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Monday, December 5, 2011

Big Fish & BIGGER SMILES Report

Fishing this fall has been plain ridiculous!!!!! The Feather was on Fire. The Lower Sac continues to put out great numbers of healthy trout in December. For those of you looking to get away from the Holiday Stress then what is better than treating yourself to a great day of trout fishing on the Lower Sac or Yuba Rivers. Expect the next 3-4 weeks to have some solid trout fishing on our local valley rivers. The weather has been gorgeous and most days have been in the low-mid 60s on the river. Good fishing and sunshine in December makes for some very happy fisherman.

There is all kinds of good stuff in this post!

* Fishing Reports on Sac, Yuba, and Feather

* Discounted Fishing Trips in the next 2 weeks

* Great Gift Ideas for Christmas

I hope all of you have a great Christmas. Thanks for another great year on the river. If it wasn't for you then I would not be able to pursue my passion of chasing these beautiful creatures we call fish. I look forward to all of our adventures in 2012!

It is that time of year again where I am offering a handful of discounted trips on the Lower Sac and Yuba Rivers. Here is the deal.........You get a full day trip at the half day cost. That means you save more than 25% off your trip. Check out the dates that I have below.
Discounted Trips: Dec. 7, 10, 15-19, 22-23

Lower Sac - Good December Trout Fishing

The trout fishing over the last week has been really good for this time of year. The last week I have had several days where we have boated between 25-30 rainbows on the Sac. The key has been to find the drift with the most consistent action. The last 2 days on the river I have floated from Anderson River Park down to Balls Ferry. The action has been really good with trout in the 12-16" class. The hot flies have been eggs, small tan birds nest, Hogan's S&M, and an olive micro may. There really has been no reason to change your flies as the fish just bounce up and down your rig the entire day.

What too expect in the upcoming long as we have consistent weather then the fishing should stay solid on those middle drifts. For those of you looking to hook a few steelhead then there are still a handful of chromers down below barge hole. Lots of options for those of you looking to get out around the holidays.

Yuba - Good Trout Fishing Coming Soon

Things are getting close again on the Yuba. For those of you looking for some good winter trout fishing then the Yuba is a viable option in December/January. This time of year we often have shots of throwing blue wing olive dries, nymphing with egg patterns, and even hooking the random steelhead. This time of year expect to hook about 20 rainbows per day on a variety of patterns and methods. Hot flies are going to be rubberlegs, eggs, Hogans S&M, small flashback PTs, and zebra midges. Often times in the winter we run into random Feather Steelhead or the big Winter Steelhead. Only the lucky ones land the big dogs but the truly put all of us to the test.

Feather - Thank You For an Incredible Season!

I am totally bummed that the Feather does not get a bigger run of fish that continues through the winter. It was a fantastic year over there. Seriously the best I have seen in my 9 years of guiding. For those of you that are really looking to find some fish then there are still a handful of steelhead on the river. I have heard some random reports over the last couple of weeks of guys catching a few. The next real good fishing window is going to be after the opener on January 1st. After the opener there should be a couple decent weeks of catching these chromers before the go into the hatchery. Hot flies are going to be eggs, Hogans S&M, Flashback PTs, Alevins, and olive birds nests.

For those of you that are looking into the near future my calendar is open to start booking steelhead trips in March/April. April is a prime month on the river and these dates are going to fill up quickly. Email me if you want dates that far in advance.

Christmas Shopping List!

Christmas is here and often times we are left wondering what we should buy for our family and friends. Well this year give the gift of fly fishing.

Here are some options:

Gift Certificates:

For any $ amount. Buy a full day trip or give a $50 gift certificate to be used on their next trip. Tell the family and put this on your list!

Alternative Gift:

Someone already have everything.....then make a donation to Cast Hope in their honor and we will send them a Christmas Card notifying them of the donation. Send a kid fly fishing this Christmas. Check out the website at for more information.

Tight Lines!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crazy Good Steelhead Fishing!

Well it has been a great month of fishing. For those of you that were lucky enough to hit the Feather in the last 6 weeks have experienced some of the best steelhead fishing that I have ever seen. It has been a blast to watch you guys light up when that chrome eats your bead and jumps out of the water. In this email you will find a detailed report on the local fishing on the Lower Sac, Yuba, and Feather Rivers. In addition to that you will find DISCOUNTED TRIPS on selected dates in the end of November and start of December.

It is that time of year again where I am offering a handful of discounted trips on the Lower Sac and Yuba Rivers. Here is the deal.........You get a full day trip at the half day cost. That means you save more than 25% off your trip at a price of $275. Check out the dates that I have below.

Discounted Trips: Nov. 27-30, Dec. 1-3, 6-8

Feather - Epic Steelheading

The month of October on the Feather was impressive. I have never seen so many steelhead in the Feather ever since I have been guiding the river. The salmon counts were way up this year and this meant there were lots of eggs for the steelhead to feast upon. For over a month we were averaging 15-20 hookups per day on the river. It was great fun on 6 weights as these chromers ripped line off the reel. Many guys had their first ever steelhead experience and from that have now turned their attention to this famous game fish. Steelhead Junkies in the making.

