October 27th & 28th, 2007 Upper Sac

Time: Saturday 4:00pm - 5:30pm , Sunday 11:00 am - 3:00pm
Weather: Sunny and Clear
Moon Phase: Full moon previous Thursday.

Water Temps:
Water Level: Low
Water Conditions: Clear
Insects Observed: October Caddis, Little Yellow Sally, small Mayflies
Hours fished: 1 & 4
# of fish caught: ???
Method: Short Line and upstream Nymphing. Dry fly upstream slack leader presentation.
Set Up: 8ft Payne 200 Medium action bamboo rod made by moi.

Narrative:

Some days you just donít have the tools to do the job, other days your skill is lacking, this weekend was both. I had to really work for fish this weekend. I was back in Dunsmuir, for the 2007 Great Western Rod Makers Gathering. 

I spent most of Saturday on the football field at the Dunsmuir City Park casting rods. I had a grand old time and as always came back with a few new tapers Iíd like to try. The standout rods this year were a Young Para 14 and a Payne 102. Iíll be adding those taper to my rods to make list.

I hung out with the cane folks much longer than planned and therefore got a late start on that day's fishing. I fished Trout Creek for about an hour hoping to get a good picture of a Redband Rainbow. The fishing was good but the catching was slow and I only landed 2 fish.

The water was lower than when I had visited it three Septembers ago but the fish were where I expected them to be- in the deep holes below the brush. Dapping was the name of the game and it was tough to set the hook with my tip engulfed in a tangle of tree limbs. Most times, I couldnít get the rod tip out of the brush fast enough and without proper tension the fish easily threw the barbless hook.

Trout Creek Redband Trout

Cal Trout has been doing some restoration work on this stream. I knew this, theyíve been using one of my pictures on some of their project materials, but I didnít know the work was being done just downstream of where I fish. The stream was pretty torn up but I was pleasantly surprise to find larger fish than I had in 2004. One fish, which I didnít land, had to be in the 12 inch range, give or take a few inches. Thereís no way to know for sure as I only saw its head before it threw the hook but its head was HUGE.

Sunday I decided to fish a new section of the Upper Sac.. In all these years Iíve never seen Mossbrae Falls. Itís a pretty popular and well known falls but Iíve simply never been on that section of the river. It was mid morning when I parked at the Scarlett Way bridge to begin my hike upstream. The rail tracks allow easy access to the entire length of the Upper Sac so I hiked up the uneven stones that provide a bed to the tracks. Walking on the stones was slow so I took to walking along the tracks, keeping an ear out for the next train. Trains come through here quite frequently and itís not unusual to see several during a days fishing.

It was about a 30 min. hike to the falls. From the tracks high above the stream I could see plenty of good pocket water. The falls itself was beautiful, although a bit of a disappointment. The photos Iíve seen make Mossbrae Falls appear to be this huge rush of water, entangled with vines, flowing over mossy stone.  I imagined something similar to the 60 feet fall of Burney Falls in height. Mossbrae Falls was small in comparison, 25 feet max. I took the requisite pictures and even fished the falls for a few minutes before heading upstream.

I get this uncomfortable feeling when I fish through water I suspect gets hammered. I canít explain it really. Itís sort of a ďIím wasting my time hereĒ feeling.  This was that sort of water and I wasnít at all convinced the hike was worth it. There was some good looking water between the falls and the railroad trestle just upstream. When I didnít so much as see a fish, I decided to move on 

I walked along the tracks and found myself at a familiar piece of water- the Cal Trout water that I fished last year. Cal Trout has a fishing camp on the Upper Sac were it entertains corporate donors and the like. My friend Greg hosts their website, as well as this one, and has access to the camp. Last year we parked at the camp and walked down to the river.

This section of the river has several different types of water. Long runs, deep pools, riffles and pocket water. I quickly fished through the first run and riffle I came to without a strike. I was fishing a cased caddis and my ďnot a Birdís nest patternĒ and confident that I would pick up fish in the pocket water up ahead. When I didnít, I tied on some of my other effective Sac patterns. When they didnít work, I decided it was match the hatch time.

Iíd seined the water earlier and came up with a few small mayflies and some Little Yellow Sally Stoneflies. I didnít have any size 14 nymphs to match the LYS so I opted to try to match the mays with the ďnot a birdís nestĒ pattern. I was now faced with the prospect of having to match the Stoneflies. But how to do it? I have some Yellow Sally dry flies but they were at home. I didnít figure Iíd need them. I looked through my box for the prism stimulator I used two weeks earlier and when I couldnít find anything in my fly box, I turned to my hat. There it was, a possible match, a size 14 Salmon colored Elk Hair Caddis. (Though much maligned, the hat saves the day once again.) Color was wrong but size and shape were as close as I could get. Iíd seen some stonefly adults flying around but hadnít seen any rising fish so I decided to drown the dry EHC. I made my first cast and hooked up- fish on!

I caught 3 fish in short order and was working through a small section of pocket water when I fell into the worst case scenario.

I made a sloppy cast.

Lobbing the fly to the top of the pool instead of throwing a good tuck cast, I hung up on an overhanging tree branch and lost the fly. That was it for the next hour or so. I couldnít even scare up a fish. It would be easy to blame the fly or lack of the ďright flyĒ  but I hadnít been fishing very well all day. I simply couldnít get that, tick, tick, tick of the bottom roll with the fly. The way I figure it:

  • Good presentation with wrong fly = fish

  • Bad presentation with right fly = fish

  • Bad presentation with wrong fly = a predictably poor result.

I decided to stop fighting a loosing battle and move to more forgiving water. Further upstream the terrain steepened and the river frothed among some very large boulders. The pockets werenít that deep but the stream bed was irregular and the water fast. The fish would be a little more forgiving of both pattern and presentation here but I was still surprised when, after nearly 2 fishless hours, I pulled on my line and something started to pull back. I was back into fish.

Itís probably true that if you wait long enough, on any river, youíll find yourself among feeding fish.  I didnít catch that first fish but was shortly into another fish and then another. In a short time I had landed a handful of Upper Sac rainbows and was ready to call it a day.

While I had been fishing, another fellow had been making his way upstream FAST. On this part of the river, the banks are so steep, sandy and brushy that there are only a few places were you can climb up to the tracks. There arenít any trails, simply places that you look up and say ďyeah, I can make it up that.Ē The fast moving fellow took the one and only opening below the one that I took. I was walking a tad faster than he and caught up with him on my way back to the car. We chatted; he said heíd not caught a lot of fish on his size 12 Birdís nest but that the oneís he did catch were ďgoodĒ fish.  I asked no more questions and we parted company.

Epilogue:

Those that know me well, know of my love of unfrosted blue berry Pop Tarts. Some might remember my Pop Tart fly box, made from a plastic Pop Tart protector (think Palm Pilot protector- same type of thing). Those that know Pop Tart know that it is very difficult to find these in California. In July when I was in Pa. I bought 20 boxes at a Walmart Superstore and shipped them home. Well, Redding or maybe technically Anderson, has a Walmart Superstore so on a whim I decided to check it out. Jackpot! They sell the ever elusive unfrosted blueberry Pop Tart that I love so much.

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