Fly fishing and bass tournaments have historically been two things that are thought to be better kept apart. To many, the idea of having a fast-paced fishing tournament on jet boats combined with calm-tempered anglers who spend too much time practicing false-casting just doesn’t fit.
Well, let’s take a minute and forget that fly fishing stereotype, then look at Ryan Williams. Earlier this month, Williams and his partner Logan McDaniel participated in the Wild West Bass Trail tournament on Lake Shasta and won!
…With a fly rod.
Although his partner fished conventional gear, Williams stuck it out for the entire tournament, and the team took home first place for heaviest bag and heaviest fish. “The fly rod legitimately contributed 50/50 to our bag”, Williams says in an interview.
Not only did he show it was possible to fly fish competitively in a bass tournament, but Williams proved fly fishing can be more effective than conventional tackle! Quite the accomplishment and successful merging of two different cultures, well done Ryan!
Happy New Year all! 2020 was one heck of a ride, with some good fishing throughout it.
The year is starting out with mostly fair weather throughout the next week or two, and a couple chances of rain and snow. Midday temperatures should be in the low 40s, dropping between 15 and 20 degrees at night.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 74 cfs
Truckee to Boca: 114 cfs
Boca to Farad: 225 cfs
Farad to Stateline: 246 cfs
Flows have dropped a bit further since December, and with mostly sunny days approaching, fish will be extra skittish. As always, lightening up on tippet and using smaller flies is a good idea.
Our guides have been getting fish on mainly midges and baetis. The occasional hatch is occurring around 12-2pm, but the sunny weather in the forecast suggests nymphs. Attractor patterns like Pat’s Rubberlegs or Copper John’s will find fish, but the main winter dish for Truckee trout is the smaller bugs.
Midge patterns like the classic Zebra Midge and the Manhattan Midge have been effective lately, as well as the Slim Shady Baetis. For these bugs, try fishing them no larger than a size 18.
Fish are holding in the slow, deeper water, so be sure that your flies are fishing where they are! Trout can sit on the river bottom and feed, meaning we need to be getting right down there with them. If you’re flies snag up or tick bottom occasionally, try and keep fishing that depth.
Brian Purdy is one of our local fly fishing guides, and is beginning the New Year with a new company! “The Connective Fly Fishing Company” is bringing together artwork, clothing, and the fly fishing experience and culture. Purdy and his team have been planning new designs that will be printed on clothes and accessories and, soon, available to purchase.
Purdy also has a secret weapon for his brand, an anonymous artist that likes to lay low. He’s been helping with creating designs in the Connective Fly Fish studio. A bit of a mystery, at least for now.
On top of our Mystery Man, the Connective Fly Fishing Company is working with a team of very talented artists with their roots in urban graffiti, which brings edginess and creativity to the designs.
Brian has always been interested in clothing and artwork, and with 15 years in the action sports industry under his belt he wants to do something different. During those 15 years, he made action sport movies and plans on bringing that feel for cinematography to the brand.
“Fly fishing is seeing the change that golf did 20 years ago… It’s not just for the old affluent guy anymore, the younger generation is flooding the fly fishing scene,” Purdy explains. Today, fly fishing is its own culture, and is being taken more seriously by outdoor enthusiasts of all ages as a lifestyle instead of a hobby.
Personally, I consider this new brand’s effort to support an inclusive community as similar to Matt Heron Fly Fishing’s work with the Cast Hope organization. Cast Hope has helped introduce many of us to the fly fishing scene. This positivity is an emerging strength in the fly fishing community.
“We also want to support getting kids on the water, organizations like Cast Hope are doing a great job at this.” Brian’s reasoning behind this is that kids will be carrying the torch of fly fishing in just a few years, so to keep the lifestyle alive it has to be passed down.
The Connective Fly Fishing Company stands first for human decency, plain and simple. They’re depicting fly fishing as more of a lifestyle than a sport. The company is going to advocate for and be involved in things like climate change, cleaning up the rivers, and being better people.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been on a mission to hook and land a trophy redfish on the fly. After several failed attempts over the years due to unfortunate luck with the weather, I found myself on the bow of a Louisiana flats skiff one more time.
Our most recent hosted trip took us to the western edge of the Louisiana delta. It’s hard to imagine that just an hour and a half ride from the birth place of Marti Gras lives the the largest and most aggressive redfish on the planet.
