West Carson River – 06/18/08 Early AM

I snuck off to the West Carson river to the gauging station section for a quick morning outing.  What I love about this time of year is that you can get out on the water, fish for an hour or so, and be back to work before anyone even knows you were gone.  Gotta’ love those early AM’s!

The river was running lower and clearer than last week, so it seems like the snow melt event is winding down.  As I string up I observe a small fly on the water along with some straggling March Browns.  I decide to string up with a March Brown dry and a Hare’s Ear soft hackle as an emergent dropper.  I wade into position and immediately start getting strikes.  It took about 4 drifts before I got the timing dialed in, but I was no more than 10 minutes into my morning when I hooked my first fish.  I proceeded to catch three smaller fish in rapid succession on the March Brown dry before the strikes ended.

I decide to re-rig with an Elk Hair Caddis with a flying ant as a dropper.  I was able to catch and land two 8 inchers on the ant before this rig stopped getting interest.  Off with the ant and on with a Trude.  I took about 15 drifts with no interest in either fly.  I decide to stop and just sit on a rock and observe what was happening.

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West Carson with the Family – 06/01/08

After Bailey’s excitement at the fishing derby, we just had to head up to the river to take her fishing for real. We decided to head to a meadow section known as the “Meat Cutter’s” section. This section requires an easy walk to the river and the meadow is easy to negotiate. This section is hardly crowded (fully how a 10 minute walk from the road will do that) and is always good for some small trout.

Upon arriving at the river, I noted that the water levels were average and the water was in great shape. The river looked very fishable. The air temps were a little on the chilly side, but not quite cold enough to require a sweater. I know that with the past week of cold temps, the runoff has slowed considerably. when it warms up again, the rivers will blow out while the rest of the snow melts, but for now, this is all you can ask for int he middle of runoff season….great fishing conditions on a little freestone river.

Erin and I knew that while one was fishing, the other would be “fishing” with Bailey. Erin hit the water first, so I put a real lure on Bailey’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ fishing rod and proceeded to help her do some cast and retrieves. This held her interest for about a total of 4 casts. She suddenly became more interested in throwing handfuls of mud and rocks into the water.

That left me with no choice but to string up my rod and toss the line out a few times, but not before I tried my hand at the SpongeBob rod. Funny how you forget to cast with a spinning rod when you have been fly fishing for so many years. I quite trying before it came back to me.

There were a few bugs flying around, so I tied on an Indicaddis as the top fly and a #18 Copper John as the dropper. I was able to get about 15 drifts into a section of water before it was my turn to watch Bailey again. We moved upstream to the center part of the meadow section, and Bailey and I commenced the rock throwing festivities while Erin fished a little further upstream. Erin was actually able to raise a few fish on a “big yellow grasshopper” but all her strikes were from fish that were most likely too small to eat the fly and hook themselves.

At this point, Bailey mentioned that she was getting cold and wanted to leave. Bummer! I did not get to fish my next turn. I did notice many flying ants in presence and actually picked a few out of the hair of our dogs. Hmmm..an observation that may help the next outing be a success.

West Carson Redemption – 05/28/08

I went out to the WC after work yesterday. It was raining, but there was no thunder and lightening, so I figured it was as good a time as any. I knew that the flows were down due to all the cold temps, but I was really shocked at how good the water looked. Just the previous week, the rivers were muddy and blown out. What a difference some cold temps make.

I strung up at the gaging station hole and watched several fish moving around against the far wall. Since there was no sign of any bug hatch or rising fish, i tied on a two nymph rig under an indicator. After a few casts to the near bank to “clear” that water, I waded into position to cast and drift the opposite side of the river. On my second drift, I snagged on a submerged log and lost both nymphs. At least I know where the log is. A quick retie, with a change in nymph choices, and I was drifting the slot again. Bam! Stuck again. This time I only lost the dropper nymph, a zebra midge. Feeling lazy, I decided to retie once I waded back to the bank and moved to the next hole. BUT, before I moved on, I had to drift the slot a few more times to cover the water. I wound up pulling three nice stockers on the next four drifts from right up against the wall, but just before the submerged fly-eating log. All were Rainbows, one was a healthy 14″ while the others were the standard 11″ size. They all took the #12 Prince Nymph that my buddy Dennis tied…thanks Dennis. Time to move on.

Next hole upstream, I sat on the rocks observing the water while I retied. This hole is always a PITA since the cable runs right above you and you have to cast sideways to avoid hanging your line on the cable. I added a green copper john as a dropper to the prince and proceeded to hook into the prettiest fish of the evening. This one was a kick-ass 8″ Rainbow, probably something that held-over from last year. If it came from the hatchery truck, then it did not look anything like its neighbors downstream. He took the Prince nymph and put up a great fight in the fast water before I landed him.

Next hole up, I managed to catch and land another two stocker fish. Both these fish took the Prince and both were your diagnostic hatchery 11″ ‘bows. I got one fish tight against the bank I was standing on by casting upstream and drifting down to my feet. The other fish was just on the outside of the fast water in the central slot. That one was a rough drift because you have to cast upstream over fast water and into the slow water, quick upstream mend, anther quick upstream mend, and yet another upstream mend, and then pray that the drag of the faster water in the center of the slot does not affect your fly. I actually thought my strike indicator hesitated because of a rock, but I set anyways, and guess what…a fish was on!

One more hole before calling it quits. This last hole is a challenge during normal flows, and a real challenge in high water it is pretty deep hole and the best position to be is on the far bank IN the water. From the bank I was on, it was a slingshot cast to get your line and bugs upstream. From there it is strip, strip, strip, let the line float past and water load, fling, and repeat. First drift, I get into a fish, but he shakes off. Two drifts later, I get into another fish. This fish manages to swim all around the hole, thrashing the hole, before shaking the hook. I took another dozen drifts for good measure and called it an evening.

And thus ends my quick one hour after work trip to a close-by river. Weather reports show temps heating up considerably, so I may not get a chance to fish the rivers before they blow out again.

Recon with Bailey – 05/09/08

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??!!

Some DFG Stocked fish love – 05/03/08

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.