Sunday, December 16, 2012

Trip Report: Merced River on the Fly

Yesterday I got the opportunity to fish my favorite river in the valley, the Merced. The Merced is far enough off of the beaten path that almost no one goes there to fish, and even those people that do fish it don't float it, so the only access a very small portion of the river. Now I know what you're thinking,"Isn't the Merced closed to fishing from October 31st to January 1st?" It is true that the portion of the river below Crocker-Huffman dam (anadromous waters) is closed to fishing from October 31st to January 1st to protect the salmon that spawn in the river, but we found a stretch that runs from Merced Falls to Crocker-Huffman Dam. Since this portion of the river is between 2 dams, no salmon spawn there so it is never closed.

Brrrr! Got out to my truck in the morning to leave and it was totally iced over.
Drew, one of my co-workers, and his buddy arrived at the put in promptly at 6:00am. In order to access this stretch of river you have to paddle across an afterbay of lake McSwain and protage around one of the dams, so I wanted to get there early so we could start fishing at first light (my WAF account was low, but since the co-worker that invited me isn't available often, I was allotted a half day and wanted to maximize my fishing time).

Our launch. Beautiful day.
Once our paddle and portage was complete, we arrived at the promise land. In the hole below the dam there were trout jumping everywhere! We spread out and started fishing. My co-worker, his buddy and myself were fly fishing and Drew was throwing a spinner, so we had the artificial bases covered. Within 5 minutes we had all caught and landed our first trout. We then proceeded to catch another and another and another.
First fish. Caught on a San Juan worm.
Even with technincal difficulties we still caugh fish.

Doing some rigging.
Working the hole below the dam.


It was literally either hooking up or at least getting a strike every cast. From that first hole we caught and landed 20 plus trout, although I will admit that we caught so many I lost count. The fishing was even better than anticipated! On top of the fishing being great, the hole below the dam had a perfect eddy for side-drifting in my Coosa, so I got to land several fish while in my kayak. All happy campers, we proceeded to float the rest of the river. Being that this was the first time I had floated this stretch of river and I was on a time crunch, I only brought one fly rod and it was rigged to nymph, which allows me to fish deeper water. Most of the riffles and runs we encountered were broad and shallow and would have perfect for swinging streamers, so less fish were caught in the rest of the river than could have been. Oh well, I will be better prepared next time. I still picked up about 10 fish during the rest of the float, bringing my overall total to around 20 fish landed and around 60 fish for the group. You can't ask for a better day than that.

Drew with a 14 incher.

Nice fish with Coosa in the background.

Look at the tail on that thing.

This stretch of river is broad without very many overhanging obstructions. Not only that, but, there are several eddies which allow those in kayaks to safely side-drift, allowing avid kayak fishers to catch fish while in their boat. Overall, this is the perfect kayak float. See you on the water.

One happy fisherman.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Port of Sacramento Striper Tournament

This was the last tournament of a three tournament series and in my opinion, the most exciting. One of the highlights of this tournament is that rather than fishing in a lake or reservoir with stocked fish, we were in an open water system chasing wild fish. Don't get me wrong, I like fishing for planted trout just as much as anyone, but chasing wild fish whatever species they may be, is always more gratifying.

I had never fished the Port of Sacramento before last weekend and I was very excited to do so. It is very close to the office I work out of, and if the fishing turned out to be good, it would make a great place for fishing quickees either before or after work. Since I had never fished this location before, I decided to make a weekend of it, scouting on Saturday and participating in the tournament on Sunday. My wife was kind enough to grant my request and take care of our new baby all weekend.
Saturday Dknight (NCKA handle) and I arrived with kayaks, minnows and some red worms. Our intention was to use the red worms to catch bluegill and then use the bluegill to catch stripers. The minnows were a back up plan in case we were unable to catch bait. I had read the post on NCKA by Steveislost, which outlined all of the fishing spots at the port, and felt confident I could accomplish my goal. By the end of the day, however,  we had big fat goose egg to show for our effort. Despite getting skunked, Saturday was educational. Even though no fish were caught by us, other folks out there caught fish and were kind enough to share what they were using to be successful.

