What I thought was going to be an epic opener on the MFFR turned out to be a bust. Water temperatures will always dictate whether the fishing the first weekend of April will be successful, or not here. When the thermometer barked out 45 degrees in the water, I knew it would be fruitless. I still probed the many runs and pools with a hope for a bent rod. No aquatic insects were to be found on stream side foliage, not even a Gray Drake shuck on the rocks. Angling pressure for the opener was nonexistent; I had first tracks to many of the productive buckets between the Clio and Mohawk.
The Middle Fork Feather River is extremely low and mirror the fall season flows. I was not shocked by any means, but it does put everything into perspective; how the ecosystem relies on a snowpack that gives life to the land. I expect the river to become fishable by May 1st, or when the water temps bump up above 50 degrees. Nymph rigs will dominate early with San Juan worms, and small mayfly nymphs like Copper Johns, and bead head Pheasant Tail flashbacks. Forget about dry fly fishing until the water warms up near the upper 50’s. A good strategy during the early season on the MFFR is to fish above where feeder creeks come in, these inflows will be carrying the colder water from the upper elevations, cooling down the river below it. Side sloughs are another venue to seek out, and if they are deep enough, stripping black streamers is an option to hook into the bigger trout in the system.
It will be a short lived season on the MFFR, and it could be done by the middle of June. Sure, there will be some evening opportunities with dry flies, but that will wane as well. The only good thing I see from the river being low is that the carp and bass fishing in the upper watershed will be good. The warm water species will be more concentrated, and sight fishing will be easier. Let’s pray we get a few more pulses of precipitation in the months to come before the faucet is turned off. It’s really all we can do at this point.
Jon Baiocchi, Baiocchi Troutfitters