What is currently going on........the Feather has about a week left before the major run of fish is going to be gone. The salmon are slowly starting to disappear and so are the steelhead that are sitting behind them. There are still fresh fish in the High Flow so they will continue to keep things interesting for another couple of weeks. If you are looking to wade I would expect to hook a handful of fish in all of the standard spots. The hot flies have been eggs, eggs, eggs, and some more eggs. I have tried lots of nymphs the last couple of weeks with minimal success. The next good fishing on the river will be when the upper river by the hatchery opens on January 1st.

Lower Sac - Excellent Trout Fishing

The Lower Sac has been really good the last month. I know that everyone has been complaining about the egg bite not going off up bye Posse Grounds but it you are willing to go down river then there is still lots of great trout fishing to be had. The lower drifts below Balls Ferry have been fishing well. I have been spending the majority of my time either on Balls to Jellys or Barge to Bend. The best part of fishing the lower river is there has been no one else down there. It literally has felt like a private fishery. Most days on the lower river we have been landing 30-40 trout and hooking 1-2 steelhead. Now it doesn't get much better than that. Lots of fish, no crowds, and a handful of steelhead makes for a lot of happy customers. The hot flies on the lower drifts have been rubberlegs, eggs, tan birds nest, and micro mays. The trout have definitely been smaller than the fish on the upper river but there are still lots of high quality trout to keep those smiles going. The only downfall on the lower river is that you are catching the majority of your fish between 9AM and 3PM. After 3PM you might as well go home as the fishing gets extremely tough.

Expect good fishing to remain for a couple of more weeks on the lower river. Once the winter salmon start showing up then it will be time to head back up to the Posse Grounds. For those of you looking to get out around the Holidays then make sure to take advantage of my discounted trips.

Yuba - Great Month But Slowing Up

The Yuba has been solid fishing but not great. Early/Mid October had some really good fishing on the river. I actually had 2 of my largest days ever on the Yuba during October but things have since changed. The Yuba should get better once we get some rain and consistent cloudy weather. The darker conditions will make the egg and baetis fishing much more consistent. The last time I fished the river was last week and the hot flies were rubberlegs, eggs, and small pheasant tails. We were able to land 3 fish on baetis dries as well. The majority of the fish were on the smaller side and the nice ones that we ran into were on the lower river below Hammond Grove. It seems like the bigger fish were still eating eggs behind the handful of salmon that are still spawning. Most days the last couple of weeks sounds like guys are hooking 20-30 rainbows per day. Dont be surprised if you run into a steelhead as this is the time of year that they start showing up.

I hope all of you are doing well and I would like to be the first person to say Happy Thanksgiving. I know this year I am grateful for my family, the ability to make a living as a fishing guide, and for those of you that have become friends over my last 9 years of guiding. Hope your Thanksgiving is a good one.

Tight Lines,
Ryan Johnston

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nor Cal Valley Report

It has been a good start to our October season. The salmon are in the rivers for the most part and starting to do their egg drop thing. The name of the game has been to fish the river with the most salmon and tie on your favorite egg patterns. Eggs. Eggs. Eggs. Gotta love this time of year. Check out the quick report below of what is happening in the north valley.

Yuba: The Yuba last week was en fuego!!!! I had the 2 best days that I have ever had on the Lower Yuba since I have been guiding it the last 5 years. I seriously had 2 days over there where we hooked 55+ rainbows on beads. To be honest there are not that many salmon spawning in the river but when you find a handful of them there are plenty of willing trout below trying to gobble up those eggs. What was nice is that the quality of the fish has increased over the last week. Late September it was all 10-12" fish but last week we started seeing more than half the fish from 15-18". The hot flies have been eggs. You can catch random fish on caddis patterns like birds nest and pupahs as well as on rubberlegs.

Lower Sac: The Sac egg bite is not in full swing. There are fish eating eggs over there but it is not gang busters by any means. The river is still pretty average for the middle of October. Lots of 20 fish days. What I have been surprised about is watching rainbows eat nymphs in the middle of redds. Places they should be eating the egg they are preferring the caddis. I personally feel that the Sac egg bite is going to be late this year. There are still salmon rolling around in the deep water and not getting up in the shallows. So it looks like the end of October is going to be prime over there. Now if you can get out there on a cloudy day then they will most likely eat eggs the entire time. But that is a total different story. This time of year clouds and rain make the fish stupid. So dont be afraid to get a little wet because the pay-off could be huge.

Feather: I have spent 2 days on the Feather in the last week and there is a good number of salmon over there. There are a handful of steelhead in the system but not gang busters yet. We were having decent days with hooking random fish throughout the system. Most of the fish are the typical 18-20 half pounders which the Feather is famous for. These fish are hot and pissed off right now. Really bright fish for Feather standards and they are very unhappy when you hook them. There is a random adult around if you are lucky enough to hook one. I had a client land a 26" buck yesterday which was pretty awesome for the Feather standards. On the lower part of the low-flow we are still hooking fish on nymphs while almost every fish at the top is coming on egg patterns. It seems like the word is out though because there are quite a few people out there wading around trying to find some chrome.

Well...............there you have it. The lastest info on our North Valley Fishing Rivers. To sum it up fishing is good and time to get out and test your egg nymphing skills.

If you are looking to do some fishing in the next 6 weeks you can find my limited openings below:

Nov: 8-10, 15-16, 18, 22, 27-30 (27th is the last weekend day open!)

Tight Lines!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yuba River Report

Well.....It is good to be back in CA after a long summer of guiding on the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho. I took a week off to spend some time with the family and work on Cast Hope. Now it is time to get back on the water and see if I still know how to guide these Nor Cal valley rivers. Below is my current report on what I saw on the Yuba.

