The 3rd annual FPGA Fly Fishing Workshop (FFF’17) was down on attendance, only Ken and myself participating from the 19-20th Feb, 2017. This year, it was on the Trinity River, California, fishing for steelhead (sea run rainbow trout). These are a reasonably hard fish to catch, one fish being a good result. Arrived at about 10am at SFO and was met by Ken at the airport.
The FFF’17 conference gift.
After renting a car, we had to plan where to go fishing. We had initially wanted to try the Yuba River and Feather River, but the Yuba got blown out because of 9 inches of rain in a week and also the Oroville Dam was about to explode and had to let water out. There was talk of evacuating some towns.
We decided on the Trinity River if a hotel could be found. Rang the Old Lewiston Inn but there was no answer. Started the drive anyway and went to get fishing licenses at the only place that sold them, a Walmart just outside of Sacramento. By the time we got there, a complete plan had emerged. The Inn called and confirmed a vacancy. This allowed a call to The Fly Shop to arrange a guide (this was all done inside Walmart). Purchased our fishing license and then celebrated with lunch at In and Out.
On the 4 hour drive to Lewiston, the road was flooded to a degree that traffic was backed up for several miles. Fortunately we were using Google Maps, which took us on a detour, saving at least an hour. We did drive through pretty deep water though.
Got to The Fly Shop at 1720, not long before its closing at 1800. Seeing the logo there, Ken realised he knew about it through their catalog that he had at home. The guys there were very helpful and even gave us each a nice poster sized map of the region.
The next morning at 8am, met our guide, Mike Parker and after launching the boat under the bridge new the Old Lewiston and doing a shuttle to the pull out point, we were fishing at 9am. It was cold and raining. At the launch place, a group of local pot growers (really) put in just ahead of us.
Mike mentioned that he went to Rush Creek the previous day and saw about 20 something fish rise to mayflies before the sun came out and killed it.
Our rig was as follows. Amnesia line loop 3 ft to tippet material to a 3ft bobber to split shot then swivel, 18 inches to a pegged pink bead then hook 2 inches behind, to the shank of the hook is 1 ft to a big bead head rubber legged stonefly, 18 inches to 3-4 inches of globug yarn clinch knotted to tippet, then a bare hook, 3 or 4 inches behind.
At 10:30am I hooked a nice brown trout and landed it without too much drama.
At 11am Ken caught his first steelhead on fly and the first fish using a strike indicator.
At lunch, it was cold and raining. We saw another boat and notice a fish rising in front of their boat. Then we noticed a lot of mayflies on the water. We went back up and Ken, after a number of casts, managed to hook the fish on an #18 Adams. Unfortunately, it came off a few seconds later because it swam towards him.
Nothing happened for a few more hours, until 3:30pm when I hooked a fish and lost it a second later. We drifted the same spot about 8 times, Mike calls it “Commitment” and I noticed my split shot had fallen off. The next after after putting a new one on, we hooked a steelhead in the same spot as the previous fish. This one was wrapped tightly with three hooks set in its body and couldn’t swim. We netted the fish but unfortunately I dropped it in the water before we got a good photo. We estimated it at about 28” and 9lb. This is the best photograph.
We retrieved the boat at Steel Bridge.
I went on about the solunar tables but neither of my uneducated boat mates believed me. Following the trip, we found the minor time to be 1040-1240, which was the period when we caught 2 of our 3 fish. Coincidence? I think not.
Throughout the day, we missed plenty of fish, maybe a dozen good strikes, felt the fish on about half a dozen occasions and boated 3. This was actually a good outcome because often, either no touches or a couple of possible hits are all your get when steelhead fishing.
Mike was a great guide, with lots of entertaining stories and we learned a lot from him. He is highly recommended and we hope to have the privilege of fishing with him again in the future. It was a magnificent and memorable day.
The next day, we fished on foot. Had a tough day including Ken turning a 4 piece rod into a 5 piece and some people in a raft stopping and moving right in on our spot. As we were about to give up, we decided to change tactics from nymphs to dry flies. There was a mayfly hatch going on at the time with swallows swooping around to feed on them. Ken saved the day by catching his first fish, a small hatchery steelhead, on a self-tied dry fly (sorry for the fuzzy photo, he dropped it in the water before I could get a better one).
The day after the workshop, in San Jose, Ken literally hit a fork on the road, resulting in a flat tyre. Although a large amount of time was wasted, it is funny that he was disabled by cutlery.