On Sunday, I was nervous that I would repeat getting skunked. I was also excited to see such a great turnout. There must have been 50 kayakers launching. I was also looking forward to fishing with one of the other Headwaters Fishing Team members, Victor. He's usually a good luck charm for me. We signed in and launched, headed for the a locke that controls water inflow from the Sacramento River. We were marking fish everywhere and I had seen 2 stripers caught here on Saturday afternoon, but no luck for us. We then decided to drift down toward an overpass that borders Lake Washington, another place I had seen fish caught the day before. About half way down,"zzzz," my reel went off. I was so excited! No skunk! In my excitement however, I tightened my drag down too far, and despite Jim's recommendation for at least 12 pound test, this reel only had 10 pound test. "Snap," no more fish. Obviously a lot of yelling followed. I re-rigged and put on another minnow and in another half hour hooked up again. This time I left the drag nice and loose. About 10 minutes later I had a 19'' striper in the boat. If I hadn't been in the kayak, I would have been doing a happy dance. Victor and I ended the tournament with one fish each and were both ecstatic. I didn't take my usual 3rd place, but I was still happy to not have got skunked. Not to mention it was great to see so many fish. People submitted catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. Jim even accepted an entry that was mudsuckers They also awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall for the series. I took 4th, but was happy that a fellow team member, Adam Koons, had taken 3rd. Maybe I'll have better luck next year. If you haven't fished the Port of Sacramento, I highly recommend checking it out. It's as if they designed it for kayak fishing and it's free to park and launch.

My striper. Sweet!
Striper in my new measuring station
Victor proudly displays his catch of the day.

FreshKATS Final standings! 
Folsom Fling:
1st Place: Adam Koons- Headwaters Fishing Team
2nd Place: Rob Knowles- Team Wilderness Systems
3rd Place: Bill Becket- Headwaters Fishing Team 

Fall Trout Guys:
1st Place: Rob Knowles- Headwaters Fishing Team
2nd Place: Cawingshooter
3rd Place: Bill Becket- Headwaters Fishing Team
Trash Prize: Jim Schnider

Port O Sac Stripers:
1st Place: Ron Weimarian
2nd Place: Rob Knowles- Team Wilderness System
3rd Place: Joel (Sandbag)
Trash Prize: Victor Woolworth- Headwaters Fishing Team

Series Champs:
1st Place: Rob Knowles- Team Wilderness Systems
2nd Place: Cawingshooter
3rd Place: Adam Koons- Headwaters Fishing Team

Great work guys! Thanks to Jim and FreshKATS for putting on such an amazing series!  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Headwaters Striper Seminar Video

For those of you who have been asking us to do a Podcast version of our in store seminars, well here you go. Scott Strain from who puts together a weekly Podcast on fishing here in Nor Cal drove out to the shop form the bay area to volunteer his tim and expertise to put tother this awesome video of our last seminar. Jim Meier does a great job presenting the basics of Striper fishing, and more specifically how to fish the Port of Sacramento from a kayak. Thank to all who came out for this event. We hope to see these continue to grow, and as long as you all keep supporting our endevors we will keeping making them happen.

Find out more about our Kayak Fishing Community and get plugged into more Nor Cal events here:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guide to the port of Sac

Sharing this from my friend Steve. He did a very detailed post on Nor Cal Kayak Anglers.

Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this post Steve. Your the man!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dungeness Crab Opener at Bodega Bay

Last November 3rd was the crab opener. It may not have been the best opener in Bodega Bay, but the weather was beautiful. I arrived in to Doran beach Friday afternoon and noticed there was already a big NorCal Kayak Angler presence. I parked the truck set up camp and got all my crabbing gear ready. Walked over to the other NCKA camps and it seemed like everyone had decided to go out at 12:01 AM. It seemed like forever for that time to come. We all hung around the fire, eating rock crab, flank steak and Japanese pizza waiting for 12:01 to arrive.

