Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fly Fishing For Bass At Mather Lake By BioBill

After my skunk at Black Butte, I decided I needed to further educate myself in the ways of bass fishing. Since I am admittedly not the world's best bass fisherman, I figured I would be equally effective either fly fishing or using conventional tackle, so of course I chose to further my fly fishing skills.

My first stop was to Kiene's Fly Shop, my favorite toy store. I happened to luck out on the day that I went, because Jim Christensen was working the shop that day and he happens to do a lot of bass fishing using flies. I explained to him that I fish a lot with folks who like to use conventional tackle and ultimately I would like to keep up with them with my fly rod and that I had tried unsuccessfully last season to land even a legal (12") bass. Jim outfitted me with some recommended flies and also some places to try my luck. Up until now I had been targeting places like the delta (too much water for a beginner to cover), and Rancho Seco lake (too clear) that evidently aren't that great for the beginning fly fisherman. Jim's answer was to try fishing ponds. "Of Course," I thought. When people are asking me about getting into trout fishing, my recommendation is always to hit a small stream. The fish might be smaller, but it is easier for a beginner because only short cast are required, likely lies are clearly evident, and the fish aren't very selective in what they eat. Well the same is true of ponds. Unfortunately I don't have any private land access. Lucky for me there are 2 very small lakes (or large ponds depending on your viewpoint) in the Sacramento area that have bass: Mather Lake and William B. Pond. A third recommendation from Jim was Cameron Park lake, the largest of the three. I decided to hit Mather Lake, since it is the closest to my house.

Mather lake. Lots of bass cover.
Last week was a long week at work, so I was granted a little R&R by my wife on Saturday evening, so off I went to Mather Lake. When I arrived, I could see why Jim recommended it. It was bass heaven. I estimated max depth to be about 20 feet, there is underwater weed growth and overhead cover everywhere, a perfect haunt for largemouth, who like to wait in the shadows for unsuspecting prey to swim by at which point they dart out and engulf it with their huge mouth.

I came armed that day with a surface fly and a crawdad imitation on a sinking fly line. I tried both. I had a grab by a small fish on the crawdad, but there was so much vegetation in the water, it was really hard to fish. I was a little disappointed by this, because I am more familiar with how to fish with a floating line and surface flies for bass than with a sinking line, but that is for another post. After about an hour I changed from a white popper to a small floating frog. I paddled over to another arm of the lake where there was a lot of shade and dense weeds growing all the way to the surface. After about fifteen minutes, I got my first rise from a small fish, the ones I am used to catching, but I couldn't fool this one so I moved on. I noticed that there were some holes in the surface vegetation, which looked like a good ambush point to me. I started targeting these areas with my frog. On about the third hole, as I am stripping the frog in, I notice a small v-shaped wake moving towards my fly. I slowed down my retrieve so that I was just twitching the fly slightly. Then came the swirl that I had been reading about in books, but had yet to experience first hand. Fish on! My rod doubled over and I started grinning. Finally a nice bass! I picked through the weeds until I could see the fish and lipped it. I estimated it's weight at about 2 pounds, by far the biggest bass I had ever caught. I took a few photos, released the fish, laughed, and did a happy dance.

Nice Bass!
I ended the evening with only one more fish that was about 12 inches long. I was extremely pleased with myself. I was on the way to being a bass fisherman. Stay tuned to more bass posts. A big thanks to Jim Christensen at Kiene's Fly Shop for the recommendations.

2nd fish of the evening

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

FreshKATS "Black Butte Bout"

On Saturday March 23rd the FreshKATS started off there kayak fishing series at Black Butte. There were 30 anglers on the water. 

For me it was nice to be able to get out and fish. Since my daughter Arianna was born I haven't been out on the water. Luis and I left Suisun on friday night around 7:30 and headed towards Black Butte not knowing what to expect. When we arrived it was dark, cold and the wind was starting to pick up. We hung out with the crew for a while and then decided to call it a night a little after 12. Sleeping in the back of my truck I could hear the wind blowing so much, at one point I thought it was going to rip the kayaks off the truck. When I finally got to sleep my alarm went off and it was 5 AM and time to get up.

Luis and I drove down to the ramp and the wind was still blowing really hard. My plan was to stay near the shoreline and see what I could find. I was surprised to see Bio-Bill and we decided that we would try and fish together since he always seems to have good luck around me. We got onto the lake around 6:30 and the wind was already blowing us out away from the shore that I wanted to fish. At one point Bill decided to go around the point into a cove and that was the last I saw of him for an hour. I fished out in about 30 feet of water and wanted to go in more around 10-15 but the wind kept puching me out when I would stop paddling. Every once in a while I would see the rod tip move, but no action. A little before 10 I see Bret on his way in to go to his sons opening day for baseball and he told me that he caught one fish in about 5 feet of water, all I had to do was paddle over to a hill that was blocking the wind. I looked at the destination and really didn't know if I could make it, there were white caps all over the way and it might take me a good amount of time to get there and who knows how long to get back. 

After thinking about it for a short amount of time, I see Bill come back from the cove he was fishing. He said he had no luck, I told him about the intel that Bret gave me and we decided to make the trek. We aimed out yaks towards the wind and hoped that we would be pushed into the spot we wanted to fish. It didnt' take that long to get there and when we arrived Jbaker said he had just caught a fish in the spot I was. The information that Bret gave me was even validated more. I dropped down the line with a secret agent and within about 2 minutes of drifiting in 10 feet out water I had my first fish on. I measured it on the trough a little under 14" and released it, the skunk was off. I paddled over to Bill to give him the news and drifted around a little more for nothing. At that time I had heard from another kayaker that a "Bass pro" had 4 fish already, I didn't even know if my one fish would count for anything. I sent down another line with another secret agent and a few minutes later I had fish number two. 