Our host this time around was Eleven Angling and their mothership, OUTPOST. Eleven, known for amazing destinations around the world has fine tuned the definition of “customer service “.
Captain Chris, First Mate Amber, Chef Dave, and of course our amazing guides Paul and Jerry, went above and beyond to make the fishing a secondary bonus. Collectively they left no stone unturned to make it one of the best experiences we’ve had in over ten years of hosting trips.
OUTPOST is a 61′ Hatteras mothership made for one thing, hosting anglers on a mission to land the biggest tarpon (Florida) and redfish on the planet.
Each of the four of us had our own comfy private room and shared bath. There’s two bedrooms downstairs and two on the main floor. More importantly, both options are just steps away from the bar/dining room/kitchen/common area.
Every morning and evening my guests and I, along with the OUTPOST crew, would convene on the main floor to chat, dine, share the refreshments of a fully stocked bar and tell a fish story or two.
However, the highlight was getting a front row seat to Chef Dave preparing his one of a kind gourmet dishes. He’s truly a master at his craft.
Unfortunately, my recollection of the names of the dishes won’t do them any justice. My favorites from the menu included filet mignon, fresh salmon with Cajun flair, his award winning gumbo and Crawfish Etouffee.
Dessert options included crème brulee and fresh chocolate hot lava cake. Lunches were dishes along the lines of shrimp/crab and bacon wraps, Asian salads and homemade Cuban sandwiches. Are you drooling yet?
All that said, this was a fishing trip after all.
Our daily guides were Paul and Jerry, life long saltwater anglers with a remarkable passion for fishing this region. So much so they both leave the comfort of their own homes in Florida for the season, and obsess over putting clients on their fish of a lifetime in the marsh.
When it comes to fishing the LA delta, there’s no way to sugar coat it. The weather matters, a lot. It’s common for the weather Gods to throw you some curveballs throughout your stay. Wind, lack of sunlight and rain are all possibilities during the prime season of Oct-Dec. Our four days were a mixed bag of awful, average and amazing.
When chasing bull reds it’s not uncommon for your shots to be 25′ or less. Seems easy enough, right? Looks can be deceiving. With stained water, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to see these fish until they are at your rod tip. By then it’s usually too late.
However, when fish are cruisingor ‘floating’ they are off the bottom and the game changes. These fish can be seen from as far out as 10-50′ depending on conditions. On average, these fish are much more aggressive too.
I’m not saying the fish in the bottom won’t eat, however spooking fish “you never saw” utill a cloud of mud erupted boatside is a common occurrence.
As far as gear goes, we pretty much fished 9 wts the entire time with a normal WF floating line.
Leaders were 6′ long, typically made of 4 feet of 50lb, 1 foot of 40lb to 1 foot of 30lb. Easy.
With Eleven, all gear and other necessities are provided for making the logistics incredibly convenient. You don’t need to bring anything except your clothes and personal belongings.
If you’re a gearhead, like me, bring your own rods and use the guides flies and leaders. Simple.
I could easily see a wide range of skill levels enjoying this trip. Although our group was on a mission to chase the “bulls” that made this place famous, there’s a number of areas with smaller, 10-15 lb fish (still huge!). The guides told stories of countless shots and “suicide fish” recklessly attacking flies.
All in all our group landed bull reds everyday from 17-31 lbs, and a few “slot” fish in the 12-15 lb range. Almost all fish were on fly. There were a few exceptions when the weather got bad and we flipped over to gear rods. A really nice back up plan if the weather throws you a massive curveball.
Other species included black drum from 18-25 lbs and a Sheepshead I was finally able to fool on the last day. Both being super fun species to cast at throughout the day.
If you can’t tell by now this really was an incredible trip right down to the last detail. The entire crew at Eleven Angling was a class act and has their routine as dialed as any.
There’s a long-time argument going on in the fishing and fly fishing world about nets. Are they necessary? Do they help or hurt the fish?
We’ve broken down some of the main points from each side of the net debate, and included what we at MHFF practice when guiding or fishing solo.
Nets: Nets are extremely helpful in landing hard-fighting fish without stressing them too much. Securing one with a timely scoop of the net can also reduce fighting time and help the angler manage popping the hook out of the fish in less time with less risk.
An added benefit of the net is that the sooner you contain the fish, the less likely it is to come off the hook. Presumably, this means you will land more fish using a net. For those who enjoy taking photos with their catch, a net also offers more security around the fish and a safe place for them to catch their breath.
