Bruce Ajari: A change in tactics sometimes necessary for success
Fishing this past week involved a trip to one of my favorite lakes just northeast of Truckee, Frenchman Reservoir. Near the town of Chilcoot, Frenchman provides anglers with some great fishing.
As a fly fisher, the best time to fish this lake is during the spring and again in the fall. The fish grow fast at this lake because of the presence of scuds, a freshwater shrimp. I was once told by the California Department of Fish and Game biologist for this region that fish can grow as much as 7 inches between the spring and the fall.
When we arrived at the reservoir, I was saddened to see the low water. I could not recall seeing this lake as low as it was. Three years of dry winters has really taken its toll.
Locations that we normally fished were now incredibly shallow waters. Where there used to be a number of coves along the shoreline, many had disappeared, leaving only dried up earth and mud as remnants.
As a result of these low water conditions, we found that we had to change our tactics in order to be successful. The fish were definitely in the shallow water as we could see when we first got there. We saw many fish tailing in the vegetation. This time of year this usually means that they are eating scuds.
Scuds are quite small this time of year, so trying to imitate them is extremely difficult. Knowing that trout are opportunistic, one can usually throw something that looks like an aquatic insect or snails that are also present to the feeding fish and be successful.
While many people fish from float tubes, we have found that fishing from shore is just as productive in the fall when the scuds are present. This is primarily because the fish are feeding in very shallow water. You can catch them in water from less than a foot to about 4 feet in depth.
It is quite exciting site casting to these tailing fish when they are active. You can also be quite successful blind casting in these waters when they are not showing themselves.
In normal years we would use a lot of bead-head nymphs under an indicator and be quite successful. Because of the water conditions, this tactic is not one that works as well as sight and blind casting and using an active retrieve.
The fishing is very good right now, but you may have to change the tactics that worked for you in the past. Be observant and try and find the areas where fish are feeding to be successful. Also try different flies until you find one that will fit the conditions you are fishing.
It is a great time of the year to get out there and fish. Just be aware that low water conditions can really change how you approach your favorite water. You just may have to throw out the past to be successful. Be willing to change it up!
and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.