I spent the last two days guiding good clients of mine on the Yuba River. We found really good fishing for Yuba standards with 30+ trout hooked each day. It really doesnt get any better than that on the Yuba. There were a handful of salmon milling around in the deep slots. We saw about 15 each day but not nearly the number of salmon that we saw this early in the last couple of years. I have to imagine that the egg bite is going to be a couple of weeks away. But needless to say the fish still ate egg patterns. To be honest 2/3 of our fish each day ate the egg. So it is becoming that time of year over there. It should only get better in the next 2 weeks as more salmon start showing up and actually get on redds and start dropping eggs. The one odd thing is that there were lots of small fish. Each day half of the fish we hooked were like 12" long with a handful of your typical 16-18" rainbows thrown in the mix.

For those of you looking to get out on the river in the next couple of weeks I have some prime openings still left for the Yuba and the Lower Sac.

My openings are Oct. 2-5, 11-13, 18-19

Early October is prime for the Yuba while mid October is great on both the Yuba and Lower Sac.

Hope all of you are doing well.

Tight Lines!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cast Hope Kids Summer Fish Fest

Here at Cast Hope we have some huge news. We have taken a second step to follow up with the kids that we take out on free guided trips. Check out what Hogan wrote on the Idylwilde Blog about our first summer clinic. Here is the link: if you want to stay up on Hogan's rants & raves. To be honest there is some great fishing info in his blog and some just funny stuff that will bring a good chuckle. Below is what Hogan wrote about Cast Hope's first summer Fish Fest.

"If you do not know what Cast Hope ( is it is the brain child of Nor Cal Idylwilde city guide and all around great guy Ryan Johnston. Ryan is one of my best friends and told me a few years ago he wanted to create a 501(c)(3) non profit to take kids fly fishing and expose them to fly fishing. I said you have a business degree from UC Davis and an MBA and you want to do what to raise your family and pay your mortgage?

Well with the help of his wife Bonnie, Todd “Slim” Cancilla, myself, and a dedicated board of directors Cast Hope has become a reality. Cast Hope takes kids on free-guided fishing trips with a mentor, advisor, parent, grandparent, whomever nominates the young person for the trip. Ryan’s initial idea was if you love something give it away and share it with other people and that is what we do. Through huge fundraising efforts, the support of the fly fishing industry, local California shops and Outfitters, guides, and just people that believe in what we are doing we have been able to take over 80 kids on guided trips on the Lower Sacramento River and Lower Yuba Rivers over the last two years.

Helping at Cast Hope Fish Fest

This last weekend we took a big step further towards our goal of sharing the sport of fly-fishing and positively impacting the lives of the youth in our area by hosting the first annual Cast Hope Fish Fest. What we did was invite 30 or so mentors and mentees whom we have taken on cast hope trips and whom we thought showed a genuine interest in fly-fishing to this event. We hosted the event on the banks of Deer Creek outside of Chico, ca and the goal was to follow up on that interest and give the mentors and mentees the tools to pursue fly fishing on their own. We did this by giving each mentor and mentee their own rod, reel, fly line, rod and reel case, tippet, leaders, and flies, then with the help of the cast hope guide staff we gave casting, entomology, and rigging lessons then followed that up with fishing on Deer Creek. This could not of been possible without the help and support of Reddington who donated a rod, reel, and line outfit with a case, Rio who donated leaders and tippet, and of course Idylwilde Flies who donated sindicators and a dozen or so flies to each mentor and mentee.

The event was a hit. While I have guided many Cast Hope dates the impact you make is at the one on one level and rarely do you get the feeling you are making a mass impact. The Fish Fest had that moment at one point for me. I had my group of 6 or so kids positioned in a run on deer creek (that had conveniently been just planted on thurs.) and I 1own…chaos later ensued as I worked the line un hooking fish and talking kids through landing fish, but it was a truly an amazing sight to see kids who a year or so ago had never seen a river let alone ever cast a fly rod hooked up on trout and having a ton of fun.

Thank you Zach, Patrick, Chris, and all the Idylwilde crew for believing in what we are doing enough to support it."

Well....enough said. I am so pumped that we are making an impact in Northern CA. I have posted some pictures from the event. Hope you like them. If you know of an at risk/ underprivileged youth that would benefit from this then send in an application online.

Tight Lines!

Dry Flies Finally!!!

Well the last three weeks have been really solid on the South Fork of the Snake. Water finally decided to clear about the first week of August and ever since then it keeps getting better and better. The dry fly fishing is still not even close to normal but there are plenty of opportunities to get those fish on dries if that is your game. But then of course who doesn't like getting fish on dries.

Well I have to admit that is the way that I usually feel.......but if you are up for some nymphing then there are some big browns to be caught on the Heise - Lorenzo drift on the Lower River. In the last couple of weeks I have had several guests that dont mind fishing the indicator and we have hooked some huge brownies. One day we landed 6 fish 18", a 19", 20", 21", and broke off a 23" fish! Days after that my clients were hooking 21-23" daily. Now it doesn't get much better than that. The hot setup has been to have a rubberleg, san juan, and then lightning bug on the bottom. Streamer fishing down there has been solid with plenty of browns willing to chase up a meal on a bright JJ (yellow/brown streamer)

This last week the PMD fishing went off on section 3 from Cottonwood - Byington. All summer I have been waiting for this to happen as this is my favorite style of fishing on the South Fork. In the morning time all one has to do is start searching the rock/foam banks for those suspended fish in the foam. Then put 2 small emergers in front of them and they cant resist. Seriously these fish see an emerger and they move for it every time. But if you miss them once then you have to change the pattern to get them again. The hot emergers have been the pink hackle stacker and pmd challenge. In the afternoons the riffles and flats have been on fire as fish are eating emergers. There are a couple of flats that seriously have over 100 fish in them. About 3PM everything starts to slow down and those last couple of hours are pretty brutal. But who cares when you are getting a solid 6 hours of fishing dries.