At 11:00 I headed back to my camp and decided to bait my traps and get everything ready to launch under the moon. Doug, Dave, and Tony were at my site and getting there gear together also for the midnight launch. When everyone was all set we gathered our gear and yaks and proceeded to the beach. The water was so flat and calm, it looked like a lake out there. May have been the calmest I have ever seen Doran Beach, with the moon shining there was no need for a head lamp. I decided to only drop 2 traps and bring the rest out in the morning. After dropping the two traps, Tony and I realized how great the conditions were and we had to go and get some rings to use for an hour. Tony went and got his ring and I used my Promar Ambush ring. After a 15 minute soak, I pulled up the ambush net and had a little over 15 dungeness crab in the trap, and 5 keepers, but after looking at them, I realized they were all females and back they went. I decided to put the trap back  down and let it sit for some more time. Crabbing under the waning moon may have been one of the most magical kayaking experiences I have ever had. There was a bioluminescence to the water and rope when pulling up the traps. The water was so calm, I kept joking with Tony that you could almost sleep out here. There were many people on the jetty with head lamps it made it look like a search and rescue crew at night.  On the last pull of the ambush trap I was able to pull up one keeper and we decided to call it quits and head in and get some sleep. Before we went in we decided to check one of the traps, which was probably not a great idea. I pulled up one of my square traps to find a good 10 crabs working on the bait and then some of the bait fell out and all that was left was one chicken leg. Since it was already late I sent down the lonely chicken leg in hopes of it being able to last into the morning.

Dougs first time crabbing off a kayak

Lights on the water

Tony kept on getting all the little ones

Tony enjoying the calm water and waning moon

First pull of the 2012 Crab Season with a Promar Ambush net

Woke up around 7:00 and there were already people out on the water, and they day use parking was full. I figured there was no rush since my pots had been soaking overnight. It was amazing to see all the kayaks on the water, it looked like land mines with all the bouys and floats on the water. There were so many it actually took me a little bit to find my first trap. I pulled it up and there was nothing in there and the bait was gone, the lone chicken leg did not make it through the night. On the second trap I pulled it up and had 5 keepers, one which was a jumbo and the other just over 6”. The rest of the day was hard work to get a limit and I ended up finishing the day with 9. I sent two home with a friend to share with his wife and child. 

Taking the Caribbean 14 out on a beautiful day. 

There were kayakers, shore crabbers and Power Boats

Calm and Sunny

Kayaks lined up on the beach

On Sunday after leaving the pots out overnight I was only able to come up with a few crabs for the whole day. Tim S. on the other hand was a able to get some big Jumbos to take home off of the Jackson Cuda. Tim is actually building a crabbing kayak and I can’t wait to see it. There were also some kayakers who went out to fish while there traps soaked.

Tim Crabbing off the Jackson Cuda

Tim kept pulling up Jumbos one at a time

A couple of the crab from Sunday, a Jumbo and one a little over 6"

This little guy fell out of the trap

Ruben with some sweet fish!

Narisa and Melo enjoying the sun

This years crabbing has been off to a slow start for Bodega Bay, while those launching their kayaks out of Half Moon Bay have been getting limits within a short time. Hopefully the crabbing picks up in Bodega Bay, maybe it has something to do with the warm weather. In the end, it really didn’t matter how much crab were being caught, it was just great to be spending time with friends on the water.

Article Written by: Victor Woolworth

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall Guys Trout Tournament

Well as you know, there has been a recent addition to my family and that means that fishing time is at a premium. Fotunately my wife was nice enough to let me attend the Fall Guys Trout tournament last weekend at Amador Lake.

When I arrived at Amador Lake, I was pleased to see a nice turnout of folks and lots of new faces. All in all I think there were about 20 people entered. We hit the water at 7:00 sharp. I could not have been more excited. I knew from reading fishing reports that the lake was full of trout, which should make for a great day of fishing. I was also excited to try out the new track system I had installed at Headwaters Kayak Shop.
Sweet track and rod holder setup I had installed at

I paddled out of the launch ramp cove and deployed 2 rods, one with a 2 inch Powergrub with no weight and one with my trusty cowbells tipped with a nightcrawler. Almost immediately I saw other people catch fish. I had to anxiously wait about 15 minutes before I got my first hook up on a the grub. Whew! One in the boat, the pressure is off.

