Fools Gold

September first, it is midnight. The year is flying by. I look in the mirror and see the heavy line creeping along the corners of my blue eyes. My hair is white, bleached with age and the sun like a fine piece of driftwood. My knees remind me that I use to be young and  nimble, and acrobatic as a monkey in a tree. I still have most of my teeth unlike my deceased parents who have faded into the fogy memories of my passing years. I see their eternal, paternal smiles… I was lucky. I was loved by them. I remember how I use to curl up on the backseat floor of the car and pretend to sleep so that Dad would pick me up, carry me into my home, and Mom would tuck me underneath the covers. I miss them. Terribly, sometimes.

I have always loved the water… a puddle, a pond , a stream, and especially the flooded street of Powers ave. ware I grew up in the burbs of Motown… We lived at the bottom of a little hill, with a drain by the curb in front of my house, (ware my neighbor would tosss their bagged kittens) , would plug and overflow and join a swelling, encroaching polluted creek at the end of the block, filling the steaming pavement with the cool rain from a dark,flashing, pounding, humid thunderstorm. These memories… They are precious. They sustain me, come to my rescue in the dark hours; everything else, materially, I own, is simply fools gold.

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August Moon

Blame it on the full moon, but this evening , my casting Sucked! Let me back up… I just spent two weeks recouping from a lower back injury. One day I was walking tall like a normal homo sapien, King of the Hill, and the next morning I found my self on all fours crawling to the toilet wishing that, like any normal member of the animal kingdom, it would be okeedoekee to just shit on the floor rather than climb the Mount Everest of Porclin towering before me. Anyhow! I am once again a human being. My back is strong, and so I decided to head over to the American River and practice casting my #6 Helios Switch rod which I had not seriously engaged since last February steelhead season.

This is August 12. Shad are leaving the river in tight balls of spinning silver, hoping to return to the Pacific Ocean without being picked off one by one by marauding otters, stripers, osprey, and great blue herons.  Striped bass are throughout the river; the summer run of steelhead has begun. The moon glows brightly in the blue evening sky as dragonflies sweep low to the water snatching caddis emerging before the sun settles behind the cottonwoods.  Oaks border the clear, cool river flows of which I wade into with my fly rod in hand.

Eleven feet long, my rod felt good, light , flexible and familiar, well balanced to my Hardy St. John. I felt like I was meeting up with two old girlfriends for some cool beers, and with whom I was looking forward to a good conversation of catch-up. I made a cast, and another, then another and another. My timing was off. Way off, and in spite of it,  some how I managed to catch a small striper, my first on a mini spey. It made me smile and temporarily forget how my casting sucked.  I was reminded just how rusty one can become… lose the synchronization that comes with repetition. Once in a while I would send off a good cast; so there is hope for the future. There will be a fine reunion under a full moon.

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American River report: 7-18-11… happy birthday!

It is hard to beleave that the shad are still here in the upper, Lower American River in good numbers. It’s July 18, my birthday – I am 51… it is good to be alive!   Shad fishing is still great, but should soon start to decline…  They have been spawning the last week or so;  with the full moon cycle this last week, I suspect that if they still have their health and can avoid the striped bass, these largest members of the herring family will be schooling down to the Pacific Ocean.

I floated the river yesterday, Sunday, with my friend Shawn, and on Friday with my friend, Anne, in search of striped bass, (she hooked two afternoon stripers on a fly of her own making, but they long lined released after a few minutes of rod throbbing. A shad jumped her clouser and was landed. The rest of the evening went fishless but none the less was a beautiful float. Thanks, Anne, for the good company.) Shawn and I spotted some big schools of shad in the Gristmil area. They were balled up which is an indicator that these fish were probably heading back to the ocean.

Yesterday, Sunday was a crazy zoo full of floating concoctions spilling over with obnoxious, grunting, chest beating, dark shaded dudes and screaming brightly colored,  sun burned, breasted bikinis. Not exactly what you want when striper fishing. But what the hell – you fish when you can. It was quite entertaining sometimes, but mostly you just wished that God would come along with a vacuum –  hose  like –  swizel straw and suck these water creatures, rafts and all, up into the sky and spit them into a bar ware they belonged.

