Sage and I first met when I lived in Livingston, MT in 2006 through some mutual friends. Little did we know our paths would cross again 13 years later at Katmai Trophy Lodge this past fall on one of our hosted trips.
Sage was an excellent guide, and as you’ll see, she’s an even better photographer!
As I sit here writing this trip report, it’s mid March 2020 and the world is up in arms with the Corona Virus seemingly taking over the world. Being on lockdown in my own home and getting trip cancelations by the hour, things are looking pretty bleak. However, if I don’t start looking at the positives in this highly unusual situation, I’ll end up diving myself crazy.
It’s given me the time to write a much needed and very tardy
trip report on our amazing two weeks in Katmai National Park in Alaska last
fall. Our host was Katmai Trophy Loge on the banks of the famous Nakek River. It
just so happens the timing is perfect as we’re looking forward to filling our
next trip there in the fall of 2021.
Here’s the basic rundown of our Alaska trip that was one of
the best ever!
Logistics– As you might image the trip started
with arrival in Anchorage from the lower 48. Depending on everyone’s logistics,
some arrived the night prior and got a hotel, others arrived the morning of, before
the short, hour (ish) flight to King Salmon.
The lodge was a short 15 min shuttle ride from the airport.
But not before stopping at the local market to stock up on any necessities for
the week. But who are we kidding, with both groups it mostly involved stocking
up on local brews and whiskey. Bring your own too if you’d like.
The lodge– Katmai Trophy Lodge is a rustic, traditional log cabin on the banks of the Naknek River. This simple, no frills, experience was the perfect setting for both weeks of guests that went with us. Each room sleeps 2-3 anglers with their own bathroom.
The common area is a mix of the living room, dinning room and partial kitchen all in one. It’s sets a great atmosphere for exchanging fish stories in the evening and having a few cocktails as you wait on appetizers and your main course.
The huge front porch overlooking the river and fly-tying loft
add a nice touch.
Well it finally happened, winter is here in the Sierra. As I write this report I’m looking at two fresh feet in my backyard, with quite a bit more on the way.
The amount of snow we’re getting is a bit of double edge sword, obviously in a drought year the moisture is much needed and huge relief to our seasonal snow pack. This will of course snowball with more water and lower water temps through late summer and early fall. All in all a big win for Truckee trout and local tourism for this summer season.
If there was a negative, it’s going to be access to the river this week. Like years past when we get this much snow basically overnight, parking becomes an issue. Thakfully this will probobly be short lived and is a small price to pay for this amazing gift mother nature just dumped on us!
On to the fishing.
Fishing has been really good this week, especially once the snow started. Finally we saw adult skwalas the last few days and the fish started to key in on them. We’ve been waiting to throw big dries since the fall and the time is finally here. Might try a few March Browns too. Hint hint.
That said said if you’re going to go subsurface, baetis, midges, winter stones, eggs, march browns and even some caddis wouldn’t be the worst thing to nymph right now.
Good luck out there and stay safe in more ways than one.
We actually got some weather this past week. Saturday and Sunday a storm rolled in and gave us 3-6 inhces of the white stuff in Truckee. It isn’t much but we’ll take it!
The water is still low and clear, temps are in the low 40s or so. Like past reports, very normal for this time of year.
The bug thing also hasn’t changed. We’re nymphing with baetis, midges, winter stones, eggs and skwalas.
Although we’re mostly fishing the bottom this time of year, don’t be afraid to fish midge pupa suspended mid day. We’re running into pods of fish suspended off the bottom when the mid day midge hatch pops.
Not much as far as dries go unfortunately.
Don’t forget to check out our new podcast link too!
If you’ve been following our weather patterns at all it should come as no surprise that not much has changed from our report earlier this winter.
We’ve had virtually no moisture in months in the area. Shocking considering we’re in on of the skiing meccas of North America. From a skiing standpoint the snow from November and early December are saving peoples vacations. It looks like our snow pack in somewhere around 55-65% depending on the area.
That said, our flows on the Truckee are only slightly lower than average for this time of year.
From here on out you could almost cut and paste my last report.
Flows are low and gin clear. The water is cold and fish are still holding on deeper, slower water and soft edges. If you’re fishing water faster than walking speed you’re not even in the game.
Stick with your normal winter bugs, baetis, midges, winter stones and eggs should do the trick. It’s mostly a nymphing game right now as you might imagine with consistent high pressure.
Be ready for soft eats and set everything. You will miss eats, I guarantee it.
I hope to see a few of you at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show this weekend. Swing by the booth and say hi!
We’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Dangriga, Belize. Danriga is a short 15 min flight south of Belize City, just north of another famous fishing town, Placencia.
This time we had the pleasure of staying at Thatch Caye Resort, about a 25 min boat ride from the coast, on a private island nestled in the heart of Permit Alley. Guides were provided by Blue Horizon, one of the most well respected guide crews in the Caribbean.
