General Meeting Reports
February 2017: Crowely Lake Fishing Tactics
Speaker: Ernie Gulley
On February 7th, we were treated to an outstanding program from Southern California fly fishing guide Ernie Gulley that featured Crowley Lake fishing tactics. Crowley is called the “Crown Jewel of the Eastern Sierras” and rightfully so! The trout in this fertile lake are always in fabulous condition due to an extreme abundance of natural food. Ernie went over the various insect hatches including Damsels, Callibaetis, and most importantly, Chironomids. The Midges in this lake proliferate at such a rate that the fish feed on them incessantly for most of the year. He also mentioned bait fish like perch as being another important food source. He showed which flies to use in each fishing scenario and encouraged us to not be afraid and change things up often. He talked about the history and geography of Crowley and listed the cold water streams that feed this lake. He also revealed his “hot spots to fish” based on seasonal conditions like water temperature, food sources and migratory inclinations of the trout.
Ernie has helped pioneer the way we fish indicators and it was a real treat to learn from the master! He shared so many tips on how to find fish and control the depth of our flies that it was almost like listening to a scientist! We also learned what to look for in the way of structure, how to use wind to our advantage, and how to use sinking lines and stripping tactics that work in Crowley as well. This was a terrific program that had everyone’s attention. Many questions were asked and answered and I think we all left with a much better understanding of still water fly fishing. Thanks Ernie! Tremendous program!
January 2017: Mastering the Dry Fly – A Visual Experience
Speaker: Jon Baiocchi
On January 3rd, we were treated to an outstanding program from guide Jon Baiocchi that featured Dry Fly Fishing. This program was exceptional in a number of ways! First, it centered on a very popular method of fly fishing, but one we seldom hear about in any type of forum these days, at least not around here. There’s a lot of nymphing clinics going on but hardly anything on drys. Dry fly fishing is a little bit more personal to each angler’s skill set. It’s a style easy enough to pick up but also difficult enough to ever completely master! You could spend a lifetime enjoying and never really tire of it. Secondly, this program kind of broke new ground with the way in which Jon used animation to illustrate his points. It can sometimes be hard to explain things verbally and dry fly fishing in real time can be very hard to capture on video. Timing and all must be perfect. By framing in animation, Jon was able to slowly and deliberately break down everything involved in the process. Brilliant! I might also add, the quality of his animation and photography was over the top!
This program was so good and had so much in it that I’m tempted to just say, “You should have been there”, but in case you weren’t I’ll try to summarize. Jon started off with a brief history of the dry fly and then moved to understanding rise forms, simple to complex presentations, approaching water structure, tips and tricks, and finally to his all-time favorite drys for eager to educated trout. Jon had everyone’s attention and many questions were asked and answered. I think we all left with a little more knowledge, enthusiasm, and encouragement to fish the “Drys”. Dry fly fishing really is the epitome of fly fishing in the truest sense. Great Program! Thanks Jon!
December 2016: Slideshows
The December meeting featured slideshow presentations from our own members, showcasing some of their personal fishing adventures from the year 2016. We had presentations from Sam Yee, Andy Penn, Rob Scafe, Gary Howard, Ken Giesser and Craig Williams.
Sam started the evening by sharing slides and video of exciting Delta Bass action, including Smallmouth, Spotted and Largemouth. He caught some real beauties and I can attest to the fact that the North Delta really is a quality Smallmouth fishery! By the way, did you notice the ease at which Sam was casting and double hauling from his boat? If you haven’t learned the double haul yet, then you need to cast with Sam or Forrest on the lawn before our summertime meetings. They are two of the best casting instructors I know, and another reason why our club is so special! Thanks Sam!
Next Andy Penn took us to Alaska and the Iliama River Lodge near the mouth of the Iliama River. What a tremendous lodge, with unbelievable accommodations, food, and some pretty outstanding fly fishing for Arctic Char and trophy Rainbows. Off the charts! Thanks Andy!
Rob Scafe followed with a beautiful array of wildlife slides from inside Yellowstone National Park in the fall. He and his wife stayed in Ennis and drove to the park each day where they were thrilled to witness up close, bison, bears, bighorn sheep, moose, elk and wolves! What an experience! Thanks Rob!
After that Gary Howard brought us to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, where he packed us in to Emigrant Lake for some outstanding fishing and camping. He shared beautiful slides of fish and fishing, utilizing some nifty video footage in the process. I’m always a little surprised at the size of those bruisers in that lake! He also shared some great shots of the geography of the area and its wildlife. Thanks Gary!
Craig Williams and I finished with a slideshow that featured our club’s September outing to the Upper Sac and Dunsmuir.
… I hope you all experience great fishing adventures in 2017 and remember that all adventures are better when shared! Happy New Years!
