It was late Saturday and the L&T and I were blasting our way up the Upper Sacramento River canyon – new, cranky daughter in the car seat and two barely conscious adults piloting – when the October Caddis started bouncing off the windshield (more on the trip later).
Sometimes, an unfortunate group of pumpkin-colored caddis sometimes mistake the I5 freeway for a river, forming up over the asphalt ribbon in ill-fated mating flights, and while cruel ironies are always appreciated at the Underground, I truly have little interest in seeing what an October Caddis looks like from the inside.
Still, the caddis were flying, but after better than two weeks spent literally on the other side of the globe (completely without Internet access), the disconnection struck me, and I had to ask: “How did the caddis happen without me?”
The October Caddis have become a milestone event on the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers; the October emergence of these amberish-colored, small-hummingbird-sized caddis often occurs in front of the year’s biggest crowds of fly fishermen (several fly fishing clubs plan outings), yet the weather – while often cold at night – is still pretty comfortable during the day.
The result are a lot of fly fishermen throwing big, big dry flies (#6-#10s) at trout, some of whom will actually eat the things in splashy, aggressive takes.
Of course, no fly fishing hatch comes without its “gotcha” moment, and what’s true is that often, the big October Caddis don’t generate much in the way of interest from the trout. In fact, it’s common to fish a #18 PED through an October Caddis hatch and catch more trout.
It’s also true – when I first wrote about the October Caddis in 2007 (“Fly Fishing the Upper Sacramento in the Fall: An October Caddis Primer“) – that the best October Caddis fishing might be found in early winter, when the bugs are dying and falling into the water.
Presumably, the trout “know” that dead bugs won’t make a last-minute getaway, and the party (as they say), begins.
Now For a Real Expert
Everything I’ve told you about the October Caddis I’ve said before (but oy, nobody listens, nobody writes, nobody calls, especially you kids with your iPods and fancy-pants phones, and hey get off my lawn).
Still, I’ve always stopped far short of claiming expert status around the October Caddis, mostly because I may have caught a fair number of big trout during October Caddis season, but never with the kind manly, chiseled-jaw confidence I have when hitting the Green Drakes of spring.
And while it seems that becoming an online commando is all the rage these days, I’m going to defer to someone who hasn’t spent the last month on kid-related stuff: Craig Nielsen of ShastaTrout.com, who does the responsible adult thing and posts real fly fishing reports while I’m over here changing diapers and ruminating on the power of bikini photographs to change our lives for the better.
Right now, it’s raining hard at Trout Underground/Man Cave/Soiled Diaper World Headquarters, and the river’s starting to come up, though the line between an unfishable river and a refreshing plug of water that turns on the trout is finer than you’d believe; at some point, both conditions may be true. (What, you wanted easy? Take up checkers…)
Simply put, I’m back, and there’s more to come, though what “more” looks like is yet to be determined.
See you fishing the October Caddis, Tom Chandler.