This Summer’s Drought Conditions

When it comes to water levels, the most significant factor is snowpack, which determines our water levels in lakes and reservoirs the beginning of each spring. Bigger winters mean higher water levels and cooler water temperatures for the rest of the summer and into fall, when daytime temperatures drop into the 60’s and the nights begin to freeze. For trout, a big winter means an easier summer, with healthier living conditions for them. With healthier river conditions come healthier fish populations.

To say that the winter of 2020-2021 was small would be an understatement. The classic springtime high water is running more low and clear than usual, and our snowpack, which historically has been skied on into late June and even July, is nearly diminished below 7,000 vertical feet.

For a Truckee River fish, the low snowpack is bad news. Drought conditions affect everything in the ecosystem; birds, plants, insects, wildlife, and fish depend on water. With less than average, we are looking at a long, dry summer.

Those who visit Truckee often come for the fishing. If you stopped in at our local shop Trout Creek Outfitters last summer, you may have been given a warning not to fish later than noon, or even 10:00 am because of high water temperatures. Trout are cold water species. When water temperatures rise above a certain point, their mechanism for staying cool vanishes, like somebody took the cooling system out of your vehicle while you drive it around in the hot sun.

A rule that fly fishers have followed for decades is to stop fishing when water temps hit 67 degrees or higher. Multiple studies have shown this temperature to be lethal to a stressed or tired out trout. Anglers who ignore the guidelines of the water temperature end up hurting and often killing fish.

A fishes gills filter dissolved oxygen (commonly referred to as DO) from the water around it and use that dissolved oxygen to breathe. With high water temperatures come less DO. Trout that are targeted in high water temps get worked up during the fight, and with less DO in the water, cannot get themselves back under control. It would be like if you had just ran the fastest mile run of your life while breathing through a wet cotton shirt.

The cotton shirt analogy often leads to delayed mortality, a condition that deprives a trout of its needed oxygen to return to normal. After being overheated, overtired, and stressed for days after begin caught and released, the fish eventually dies, in desperate need of cool, oxygenated water. This defeats the purpose of catch and release fishing.

In response to these high water temperatures, anglers have come up with and tried to enforce what is referred to as a Hoot-Owl Closure. It’s a voluntary river closure that begins whenever water temperatures reach that dreaded 67 degree mark.

Northern Sierra local John Baiocchi recommends the following for Hoot-Owl Closures:

  1. Carry a thermometer and take water temp readings each hour.
  2. Fish first light until 11:00am.
  3. Use heavier tippet for a quicker fight to ensure a safer release.
  4. Stop fishing when water temps reach 67 degrees and up.
  5. Educate other anglers on water temperature etiquette.

Baiocchi recently passed away, these tips are from a dated blog post on his website.

This year will likely be a drought year, and high river temperatures are expected to occur much earlier than usual this year. Do your part by carrying a water temperature thermometer and taking care of our most precious resource. You can also swing by Trout Creek Outfitters or check out our bimonthly fishing report for details on average water temperatures on the Truckee and its surrounding local rivers.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

Florida’s Piney Point Community Evacuated after Waste Leak

For anglers, Florida is home to world-class saltwater fishing, as well as exhilarating canal and lake fishing for bass and many other species of gamefish. Whether its sight fishing rolling tarpon or casting into tight mangroves for snook, the sunshine state is a fishing Mecca.

Florida also has a problem. The incredible fishing and clear blue seas are under threat, from an abandoned phosphate plant.

Tampa bay Fly Fishing - Captain Matt Fishing Charters
Tampa Bay is home to plenty of fishing opportunities. Photo by

Piney Point, a community in the Tampa Bay region, is where this now-famous phosphate plant resides. The issue is pollution. The initial warning was a catastrophe alert, beginning with a leak in one of the plant’s storage ponds. Over 300 homes were evacuated in the event of a rupture and a wall of water pushing through the area.

Luckily, the threat was avoided, Manatee County officials averting the flood by slowly draining the pond into Tampa Bay, at a rate of 35 million gallons per day.

How Dangerous Is the Water Leaking From Piney Point? | Sarasota Magazine
The site of the wastewater leak in Piney Point. Photo by Sarasota Magazine.

The leaking pond resides in a large stack of phosphogypsum, which is a waste product of fertilizer production. This particular waste product is radioactive. Florida’s agriculture commissioner warns of a possible environmental catastrophe, and with good reason. The toxins flowing into Tampa Bay may well cause more lethal red tide algae blooms, endangering local fish and wildlife.

