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Fishing: The teacher becomes the assistant

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

Usually on holiday weekends I do not plan major camping trips. I think of it as letting other people have my spot. But I do make day trips to fish in the local area.

This past weekend I went to Fuller Lake on Saturday. Colin and I took the boat and planned to catch fish with trolling flies but lady luck was not smiling on us that day. We had a couple of hits on small nymphs but nothing to the boat. I did see trout occasionally break the surface but nothing consistent. I only noticed one trout landed by other anglers.

Fuller is heavily planted most years and I thought it would be a nice, close-to-home trip. Prior to heading up there, I checked the website and could not find a report of the Department of Fish and Game having planted the lake. Once they do, I expect it to be much better.



After such a bust of a fishing trip, I had to redeem myself in my son’s eyes. So Sunday we headed off to a local Penn Valley pond to see if the weekend could be salvaged. We arrived late afternoon. Colin likes to throw bass plugs and I expected him to do that. I had brought along a light fly rod to do some serious bluegill fishing. Late May is spawning time for the pan fish in foothill ponds and they will be in the shallows and very aggressive. Within the first couple of casts, I had one that hit a fly on the surface. When someone else catches a fish, Colin will often come over to fish where the action is. I hooked up a second fish and handed the rod to Colin. That’s all it took.

Colin has cast a fly rod before, as well as seeing numerous videos on the sport and he surprised me with how well he handled the gear. Fly casting is not about power, it is about timing.




If you get the timing correct and fish at close distances, it is not that difficult. The real key is for young anglers to get results to reinforce the behavior and get hooked themselves.

Thankfully the blue gill were on a tear that evening. Needless to say, I did not get my fly rod back. It was my job to unhook the fish and tie on replacement flies after they were chewed up by the fish. The best technique was to cast out, pause, then slowly retrieve the fly and pause again. At the end of the pause, the fish will hit. Often if the light was right, three or four fish could be seen converging on the fly.

Normally I tend not to emphasize body counts when writing about fishing, but last Sunday in a two-hour trip around Tom Moreno’s pond, Colin caught 19 bluegill and two bass on his own, with a fly rod. A couple of the blue gill were in the one-pound class. It was gratifying to watch his skill level improve as he spent two solid hours fly fishing. As far as numbers of fish caught, this was his best outing ever.

We all suffer through those times when the fish just will not cooperate. But if you are on the water enough you will be in the right place at the right time. My suggestion is that if you want to hook a young person on fishing, pond fishing bluegill right now is the opportunity.

Eagle Lake opened last weekend. The water temps were ideal, in the mid 50s. The catching was good, with most anglers doing well. The best color for lures and flies was hot orange. We have warm weather coming and this will change things on the lake. Currently the fish will be in shallow water, 3 to 4 feet, early in the day and move out to 8 to 10 feet during the day. The trout are scattered all over the lake, but they will tend to school up with the advent of the summer heat. The water level is low and the shallow north basins can change as much as 6 degrees over the course of 24 hours. This will move the fish to the deeper south end in the near future. Boat launching is possible at Spaulding but this summer, expect to use the south end ramp.

The Upper Sacramento River above Lake Shasta is fishing well. Bob Grace, Ted Fay Fly Shop reports that the insect hatches began in earnest 10 days ago. This signals the prime dry fly fishing on this river.

There are multiple bugs hatching with no one insect dominant. The hatches are getting stronger and he expects them to be at their peak in the next two weeks. This river along with most other free stone streams in the state will fish their best this year in early June.

HUNTERS: The deadline to apply for fall big game hunts is Sunday. You can apply online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov.

Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at http://www.fineflies.com.


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