It wasn’t a bad day considering we almost cancelled the fishing at 6 AM because the wind lady said it was howling 18 mph. We decided that a day off deserved a chance and ended up heading over to the lake anyways. When we got there, we walked out on the dock and decided it was too risky to launch. We went over to the forebay and it was relatively calm. We launched and caught a half dozen Stripers at the Mederios Wall and waited for the wind to die down on the big lake since I was hoping to get another shot at those schools of shad. The fish at the Forebay were dinks and we only caught one keeper. The water level was all the way up in the forebay however. At 11:00 AM we relaunched at Basalt and went directly to the trash racks to get Jim Crammer into some fish. They weren’t cooperative and we only landed 3 but they were all around 22 inches. We searched for the schools of SHAD that were cruising the edges just two days ago and couldn’t find them Even the pelicans were following us hoping for a score. I hadn’t fished with Jim on the lake for over a year but he did manage to catch a good Striper off the Trash racks and was happy about that. Bummer there were no shad to be found. The SAC according to Wayne Syn, is prime for shad right now. He and a friend caught 80 in 5 hours this past weekend. The wind finally died way down around 2PM and we looked for fish in Portuguese cove with no luck.
It was a great day on the lake today. The weather may have been too good – slight overcast with heat and no wind. The algae is happy and my boat trailer looks Irish. Everybody was out today in force including a couple guides and Vaughn-Larry again. Amazingly, Larry who wasn’t able to cast three weeks ago, is now flinging his own flies and catching lots of stripers. Likewise, my beginner, Rick caught 8 stripers to my three! No big fish today even though we got up early and tried the Dam at the Bay of Pigs early in the morning looking for that 20 Plus but it eluded us. Mr Santucci was working the flats as we pulled up to the dam at 7 AM.
The highlight of the day however was not the striped bass fishing which, for the dozen flyfishing boats out at the trash racks, was great. You could see the schools move around the boats as one boat would hook up doubles for about 15 minutes while the boats around them were slow. Then the action would move to another boat and so on You had to be in the right place but if you were patient, the right place would come to you and then it was pretty easy. I saw all sorts of flies today and they seemed to be all working. Also all sorts of strips were working–both fast and slow. We did well on small sparse yellow clousers and brown over blue clousers. I think the best flies are lightly weighted so they dont jig vertically so much on the strip. Also small flies seemed better–like size 2. We hooked over 15 stripers in a span of an hour but kinda dead most of the day. It was hard to find the schools and get on top of them. It got slow at times which allowed me time to spy some Pelicans diving right near the dam towards Romero just off the rocks with my binoculars. I left the pack to investigate and found several large schools of nice sized American Shad swimming up and down the bank near Romero. I also noticed three fly fishermen fishing on the bank at the corner of the damn catching shad until they got run off by the dam police.
We had a blast chasing these schools. I had a 6 wgt rigged with a shad fly ready in the boat and we managed to catch over a dozen of them. Rick had never been in a position where he had to make the perfect cast and quickly. His first sure thing shot went into the rocks, and the second one, he massively tangled his fly line before the cast. Meanwhile the fish 15 feet in front of him were churning the water white. It was quite a sight. The schools were moving at 3mph and it was as much as we could do to keep up with them with the MinKota Trolling motor. One school we chased along the bank for over a mile. We actually got on top of several of the schools right on the bank and they were huge.
The DWR Dam Police were busy today. There were so many boats violating the 500 ft easement that they ended up calling for a Ranger to launch . They showed up around 2pm and lectured all the boats that were too close including the Guides who were fishing off the rocks of the dam. Most just quit for the day. Despite the fact that we were exactly 166.6 yards away from the structure, based on my Golf Laser Range Finder, they waved us off and we decided to go catch some more shad. The DWR (AKA the Dam Police) can not ticket you but the Rangers can (but they dont usually).
Redding Fly Shops Brad Jackson caught a 29 pounder at the trash racks at 7:30 in the morning on Tuesday May 7th on a Chartreuse and White Flashtail Clouser. Fishing with Dan Blanton (Source- Dan Blanton’s BBS), they reported another slower day from the low pressure. Another Pig comes from the Dam in the first week of May! Looks like the Striper fishing in the lower Sac is also picking up according to The Fish Sniffer. Wednesday and Thursday’s conditions are blown out with winds in the high teens as the low pressure exits and the warm high pressure coming this weekend. Hope the winds settle by Saturday so I can give it another go and get the 20+ pig. Still seems those big ones are cruising the dam close to the rocks early in the morning. I think I want to be on the water at 7:00 AM.