Luckily, a flood was avoided, and it seems the end of the Piney Point situation is near. The event is being seen as a wake up call for environmentally safe mine deposits. If Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine had the same issue it would be a much bigger event, with more toxins affecting thousands of salmon and other fish and wildlife of Bristol Bay. Humans and fish alike can experience severe consequences from mining deposits and ponds like the one in Piney Point. To protect the fish that give us entertainment, food, healthy waters and tradition, it’s in the best interests of anglers to observe the flaw in this type of mining and advocate for something better.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

Truckee River/Lake Tahoe Area Fly Fishing Report, 04.05.21

As April begins, one can’t help but appreciate springtime. T-shirt weather pairs beautifully with the continuously chilled water of the Truckee and its tributaries. Add a dry dropper rig and you’ve got yourself a perfect day, regardless of fish.

Matt putting another client on another wild Truckee fish. Photo by Matt Heron.

Though our runoff isn’t what we were expecting, we are making the most of it and the fish are still here. We’ve had nothing but warm sunny days in the past couple weeks and the weather forecast expects that to continue, with no storms predicted for the near future. Daytime highs are in the mid to high 50s, and the nights are still freezing.


On the river, we are seeing high flows that happen to be strangely clear as well. Lack of snowpack is likely the cause of this, though other factors may also be in play. Below are the recorded flows on the California side of the Truckee.

Tahoe City to Truckee: 391 cfs

Truckee to Boca: 600 cfs

Boca to Farad: 613 cfs

Farad to Stateline: 667 cfs

Our guides are finding fish on more of the bigger attractor patterns. Stoneflies, worms etc.. Skwalas are also out, though we are reaching the end of their season. If you hear fish attacking something on the surface, odds are a skwala just got crushed. Keep a couple dries on hand in case fo the chance to throw one at an eating fish. If you need some, our boys at Trout Creek Outfitters have some killer patterns and can set you up with flies, tippet, leader, and if you’re up for it, sink tips! Streamers have been getting love and will only become more productive as the water warms up! We are also excited for March Browns to show themselves, as they are just around the corner.

Both indicator and tightline rigs have been producing. Our guides have had most of their success on these. However, deep dry droppers have also been very productive. Midges and baetis are still on the menu, though bigger nymphs may be a bit more prominent. Winter stones are also always a good go-to.

Photo by Matt Heron.
A colored up Truckee River buck, all ready to meet some ladies. Photo by Matt Heron.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

Fly Fishing Film Tour Tickets Still Available!

F3T is off to a solid start, and though in-person shows are difficult due to covid, there are still tickets! Viewings are online, at your convenience, and available until the evening of April 4th. The raffle is also still happening, and with the same epic prizes from yeti, Costa, Simms and other well-known brands it’s worth the price of admission.

The 2021 Fly Fishing Film Tour: Tickets, Trailers & Schedule - Flylords Mag
F3T flyer.

Films include those from Flylords and Capt. Jako Lucas, expect to see some of the highest quality and most thrilling films yet. Learn more about F3T, or purchase tickets, click here3

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

Truckee River/Lake Tahoe Fly Fishing Report, 03.21.21

Is it runoff yet?! The Truckee has some higher flows than the average for the past couple months, but runoff is still a heavy topic this year. Considered to be some of the best fishing of the year, high water season still hasn’t happened due to lack of snow. While what we have may be melting, we simply don’t have enough to kick flows into overdrive as we usually do. While not what we are hoping for, we are working with what we’ve got!

Up close and personal. Photo by Ryan Rintala


Tahoe City to Truckee: 300

Truckee to Boca: 338

Boca to Farad: 510

Farad to Stateline: 556

While the winter season go-to patterns are still effective, bigger bugs have taken over some of the Truckee trout’s diet. Skwalas are out, and will only be seen more often for the next few weeks.

Whitefish need love too! While not our typical target quarry, these are always a fun bycatch. Photo by Ryan Rintala.

With the presence of Skwalas in the river and hatching on the surface, dry dropper patterns have been producing for our guides, as well as indicator nymphing techniques. Tightline or euro nymphing is still somewhat slow, but will continue to pick up as winter turns to spring and fish move into the faster water.

While out on the water, keep an eye and an ear out for large surface eats. If you hear it before you see it, chances are a skwalas just got crushed. With these big bugs out, find a rising fish and you’ll have the shot at some pretty incredible dry fly fishing.