Besides that things are going well. Starting to get ready for the famous Jackson Hole One Fly Tournament. This will be my first summer to guide for it. They have asked me the last 2 summers but I have opted out since I have gone home in the end of August. So this year I will give it a try. Maybe some CA kid will ruffle up a few feathers and put some pressure on these ID guides. It should be fun. Stay posted for the results.

For those of you looking to do some fishing this fall things are starting to book up. So start looking at those calendars and get your dates picked out. Below are my openings.

Prime Time Yuba: Sept 20, 23, 29, Oct. 2-6

Prime Time Sac: Oct. 11-13, 16-19, 31

Prime Time Feather: Nov. 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 20 (Sunday)

Let me know if you guys want to book any dates. Hope you all are doing well and getting some fishing in.

Tight Lines!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

South Fork Snake Update

Well things have finally started to get good out here in Idaho. The water on the South Fork of the Snake is still big at 21,000 cfs but the clarity is now to a green 3 feet of visibility. With the increased visibility the fishing has gotten much better. The last two days on the river has resulted in hooking 30+ trout. Right now it seems like the upper is fishing the best from the Irwin Slide down to the Spring Creek Bridge. The name of the game is still nymphing but yesterday in the canyon I finally saw some suspended fish sipping yellow sallies. The yellow sally hatches have been huge so by next week I think the dry fly game is going to be on. Usually when it starts it is nymphing in the morning and then switching to dries for the afternoon hatch. That game plan lets you stay on more fish throughout the entire day. Right now the hot flies are Rubberlegs (6), Red/Pink San Juans, Lightning Bug(12), and a drowned small Stimulator. The drowned Stimi is to represent a sunken yellow sally. The good news is that things are improving. Tough fishing last week has turned into lots of smiles and trout grabs. It is definitely a relief and much easier to get excited about going fishing. Hope you are all well.

Tight Lines!

Sunday, July 10, 2011 has been a while since I have sent out a fishing report. It seems like time is getting more precious as we try to figure out our new life with baby Maggie. She is growing like crazy, starting to giggle, and becoming much more calm. No doubt there are still lots of sleepless nights but hopefully that will improve with time. These first three months have been an amazing process. I want to thank all of you for your words of encouragement as Bonnie and I try to walk our way through becoming parents.

We left for our annual summer to Idaho the third week of June. We were scared of the drive with the 3 month old but we pulled it off in one long day. About 16 hours of driving got us back to our summer home. It was such a blessing that we made it out in one piece. We will be out here through the first week of September and then will be ready to kick off another fall guide season by September 20th.

In this report you will find a detailed report of Western Wyoming/Eastern Idaho Water Outlook, the South Fork of the Snake, Lower Henrys Fork, and openings for fall fishing.


Well there is tons of water out here. According to the locals this is the most snow that they have had in over 100 years. I have heard snow totals from 175-225% of the normal annual precipitation amounts. All of the rivers from Jackson Hole to Idaho Falls are all blown out. The freestone rivers are completely flooded and water is up to the tops of the banks. A local favorite river of mine is called the Salt River. Currently the Salt is so high it has overflowed its banks and is running through hay fields. The tailwaters are still at fishable flows but water clarity is still a big issue. Most tailwaters in our local area are looking at about 10-18" of visibility. The water is not complete chocolate but definitely on the brown side.

If you are planning on coming out this way this summer then I would postpone your trip to at least the third week of July. There is still tons of snow in the mountains. Currently it looks like it normally does in the first of June. So I figure that we are about a month behind from normal water conditions. One great thing is that the late season stuff should be awesome. For those of you that love to come out to the Rockies after the Labor Day crowds should find excellent water conditions and fishing. I don't know what Montana, Western Idaho, or Eastern Wyoming look like but I have to assume things are similar in those parts of the states.

I hope this helps you plan your annual trip.


The South Fork has been really tough this week. The biggest issue here has been both the volume of water and the clarity. Currently the river is running at 24,000 cfs. On the upper stretches near the dam the clarity is 12". Once you get down into the lower part of the canyon the clarity is down to about 8". So needless to say there are not lots of boats on the water. The good news is that the Yellow Sallies, Salmonflies, and PMDS have begun hatching in large numbers. Now the issue is getting the clarity of the water to a state where the fish can see them. Both days on the river we landed 10+ trout and lost several others. But as most of you know for S. Fork standards that is super tough. The hot flies were eggs, san juans, and rubberlegs. Pretty much anything big and buggy will catch fish.

Right now the outlook is by the latter part of July things should get really good. That is when I expect that the Golden Stones and PMDS should be in full swing. The Salmon Fly Hatch this year might be hit and miss due to the water clarity. But truthfully isn't that the way the Salmon Fly Hatch always is. It seems like you are always one week to early or late. That mystical hatch is one of those things where you should have been here last week.