Ken Giesser, CFFU Programs Director
November 2016: Fly Lines
Speaker: Jeff Putnam
On November 1st we were treated to an outstanding program from Jeff Putnam that featured an in depth look at the modern fly line. He started off by sharing a little history of fly line development, citing the Courtland Company for bringing fly lines into the modern era and then crediting Bruce Richards of Scientific Anglers for being the single greatest innovator, ever! He then went on to talk about recent advancements in technology and the almost unbelievable amount of options available for today’s angler. As a factory rep for the Rio Company, Jeff was able to reveal a little bit of the manufacturing process, but only a little. There seems to be quite a bit of secrecy involved and maybe even some voodoo! Anyway, I was fascinated to learn how lines are made, by drawing a core component dipped in liquid PVC through various size dies to produce exacting tapers.
From that point, Jeff broke from the technical and went to the practical. He talked about the importance of balancing your system and matching lines and tapers to the exact fishing situation at hand. He reminded us to always be thinking about what type of fishing we’ll be doing and what size of flies we’ll be using. It all makes a difference! Heavier lines with more aggressive tapers for big flies, streamers and indicators. Longer, smoother tapers for delicate presentations and smaller flies. He then talked about belly length and its function and finally about the running line. He also mentioned that double tapers are coming back and are a very good choice for “in close” fishing because they load better without a lot of line out. He explained weight forwards and lake lines, but surprisingly settled on Rio’s single handed spey line as his personal favorite. He said it’s the best all around roll casting line he’s ever used and throws the most consistent, best loops ever!
Like anything else, practice makes perfect and I can attest that Jeff is the best caster I know, and is extremely generous with his time, talent, teaching and patience with our club. If you get a chance, thank Jeff for all he does for us! Great Program!
(Submitted by Ken Geiser - CFFU Programs Director)
October 2016: Fly Fishing Putah Creek
Speaker: Mike Copithorne
On October 4th we were treated to an outstanding program from Mike Copithorne that featured fly fishing on Putah Creek. Our own Ken Davis started the evening by giving us a brief update on what’s been going on from a conservation standpoint at Putah Creek and showed maps of the area He also touched on the issue of invasive mud snails and how to deal with them in an environmentally safe manner. Thanks Ken!
From there Mike shared a little history of the region, noting Monticello Dam was competed in 1957 and is the second largest impoundment in California, behind Lake Shasta. The Putah Creek fishing section is only 4 ½ miles long but holds some of the largest growing Rainbows our state has to offer. Bruisers in the five to ten pound range are actually quite common! In 2010, Putah Creek was designated a fly fishing only stream, with single barbless hook restrictions and a zero fish limit. This was due in large part to efforts by Trout Unlimited, Cal Trout and local fly fishing clubs. We should be proud of this accomplishment and treat it like the jewel it is! This is one of the many reasons why fly fishing clubs like ours are so very important!
Mike then went on to discuss the biodiversity in Putah Creek with special interest paid to the aquatic insects that comprise the trout’s diet. He mentioned Mayflies, Caddisflies, Midges, Little Yellow Sally Stoneflies, and even Aquatic Worms. He went over fly patterns and also how to achieve a drag free drift which is so important on Putah. He then shared slides of the most gorgeous Rainbows ever, and had most of us salivating at the prospect! I’ve heard many programs on Putah Creek over the years, but I must say this was the best one, evidenced by half of our club members gathering around and asking additional questions well into the break. Thanks Mike. Great Program!
(Submitted by Ken Giesser, Programs Director)
September 2016: Fly Fishing in Cuba
Speaker: Matt Heron
On September 6th we were treated to an outstanding program from Matt Heron that featured fly fishing in Cuba. He started off with a brief history of Cuba and general information that still applies today. I was surprised to learn Cuba is 750 miles long, has 11 million people, and is the number one tourist destination for Canadians. It is still a communist country with very low average income for its people, but has recently been opening up more and more fishing area for visiting anglers. This has been a real boon to their economy, such as it is. Surprisingly, Cuba has environmentally protected its coastline for many years and is the envy of the rest of the world! The fishing flats and mangrove canals are in pristine condition and the fishing is regulated so as to provide virtually virgin water for the angler to experience. You will need a Person to Person Visa and direct flights to Havana are now becoming available. Matt recommended you spend a few days in Cuba before or after your “fishing” to take in some of the sights. It’s a magical place that you will want to explore. The food is exceptional and you’ll be treated like a king, but remember to bring it all, because there are no fly shops in Cuba.
