Monday, June 11, 2007

Fly fishing report, the Upper Sacramento River

In the absence of anything interesting to say about world politics or the Seahawks, here's a brief tale of my success (and woes) learning to fly fish on the Upper Sacramento River.


Conditions are good to excellent. The Fly Shop in Redding recommends nymphing stoneflies on the drop and the lower part of the river, so that's where we started. Skunked in the morning at Dog Creek access point, though that may be due to collection of inbred southerners testing their dirt bikes by the side of the river. Lunch in Dunsmuir at the "Burger Barn" is followed by a brief visit to Ted Fay's Fly Shop; 95-year-old working behind counter recommends dry fishing with Parachute Adams. We put in at Conant -- a Bob Burke recommendation -- and round about 4 pm I start to wonder why I picked up this hobby, as my nymphing has resulted in bubkus.

Then, a splash behind a rock. Is that a fish rising to the surface? I tie on a #14 parachute Adams and slowly approach -- closer -- closer -- closer -- CRACK! Fish on! I'm reeling like mad because I've got a 12" rainbow made of pure fish muscle. As I bring him in, I notice the tip of my rod floating in the river. A-ha, that would explain the cracking noise -- he done snapped my new Sage FLi rod. The sheer elation of knowing that I can catch fish on my own -- and with a dry, no less -- more than compensates for the damaged equipment.

After briefly debating heading back toward Red Bluff, we decided to return to Ted Fay's in Dunsmuir, even though the town itself seems to have been taken over by vampires. The friendly owner talks me out of buying a new 4 wt. rod (hey, Nicki's going to need one soon anyway) and instead rents us two rods and an extra wheel at $5 a piece. We turn south again and put in at Sweetbrier, parking next to an old propane tank. The access leads to a series of small pools where the fish are rising to my every cast -- I land one smallish rainbow and hurl another one 50 feet in the air when I overexuberantly try to set the hook (Nicki assures me the fish was fine and swam away happily).

We fish out that section of the river and then park and set up camp at Sims. The fishing there is just as good if not better; I land two small minnow-sized rainbows, and as the evening sky darkens, we start to see fish rising all over the river, even in the low flatwater along the bank of the camp. Is there any better feeling than seeing fish rise in abundance, tying on your dry fly, and moving in for the strike? Ten out of ten fisherman agree: No. Sadly, I'm unable to land anything dinner-sized but I do get one more big strike before retiring to camp for a well-deserved beer (or six).


Blogger AJH said...

Okay, you've got me confused. Last week, you went to Yellowstone and did not fish. Now, you've traveled all the way to Northern California to fish? What gives? Fly-fishing can be great fun so long as you recall that it's fishing, not catching.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I spent a week in Montana for vacation, and fished frequently (but did not fish within Yellowstone National Park, as I did not have a permit). I drove up to the Upper Sacramento River on Saturday (I live in San Francisco).

Hopefully that clears up the confusion.

4:25 PM  
Blogger AJH said...

OK! For some reason, I thought you were a Seattle resident. I guess the Seahawks' references had me fooled. How was the fishing outside the Park in Montana? Boy, there's some really great fishing within the Park.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Gotcha. Grew up in Washington state and went to college in Seattle, but no longer live there.

The Madison River was fishing well. The Jefferson was pretty blown out, as was the Gallatin. We floated the Big Hole too with moderate success. I'm a beginner to the sport of flyfishing so I don't really have much to compare it to, but you won't find places much prettier in the U.S.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

p.s. Alex, what happened to your nascent blog? I enjoyed the first entry on Mexico City -- what's the scoop?

10:05 PM  
Blogger AJH said...

I have a bunch of other stories that I've written but I'm not sure that I should post them. I'm working on one right now that'll be posted this week. I'll let you know!

10:57 AM  

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