Expect some great late season fishing on the South Fork. As I expect is the same for the rest of the Rockies.


Well right now the only game in the area is the Henrys Fork. The water is a little high on Henrys but the clarity is perfect. It is literally the only clear water for hundreds of miles. The Lodge at Palisades Creek was able to get an emergency permit for the Lower Henrys Fork from St. Anthony down to the confluence. So two days ago I guided my first ever trip down a piece of that stretch completely blind. I got the call the night before that they were able to get the permit and the next day I was guiding on the Henrys Fork. So I went over there having no idea what to expect and it turned out to be a decent day. When I got to the river I was introduced to the largest grey drake spinner fall that I have ever seen. The fishing was good with lots of rainbows/browns in the 18-19" range. The rowing was fairly technical on this stretch and it really made me pay attention to every rock. I have to admit that I got puckered a few times but we were able to make it down safely. It was a lot of driving from my place with roundtrip taking 220+ miles. But at least I was able to get some work in and throw dry flies. Looks like the next 10 days or so the Lodge is going to be pushing that as the guests best option. It should be an interesting learning curve.

For those of you that are looking to do some fishing this fall the sooner you book your dates the better. Weekends have already begun to fill up. You don't want to miss those prime dates for the egg bite in Septmber/October on the Yuba, October on the Sac, and November on the Feather. Below you can find my current openings with suggested river recommendations.


Yuba Egg Bite: September 20, 22-26, 28-30 & October 1-5

Yuba/Sac Egg Bite: October 6-14, 16-20, 25-28, 30-31

Feather Egg Bite: October 25-28, 30-31 & November 1-25

Summer 2011: Call the Lodge at Palisades Creek to Book your trip (208-483-2222)

I hope all of you have a great summer and are able to get some much needed dry fly fishing in at your favorite creek or river. Come check out the South Fork of the Snake if you have never been out here before. It is one of those special places that all people need to experience.

Tight Lines!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Last Lower Sac / Yuba Report before Idaho

It has been a while since I have posted a report. Life has been extremely busy in the Johnston house with lots of guiding, running the Cast Hope Annual Benefit, having a new born, and all of life's normal chores. Today is going to be my last day of guiding in Northern California before I leave for my 5th summer in Idaho. The South Fork of the Snake with its huge hatches of stoneflies and pmds awaits me. As most of you know it has been a very unusual spring for both CA and ID. But there are still fish to be caught below you can find a report of what I have been seeing on our local valley rivers.

Lower Sac: The Sac has been good and difficult at times over the last 6 weeks. Currently the river is at 11,000 cfs but it should be going over 20,000 sometime real soon. But again we have been saying this since March but it has to happen with the amount of water they have in Shasta right now. It seems like the best plan right now is to do long drifts and cover as much water as possible. Each day you get grabs in every place you should but rather than getting lots of multiples you are getting 1-2 hookups in the good spots. It has been really hard to fish slow and do well. Almost everyone right now is fishing Posse to Anderson but I have been switching it up a little bit and doing Bonny to Anderson and RV to Balls. Going out there expect to land right around 20 fish + or - a 2-3 fish. One thing you really have to watch out for is how fast the fish are eating your flies. If you are not right on that indicator as its going under the water then you miss them every time. The hot flies have been rubberlegs, tan pupahs, mercers pmd, flashback pt, and a red copper john.

Yuba: I haven't been on the Yuba for the last couple of weeks since it went to 8,000+ but the first of June the Yuba was fishing really well. Before this spring I thought that the Yuba was unfishable over 4,000cfs. But I went out there several times between 5,000-7,000 cfs. The river was crazy high but the fish were still there. They we stacked up in the drop offs, behind bushes, and the slow flats. To be honest it really felt like fishing in Idaho. The only different thing that you had to do was do the drift twice. So I was fishing from 20 to Sycamore twice in a day and hooking 20+ rainbows each day. Which is great for the spring time on that river and especially good given the conditions. Now it did take me a couple of trips trying to figure things out but it worked out really well. Hot flies were rubberlegs, red copper johns, tan birds nest, and san juans.

Well that is it. Just wanted to keep you guys in the loop. Right now really pay attention to the flows as they are going to be changing at any time. Be careful out there and have a great summer. See you guys when I get back the first week of September.

Tight Lines!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finally Fishing! has been an interesting month. If you haven't noticed Northern California has been getting pounded with rain and snow. Needless to say it has been a tough month. Because of all the weather and Bonnie being on the edge of going into labor I didn't guide one day in March. I had to reschedule 21 days for the month. I started to think of my break as a sabbatical from the oars. It came as good timing though with the birth of our first child Maggie on March 21. So I have had a couple of weeks to help Bonnie out and bond with the baby. To be honest I think the baby has taken more out of me then working. LOL. But even with the restless nights of feedings and trying to sleep I am over joyed with the new addition to our family.

Okay............I know get on to the Fishing! The good news is that the Lower Sac is back in shape and fishing well. So there are going to be some lips ripped in the next couple of weeks.

In this post you will find reports from the Lower Sac, Forecasts on conditions for the Yuba/Feather, Openings, and a couple discounted trips! For all discounted trips I will offer a full day at the half day cost of $275.

