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Small Stream Adventure

By Tom Chandler 7/3/2006

Fishing a small stream is something I say I should do (a lot), but when push comes to shove, I'm more likely to spend an evening on the Upper Sac than drive the little extra distance to a place where the fish are smaller. Plus, this is the mountains, and the small streams around here don't lend themselves to a calm, meandering small stream experience. The gradients are steep, and the late summer flows are extremely low. Hard life for trout (and rough streamside going for fishers), but at spring flows, there's plenty to fish.
South Fork Upper Sacramento
Overhead view of one of my most productive pools. Screams "fish" eh?

Of course, small streams are beautiful, and your odds of stumbling across another fishermen - when bigger fish and more glamorous rivers are nearby - are pretty slim. The fish are small (most of mine were six inches or smaller, with three in the 8"-9" range) and the casts are short, though I think the drifts are just as challenging.

I'd tell you that fly selection doesn't matter much, and usually it doesn't, though last night I ran through a couple different patterns and did best with a "Tennessee Wulf" - a fly that's similar to a Royal Wulff but with bright green floss for the body (instead of red). I wondered why it would matter, and then I found this #10 spinner floating in a pool of water away from the main flow. Though you can't tell from the picture, it looks like a smallish Green Drake, and the body was definitely greenish. Ahh. The mystery abates.
Spinner fly
A #10 spinner floating in a small pool.

For the gearheads among us, I fished what's fast becoming my favorite pocket water dry fly rod - a Diamondglass 8.5' 4wt fiberglass rod. Light enough that an 8" fish can be felt, smooth even at short range, and long enough to help you get those tough drifts.

Today? Don't know where I'll end up today. Think my backcountry jag is far from over. Another alpine lake? Probably. See you in the backcountry, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

Dave; Figures you'd head off to the backcountry and one-up me (or "many-up" me if we're counting fish)... We'll have to hit some of those streams in the near future. Love that small stream stuff. And Brian - thanks for the biology lesson, though next time, don't spread lies about the Pink Alberts on the Upper Sac. There are few bugs on the Upper Sac, and no fish of any size. Anyone reading Brian's ... more report needs to know he's a pathological liar, and should fish elsewhere... 8-)
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Hey Dave, You were up in my old stomping grounds. I worked on the Prospect RD in 1990-91 as seasonal fish bio and again in 2000-02 as district fish bio before transferring down to the Klamath NF. I think I surveyed the stream you're talking about in 1990. Generally the tribs to the Upper Rogue above Union Creek area are more productive than the main river. The main river while it has great habitat, ... more does not contain a lot of fish, nor are they very big. This is due to the low productivity of the upper reaches of the river. The headwaters of the upper river are in Crater Lake NP and the source of the river comes from springs originating from the Crater Lake aquafer. This water is extremely COLD! In the mid thirties. So the productivity of the water coming from the headwaters is very low. Did you sample any of the pies at Becky's? They have some of the best pies around. A couple of the streams up there do have resident coastal cutts. P.S. The Pink Alberts are out on the Upper Sac @ Cantera.
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TC, I only wish I had your way with words, but I will try anyway. I took off yesterday morning to have breakfast in Shady Cove, well my favorite coffee shop was closed for the weekend, so after reading storys about high country, I headed up to Union Creek, and Becky's for breakfast and some small stream fishing, and get away from all the rafts on my river. I headed up from there and hit a great little ... more stream rigged up an 8' 4wt. Roger Fairfield rod. (bamboo of course) the LRH that I got from you, filled with a DT4 silk line, and had a ball. Hit a great Adams hatch. This stream is small but not brushy, but high enough that the water stays real cold and the fish will take about anything they can get there mouth over. They where also fast so you missed as many as you got. Then I headed down to one of the forks of the Rogue that up there is about the size of the Upper Sac, so I feel like it s a small stream. Same hatch a few bigger fish, (all the way to 8")but this rod will cast an 14 silk bradded but leader and 4' of line to the small slots so sweet, that to me means it has a soft tip so the small fish feel just fine. I was a great day and the only other people I even herd was a Quad Runner up on the road above me, but never saw, and on the way out there was a guy fishing a big plung pool I stopped and talked to that was fishing and old Finwick spinning rod, and a real small spinner that he made, much like a rooster tale but a single barbless hook, and I watched him Camp;R a doz. stockys. We sat and talked for awhile and as always we got talking gear. I told him I liked his rod, and he said he had it sence he was a kid, (he was an old fart like me), and was wishing he still had the bamboo spining rod his dad had, I told him the Bruce Howell of Grants Pass had a few blanks built up. He said he would get a hold of him, because he was from GP and I gave him my number so I could get him in touch with him. He call me later that evening to get Bruces #. Bruce E Mailded me that the guy came over picked out a blank and he is building him a small rod for the upper river. Like I said I can't write like TC, but I wanted to tell about a great day on some great water. David
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I dunno Gus -- omitting the butt section could easily make for an incredibly wimpy rod. Spoke to Dave an hour ago. He's on his way to a backcountry stream with an 8' 4wt. With any luck, we'll get him down here next weekend to fish.
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Love it, TC. I miss the intimate waters of the area. Luckily I have managed to find some here as well. I'm working on the details of making a small 4wt for the close-in walls of my stream for the bass and bluegills there. I'll most likely be taking a 5pc 7'6" 4wt blank and not using the last piece, effectively creating a 4 pc 6' "weight yet to be decided" rod. Four piece will also make it a breeze ... more to stick in the hydration pack and not hang a tube on all of the nasty thorned viney plants that are EVERYWHERE here. I now truly understand what a briar patch is, and wish we only had blackberries like back home... Keep up the adventures, whine at Dave on my behalf, ok? -G
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