished the Jenkins Point area from their pontoon boats. Ed tried fishing various colors of wooly buggers with no success. Norm caught the first few fish of the day hanging size No. 12 and No. 14 midge pupa patterns below an indicator. That proved to be the winning combination through the afternoon. Ed reported seeing some bugs hatching that he thought were midges in and olive/brown hue. In addition to pupa patterns, Copper John nymphs also were effective.
I received reports from other high country lakes. Webber Lake at 6,500 feet returned to the 50-degree mark after the temperatures had dropped during the cold fronts. It is producing good catches on Tui Chub patterned trolling flies. Down in the central Sierra Lower Twin Lakes near Bridgeport, the elevation is at 7,000 feet and it has had the same temperature dip. It, too, is back to 50 degrees on the surface.
The slight warming over the weekend has had a dramatic affect on the numbers of fish being taken there. Lower Twin is famous for large brown trout but it has not given any up to date this year. The kokanee are down at 45 feet and the browns are in close proximity to them. Rainbow trout are active in the shallows where the water is slightly warmer. The largest brown to date has been a 4-pounder caught last Thursday.