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Friday, January 25, 2008

S. Fork Eel and Matolle Rivers on 1/21 - 1/24



Well how can I sum up my annual coastal steelhead trip? I think the best way to say it is that I got my butt royally handed to me. I guess that is just part of chasing the grey ghost. I went a long ways to catch a glimpse of only a ghost. Here is a little summary of how the trip went.

On Monday Greg Schuegar from Napa and myself decided to fish the S.Fork of the Eel. The clarity of the river was awesome with about 4 to 5 feet of visibiility. We started fishing around noon and got off around 5. We floated from Richardson Grove Park down to Bear Creek off of Benbow Drive. Greg hooked one fish about a mile into the drift. Take note that I was at the oars when this happened. The fish looked to be around 8lbs but she managed to throw the hook as she rolled just beneath the surface of the water.

Tuesday we once again decided to float the S.Fork of the Eel hoping to go a little higher to find some more fish. We floated from Piercy down to Bear Creek (about 8 miles). The conditions on Tuesday were even better on Monday. Once again Greg hooks a fish about a mile into our drift. This time the fish was around 6lbs and she threw the hook as she flew out of the water extremely pissed about the hook in her lip. Once again I am at the oars! After that fish we didn't manage to get another one. Can you see a trend starting to progress.

Well after two tough days of fishing on the S.Fork of the Eel we decide to go and check out the Matolle River on Wednesday hoping to run into a couple more fish. Neither Greg or I have ever fished the Matolle so we were fishing and floating completely blind. The conditions on the upper river were great, but the lower river only had about a foot of visibility. We ended up floating from Honeydew down to Lindley Road. For those of you who have never fished this river it looks like a gem. Perfect size for the fly rod. Well to keep in our trend Greg hooks and land about a 8lb hen about a mile into our drift. Once again I am on the oars. We continue down our drift working over each run diligently with no prevail. Third day in a row with our one fish routine.

So here are a couple of observations I have made from our last trip. Maybe we should have floated the first mile of each drift ten times! Im thinking ten drifts ten fish. Second observation either I am a great rower to get Greg into fish, he is a much better fisherman than me, he is a crappy rower who cant get me into fish, or I am a crappy fisherman. You know a man begins to wonder after three days of going 0 for 0.

To be directly honest I was just stoked to be out there with one of my great friends. And for those of you that fish the coast for the grey ghost you know that they always dont show themselves. I go into each coastal trip with no expectations and that is exactly what I got.

I hope this helps for those of you thinking about doing some steelhead fishing in the near future.

Ryan Johnston

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Feather on 1/16/08



I had the opportunity to go and fish the Feather River this morning. I only had about 4 hours to fish so I focused all of my efforts on the sections of river above the highway 70 bridge. It was great to be out during the middle of week. The whole morning I only saw one other person fishing. The fishing was decent with 4 steelhead landed. Two of the fish were smaller adults around the 22-23'' mark and the other two were juvenile half pounders. I got the two adults on egg patterns and the half pounders fell victim to the san juan worm. I hate that fly but the fish on the Feather seem to eat them at certain times. I hope that all of you are getting some fishing in. If you are interested in a guided trip then there are lots of options this winter that people forget about like the Feather, Lower Sac, and Yuba. It seems as though this time of year everyone is in the steelhead mind frame and focuses on the Trinity and the Coast. Don't let the winter blues get you down. Get that fly rod out and go chase those fins that we live for.

Tight Lines!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Feather on 1/13/08

I went out and fished the Feather on Sunday. I had forgotten how much pressure that river gets during the winter months. There must have been 12 anglers in about a mile of river up by the hatchery. Needless to say the fishing suffered due to the large crowd. In about 5 hours of fishing I hooked two steelhead. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially since I was steelhead fishing, but I was expecting the fishing to be more like it was on Thursday. The two fish I hooked both ate egg patterns even though there were no salmon to be found anywhere. It is funny how easily a steelhead will eat a big bright egg pattern when they probably haven't seen a real egg in several weeks. I guess you can call those steelies optimists and the best fighting fish in fresh water. I have a couple availabilities for those of you that want to go and fish the Feather in the next month. The fishing should remain consistent until the first part of February.

The Lower Sac on 1/12/08



I had the opportunity to guide Tom and Kent from Sacramento this weekend on the Lower Sacramento. The trip was extremely close to being canceled due to the off color water coming out of Keswick Reservoir. The clarity on the Lower Sac was about 2.5 feet and the river fished extremely well for the winter. In total we hooked 28 rainbows with four of them going between 18''-19''. All of the fish we caught came on eggs patterns. We tried a variety of nymphs underneath our eggs but they wouldn't touch them. I think the fish were having a difficult time seeing the little nymphs and were largely eating the bright eggs because they could see them. It was a great winter day out there. For those of you that think the Lower Sac is only a fall and spring fishery you are missing out on the less popular months. Imagine fishing the Lower Sac with only a couple other boats and have the majority of the runs all to your self. For those of you interested in fishing the next couple of months I have several availabilities for those of you with the winter blues. Looking forward to seeing you out on the water.

Tight Lines!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Feather River 1/10/08



Well I finally got out to fish for the first time in 2008. I hope all of you had a wonderful New Year. I am looking forward to all of the fish memmories that lie ahead of us in the next year. Well I must admit that my first trip of the year was a success. I got the chance to sneek out to the Feather with Steelhead Steve to do some fishing and filming. The day went extremely well with 16 fish hooked and released. In total we hooked 10 adults and 6 halfpounders. The largest fish was a beautiful 26'' hen. The hot flies of the day were pheasant tails, red copper johns, and a variety of eggs with peach and orange proving most successful.

All day we were trying to film our fishing session as one of us hooked and fought a steelhead. The problem with that though is that at about noon I figured out that I wasn't using the video camera correctly and that all of our morning footage was not saved on the camera. At the end of the day it worked out and we managed to get a couple really nice fish on film. The bad thing is that we didn't get to film the 26'' hen and I screwed up the filming when Steve snapped his rod in half trying to land a fish. No worries though because I am going back Monday to get some more shots. So in the next month or two start looking for a handful of videos on the rivers I guide.

For those of you interested there is lots of great winter fishing available. So if you have the winter blues book a trip to get back on the water to feel the surge of that fish on the end of your fly line. The trout fishing for the next month should be excellent so don't miss out on the action!

Tight Lines,
Ryan Johnston

San Diego Bay Fly Fishing



While I was home for the holidays I got the opportunity to go on two guided trips with Peter Piconi on San Diego Bay. If any of you guys ever make it down there this is something that you need to check out. Most of the days on the bay start around 6AM and go till about Noon. For the most part you are casting 6 weight rods with shooting heads. Usually the fly of choice is a smaller sized clouser in a variety of colors. One great thing about fly fishing in San Diego Bay is that you never know what you are going to catch. The first day alone we caught 7 different species of fish (halibut, calico bass, sand bass, spotted bay bass, mackerel, lizard fish, and jack smelt). Every time you get bit you have no idea what is on the end of the line. The majority of the time we were catching some variety of bass but my father was lucky enough to catch a 7lb Halibut. Yes, it is possible to catch halibut on the fly. Just check out that fly hanging out of the Halibuts mouth. After guiding for four years now I have a special appreciation for guides who do a good job. I can honestly say that Peter Piconi is hands down the best fly fishing guide in San Diego. So next time you are heading to southern california make sure to check out some Bay fly fishing.