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!