While some rivers opened with the New Year, many are still off limits until the last Saturday in April, which falls on the 28th this year. Everything leading up to that date is like the pre-season.
Anglers living near highways and freeways that head east into the Sierra or north out of the Central Valley have been anxiously awaiting the opening of areas of the Truckee, Stanislaus, Klamath, Hat, McCloud etc.
But before you go crazy and head to your secret spot where the trout were stacked in last fall, or last opening weekend, remember: That was last year.
Trout and rivers don’t care about traditions. This winter has been a strange one. What looked like a drought has turned a bit wet. Rain in the lower regions was snow in the mountains and it looked like everything was back to normal. On more than a few occasions within a few days it was warm again, so snow melt kept the rivers up and many times the color was off.
Last year during the opening weekend, I was camping at Sims Flat on the Upper Sacramento. The water was high, but clear, and big trout were relaxing in the slower water near the shore. By the end of the summer, that productive stretch was low, slow and void of any workable drift. I left it alone on the last four trips and worked runs down river. Things changed, so did my approach.
At the end of February this year I was high-sticking my way down the tracks like it was September. Then winter showed up, and I haven’t been north of Shasta Lake since.
Last weekend I went north to fish the Lower Sacramento in Redding again, but again couldn’t get on the Upper. Despite the dry winter, the last month has choked the Upper Sac with not only water, but color. It is because of the weather turn of the last month that my opening weekend prospects have changed.
The chances of me spending the last weekend of April on the Upper Sac like last year are slim. Unless the temperature drops and the rain stops, the Upper will be too high, and I’ll look elsewhere as to avoid the possibility of wasting a weekend on water that will be more frustrating than it’s worth.
Call around to local fly shops for information about flow and color. If the water is up, and you are up for it, hit your favorite spot, but be prepared. Make sure you’ve got a variety of colors. A buddy of mine swears by a prince nymph with orange thread just behind the bead.
“Fish don’t always take it, but it gets them interested, and they end up taking the trailing nymph,” he says.
You’ve got some time, so keep an eye on the weather, ask about color and enjoy the opening of the regular season.
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