He closed his program by talking about the amazing fishing. It’s a Bonefisher’s paradise with a “grandslam” opportunity available at every single location. The grandslam consists of Bonefish, Tarpon, and the “Holy Grail” of the flats, Permit. He joked about the difference between a beginning Permit fisherman and an expert is usually one Permit. The alternative species fishing is also off the charts with Snook and Grouper heading that list. This was a nice change of pace program that perked everyone’s interest. A lot of members had questions and gathered around well into the break. Thanks Matt. Great Program! (Submitted by Ken Giesser, Programs Director)
August 2016: Klamath River and the Half Pound Steelhead
Speaker: Dennis Lee
On August 2nd we were treated to an outstanding program from Dennis Lee that featured the Klamath River and the Half Pound Steelhead. He started off with a brief history of the various anadromous Salmonoids from Kamchatka to the western United States with special interest paid to the Rainbows we now call Steelhead. He talked about the early days and how these fish were captured, raised at the Mt. Shasta Hatchery in Northern California, and distributed up and down the west coast via milk cans and the railroad. He also cited John Benn as being the father of Steelhead Fly Fishing and that many of the early flies have his name attached to them. He then branched off and gave us a little biology lesson, noting that all Steelhead are Rainbow Trout that travel to the ocean and back. He talked about the difference between adults and half pounders but focused on half pounders because they comprise the majority of runs on the Klamath. The half pounders move back and forth from the ocean several times before they become sexually mature and once they spawn are considered adults. He finished his program by focusing on how to fish for half pounders. He talked about methods and gear, giving a nod towards two handed rods and floating lines. He showed beautiful slides of the all time best half pounder flies with the Brindle Bug, Burlap, Orleans Barber, and Silver Hilton topping the list. He closed by reminding us these fish are travelers and can cover up to 1 ½ miles a day. Keep the faith and don’t give up on a spot because the fish just might arrive at any time! This was a terrific program, loaded with great information from a lifelong Steelheader. Thanks Dennis! (Ken Giesser, Programs Director)
July 2016: Trout Unlimited’s California Field Director
Speaker: David Lass
On July 5th we were treated to an outstanding program from Trout Unlimited’s California Field Director, David Lass. David talked about T.U.’s commitment to rebuilding and sustaining California’s cold water fisheries, mentioning a few of the various programs going on in our state including Klamath Dams Removal, Lost Coast Wild Steelhead Initiative, The National Forest Master Plan to improve watersheds, Little Truckee River Restoration Project, Squaw Creek Restoration Project, Pine Creek Restoration Project for Eagle Lake, and the Truckee River Operating Agreement between California, Nevada and Nevada Tribes to maintain adequate flow in the Truckee. He also gave a big shout out to CFFU for our effort to improve habitat along Putah Creek. He stressed that all of these projects are local in nature and this one in particular has started from the ground up, with people like Ken Davis and Steve Karr helping lead the way. There will be more about this project, along with fishing Putah Creek in the October general meeting.
David then branched off and enthusiastically showed us some of the fishing opportunities available for the visiting angler to the Klamath Falls region of Oregon, calling it the most underappreciated “Trout Hub” in the Western United States. He started by detailing how to float and fish the Klamath River from Keno Dam to J.C. Boyle Reservoir. The fishing looked phenomenal and reminded me of the one time I fished it almost 40 years ago. Trust me, he wasn’t kidding! He then went on and talked about Upper Klamath Lake and its major tributary, the Williamson River, where 20lb. Rainbows are landed each year on dry flys.
This was a terrific program that had every one’s attention! He reminded us to be good stewards of our waters and to always remember that it’s about the fishing! Thanks David! (Ken Giesser, CFFU Programs Director
June 2016: Alternative Species of the Tahoe Region
Speaker: Dan LeCount
On June 6th we were treated to an outstanding program from Dan LeCount about fly fishing for alternative species in the Tahoe region. As it turned out, this program featured more than just fishing alternatives as Dan was the demo tier for the evening, but forgot his vice at home! He quickly jumped into action and tied several of his Pheasant Dragon patterns without a vice, just holding the hook and coming up with beautifully tied, strong, durable flies that were better than most of us can do with a vice. Very impressive! Tim Au Young eventually showed up with a loaner vice from Kiene’s but it was almost a let-down to watch Dan finish up with the proper tools.
As far as the program went, it was a real treat to learn about some of the alternatives available to the fly fisher in the Tahoe region, including the Nevada side. He started by showing us some of the almost unbelievable Smallmouth Bass fishing to be had in the area. He mentioned several lakes and reservoirs including: Stampede, Independence, Boca, Prosser, and the Tahoe Keys. Dan talked about the early, summer, and fall seasons and what to look for in the way of temperature gradient, structure, and food sources. He went on to list the various things that Smallmouth eat, but settled on Crayfish as their number-one choice. Crayfish and Dragonfly patterns are the best all around flies for these wonderful cold water bass. He then talked about the common carp and suggested they could be one of the cagiest of all fish, but also one of the most rewarding to catch. He said there aren’t too many on the California side, but that Nevada is loaded with beasts up to forty pounds. He shared beautiful pictures that backed up this claim! He went on to speak about what to look for, what flies to use, and how to use a stealthy approach to your advantage. Very fascinating information! Dan closed by sharing methods, gear, and seasons to target Mackinaw in the larger, deeper lakes, including night fishing for these bruisers.
This was a terrific program that held everyone’s attention! Many questions were asked and answered will into the break. Dan did a great job of perking our interest and getting us to think just a little bit outside of the usual box. Thanks Dan!
Ken Giesser, CFFU Programs Director
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