At that point I didn't know if I had placed but figured I would fish until 12 and then make the paddle back, just in case it took a while to get back in the wind. When I got in to check in my feet were week from using my body to help track in the wind. I walked to the scoring table and found Dan the "bass pro" in front of me with 5 fish. I then gave Jim the pics of my two fish and went to pack up my gear in hopes of maybe placeing. A little after 1, my gear was packed and I went to check out the scoreboard, with a big surprise I placed second with my two fish. It was a great feeling after having such a hard time fishing in the wind and keep my lines where I wanted them. 

In the end 1st place went to Dan Cantrell with 5 fish, 2nd place to Victor Woolworth with two fish and 3rd place went to Jeff Baker with one fish (biggest fish). The youngest fisherman award went to Logan.
From Left to Right: 2nd Place Victor Woolworth, Event organizer Jim Meier, Youngest fisherman Logan, Third Place Jeff Baker, and First Place Dan Cantrell.

The potluck was awesome with some great food and it was great to be able to hang out with the crew. I am already looking forward to the next event. 

Again Jim Meier thank you for putting this Series together. 

For more information on the FreshKATS series check out:

-Victor Woolworth

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quality Over Quantity on the Yuba River

I was fortunate enough to get out on the water today. Originally I had trip plans with Dan, but a jury duty notice in the mail meant that fishing was on standby. Lucky for me I was not summoned today and already had the day off work. I wanted to do a float, but couldn't find anybody to float with. I spoke with a coworker and he mentioned that there are a few guys that live in Marysville that offer to shuttle your vehicle from the put in to Sycamore Ranch RV Park on the Yuba River. Decision made!

Wheeling down to the launch.
I decided to be nice to my wife, since she was nice enough to grant me a fishing day, and help her in the morning rather than leave super early. I arrived at the put in at 8:30, and got in touch with Chris, the gentleman that was going to shuttle my truck for me. I had lucked out in choosing him to be my shuttle guy because he also has a kayak, and suggested a launch spot that did not require 4wd. I pulled my Coosa out of the truck bed, strapped on my wheelies, paid Chris and gave him my keys, and off I went.

The river was a little high at 1,400 cfs, but still very wadeable. As much as I enjoy the controlled catastrophe that is fighting and landing a fish in a river setting out of a kyak, I prefer standing on solid ground. The ricer was also quite clear, with about 6 feet of visibilty. This was my first time fishing the Yuba so I don't know if the water clarity was normal for that river, but I knw that the clear water would make hooking a fish more difficult. Due to the water clarity, I stuck with small flies, and used fluorocarbon tippet. I decided that my goal for the day was to land one fish.

As I floated down the river, I focused my efforts on deep areas, where trout could stay hidden. After floating through the fourth likely spot with not so much as a bump, I realized it might be a tough day of fishing. On the bright side, at least I was out on the river instead of in jury duty, and I practically had the place to myself.

Beautiful deep hole.

After about 2 hours, I floated into a gigantic hole. If there was a trout in this river, it surely lived here. I parke my boat, got out my switch rod and found a nice point to cast off of. After about 2 casts, one of the biggest trout I have ever seen lept into the air to grab an insect. "Well at least they're here," I thought. Alas, no luck. I floated another hundred yards down, side drifting the whole way. Right when I set down my rod to adjust the boat, "zzzzz,"  my reel went off. I grabbed the rod just in time to feel the fish and then it was off. In the back of my mind I thought, "that was my one for the day." As luck would have it it was not. At the last possible place to catch a trout before the take out, I saw a fish rise as I was floating. I quickly cast my nymph rig upstream of the fish. Wham! Fish on. I had foolishly put my anchor in the back of my tank well. So with fish on the rod, I battled with one hand and paddled to the bank with the other. I made it to shallow water, jumped out of the boat, still fighting the fish, grabbed the anchor and chucked it out. I gently coaxed the fish into the net. What a beauty. It was only around 14 inches, but extremely deep bodied, and best of all wild. Mission accomplished!

Last and only fish of the day. Gorgeous!
Check out the water clarity. The fish is totally submerged!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Water Fishing Clinic March 17th Rancho Seco.

Headwaters Fishing team is hosting a Free Pre Spawn Bass Fishing Clinic at Rancho Seco Lake on March 17th. Meeting time is 9:00AM at the Launch for more info Click HERE.

As a fallow up for our Pre Spawn Bass Clinic, Headwaters Fishing Team is hosting an on the water Kayak Bass Fishing clinic at Rancho Seco Lake. There will be several Headwaters team members as well as guest pro's to help you hone your technique as well as learn new skills. We plan on covering skills like, Drop Shot, Swim Baits, Fineness Baits, Jigging, as well as skill like, using a bait caster, pitching, standing in your kayak, and more. This is a Free event, but we would appreciate it if you would RSVP so we have some idea what to expect. Clinic starts at 9:00am but there will be a bunch of us who will be there early fishing. Hope you can make it out.

Rental kayaks are available upon request. 

We are meeting on the far side of the dam near the dog park/ picnic area. There is a $10 to enter the park.