Sometimes I think that I’m jinxed. Statistically, one would think that if you catch enough fish , that a couple of them should be big. That elusive 10 lb mark in San Luis. seemed to elude me this year–its been 5 months for Pete’s sake. I can still hear the advice of the old pros, ”You gots to put your time in, son….”. Still sounds like statistics to me. The lake was all mine this Monday morning and it’s the first week of May–Pig Time. I was the third boat at Basalt at 9:00am. The skys were cloudy and it looked like I might be rained off the lake–perfect weather for big fish. What a contrast from two days ago in the 95 degree sun. The water temp was 66 degrees and the Solonar tables predicted a great day with a peak at 10:30. Luckily the winds were pretty mild.
I decided to run to the trash racks where we had been doing great the last three outs. Something was going on inside the trash racks, There were two dozen people making all sorts of racket . The horn would go off now and the and loud machinery was running all morning. The Dam Police never showed up so I positioned myself up close to the racks and fished to the shore. All the sweet spots metered fish at 20-25 feet. I learned to tweek the settings on my Lowrance HD 10 side sonar the night before and I finally think Im using it right. To my suprise, I only picked up two fish in two hours. Another boat, trolling minnows with side surface planers, showed up and we both had a tough time getting the fish to bite. The few hits there were, were very light, and I switched out flies all morning. It seems the size 1 yellow clousers were the best. By noon, I was ready to go home.–It sucked compared to Saturday. It started to sprinkle and the wind was building and I was out there basically alone. I did see one other flyfisherman over at the Romero corner of the dam but they took off for Cottonwood at around 10am frustrated as well. The slow fishing, I thought, was a sign to go over to the Bay of Pigs and work the dam. The wind was blowing across lake. I positioned the boat upwind and set the IPilot to hold me into the wind at an angle. I was metering fish at 20-25 feet in 68 feet of water but couldn’t get any of them to take. I learned a way to measure the sonar arc to estimate the size of the fish and there were some big fish in the Bay of Pigs. Casting the big Brown and Blue directly back from the boat, I worked the shoreline and I started picking up fish when I got close and casts directly to the rocks. In an hour, I had 6 fish with two over 10 lbs. One of the pigs was caught on the Blue and Brown Clouser, and the other on a small yellow clouser. To think I was ready to quit at noon. Joy is when Pigs Fly. I left at 2:00 PM. Best day of the year.
At 11:00 an F16 Jet fighter flew under the cloud layer over the lake. Very cool. I though it might be another way of telling me to get away from the structure!
With the Striper fishing going strong off the Trash Racks, the last 4 trips have been pretty crowded with at least 4 or 5 other boats jockying around the racks with the Damn Dam Police megaphoning us to get back from the wall at least 500 feet. I take my Calaway Range Finder out with me on the boat so I can play the line at 166.6 yards. Again, another bureaucratic liberal rule to try to ruin our fun in the name of home security. How absurd. I got run off today but I was slammin them in the palm of the trash racks before the lady yelled me off. They were in there thick and I had one on every cast for awhile. The surface water was up to 67 and the alge bloom was very thick in some places . I changed flies a lot. Looking for that big one, I started out with a 3 inch moss and black, rattled clouser. I saw lots of smaller fish follow that fly to the boat without snapping at it. When I switched to smaller flies, I caught more fish with less follows to the boat. Im getting fond of sparse Clousers on size 2 and 1 hooks that have at least 2 inches of supple flash extending beyond the wing. I think the action is better than the just bucktail clousers that I used in the old days. In fact Im going to tie some small clousers out of marabou. It could be why the small while marabou flies were so effective last year–it could be about the micro action of the fly during those fast and erratic strips. The small flies for quantity and the long 1/0s for size. I didn’t hook the big one yesterday but Dan Blanton got rocked in the backing on Friday, and Mr Santucci got two 17 pounders on the same flies on Wed–a size one Brown and Blue flashtail Clouser.