Quick note: We recommend that the handling time from when the fish hits the net to the second of its release be no more than one minute, and the fish be kept underwater as much as possible. This gives enough time to pop the hook out of the fishes mouth and gives them a lower chance of delayed mortality from being over-stressed during the fight/handling.
No Nets: There are plenty of reasons to use a net, and as it turns out plenty of reasons to avoid one. The most common alternative to using a net for trout is the tail-grab, where the angler gets close enough to the fish to grab it by the meat of it’s tail, release the hook, lift the fish for a quick picture, and let it swim back as quickly as possible.
Many nets, especially with uncoated nylon or string baskets are harmful to trout and all salmonids because they take off the fishes slime coat, which protects them from disease and acts as the animal’s immune system. Once released, fish with damaged slime coats are more susceptible to infection, disease, parasites, or even muscle and tissue decay.
To some, the landing net is just another thing to buy, and possibly lose while fishing. People might prefer to simply not pack a net as it’s one less thing to worry about.
Our Opinion: The size of the fish also plays into the conversation. Even those who use nets are unlikely to spend the extra time trying to coax a spirited five-inch rainbow into one, because it’s easier to grab the line and pop the hook out, releasing the fish as quickly as possible. Bigger, more elusive fish are higher risk and more of a challenge though! So maybe a net can help us bring these in safely for a quick picture and less stressful unhooking.
Especially when guiding, a client’s first fly-caught fish is a big deal, and we intend to treat it as such! Using a net with a rubberized basket will help us get the fish in, get a memorable picture, and send the trout back on its way. The handling experience from our’s and the client’s point of view is much easier and less risky this way.
If you’re prepping for a light trip, planning on catching smaller fish, or not planning on taking many photos with your catch, maybe leave the net at home. Then again, maybe don’t as it can be easier to secure a fish with one and you don’t want one to pop off the hook right at the end of a fight. You’re plan is totally up to you, but be sure to have one before you have a fish on the opposite end of your line! Just simple parameters to keep in mind when fishing can help you get fish in quicker and reduce handling time on fish.
Regardless of your opinion on whether using a net is necessary, the most important thing is to ensure the fish swims back healthy. How you do that is up to you, but a quick Google search can point you in the right direction and help you to steer clear of poor fish handling.
Well the weather’s been quite a bit different over the last week or so, but our trout aren’t going anywhere! Last weekend, we got the Tahoe Basin’s first solid snowstorm of the season, which pushed water temperatures down in the low 40’s and in early morning, even high 30’s. Our local ski resorts are reporting 3-5 inches of snow from yesterday’s dusting, making it easy enough to get down to the river. After today, we don’t expect any more showers until after Christmas. Until the next storm rolls in, expect daytime temperatures in the mid-40’s and nightly lows between 15 and 20 degrees.
Winter flows on any tailwater typically means low cfs, and this applies to the Truckee too. Boca Reservoir is letting out a little more water than a couple weeks ago, but with the expected dry weather pattern the next week or two it might return to it’s previous output.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 76
Truckee to Boca: 160
Boca to Farad: 246
Farad to Stateline: 273
As previously mentioned, the nighttime temperatures are forecasted around 15-20 Fahrenheit, and with the highest temperature usually in the early afternoon, our fish will likely be most active at the same time. The cloudy weather did help out the baetis hatches, which have been happening around noon on the Truckee.
We’ve been finding fish on midge patterns in sizes 18-20, and baetis patterns in sizes 18-22. If you’re in the right spot at the right time you just might stumble upon some good dry fly fishing opportunities during these baetis hatches. Slow eddies and near-stagnant pockets are good holding spots for fish feeding on top.
For dries, keep it small and watch the area your fly lands in like a hawk! With these miniature patterns, the current will often push them an inch or two under the surface. Don’t be afraid to let this happen, as it will imitate an emerger and will still be shallow enough for you see when the fish takes.
Our guides have been getting most fish on indicator nymphing rigs, and although euro nymphing can still be effective, it’s harder to find heavy enough flies that match our delicate midge and baetis patterns.
Fish the deeper, slower runs and pools thoroughly, as the fish aren’t going to move much to eat. A good mindset for winter fishing is to assume there’s fish in every place you would fish. Then pick apart that spot, so to make sure that the fish had the opportunity to take your fly before you move on to the next pool.
