The local farm journal is bemoaning vines and trees budding earlier than normal. Early nut and vine crops are a bigger issue given the drought and the increased salinity of the Delta, whose waters are tapped when rainfall is absent. What little fresh water currently flowing from the hills isn’t enough to push the salt water back towards San Francisco Bay, and pumping brackish water is not an option.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the drought would advance the calendar of nearly everything; stoneflies gone before Opening Day, most hatches early versus their traditional schedules, and much of the Sierra fishing like August once June arrived. This from past experience of similar trauma in the Seventies, and how painful were the lessons learned.
While most focus on the high country and it’s Pristine, I’m already gearing up for the Other White Meat, Shad, and how the run, such as it is likely to be, will be small and arrive early, and how we’ll be further constrained by river closures, and last minute gear changes none of us seem plan for …
Chatting with the dam operator from last week’s outing, I was curious on how much they were releasing and what were their plans in the event of a windfall of moisture. “Eleven …”, says he, “We’re currently releasing eleven feet per second, and have no plans to release more until we fill the lake behind …”
With the drought-based closures of California’s more prolific fisheries due endangered salmon and steelhead – and with the potential for the Shad run to be smaller, shorter, and sooner, it’s likely that whatever 2014 has in store could be a “hot mess.”
… all fishing will be banned through April 30, 2014 on the American River from Nimbus Dam downstream to the power lines crossing Ancil Hoffman Park.
… late April – early May usually debuts the run, and if water conditions make them arrive sooner, they’ll be moving through the river without us doing more than watching.
Nimbus Dam and Folsom Lake (above), source of the American River.
The above shot of Folsom is prior to the most recent spate of showers, but we’re still absent the multi-day pounding rain that saturates the ground and generates runoff. Current flow in the American is 500 CFS, which is about 10% of what it should be – and about 20% of what it is when the fish are aggressively invading the river.
It may be time to ditch the Spey rod and grab the one hander. Distance won’t be an issue given the river shrinkage, and a sink tip may be better than a full sinking head in many spots. Don’t be surprised if smaller and “less bright” is the preferred rig, as you’re likely to be pawing through the bins hoping to see #12’s instead of the customary 6’s and 8’s.
As I fished mostly size 8’s last year, I’m looking at reducing the weight and dressing, opting for a dimutitive collection of bugs on 2X Strong, standard shank, 10’s – 12’s.
Bead chain can’t get much purchase on shanks that small, so if you use them be mindful the finished fly will spin with finger pressure and have a tendency to unwind and fall apart. A Model Perfect bend and single smaller bead – or 2AMP wire wrap – may be much better than the classic chain, both in weight and its resultant durability.
I’ll add some tips on reduction in a future post.