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LCO Small Streams Clinic Report

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The Lost Coast Outfitters Small Stream Clinic led by Tayler Wells and myself happened last weekend in Eastern Plumas County featuring Jamison and Gray Eagle creeks. The concept alone was brilliant, teaching our guests the right approach to rugged canyon water, and pursuing small wild trout that is so good for the soul. Topics included rigging for small streams and creeks, knots, fly selection, reading water, presentations, and safety in the woods during the two day course. On day one we dropped into the remote Jamison Creek canyon where once you enter there is no means to get out until you are at the top of this magnificent section near the town of Johnsville. Wet weather in the form of rain drenched us early on. It was not bad at all, and good quality rainwear goes a long way during such conditions. The sun broke out for a few hours and allowed us to do our entomology class which is always so fascinating to those who are not in the know. Scattered showers returned in the afternoon as we hit the major pools, slicks, and pocket water. Fishing was slow due to the low water temperatures that came in at 48 to 50 degrees. The high light of the day was a 15 inch rainbow that was caught on a pheasant tail flash back nymph as a dropper fly, a new record by any guest that I have ever guided into the gorge. We were treated to a rare spectacle as hundreds of Yellow Rumped Warblers migrated through the canyon, sweet melodies and the sound of running water filled the air, and smiles were plentiful. We also found some mountain lion scat, and identified numerous animal tracks in the sand bars. A fabulous lunch was provided for all thanks to the Graeagle Millworks as we took shelter at the Plumas Eureka State Park museum under the canopy of the porch, then warmed ourselves up inside by the fire, and dried out.


The sun broke out again and we made good by setting up a rough camp early by the Middle Fork Feather River. Tayler’s camping skills from his Alaskan guide experience came in quite handy as he rigged a simple shelter so we could stay dry from the intermittent showers through the evening. He then made us all a simple dinner that was consumed quite quickly after our long and exhausting day burning big numbers of calories. We lounged around the campfire fire swapping stories of trout, Giants baseball, and future trips. As George says “Life is better around a campfire”, and how spot on he is. It was just plain awesome! Morning came and with it foggy conditions. Another fire to warm up to and to our surprise Tayler made us a great breakfast, filling us with the needed fuel for our next decent into the Gray Eagle Creek canyon water.
We broke our simple camp down, loaded the vehicles, and headed up above town to our destination. The sun finally came out and it was the best day we’ve seen in the last two weeks, it was absolutely gorgeous out. Our group scrambled down the steep slope, slipping and sliding until we reached the bottom of the abyss. Upon arrival something was missing, water! I was blown away; there was only a slight trickle with idle pools here and there. It was not right and something was quite strange about the conditions. We made the best of it and rock hopped up the watershed making stealthy presentations to some very spooky rainbows that were found in the bigger pools. Upon reaching the top where the diversion dam is located, we crested and peaked over and Gray Eagle creek was flowing as it should be with lots of fishable water. The town was taking a 100% of flow while releasing zero water downstream, we were shocked. I guess golf is more important than keeping wild trout and aquatic insects alive and in good condition. Our guests fished the big pool above the dam and got into many small wild rainbows instantly. Another scrumptious lunch was consumed, only this time in the sunshine, followed by a second session to the headwaters of Jamison Creek. We focused again on presentations, reading water, and a bug sampling followed by a quiz. It was quite interesting to compare notes on the macroinvertebrates from both watersheds and the unique diversity between the two creeks. Casting lessons followed with proper technique for a solid foundation. Tayler and I were quite pleased that everyone learned how to false cast effectively with tight sexy loops. We were beyond stoked to be honest.

The LCO Small Streams Clinic was a big hit, we all had a great time, and our students learned so much! For a guide, that’s the icing on the cake that can never be duplicated. Look for more fly fishing clinics from Lost Coast Outfitters in the future featuring excellent locations, and quality guides who will share decades of knowledge that any participating guest can use for the rest of their fly fishing lives. For a good read and a look into the exciting world of canyon water, check out the April 2014 issue of California Fly Fisher magazine on an article I wrote simply titled “Creekin”. Small streams; good for the body, soul, and mind.

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