Low Clarity, Mind Clarification

Had the opportunity to fish with my good buddy Shane Kohlbeck, who is a well know and highly regarded guide on the Lower Sacramento River. I usually only get to fish with him once or twice a year and always really look forward to it. The Lower Sac is a really interesting Piece of water, just looking at it you would think it is just another one of our Nor Cal rivers, but it is pretty unique. Due to a constant year round water temperature of 54 degrees and mandated minimum flows, it has become to many people’s opinions the finest tail water fishery in the entire state. A few things that really draw here are that it is very hard to blow out, and the fish average around 17,” and pull like really hard, as fish living in a powerful river such as this should.

Conditions were not prime. There was a breeze, it was cold and cloudy, and there had just been a massive storm that drenched almost the entire northern half of California. The water was pretty murky. Shane’s usual go or no-go judgement relies on if he can see his boots when he’s knee-deep. Early in the day it was thick enough that weren’t totally visible.

Shane had been kicking it with his wife for the past few days and needed to get the fish’s menu on lock, so we fished hard all day long. We started off wading, where Shane and I each had some hookups (all farmed by me) and Shane landed a fish.

The last thing a bug sees before chaos……

Due to the breeze, there weren’t too many bugs out, where as in the previous months you could almost count on some dry-fly action daily. As they say dark day, dark flies. Most of the fish we stuck were on some Lower Sac staples and some good ol’reliables such as the rubberlegs, copper john, and a few others that everyone uses with confidence.

Bow’s are pretty much the only game in the river, though lately from rumours Brownies have been popping up here and there. The fish here pull incredibly hard, probably one of the harder fighting bows I have ever tangled with. The variation in appearance between all the fish is pretty interesting, just like fingerprints on people,  no two fish have the same spots…..

We fished water that gets fished, and we fished water that everyone passes up. Stuck fish in all places.

The riffles held fish in their normal spots, along with some areas that normally dont. Most of the time fish don’t sit too shallow here, as there is a large population of ospreys, as the sides of many of the fish tell….With the murky water, the fish felt more comfortable and we hooked and landed fish in water that was 1-3′.

For an area that gets hit as hard as it does (I.E. there are somewhere in the range of 12 guides just at the local fly shop who guide full-time primarily just on the Sac, not to mention all the independents) these fish are in really good shape. I didn’t see one ripped up face or missing maxillary all day.

I had the GoPro on some of the trip but it seems as if every time its rolling, not much happens, and as soon as it goes off, things start to go down. Either way I put some shots together and mated it with some Johnny Cash….who doesn’t like some cash every now and then right?

All in all we touched somewhere around 30 fish for the day. Not bad considering the clarity. Fishing with Shane is a ton of fun. He is a great teacher, feels like I bring home some new skills every time we fish. If your ever looking into a great trip, don’t hesitate to give Shane a buzz. He runs a great website and usually updates it a few times per week.


Gear Used:

  • Sage One 697-4
  • Hatch 5 Plus
  • RIO Salmon Steelhead 7wt
  • Simms G4 Pro Waders
  • Smith Polarchromic Glasses
  • GoPro HD Hero 2

Next time….”Beginners Luck”



About taylerwells

fly fishing guide in california and alaska student pursuing a career in the DFW
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One Response to Low Clarity, Mind Clarification

  1. Sheriewells says:

    You were born to do this, can’t wait to see what comes next.

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