Vaughn Willet was out yesterday racking numbers again. He confirmed that his buddy caught more on a yellow size 2 Clouser while Vaughn was using a size 1 and 1/0 flies. His buddy caught and released a 12 lb striper vertical jigging with a gold spoon! I bugged out at around 2:00 when the racks got really crowded again after the Police Lady drove away, I headed over to the Bay of Pigs flats. Some of the boats near the racks were actually heckling the ranger lady ! I picked up two in 10 feet of water. The visibility is getting greener by the day. I also ran the bays from Basalt to the Point to look for schools of fish. I didn’t meter any schools like those at the Racks. Also, I did not see a school of shad all day. The wind started picking up big with white caps starting around 2:30 and I left for home. Its going to storm the next few days, Hope Monday is flat.
I bought a new three bank battery charger and batteries for the boat . Also, my IPILOT remote wouldn’t turn on after I switched out the batteries. I spent the day with the foot peddle trying to deal with the wind. I must have looked drunk out there since I couldn’t keep the boat going in a straight line with my toes steering the boat while casting–I looked like a pole dancer. The last couple trips, I had some battery issues. All the electronics on the boat suck power all day and I dont really run that much to charge my starter. The major suckers are the 24 volt Terrova with Ipilot and the ten inch Lowrance and stereo. After researching batteries and chargers, I went with the new MinKota MK 345PC, two Wallmart type 29 MAXX Marine Batteries and a dual purpose EverStart for the starter. I barely drew down the batteries today. I almost purchased a replacement controller for the ipilot out on the lake. The 4G reception at the trash racks is great. Luckily I didn’t. When I got home I started beating on the remote and I tried a couple new batteries–those funky CR-2450 lithium coin-types from Radio Shack. After the tenth time switching batteries, it finally powered up from a blank screen. Possibly heat or pairing issues? Who knows, but I have come to depend on that thing to keep me on the fish and it is pretty critical MinKota has made an upgraded remote that is suppose to be better . I’ll probably order a second one to be safe or upgrade to an Ipilot LINK!
On another note, I bought some Airflow Sniper T14s because someone at the California Fly shop told me all the delta guides have switched to them from the Rio’s. I like the idea of a no stretch running line. After using them for the last couple days, Im going to stick with the RI0 Custom Outbound shorts. I prefer the thicker running line on the RIO, In the 70s and 80s using lead core heads, I was the guy with the heavier MONO shooting line despite most of my buddies using smaller diameters. Oh well, old habits. I personally think the Rio tangle less and cast better.
The Boys of Summer are back. Dan Blanton, Tom Malec, and Steve Santucci were all out on the lake this past week and slammin’ them. Mr Santuccci’s clients landed two 17 lbrs on the lake on Wednesday on large Brown and Blue Clousers. Impressive! I bet those big ones are on the other side of the lake. Ill have to try the backwaters this weekend. It’s a great time to take out Striper Flyfishing Novices because the Fly Bite is on! Len Bearden use to say “…if you want a trophy striper, be at the Bay of Pigs the first week of May! Its Pig Time!
It may not have been number one on Rick’s bucket list but i had a feeling it was near the top. Ive been fishing with Rick for about two years. He is 75 years old and a retired IBM engineer who knew my dad. One of many things I admire about him is that he shows up on time at 4am if I offer him a spot on my boat. Saturday, the weather was great on the main lake. With the summer wind pattern kicking in, the lake was blowing hard at night and staying calm for the afternoons and building. The fog had been burning off on the coast early and we got to the boat ramp around 7am and noticed about 10 boats out already. Early out, we hit the Bay of Pigs trolling around like we use to do in high water and we picked up a couple. We cast flies in the bay to metered fish with not much luck.
Rick had been practicing with a t14 Sniper line on an 8wgt Predetor but has yet to hook a striper casting. He’s trolled many stripers but I have to say, he has made over 100 casts and he’s due. I felt like today would be the day and I concentrated on putting him over fish. We decided to zoom over to Romero and try the rocks. There were about 4 bait fishing boats gathered in front of the trash racks real close and Dan Blanton was fishing around the pilings inside and close with his grandson. I started metering large schools of fish in 130 feet of water outside as I pulled into the east side of the dam. We stopped, IPILOT Anchored over a school of fish 25 feet down. On my first cast, I could feel the fish hitting the fly on the drop. Caught two right away and Rick missed two fish on the set. The area was full of schools of American Shad also. We could see them shimmering by occasionally. I felt like maybe they were hitting our little size one yellow clousers but I wasn’t able to hook any. On monday , I will bring a shad fly rig just in case. Another flyfisherman, Vaughn Willet, was doing well drifting further out from us in deeper water along the full length of the dam. He was hooked up constantly and it looked like he had a few doubles as well. The fish were averaging 22 -24 inches and strong in the 64 degree water. Rick finally managed his first fish on a cast fly at around 2:00 PM when the solonar tables suggested a peak time. He ended the day 4 for 8. Not bad for a 75 year old guy. We ended the day with 2o fish and the jinx has finally ended and I dont think Rick will ever want to troll again.