With the holiday season nearly upon us, most of us are looking through online catalogs and stores for those perfect gifts. For the fly fishers out there, an easy way to spice up your holiday gifts is to purchase them from environmentally-aware companies, or brands that give back to our rivers, oceans, fish, et cetera.
To make it easier for you, here’s a list of companies that give back a little to the places that we enjoy so much!
Patagonia: The Patagonia brand is without doubt the most environmentally aware outdoor brand. From their new regenerative-organic clothing items, WornWear program, or Patagonia Provisions, they make a big splash in the outdoors industry. Top-quality gear from a brand that is, according to their slogan, “in business to save our home planet”? Count us in!
Patagonia also created the 1% for the Planet program, which offers an easy way for other big companies and grassroots organizations to start giving back to the places we play in. The program takes 1% of a participating companies’ profit each month and puts it toward an environmental nonprofit organization, changing the receiver of donations each month. So far, the program has funded over 270 million dollars for the environment! Check out the Patagonia site here.
Orvis: The Orvis fly fishing brand has been popular in the fly fishing and wing shooting industries for over a century, but it was in 1989 that they made the switch to help their customers defend the environment with purchases. Before the new CEO Perk Perkins took over the company in 1992, he brought an idea to his father, former Orvis CEO.
He figured that many of their customers were passionate about protecting the environment, but not all of them were sure how to do so most efficiently. The Orvis brand decided to make it easier and donate 5% of all pre-tax profit back to the environment. Using unbiased authorities to determine which causes are the most effective, then distributing Orvis’s 5% to a variety of them, the company gives a significant amount of their profit back to the environment. In 2019, Orvis donated nearly half a million dollars spread out to 173 nonprofits, and introduced 15,000 people to the fly fishing world. Shop the Orvis catalog here. Great reasons to keep the company in mind while holiday shopping for friends and family!
RepYourWater: RYW was founded by husband and wife team Garrison and Corinne Doctor in 2011. Since the brand’s inception, they’ve pledged to give back 3% of all profits to conservation. As of July 2020, they’ve donated over $250K to conservation efforts, a huge milestone for the young brand!
RYW donates most of its 3% to assorted Trout Unlimited chapters, Wildlife Federations, and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. To check out their products, click here.
Fishpond Products: Fishpond USA is perhaps best known for their nets and packs, but should also be recognized as “the first fly fishing business to become a certified B Corporation,” according to their website.
For those of you who don’t know, a B Corporation means a Benefit Corporation, which balances benefit and business most efficiently. They are “businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” Learn more about B Corporations here.
From making products from recycled commercial fishing nets to spreading environmental about like the Pebble Mine through social media, Fishpond is a brand that should be on your list this holiday season.
Belize is home to some world-class saltwater fisheries. Fly anglers are most familiar with flats fishing on skiffs pushed around in knee deep water. Target species include tarpon, bonefish, permit, triggerfish and more that visit the shallow flats to feed.
Just like in our cold water salmon rivers, gill nets are an extremely productive method of hauling in fish. The problem: it isn’t ethical.
Gill nets cover a certain depth and are kept to the surface by attached buoys. They’re left deployed, often for days at a time and holes in the net trap fish. This method of harvesting isn’t sustainable for the following reasons:
There’s no navigating around non-target species. Take the following scenario: You target bonefish on the flats for food and profit. But, a popular sportfish (tarpon) also feeds on the flats. There’s no way to only catch bonefish and not tarpon! Since anything that ends up in the net dies, gill nets make for increased unintentional killing of gamefish.
You can’t put an effective size limit on the catch. Sure, some fish may be small enough to slip right through the net, but maximum-size limits and slot limits can’t be enforced.
Fortunately, the age of gill netting is coming to an end. On November 6 of this year, the government of Belize passed a law that will prohibit the use of gill nets in any of the country’s waters. This will help out the sportfishing community of the Caribbean Sea by reducing stress on gamefish and hopefully keeping the population from declining. With healthier fish populations, Belizean guides and others that depend on Caribbean gamefish will have healthier businesses.
The prohibition of gill nets in Belize is a huge step forward in protecting our saltwater flats fish. Although there are still many steps to be taken in ensuring the health of saltwater fisheries, we’re stoked that the right actions are being made!
Belize is working to “ensure that Belizeans will be able to depend on a bountiful and beautiful Caribbean Sea for generations to come.” Well put! We are with you all the way!