Now that I got that off of my chest, Shawn missed a few grabs but landed 4 stripers in spite of the raft hatch. The best one was about 6 or 8 pounds and absolutely slammed the fly. The drag on his Orvis real screamed as fluorescent orange backing sliced down river. Never had I seen a stripe of this size rip line off like that. I wondered if he had hooked an adult summer run steelhead ( they should be showing up anytime… if not already in the system ), or jack salmon? Down river I rowed, wooden blade slicing, pulling against the cool currents.. Shawn carefully reeled in the flaming backing being sure not to introduce slack to the barbless clouser minnow. I directed him to pull slow and steady, coaxing the fish in our direction. “Don’t yank on him,”  I instructed, as this has a tendency to alarm the fish and send it screaming away from the direction of pressure.  Yanking of the rod can also saw a hole in the striper’s jaw, loosening the fly and leaving the angler with a long line release. I knew there was a submerge log downstream so I pulled back hard on the oars halting our downstream race. Here we would land it, or break it off ? The river gods were generous. Shawn steadily pulled the lineside up onto the sandy shallows. I neted it. Pictures were taken.  This was our reward for having navigated the weekend flows through the Capitol City madness.

gift from the gods

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American River shad report : 6-30-11

The American river is flowing at 10,900 c.f.s. this July first. This is the quick report from yesterday . Morning and evening shad fishing was very good. Go fishing!!!!

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American River report : 6-28,29 -11

the trusty old Prince of darkness

The last couple weeks on the river has been like watching a yo-yo going up and down. The American River flows went up 2000 cfs this Wednesday morning,  leveling off  at 11,000 cfs. Here is a quick fishing summary of the last three days. Shad fishing started off slow this Wednesday evening, but went crazy once the sun dropped behind the trees… about a grab with every cast on a prince nymph with an occasional hook up on the pinky., so I puled up anchor and went looking for stripers. I caught one that was about 6 pounds, fat and healthy. Yesterday morning  the sky was filled with rain clouds, breezy and the striper fishing was very good. I caught at least a dozen fish from one to six pounds. One I broke off at the boat while trying to land it that was perhaps 20 pounds – fat and strong.  Monday, the flows were a little under 8o00cfs. It was breezy, coolish but gloriously sunny. I had a student after work and the shad bite was very good with most of the fish hooked on a prince. What will tomorrow have in store?

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American River shad report: 6-27-11

This last weekend they dropped the river to just a little under 8000 cfs. Much better flow over all than last weekends  13,ooo cfs – (last week, fishing was good if you had a boat, and a few hard working shad addicts did good from the bank.). The fishing was excellent in the upper river. Spey rods were working  during the bright hours if you had a 15 ft, t-14 or 17 tip off of a Shagit Short, and if you could handle a longer one you could catch more fish.  My 9 ft.  2 pc #8 Temple Fork worked great with a Rio Short, # 6 sink tip and I would have hooked more if I went to my  28 ft. leadcore or t-14 heads. Lighter tips worked well in the evening as the shad moved higher up in the water column to intercept caddis. A floater or intermediate can be used the last 30 minutes of the evening as the thick caddis hatches filled the air. My best flies have been the nitro caddis and once again, the good old standard prince nymph in 12 and 14. The nymphs have been out-fishing the standard pink and white fly. I like to combine them. I do not know if they will ramp up the flows for the middle of this week ; no matter, I am looking forward to the fishing. Thanks for coming to my blog.

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The Bucket..

The Bucket: a receptacle commonly used to transport hopes and desires to their fulfillment,  to shad anglers it is fishing paradise, the sweet spot, the honey pot, the gold mine, the mother lode of grabby fish.  It is a place that I wanted to be yesterday while fishing with Joe Shirshak on the American River.

The flows were dropping to 8000c.f.s. or so in preparation of the recreational on-slot of the 4th of July holiday, in hopes that search and rescue wouldn’t have to save so many rafters pinned to dangerous sweepers and search for the lifeless bodies of drowning victims. I wanted to scout it out in anticipation of guiding clients. I needed to locate the new “bucket” due to flow changes. I was pretty sure of its location. Would it be unoccupied?  The “Bucket” is ware every guide and angler desires to wet their line, but as can often happen, the bucket was not to be for me this evening. The bounty of the silver shad were already being mined by an anchored boat.  So Joe and I moved around between the other boats and the bank anglers, scratching up a fish here and a fish there. We kept turning around to watch the bucket masters netting another, and another shad. So it goes.. .I was with a dear friend enjoying the fishing. The evening was beautifull. Thanks, Joe. You are the Sugar Shack.

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