What a way to start 2011. First, the December storms charged up every watershed in the state. Then the January thaw was part two of the equation leading me to much weekend distraction up in them there hills rather than at the tying station. The fish hunting, and rambling, took place in the mountains up and down this great state, and it was all good. There was a solo mission and there were team efforts.
But, I was supposed to be tying flies, right? I got a few done, but not boxes and boxes full by any stretch of the imagination.
I am pretty sloppy, and definitely not a "committed" fly tier as I don't have the time to tie all of my flies, or the money to buy all the feathers and whatnot which makes me think I should be starting to hunt sooner rather than later but that's a different story.
Tying resolution: tie more "meat" for the big boys, and COMMIT to chucking these things around. These are supposed to look like some big gnarly crawdads I saw in OR. Got a tip from senor FlyJunkie to splay the claws better, so this one is a work in progress.
Some standard woolly bugger action in olive and brown. Been tying lots of these, in #4-8, and other colors too.
Also been tying a few dries, mostly Adams like the one above and elk hair caddis in various sizes from 12 to 20, ready for the un-pressured fish hiding out in secret canyons who don't care that I am crowding the eye of the hook.
The sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feeling of fishing in January California-style is new to me. Typical experience: it looks like winter, the leaves are fallen and mostly washed away to the sea, but it's 65 and sunny. A dragonfly buzzes around, looking a bit puzzled, like it showed up to the party all his friends know doesn't start for a few months. Birds sing. The water flows crystal clear. What a place, what a country! Here are some shots that capture it.
First, just as the rains ceased, there was a mushroom hatch.
Chantrelle's: 20bucks a pound in the store, free in the wild.
There is a river in the valley. This spot was burned pretty bad just a couple years back, but is on the fast track.
This guy seemed curious and a little cold.
Another CA creek looking just picture perfect. This one is in Southern California, it was pretty hard to get to the day I went; lots of mud on the road, had to park and then bike it 13 miles roundtrip with elevation gain of 1500ft on the way back.
A baby rainbow eating predator.
Here is a video I put together of all the underwater shots I got from the stream. The brown above is the only fish I took out of the water and photographed, the rest I just did quick releases in the water.
This stream haunts my dreams. There are no fish in it.....and I can't remember where it is haha.
Some sun on the water led to even more fun.
I hooked into some quality native fish like this fellow, and thought I had done pretty good.
As the sun began to sink below the ridgeline of the canyon, I started thinking I might be the only one in the group that had caught any fish or had any fun, so turned tail and kicked dust back to the car, imagining Al, Danielle, and Elyse arms folded across, pouting, and ready to hit the road.
Well, I was wrong. I don't know if I have ever been more wrong about anything.
Turns out that just up from where I turned around Al had hooked, landed and released a steelhead.
Al's steelhead: Looks like a fresh hen, she ran almost 19inches. It is no small feat to get a california steelhead in your fourth time fly fishing!
The streams look good now, but I hope we get some more "nasty" weather soon to keep them strong into the spring time and then summer. If January is any indication, it is going to be a beautiful and rewarding year for exploring the mountain streams of California!