I continued trolling the grub and switched the other rod out to a wooly grubber. I had a few more strikes on the grub, but nothing would stick. This problem was compounded by the fact that you could see fish hitting the surface eveywhere. Hours passed. I kept changing lures, but no luck. It is now 11:00 and after talking to some of the other anglers, I was getting nervous. I  bumped into Adam Coons, another member of the fishing team and asked if he had had any recent action. He said he had just had a strike on a crankbait. I already had a rod rigged with a shad style crankbait and I tied a Diawa DC Shiner on the other rod and paddled the length of the lake back to the dam. About halfway back the rod with the DC shiner on it sang out. Fish on! I started reeling my second rod in, the line snagged on something in the kayak. I set that rod down so I cou.d reel in the fish. As I'm fighting the fish I hear the sound of a rod sliding across the deck and plunk. I quickly grasp the line and rap it around a hook on the kayak, all the while still fighting the fish. I finally get the fish in and get it secured on the stringer. Now to deal with my deep sixed rod. Unfortunately I had the drag set really loose so that when a fish struck I could hear it. Fortunately the rod that went over was for bass and reel was spooled with 15lb test. I was able to retrieve the rod by spooling the reel and pulling it up by the loop of line tied to the reel spool. My lucky day.

Now that that was over, back to fishing. I let the DC shiner out again and 10 minutes later the reel sang out. I got that fish boated and another angler offered to take a pic of me. I lifted the fish out of the net and the fish gave one last giant kick, which was just enough to free it from my grasp. Into the water it went. Oh no! Luckily the fish hit the water and just floated, so I was able to re net it. Yet another calamity averted. It is now about 12:00. Thankfully I now have three fish in the boat. I let the DC Shiner out again. About 20 minutes later I got another srike. I slowed down to let the fish grab the lure again. I then look over my shoulder to see a massive pontoon boat bearing down on me. I paddled out of the way quickly. No fish is worth getting keel hauled.

The lure I owe my 3rd place to.

  I ended the day with 3 trout, the largest was 16 3/4 inches. That was enough to put me in 3rd. I was a happy camper. Thanks to Jim for hosting the event and thanks to Headwaters for the awesome track rigging.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Delta Striper Fishing

I cut and pasted this info from a NCKA post by Steveislost: He took notes from a Fishermans Warehouse Seminar. So there you have it Third and info, but I thought it was very good. 

"The speaker was Randy Pringle tournament fisherman and guide.  The topic was Delta Striper fishing.

Basic info.

1)  The delta is primarily silty bottom with the really only structure along the banks, weed, grass, etc.  There is very little times that live bait feeding predators will be out roaming the center of the river (with the exception if there is a drop off or submerged structure.)  Virtually all bait is located along the shore line weeds/structure therefore that is where the Stripers will be (exception those that are going from A to B - commuting).  Large Stripers need large fish to maintain their metabolism so big bait - big fish.

2) Shore fishing in a bend in the river the best spot is the out side bend of the current directly where the straight part of the river flows into the bank.  On a boat you would want to be on the inside of the bend just below the apex of the bend as there will be a reduction of the current almost a eddy where fish will hold and ambush bait pushed down the river.  

3) Baits

- Rat-l-trap style baits 3/4oz or larger.  Prefers Strike King as they are the second generation Rat-l-traps (Rat-l-traps are susceptible to the trebles hooking themselves or the front hook wrapping around the nose and when really ripping they tend to flip on their side). Prefers mono for the stretch that will prevent the line snapping when casting as well as the slight give when Stripers inhale the bait versus the no give of braid. 14-20lb line. Vary the retrieve and add erratic movement.

- Large Road-runners with the chin spinner blade.  Adds the spring on clip to the eye of the head which allows you to screw on a curly tail grub/worm and then rig it weedless.  Works good in structure, drop offs, along weed lines, jigging.  Quick lift and let slowly wiggle and drop on the retrieve.  Bite is on the drop.  Use multiple color combinations.  Yellow, chartreuse, white are favorite colors.  Yellow for murky water.  White/Shad/Bluegill colors for clear water.