Dates Available:

April: 12 ($275), 17, 25-26 ($275), May 3, 6, 17-20, June 7-10

Lower Sac:

As of yesterday we have a couple rivers (Lower Sac/Feather) in the valley that is fishable. The Lower Sac is currently at 15,000 cfs and the clarity is about 6-7 feet. The fishing has been really good all week as those fish plow down on anything that lands in front of them. They finally get some rest and time to eat after the high flows. Both trips I have done this week have resulted in 30+ fish days with many others lost. With the high water the key is to find those soft edges where the fish can settle in and get out of the heavy current. It wasn't hard to find some hungry fish as they tried up to eat the yellow brain fly, the famous bead, and a rubberleg. Around 1PM there was a solid hatch of pmds and as soon as the bugs came out a flashback pt and mercers pmd caught a handful of fish. The quality of fish on the river yesterday was awesome with lots of 17-19" rainbows crushing our bugs.

Yuba River:

Well there haven't been any reports from the Yuba as it has been unfishable for several weeks now. The flows on the Yuba have been bouncing around between 5,000-6,000 cfs. Currently the flows on the Yuba are 5,200+ cfs. So this is still to high to fish the river effectively. In my opinion the river needs to be below 4,000 cfs but is even better when it drops to 3,000 cfs. Now with all of that said that doesn't mean one cant catch fish over there at this flow. With this much flow you have to focus on the slower deeper runs and plan on doing 2 floats as you will be flying down the river.

The forecast for the Yuba is still a couple of weeks out but the last couple of days they have been flirting with that 4,000 cfs mark. We are probably looking to the middle or later parts of April to get out on the river. When things finally get fishable watch out because it is going to be lights out on this river for several weeks. Lots of fish looking to eat after all of the high water conditions. Expect the Yuba to fish really well through June this year. Stay tuned for reports on my blog.

Feather River:

The Feather dropped into shape on Wednesday. I guided the Low Flow section today and found decent success. With two rookies who had never fly fished before we hooked 7 spring steelhead that were all of good size. These were not your typical 16" fish that you see over there during March/April. All of the fish were between 19-22" fat footballs. There was a little pressure on the river with 2 other drift boats and about 3 guys wading the upper parts of the drift. We had to cover a lot of water to find the fish but they were pretty evenly spread out throughout the entire low flow. The hot flies were a prince nymph and lightning bug. But try san juans, microspawn, birds nest, king princes, pts, Hogan's S&M, etc. if you plan on going over there. Expect things to get really good on the Feather in a couple of weeks once some more fish move into the system.

Well that is it. We are finally back to fishing in the valley. Expect the next three weeks to be really good.

Tight Lines!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Water! Water! Water!

Well not much to report on as all of the valley rivers are currently blown out. Right now the Lower Sac is at 40K cfs, the Yuba is 15K, and Low Flow on the Feather is 18K. Needless to say all of this water has finally caught up with the reservoirs. So it looks like I wont be guiding for the next couple of weeks. It does come at good timing as Bonnie is expecting our first child on March 31. Right now we need a couple solid weeks of dry weather for everything to drop back into shape. I will keep you posted as things progress. For those of you interested in what are good levels for the flow then here you go.

Lower Sac: Needs to be 30K or less. 30K is still really big but it can fish really well from 20-25K. So if it drops into that range then we are back into the game.

Yuba: Needs to be 4K or less with deer creek in the 100-200 range. The Yuba has had a tough spring thus far. I cant wait for things to settle over there.

Feather: Needs to be 3K of less. I haven't seen the Feather this big since 2004. Dont even try to fish it right now. This is dangerous flows and could be hazardous to your life.

Well............thats about it. Just praying for some stable weather so I don't lose my entire spring season. I hope all of you are doing well.

Tight Lines & Dry Weather!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Big Fish Report

I hope you are all having a great week. Well winter is still here in the North Valley. Hopefully you guys are not frozen blocks of ice from the cold last week. I think that my fingers are just now defrosting. The last couple of weeks have been some of the coldest that I have ever seen. One client of mine was not so lucky 2 weeks ago when we sat in 1.5 hours of snow in Redding. Yes I said snow in Redding. But even with the snow flakes we were able to find a few fish to bite. Things are starting to look warmer for the week to come but even with that there is more rain in the forecast. Well you ready for the good news...............cold weather means the hatches are going to be huge when it gets warm again. So expect the fishing from the mid March - mid April to be excellent. That means there will still be March Browns on the Yuba and Caddis on the Lower Sac. So get excited because there is really good fishing to come. Check out my latest fishing report and openings below. I look forward to spending some time with you guys this spring.

March: 3-4, 8, 12-17, 20-24

April: 3-6, 11-13, 15, 20-22, 25-26

May: 2-7, 9-10, 17-20, 28-31

Weekend Dates Still Open: March 12-13, March 20, April 3, May 7, May 28-29

Lower Sac:

Well it has been an interesting month on the Lower Sac. The conditions have been all over the board. Warm early in the month and freezing temperatures of late. Needless to say the hatches on the Sac have also been bouncing around. We have seen some huge caddis hatches under the sunny weather and really big blue wing hatches with the rain. The hatches have been impressive for the last month. I had clients last week that were lucky enough to be in the biggest caddis hatch of the year thus far. There were so many caddis out that we grabbed a dry fly rod. In one tail out we hooked 2 fish on caddis dries. Now I know that doesn't seem like a big deal but that is more rare than hooking a steelhead on the Sac. The middle stretches of the Sac continue to fish the best with most of my time being spent on either Bonnyview to Anderson or Anderson to Balls Ferry. The hot flies of late have been prince nymphs, Hogan's S&M, Brown Micro Mays, Small Flashback PTs, and rubberlegs. Currently the river is fishing pretty normal with most days resulting in 25+ rainbows landed. Expect things to blow up on the Lower Sac when we finally get some sunny weather in the high 60s. When that happens the fishing is going to be SILLY!