I went back for more this weekend just in case it was the day that my luck would change. Unfortunately it was a carbon copy of Saturday. Wes wrote today that they are letting water out of the dam and perhaps the striper fishing may pick up in the next couple days on the Feather. Why do I torture myself. I have to fish somewhere else next week.
It been a long time since I felt the pull of a big striper. Today, I pulled on a bunch of dinks and its just not enough. Any day now, the Lake and Forebay should start getting better. Last year at this time the lake was 20 feet higher and there was timber in the water and more flats to fish. This year’s pathetic lake levels are going to change this seasons fishing. Rick and I spent a windy but sunny morning fishing the forebay with no success. We even tried some live bait and couldn’t hustle up a single bite. Around 2:00 pm we decided to fish the wall at Mederios before heading in. Keeping the boat 100 feet from the bank and tracking at 1 mph was tough in the wind but Rick offered to maneuver the boat while I casts to the rocks. We ended up with about a dozen dinks and only one keeper but the action was constant for a couple hours. I don’t know why the fish turned on in the afternoon. Water temps were 58 and the wind was all day long at around 12 even though the windline said 5 mph. I even thought I saw the red warning lights go on for awhile.
Two weeks ago, Wes had a banner day on the Feather River landing 100 stripers in one day on the Feather River with some bigger fish. I amped up to fish the beginning of last week with him but at the last moment, the river levels dropped and the stripers disappeared within days. Word on the river was that a bunch of salmon smolts were released at the hatchery and the stripers were boiling all along the river for a few days. Of course I timed it wrong again. Instead, I spent the week tying flies and getting ready for San Luis to bust open. Wayne and the his boys managed a pretty good day just right before the water dropped.
We took the day off to head up to Berkeley to watch Mia present her Senior Research Project to Faculty and Alumni. Only 4 more weeks of UC Berkeley for her and then off to Columbia in New York. The last 4 years have flown by.
Last week, a friend of mine called me from NAB to ask me if I would like him to pick up a Rotor Concepts quadcopter, that I was curious about. Ive been looking at Quadcopter RC Gopro rigs for some time now but the technology is a bit lacking when it comes to isolating the camera to elimintate the “jello” effect caused by vibration. Things are changing fast on both these fronts!
I passed on the Rotor Concept HPQ-1 because there was an abundance of negative reviews pertaining to support from the company. I am leaning towards the DLI Phantom which has GPS positioning and Fly Back safety protocols. Recently, there has been rumor that a waterproof one is coming out called the Liquapell Phantom. This water proof drone is designed to land on water and survive temporary submersion. The unit is put into a vacuum chamber and treated with a highly hydrophobic material (like this maybe) nanometers thick that coats all electronics etc… It hasn’t been released yet but I am on the list for the first units. For fishing and surfing videos, this is it!. Also introduced at NAB this year is a new product and game changer–the Zenmuse Hero GoPro gimbal which is stabilized with electronic brush-less motors.
The phantom is the most supported quad for prosumer video junkies on the market with lots or support and great BLOGS .
Also released at NAB was the new generation of Electronic Stabilized Steady Cams. In particularly the MōVI M10 (From Freefly Systems). It is a 3-axis, gyro-stabilized camera gimbal that costs around $15,000. Before you gasp, look what this thing does. This unit will turn amateur videographers into seasoned cinematographers with very little practice. The beauty of this thing is that you can hand it off without interrupting the “steadiness”. In essence, with a little imagination, practice and and one of these, instant career on a inde budget. Like the pros do, you can have a second operator can be in charge of aiming the camera with a second remote unit.
Here is a great film made with the MoVi on a quadcopter. I can already see the shots I want for my epic fly fishing video. The impossible shot is now possible.
Gina came across some old pics from 2007. Columbia’s Med School campus is a stones throw from Gina’s sisters home in New Jersey. Here are some pictures of Mia touring Columbia undergrad and Mark Skateboarding all over the place. There are some shots of the subway she will be taking to school and in the bridge shot, you can see the location of the campus and the three towers across the bridge that serve as post grad dorms for the Medical Nursing and Graduate students.