Have some spots. Photo by Ryan Rintala.

Get out on the water and good luck!

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

Florida Wildlife Commission Sides with the Permit!

A couple months ago, Western Dry Rocks was faced with the proposal of a four-month fishing closure to protect Permit, among other saltwater fish species that use the area to spawn. Though four months is a long time for a fishing area to be off limits, science supported the idea that it was necessary to ensure the health of fish populations.

New to this topic? Catch up on the situation here.

Save the Horny Fish: An Inside Look at BTT's Permit Initiative - Flylords  Mag
Western Dry Rocks permit. Photo courtesy of Flylords.

On February 26th, the discussion came to a close when the Florida Wildlife Commission voted to introduce a four-month annual fishing closure at Western Dry Rocks. This is a huge win for the Bonefish and Tarpon trust, and a promising sign for future permit of the South Keys.

Consider reading more about this epic news here. Check out more work that the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust for more saltwater fishing-related issues.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

British Columbia sees the End of Atlantic Salmon Farming on their Coastal Waters

As fly fishers and outdoor enthusiasts, we all know what beautiful B.C has to offer in terms of experience and resource. Some of the world’s largest salmon runs, pristine anadromous waters, and remote mountainous terrain make it a top-tier travel destination for anglers.

To save wild salmon, B.C.'s Discovery Islands fish farms must go
A wild chum salmon making it over one of many boundaries on the way to spawn. Photo courtesy of

Off the southern edge of British Columbia lie the Discovery Islands, an archipelago that an estimated one-third of all wild salmon navigate through. It is also home to tens of net pens, which are factory-sized fish farms. Nineteen specific net pens are unique because of what their product is: Atlantic salmon.

As one may assume by their name, Atlantic salmon belong in the Atlantic Ocean. British Columbia has been allowing Norwegian companies to farm Atlantic salmon off the Pacific coast. The salmon farming industry was sent into a spin with the news that these fish farms licensing would not be allowed renewal this year. These Atlantic salmon farms account for roughly 30% of the salmon production in B.C.

Though some are taking up opposition of this decision, many anglers, especially steelhead fishers, are backing it for the future of wild fish. Alexandra Morton of Swing The Fly writes “There are now more Atlantic salmon in a single salmon farm than sockeye in the entire Fraser River watershed.”

To save wild salmon, Discovery Islands fish farms must go - David Suzuki  Foundation
One of the net pens in B.C’s Discovery Islands. Photo from

Declining salmon over the Discovery Islands has been pointing to the absence of juvenile salmon, who aren’t making it through the fish farms. The fish farms are providing a haven for sea lice and bacterial infections that are easily spread to the wild juvenile fish. Research has also showed that sea lice have a much more damaging effect on ild sockeye than farmed Atlantic salmon.

With 19 Atlantic salmon farms to close within the next 18 months, there is some hope on the horizon for the wild fish of British Columbia, as well as for any states that follow this lead(Washington has taken encouraging actions like this example). As fisheries management gets more responsible and wild fish gain support, the future may not be as dim as it is now.

For more information and a larger story, check out this article on Swing The Fly.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

Army Corps of Engineers Rejects State Appeal of the Pebble Mine Decision

As of last Friday, the Pebble Mine is one step closer to being gone for good. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy had previously filed an appeal of the Corps’ decision not to permit the Pebble Limited Partnership, which blocked them from mining in Bristol Bay.

Luckily, the Army Corps of Engineers rejected his attempt at overturning the Pebble permit denial.

Bristol Bay - Wild Salmon Center
One of many anadromous rivers in Bristol Bay that are at risk from the Pebble Mine. Photo by the Wild Salmon Center.

However, the fight isn’t over. The State of Alaska’s appeal may be rejected, but the Corps’ is still reviewing the Pebble Limited Partnership’s appeal. Though the rejection of Dunleavy’s appeal is a good omen, Pebble is still a threat to Bristol Bay.

For those on social media, @savebristolbay will be providing news of any progressions or movement in the Pebble Mine battle. Give them a follow to stay current on this topic!

If you can spare just a minute, you’re encouraged to give Governor Dunleavy a call at (907) 465-3500 saying you support the Pebble permit denial and want to see permanent protections for the Bristol Bay region.

Ryan Rintala | Social Media @mattheronflyfishing

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