- Spoons for vertical jigging.  Uses 3/4 oz Hopkins spoons.  Switch out treble to siwash for easier fish removal.  Important on when you get into a school. No casting strictly vertical.  Drop to the bottom slightly thumbing spool so you can feel the bite.  Once it touches bottom crank the rod tip down to water level and then half crank up. Raise tip up but not higher than being able to set the hook should you get a bite at the top of the lift.  The drop is the most important as that is where the action of the lure comes as well as the bite.  You want enough slack to allow the jig to wobble but not enough slack that you can't feel the bite.  Stripers will bite and drop the lure quickly so need to be able to hook set quickly.

Swimbaits- A-rigs have their place and time but not the guaranteed fish getter.  Prefers a single as it can be just effective but easier to manage fish release.  Create a pilot hole in the swimbait for easier hook penetration.  Speed is the most important part of swimbaits in order to keep realistic movement.

-Top water.  From mid-December to February primary fishing technique.  Big, loud, active.  Prefers his own designed top water plug, of course (Ima Big Stick - $19.99). Find flats and ends of sloughs.  Braided line to cut through weeds when fighting fish.  Don't stop cranking.  Unlike a Bass, Stripers will keep aggressively charging a bait taking swipes.  Sometimes varying the retrieve will turn on the actual bite.  

Wrapped up the seminar around 8pm and was sort of amped about doing some Striper fishing.  Unfortunately had no bait and doubted I would be able to catch any bluegills so I figured I would take a quick jaunt down to the port to try some Salmon night jigging at the gates.  Got there around 9pm, jigged through the incoming tide all for not.  Nothing rolling or jumping.  Pretty quiet.  Still fun out there."

Again posted info was taken from Steveislost on NCKA. Thanks Steve for taking notes and sharing with the rest of us. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bio Bill lands catch of a lifetime.

Team member Bill Becket just landed the catch of his life. 19" long 7.75 lb baby girl names Carrie. Lots of love going out to bill and his family today. Glad the baby waited till Bill was off the water. :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great Combo Trip on the Moke

I was fortunate today to get the oppotunity to fish the Mokelumne river one last time before it closes for the winter this Monday. My hope was to have a great day of floating and fishing for steelhead, or as I like to call them, O.Mykiss, since rainbow trout and steelhead are the same species and they can often be difficult to tell apart. But enough technicalities, on with the fishing!

I think maybe we overpacked. Note that our boats were heavy enough to flatten the tires.
I woke up this morning psyched about the trip. I got enven more excited when I looked out the window and then checked the weather: cool and overcast. Perfect for steelhead fishing. I then packed for the trip and as usual by the time I was done I had a rediculous amount of fishing gear in my Cuda.
The Cuda ready for action.

Nice Job Jason
I met up with Jason from the shop and we headed up to the day use area. We then realized that we only had one set of wheelies, so we decided to stack the boats so we could walk up a little higher than the last parking lot and fish that much more of the river.

Maybe holding the trout like a bass was a sign.
When we arrived at the river we were happy to see fish rising. Jason got a nightcrawler rigged and was into a fish immediately, while I rigged up some fly rods. Once I finished rigging, I headed down to the river with a nightcrawler and was also into a fish immediately. Neither of the fish were big, but we were off to a good start.

With such great success early on, we thought it could be a really great day of fishing. Unfortunately we didin't hook another trout until several hours later. We did however, discover that the Mokelumne can be a great place to catch bass in the fall. We stopped at a slow back water area and since the trout fishing was slow, decided to see if there were any bass. We were in luck. Not only was the area teaming with bass, but they were hitting the surface. I tied a popper onto my fly rod and ended up catching 5 small bass and a bluegill. Jason also managed to catch 5 or six small bass on a senko. At this point we abaondoned the trout and went into bass mode, searching for other back water ponds. We came to one other pond that had much larger bass in it. Jason was able to catch one bass and even landed a trout on a wacky rigged senko!

