I had to head up to Tahoe to take care of my Mother-in-laws cats while she is away. Bailey and I decided to take the scenic route and follow the length of the West Carson River up into Hope Valley before turning and heading to Tahoe.
We stopped at Pickett’s Junction (88 and 89) at the bridge, and walked down into the meadow section. Bailey and I did not fish as time was limited, but I wanted to recon this section as I had not fished it this season and the fishing has a tendency to be good as this is a major stocking point for Fish & Game.
First thing I noticed, outside of the usual plethora of cars and fishers, was that the water was darkly tinted. Pretty strange as this section has a tendency to run high during run-off, but much clearer than what I noticed.
Bailey and I would up talking to several people who were fishing and no one was catching any fish. There were two guys throwing spinners and powerbait. They reportedly fished the river for several hours without a single nibble. There was also a couple fly fishing and they reported that neither of them had seen a fish. The fly fishers were both throwing dries. It was a little chilly and the water temps were mid-forties, so I would not have chosen a dry, but to each his own.
Bailey and I walked up the river to the handicap access platforms looking for trout, but saw nothing. One thing I will say about kids…their eyesight is very sharp. Bailey has pointed out fish in water that my aging and polarized aided eyes have missed. So I will assume that the stocked trout are all holed up somewhere else, or they have simply been fished out in the first few days of planting. Hopefully the fish have all been pushed downstream into the canyon section that I tend to fish the most (grin). I am planning on hitting some fresh water this weekend with the lakes all finally starting to ice out. Maybe some hungry Macs are on the catch list??!!
After a long day at work, I was able to hit the West Carson for a quick session. I decided to fish the gauging station. I arrived around 5:20p to wind and more wind. A quick check of the water told me that flows were up just slightly from the previous outing and that the water was even more tinted. Runoff is getting into full swing.
Because of the wind, I immediately rigged with a dual nymph rig and I crimped on tons of weight. It was a tough hour with many casts going astray due to wind, but at the end of the hour I had two half-hearted strikes, two or three fun chases, and one hookup on a small 8″ stocker Rainbow.
This is a perfect end to a long day!
Living and working within 10 minutes of two nice rivers has it upside. A lunch break, actually an extended lunch break, can get one a solid hour on the river with the total time away from work exceeding no more than 90 minutes.
Since flows are starting to pump, I decided to hit the smaller of the two rivers as it is not as ravished as the bigger river during runoff. Upon arriving at the West Carson River I noticed another car in my usual parking spot, so I wheeled downstream into the canyon section. I quickly rigged up and was on the water without delay. Fishing lunch breaks are all about moving rapidly. The water is much higher than normal, but only slightly off-color. I toss in the thermometer and it read 46 degrees…perfect! No bugs in evidence, but I had already decided at the truck that I was going to probe fast and roily pocket water with a heavily weighted nymph setup.
I worked my way down to the automatic hole and by my third drift…BINGO…I’m into a cool 10″ stocked Rainbow. 20 more drifts produced 2 more strikes, but no hookups. The automatic hole will normally produce a few fish before the entire hole needs to be rested. Maybe it was the higher flows, the tinted water, or the still slightly cold temps, but there was only one fish to be had this lunch break.
Time to head back to the car and go back to work.
Setting the stage
Opening weekend is mainly tradition and a Pavlovian response for me. Most of the fish-able waters in Western Nevada are open year-round, and as of last year, many of my favorite California rivers are open year-round as well. Add on this that I have had many outings on various rivers this year already, and this weekend becomes “just another” fishing weekend, like any other.
I decided to fish the West Carson for no other reason than it was one of the rivers previously closed. Add to this the fact that the river was heavily stocked by CA DFG this week, run-off is evident but not out of control, and that the section I was planning to fish is only 11 miles from my doorstep. Upon arrival I note that the water clarity is about 6-8″ down and that flows are definitely up on this normally calm river. I toss in the thermometer and the water temps are COLD at a chilly 41 degrees. No sign of bugs or hatches.
The craziness Begins
I rig up with a double nymph rig as there are no hatches in presence and no signs of rising fish. On my third drift of the morning, I snag on a rock in some deep fast water and the rig is irretrievable, so I have to break it off. I re-tie and move to a different spot. Again, on the third or fourth drift, I snag and have to break off. So now, I am no more than 15 minutes into the day and I am out 4 files and no fish. I re-tie again, and move downstream to one of my favorite “automatic” spots.
This river is usually pretty placid with some fast pocket water, but lots of easy wading and rock hopping. Not when it is at 150 cfs. I am wading across what is normally an easy boulder garden and I slip and have nothing to grab, so I go into the water. In the swift water, my thoughts quickly turn to grabbing something to stop my downstream movement. I scrape my hand in the process. Again, I note that the water is COLD, but this time I am the thermometer. So I get up and finally get into position and I cast right into a tree branch on the other side. Another break off and re-rigging. Feeling pretty defeated at this time, I decide to head back to another spot and slip on the same rock and go into the water again.
The white towel
I am now cold, wet, and feeling pretty humble. I decide to call it a day. This is just one day in a season and one day in a lifetime of fly fishing. These things happen and you have to pay your dues every so often.
Opening day – That has a nice ring to it. Although there are plenty of waters that are open year-round, I always long for the few that you can only fish between late April and early November. Seems fitting that opening day of the CA trout season is also nicely coinciding with the re-opening of this site…a double positive for me.
My plans for opening weekend are to hit on of the smaller rivers in the mountains surrounding my house. Since spring runoff is pretty marginal at this point in time, the small creek fishing should be excellent. What are your plans?