Yuba River:

The Yuba has been having a rough go for the last couple of weeks. There have been small windows to fish the Yuba with major fluctuating flows on the river. Currently the river is fishable and flowing at 2,000 CFS. However with more rain coming tomorrow I expect Deer Creek to blow the Yuba out for a couple more days. Probably by next weekend the Yuba will be good to go again. It just depends on how much water we get in the next couple of days. With all of the changing conditions I have not been on the Yuba for the last couple of weeks. But if I were to go out there I would try rubberlegs, San Juans, Hogans S&M, Hogans Clinger, Copper Johns, and even some eggs. Expect things to get really good hear as well when we get some warm weather. Hopefully the flows will not be up when that happens. To be honest I am bitting at the bit to get out there.

Feather River:

Well................It is not spring time on the Feather! The only reason is there are very few fish in there right now. I talked to a guy who guided the Feather last week and they only hooked a couple of fish. So it is still to early for the Feather to start fishing. But get pumped because we are about 2-3 weeks away from this place blowing up as well. If you want to go out there scouting then throw all of your favorite green caddis patterns, Hogans S&Ms, San Juans, Birds Nest, Alevins, Etc. The Spring is by far my favorite time of year to fish the Feather. If you fish it enough then you will have one of those magical days out there where everything seems to align and there are tons of fish in the system that want to eat your fly. Hang on and don't screw up when you hit the big one. Expect the Feather to peak from mid March through April.

February's Big Fish of the Month!

The big fish award for February is going to Jesus Cardenas. Jesus has been fishing with me for about 3 years now. He lucked into this great 23" clipped steelhead on the Lower Sac the second week of February. The best part of this fish is that it absolutely hammered his fly. This fish was moving so fast that I saw it under the boat by the time he was setting the hook. The crazy part is this fish passed up the Rubberlegs to eat a small prince nymph. Dumb fish! In the end Jesus did everything right and we netted this fish right above Deschutes Bridge. Jesus will get $50 off his next trip with me. I hope there are more steelhead to come this spring! It seems like there are always a few it just depends if you are lucky enough to land one. Maybe you will be the next big fish winner.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Last Minute Cancellation

To anyone interested I had a last minute cancellation for Monday. I will offer a full day of fishing at the half day cost of 275. The trip will have to be on the Lower Sac as the Yuba is currently blown out. Right now we are landing between 20-25 rainbows a day on the Sac. Plus it looks like the weather on Monday is going to be awesome. Email me at if you want to get in on the deal.

Hope everyone is staying warm.

Tight Lines!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lower Sac Snow

Well today is the second day ever that I have guided in the snow. Pretty crazy weather for Redding. We started fishing about 9AM and the first 1.5 hours there was a steady snow/sleet coming down. Needless to say there wer not lots of bugs coming off in the cold. However right about 11AM the fish started to eat. We landed 5 fish in the hour on Red Headed Step Childs, Olive Gidgets, adnd Micromays. The only issue was that my client threw in the towel a little after noon. I guess all of the rain/snow/sleet got to him. Once you start shivering I guess there is nothing that you can really do except get out of the cold. I can tell you though he was more excited about the car heater than a kid on Christmas morning!!! Hindsight we should have started around 10:30 but I guess you never know. Things are looking up for the weekend if you want to fish in Redding. Looks like Saturday and Sunday the weather is going to hold up for us.

Just as a note the Yuba is currently blown out. So check the flows before heading out toward Marysville.

Tight Lines!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring Fishing Awaits.

Fly Guys & Gals,

I hope you are all having a great week. It looks like we are finally getting a real taste of winter again. Rain is forecasted for the next week. For awhile there I was thinking spring was here to stay. The big news is that all of our valley rivers are already starting to fish good. Big caddis hatches on the Sac and even the March Browns are starting to pop their heads up on the Yuba. It is a little scary that we started catching fish on our spring patterns in the end of January. The weather this winter is setting up for a great spring on all of our valley rivers. Low flows and lots of bugs! Check out the fishing reports and my openings below. I look forward to spending some time with you this spring.

It is that time of year again when the Sac, Yuba, and Feather blow up. So make sure to get in on the bite. You dont want to miss the caddis hatch on the Sac, the March Brown/PMD hatch on the Yuba, or the run of Spring Steelhead on the Feather. Prime weekend dates are already filling up. Check out my openings below.

March: 3-4, 8, 12-13, 15-18, 20-24, 30-31

April: 2-6, 9, 11-13, 15, 20-22, 24-26

Lower Sac:

Caddis Hatch in January & February? YES, the Sac is already in its spring time trends. The middle parts of the river from Anderson down to Balls Ferry have been fishing LIGHTS OUT for average sized fish. Currently most days we are landing 30+ rainbows. If you are into lots of grabs then from now until April the Lower Sac is going to be the place to be. We are not seeing lots of big fish as most of the rainbows we are catching are going from 12-14". However every day we are getting a handful of great quality trout. This last week one of my clients found and landed a late 23" clipped hen on this drift. So there are some great fish still to be caught. This cold weather will slow things down for a bit but come March time the Sac is going to be blow up! Hot flies have been prince nymphs, king prince, zug bug, micromay, and Hogan's S&M.

