One could make a case that winter is the most interesting season to fly fish the Upper Sacramento River. This season has been especially so. Flows have been exceptionally low and clear, less than half the norm, much like one might expect at the end of a very dry summer. The clear cold weather also has offered little in insect activity, the Blue Wing Olives we hope for this time of year have been particularly absent. Catch rates as a result have not been high. On the other hand this is the time of year when the largest fish of the season find their way into our nets.
In any season a wild fish over twenty inches on the Upper Sac is a true prize. We have some years where from spring through fall we find few if any. This summer and fall we luckily found some, while in winter they show up with some regularity, so skilled local anglers fishing a few days a week can come to expect a couple each winter.
Just yesterday on an afternoon foray, I spotted the largest Rainbow I’ve seen all year, about two feet long, and as I began to prepare to cast to it, another even larger fish moved alongside. Often a few casts are all I might get before spooking these wary creatures and luckily I hooked one of them on my first cast. Unfortunately my excitement couldn’t be contained and I broke it off almost immediately. This happens on occasion, once is always one time too many, so I try to avoid it. I checked the tippet and the 5X was broken a few inches up from where the size 18 fly was missing, which eased my worry that a faulty knot was the cause.
The current storm front that is moving through will hopefully create some bug activity, color up the water and ease the game without unduly disrupting the flows. I hope so, because these fish could provide some interesting fishing in the coming weeks.