TC is a classic island getaway with all the amenities of your typical Belezian Resort, and then some. Our non fishing companions were treated to a laundry list of things to do such as diving, snorkeling, island hopping, jungle tours, lobster and conch hunting, kayaking and SUPs to name a few.
It was fun to get off the water each day and meet great folks from all over the world at the Star Fish Bar. The classic questions abound, “What’s a permit?” and “How do they taste?”
The accommodations were also some of the best we’ve experienced anywhere, ever.
On to the fishing….
This was our 4th hosted trip to Belize over the years, and our second to southern Belize. Those in the know have dubbed this region “Permit Alley”, and for good reason.
The amount of permit in this area is astronomical. Just like our trip to Placencia a number of years ago, the guides are laser focused on putting you on tailing fish, in shallow water whenever possible.
Don’t get me wrong, you will see and cast at plenty of cruising fish throughout a week. But these guides have it in their DNA to find fish in shallow water, tails up.
Although there are bonefish in the area, opportunities are very limited. Some of my guests had a blast chasing them around every once in a while throughout the week.
One vacationer we met was lucky enough to get one his first time ever fly fishing!
Back to the permit.
Although I like to throw 8 wts at permit from time to time for a number of different reasons, a 9 is my go-to. We had incredible wind during our week so most boats had a 10 wt rigged too.
Steve, my guide with 14 years experience, had me throwing 9-10 ft, 16lb leaders with about 3-4 feet of 16lb tippet.
I had my normal assortment of every crab pattern under the sun. That said, nearly the entire time we were throwing sz 6 tan and olive Bauer crabs. Made famous by head guide, Lincoln Westby. A legendary guide among permit circles.
It’s safe to say I saw hundreds of permit in my six days. Although I didn’t keep track exactly, we were getting 5-15 shots a day. Each shot could have been anywhere from 1-10 casts each. Ten being the exception to the rule. We found one fish that I got a countless number of shots at over a few minute period.
I also had one “magic hour” were I didn’t stop casting at permit for what seemed like 45 minutes. I’d get 1-5 casts, walk to the next group and repeat. This seemingly neverending cycle was something I won’t soon forget.
I was lucky enough to add two more permit under my belt this trip, Jay from Dallas TX, with our group added another.
My little one at a sz 4 tan Contraband crab, the big one at a sz 6 olive Bauer.
The bigger of the two was pretty special.
At lunch on day five, Steve picked a spot were we could eat and scan for fish so we left a rod at the ready. Ten minutes in he started yelling “fish, fish, fish!!”. I jumped up and chased a small group down the flat. My third cast did the trick. Once I was hooked up, I looked back to see Steve a few hundred yards away hooting and hollering. He was more excited than I was.
An unforgettable moment that makes these trips so special.
A huge thanks to our crew that joined this year, Matt, Sarah, Jay and Anna.
If you’d like to join our Hosted Travel Newsletter, drop me a note.
As 2020 gets underway, we could not be more excited to partner with the podcast team of Chad Alderson and Nick Hanna (@chadalderson & @norcalflyguy) with the Barbless Fly Fishing Podcast (@barbless.co). You could say that this collaboration started almost three years ago when the guys had me on as one of their first guests ever. Since then a great relationship has formed and I’m ready as ever to join the Barbless.co team and the newly formed Barbless Podcast Network (BPN). I’m lucky to also be joining fellow fly fishing buddies Conway & Michelle Bowman (@conwaybowman, @mishfish49, SoCal) and John McMillan (@rainforest_steel, PNW) as the newest hosts of the BPN team.
I’m currently a man of many hats, however my full time career is running Matt Heron Fly Fishing with my wife Lulana. MHFF is widely considered the primary Fly FIshing School and Outfitter for the Lake Tahoe and Truckee Region. We’re also fortunate enough to run a hosted travel program during the slow season, hosting our guests at some of the world’s finest international destinations and lodges.
That said, it’s truly an honor to be the Regional Director for Cast Hope. Cast Hope is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that brings kids and mentors together outdoors through the sport of fly fishing.
As the newest BPN host I plan on covering a little bit of everything in the fly fishing and outdoor recreation world. Our episodes will cover an array of topics, highlighting non profits, conservation topics, business tactics, fly fishing education with tips and tricks as well as our Behind the Brand series showcasing some of our favorite companies in the outdoor industry.
We look forward to being your go-to source for all things Truckee-Sierra related, on top of bringing you up to date information and stories from our network across the country!
Go to iTunes, Google Play or Spotify and search for Barbless. Our show is the one with the blue triangle that says, Truckee – Tahoe above it. Tap to subscribe from there, and please consider subscribing to the other Barbless Podcast Network pods as well!!