Yuba River:

Is the same thing happening on the Yuba? Well yes. Spring Time has hit the Yuba as well. There are Skwalas flying around, March Browns starting to hatch, and a crazy early PMD here and there. The Skwala hatch has not been quite as good this year. The word on the street is that the high flows in December probably knocked these bugs around as they started their crawling migration. However I have been seeing a few on the water. Currently most days we are hooking 15-20 rainbows. However watch out for the next set of warm weather. With this little bit of cold those bugs will be itching to do their thing when it gets back to 70. WATCH OUT BECAUSE THE YUBA IS GOING TO BE GOOD! The hot bugs of late have been rubberlegs, red copper johns, skwala stone, Hogan's Clinger, Hogan's S&M, and of course San Juans!

Feather River:

Well................It is not spring time on the Feather! The only reason is there are very few fish in there right now. Get pumped because we are about 1 month away from this place blowing up as well. For those of you that dont know this is by far my favorite time of year to fish on the Feather. There is not a hotter fish in the valley. If you are lucky enough to hook one of those Feather River Adult steelhead then that fish will keep you coming back year after year. I literally have clients that only want to fish this river with me. Typical days on the Feather result in 10-12 hookups on steelhead between 16-24". If you are lucky enough then sometimes you can find that fish that is pushing the high 20's mark. Prime time is Mid March to Mid May!

Tight Lines,
Ryan Johnston

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January Lower Sac, Yuba, & Feather Report

In this post you will find discounted trips in February and an up-to-date fishing report from our valley rivers. I will give you the hot bugs and techniques so that you can go out on your own and be successful. Hope to see you on the water this spring. Get in contact with me if you want to book any trips for the spring CADDIS HATCH on the Lower Sac, DRY FLY fishing on the Yuba, or to chase some SPRING STEELHEAD on the Feather.

Now for the Nor Cal Valley Fishing Report:

Lower Sac:

The Lower Sac has had an interesting winter. Typically this is the time of year where we target those big rainbows up by the Posse Grounds. But usually we are fishing in prime cloudy and rainy conditions. This spring weather we are getting in January is affecting the fishing adversely. We want the clouds because it gets that second egg bite going. Yesterday on the river is was 70 degrees and there were summer caddis coming off. We still caught some great fish under the sun with the best going 21.5 inches. My clients and I ended up hooking 21 trout but only landing 10 fish. So needless to say that we had to work for them. It was the first time ever that I have caught a fish in the winter on a summer tan caddis pattern. The hot flies have been eggs, tan poopahs, Hogan's S&M, and olive micro mays.

There are things to get excited for with this warm weather. That means the spring caddis hatch is just around the corner. So get excited for some awesome fishing in late February through March. If you want to fish the Lower Sac during prime time then March is hard to beat. In 2010 this was the best month of the year.


The Yuba is in a similar trend to the Lower Sac. Lots of sun, minimal bugs, and higher flows makes for some tough fishing. I was out there yesterday guiding a buddy of mine and he hooked 6 fish in about 5 hours of fishing. Pretty tough for the Yuba but it would have been better if we had a second rod in the boat. The river is at higher flows and is currently at 3,000 cfs. It is definitely at the point where you need to fish it out of the boat. Not lots of wading opportunities at these flows. With the increased flows there are a few steelhead being caught. Even though they are rare this is the time of year this is when the majority of those ocean going fish show up. Look to find the majority of the fish in the flats and off the edges of the faster currents. At these flows fish really like to pod up. So where you catch one there should be another willing fish waiting. If the weather stays warm like this expect to start seeing some major skwalas in the next couple of weeks. I actually had a couple land on me in the boat yesterday. So it is getting close to that time. The hot bugs have been eggs, san juans, rubberlegs, skwala stones, and Hogans S&M.


The Feather is in its winter dull drums. The next 6 weeks there is nothing to be done on the feather. There will be a random fish or two out there for the die hard fisherman. But this time of year you might as well go fish the American river. The American is a much more winter viable fishery as compared to the Feather.

Get excited though. Because those spring fish are on the way. Those springers will be in the river in good numbers by mid March. These are the hottest fish in the valley. Most days we hook 10+ springers between 14-24". If you want to catch some hot fish under the sunny conditions of March and April then this is your game. This is by far my favorite time of year to fish the Feather. There are two specials for you to take advantage of this winter:

In February I will be offering some discounted trips on days that I am having a hard time booking. The cost of a full day trip for the selected dates below is going to be $275. You get a full day trip at the half day cost. This is a savings of $125.

February 9-10, 14-15, 23

Looking forward if you are interested in doing any trips this winter or spring then my openings are below. For those of you that want to get prime weekend dates for spring fishing then now is the time to start looking at your schedules.

March 1-3, 5, 8, 12-13, 18-25, 28-31

April 1-6, 9-22, 24-29

Well......I think that is it. I want to thank all of you for a great 2010. We caught some great fish and made some awesome stories. To big fish that got away, a few beers being drunk, sitting in hail storms, breaking rods, falling in the river, and spending time with friends. I look forward to all of our future trips and memories.

Hope to see you this Spring.

Tight Lines!