Surface action. Sweet!

All in all we had a wonderful day of fishing landing a total of 3 trout, 12 bass, and a bluegill. Not bad for a relaxing day of floating. A big thanks to Jason for shuttling and making today possible.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Under water footage of hundreds of spawning Kokanee's

Adam Koons submitted this footage from one of his recent work days on the Little Truckee River. How would you like to be fishing this hole? Hundreds of Salmon in a tiny river that flows only 1 CFS.

Thanks Adam for the epic footage.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

American River Salmon Hookup 9/29

Thank you to all who attended the salmon presentation last week at Headwaters.  The American river looks promising for our upcoming hookup.  Salmon have already started trickling up past Howe avenue.  With sub 90° days next week and a little luck, I expect to see nets swinging on the 29th.

 Our Salmon hookup on the 29th will begin at 7:00 at the Howe ave river access.  The county park fee is $8.00 per vehicle with small watercraft.  Please do not leave valuables in your car, or park on the street outside the county park.  The tailgate potluck will start at 12:30, where we will announce who has bragging rights for big salmon of the day.

For those who may be new to salmon fishing and may be a bit intimidated by some of the rigging techniques or anchor systems discussed in the presentation: don't worry!  One of the best American river salmon anglers I know catches his fish by casting a spinner as he drifts downstream.  The section of the river that we will fish are slow and easy to paddle.

Please feel free to post any questions on our facebook page.

Recommended Lures:
(spinner) Mepp's "flying C" 7/8oz chartreuse body/silver blade
(flatfish) Maglips chartreuse or blue/purple/yellow

 -Adam Koons (ATD)

Friday, August 31, 2012

White Sea Bass Adventure!

Post by Headwaters Guest contributor: James McGrew

Here's the tale of the biggest fish I ever caught, happened on 8/29/2012.

So I get home from work at about 1am Wednesday morning load gear and catch 2 hours sleep. I met a bunch of guys at the launch and I figure this many yaks today will be epic. Myself, Mike an Howard launch into a killer sunrise and paddle/peddle out to the honey hole. I fish around for a while for a few little bumps that don't stick when Mike comes on the radio an calls me over to him. There here he said this is the spot. Not 5 mins later I get a tap tap and I set hook hard. Didn't feel like much just kinda sat on the bottom. Mike asked me if I was on and I told him yeah but I think a Hali. Then the fish realized it was hooked an headed for the farallons post haste. I waved good by to everyone as I began my long sleigh ride.

I lost all track of time as well as my bearings. This being my first time out for WSB I had earlier picked the brain of the magnificent Mike/solsfr1, I remember him telling me 15 or 20 mins into a fight and they kinda give up. I figured I'd been at it for around 30 the the radio went off and Mike was worried about me I told him I was still fighting and that I would keep in touch. Fast fore ward another 30 mins and I finally start to gain a little line. Then I saw it.... My heart rate jumped and my eyes went all oogley. It was more than I expected. When it surfaced like a noob I just reached down and bare hand grabbed the sucker by the gills and yarded him into my yak. I made short work of bleeding and beating him, then I pause to look around. Crap I'm all alone couldn't see any boats or yaks and it had become foggy as hell without me knowing. 
After a moment I finally decide I prolly should have taken my gps out of my truck. Oops. So I heard the whistle buoy and headed to it. Once I got there I radio'd mike for directions. He said follow the son bro, and that led me right back to the crew. 
I couldn't get this monster into my tankwell on my own so I had been cruising around in my Revo with the fish in between my legs. So Mike and Howard came to my aid and the 3 of us managed to get him all secured. Feeling a little tippy with the added weight I decided to stop fishing and just hang with the boys and ride the high that still hasn't worn off.
So everyone went back I fishing after a few pics and scoping my catch. I hung around with Al/Hobiesomething and we headed in together. Took a few more pics at the launch ramp then headed to the bait shop for ice and weight. 54 inches long and 47 pounds, Truly the fish of my lifetime.

All in all epic day on the water killer company.