Column: Caddisflies dominate on Truckee | SierraSun.com
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Column: Caddisflies dominate on Truckee

Bruce Ajari

Caddisflies are one of the most prolific insects that occur on the Truckee River. For most of the summer and into the fall various forms of this insect represent one of the major hatches of the season.

Early in the summer, such as now, it is probably the most important insect to the fly fisherman. The caddis has been called the “King” of the Truckee River by some.

The Caddisfly undergoes a complete metamorphosis. That is, it goes through the four stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult. All this typically occurs in a one-year cycle.

Depending on the specie, the angler generally has the most success with either the pupal and adult stages. Larva imitations can be very good particularly the green rock worm.

On the Truckee, most anglers tend to fish the pupa and adult imitations in tandem this time of year. This can be a very effective way of finding out exactly what stage the fish are keying in on. It does make a huge difference since the fish will take one stage exclusively and can change quickly.

One memorable example of this was on a trip to Hot Creek in the Mammoth Lakes region many years ago. I had a friend along who was relatively new to fly fishing, and a small caddis was emerging in the evenings. Fishing a small elk hair caddis on the dropper and the LaFontaine sparkle pupa on the other I noticed the fish taking the pupa exclusively early in the evening and then later I began to catch fish exclusively on the elk hair caddis.

It would have taken me much longer to switch to the adult so by using two flies in tandem, I had the proper fly on for the entire period. This is very important since things can change rapidly and your opportunities may be limited to a small window.

If you want to know more about Caddisflies, probably the best book out on the subject is Caddisfijes by Gary LaFontaine. This is probably the best study of the entomology, fly tying and fishing techniques that really work for this insect. Another good local work that covers Caddisflies and the Truckee River is Ralph Cutter’s Sierra Nevada Trout Guide.

This is what the Truckee River fish have been caught on mostly this past couple of weeks, and should remain this way until the fish begin keying in on the Little Yellow Stoneflies during the last hour in the evening typically around mid-July. It may be earlier this year since everything else has seemed to so be aware of this subtle change.

Caddisflies have produced some very nice fish for me on the Truckee River. Caddis imitations that you should carry run in the size range of 14 to 20. In the fall, to imitate the large October Caddis, a size 8 or 10 is the ticket.

My pattern preferences for this insect are the elk hair caddis for the adult stage, LaFontaine sparkle pupa and deep sparkle pupa, Johnson’s Flash Caddis, and the EC Caddis. I also use a tan and green caddis larva imitation with some great success. There are many more caddis patterns and the new ones such as the Mercer Z-wing caddis are very popular. They all work if you fish them with confidence. Try different ones and establish your own personal favorites.

So if you are planning to fish the Truckee or any freestone stream similar to the Truckee, plan on having quite a few caddis imitations in your fly boxes. They are one of the insects that fish really seem to prefer.

Caddis can occur on lakes too so be aware that they can be a part of that environment as well. I have seen fish key in on tiny caddis over more abundant hatches and being very frustrated until we figured it out.

As fishermen and women we should be prepared to give the fish what they want. It will certainly make your fishing more successful.

Fishing Report

Boca-(38,102 ac. ft.) Boca has been fishing fair. Most anglers fishing from shore near the inlet are still having some success. The area near the dam is also fishing well. Most anglers use nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Some anglers throwing lures along the shoreline have been productive as well. Boaters are having fair to good success. Most were using a combination of flashers and a nightcrawler or minnow imitating lure. Kokanee fishing has been good. Flyfishermen near the inlet should have fair to good action using a variety of nymphs, streamers, and emergers. Boca was scheduled for planting last week

Donner- Fishing has been good Most anglers fishing for rainbows on the west end and near the launch ramp have had fair to good success. A few large fish continue to be reported. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Trollers using minnow imitating lures have had fair to good success. Donner was scheduled for planting last week.

Lake Tahoe- (Elevation 6229.02) Fishing has been good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Tributaries to Tahoe are closed to all fishing between July 1 and closes again on September 30. No fishing is also allowed within 300 ft. of these tributaries.

Martis Lake- (Martis is restricted to artificial lures with barbless hooks. Zero fish may bagged or possessed) Fishing is fair to good. Blood midges, callibaetis and damselflies are showing. Try using nymphs such as the Hares Ear, Pheasant Tail, Damselfly imitations or the A.P. Streamers that imitate small fish, and woolly buggers are also good choices. For surface activity, patterns such as the Quiqley Cripple, Martis Midge, Parachute Adams, and Griffith’s Knat are good choices.

Little Truckee River- (This area between Stampede Reservoir downstream to Boca Reservoir is now subject to artificial barbless lures with a two fish bag limit of fish 14 inches maximum) – The river flow has been raised to a rate of 92 cubic feet per second. Even with this slight increase inflows, the fishing has improved in this stretch. Flyfishermen fishing this section are concentrating on a mix of nymphs, emergers, dries, and streamers.

Prosser- (28,171 ac. ft.) Prosser fishing has been fishing fair to good. Fishing here is mostly with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Flyfishermen near the inlets are fishing primarily with nymphs and streamers. Prosser was scheduled for planting last week.

Stampede-(222, 758 ac. ft.) Stampede has slowed a bit. Most shore anglers are catching some very nice fish. Most use the typical baits, nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Trollers are having good success for kokanee salmon. Most used a flasher of some sort and a kokanee bug or wedding ring with a piece of white corn. Kokanee fishing should be best in the early low light hours or in the evening now as summer is upon us.

Truckee River- The release is now 199 cubic feet per second from the dam at Tahoe City. In the Truckee area the river is running at around 236 cubic foot per second rate. Fishing in the upper section between Tahoe City and Truckee should improve again with the slight increase inflows. Seasoned anglers are doing well on the Truckee. Most fish being caught in the special regulation areas are being caught on nymphs, emergers, dries or streamers. Caddis and Little Yellow Stones are showing in pretty good numbers now.

Other Waters- Jackson Meadows reservoir has been good. Davis and Frenchman lakes fished fair this past week.


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