Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Conditions Update

Coastal Steelhead Report -

The Bad News: The Russian River was running over 5,000 cfs* as of the 19th, and we've just been getting more rain since. (*5,000 cfs not "fishable" - that's a whole 'lotta water...)

The Good News: The other coastal streams such ast he Gualala and Novarra should clear quickly and will be fishable much sooner. (And, we all know that we do need the rain!)

Rivers should be in good shape by the first week of March. So, this is the week to go through your gear so that you don't waste any fishing time as the river conditions improve. Check your fly lines for cracks and any degradation in the backing or connections. Replace your leaders and either sharpen your hooks or tie some more flies!

Anglers should also keep an eye on Tomales Bay for the Perch starting in March.

We are continually monitoring conditions through the most recent storms, so feel free to call the shop for the most recent reports.

Tight Lines!
- Carlo

(Carlo can be found on the stream or at our Santa Rosa store - 707-542-4432)

New Arrivals and Items on Sale!

Everyone is getting excited about spring turkey season - We've been loading in lots of new turkey decoys, calls, camo and accessories at both stores. In addition to the Primos calls which many hunters used to advantage last year, we've added Zink's calls, which should be arriving this week.

The first Spring Turkey Clinic in San Rafael took place this last weekend, with a smaller group of dedicated hunters and first-timers polishing their purrs and cuts. The other three clinics (check out the calendar at the bottom of this page) are already filling up, so get your chores done early and call the store to reserve your spot.

I have been scouring through the inventory, finding overstock, older tems and discontinued styles to create some great deals on Early Spring Discount Tables in both stores. We still have the camo bags and clothing on 30% off. A lot of clever anglers have snapped up these padded, heavy-duty gear bags and put them to use for boat bags or tackle bags.

Even though we've been getting pounded by rains recently, the weather had not been laying in the moisture evenly. The storms early last week did nothing up north - one of our local sources reported almost summer water levels on the Smith River. Although the local streams have received so much rain and have been blown out, many of the northern rivers. This weekend's rains should make the northern rivers fishable, so we'll be checking in for reports today and tomorrow. Rivers up north - Smith, Chetco, Elk, should all clear first.

If you are unable to head up, our local rivers will probably remain unfishable due to high flows.

So - you need an alternatives! Here's my list:

Catfishing - Lake Sonoma, Clear Lake, or Nicasio
Black Bass fishing most our local lakes have very little pressure, fish are finckey but they will bite. (See Joe's recent report for details)
Perch fishing Doran Park some local areas as well.
Sturgeon in San Pablo bay, should be awesome with these rains - this week will be good!
Trout in Bon Tempe? Though none have been stocked, fish are there and anglers catching them.

Tom Nelson
General Mgr

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Update - Weather Makes a Difference!

What a difference a week makes. I had planned on talking about crab this week, but those darn crustaceans have conspired with the weather to stay out of our pots...for now........rain or no rain however the hot bite is perch.

Loads of anglers are reporting healthy size silver dollars, rubber lips, blacks, and the odd rainbow perch everywhere from Elephant Rock in Tiburon to Pacifica and up to Pt. Reyes on the coast. One regular customer, Kirk LaRoche reported easy limits of big eye and silver dollar perch on Berkley Gulp Blood Worms and 3/8 oz Silver Kastmasters at Tennesee Valley Cove Beach on an incoming tide this last Thursday. Some of the fly guys have been quietly buying up extra patterns and leaders, and let it slip that they are heading out to Rodeo or Stinson beaches. If you haven't tried surf on the fly, it's a kick!

For those who would prefer to stay embrace of the San Francisco Bay, pile perch, ginnie perch, black perch, and rubber lip perch are being caught in good numbers at Elephant Rock in Tiburon, and along the Sausalito waterfront from the Spinnaker Restaurant to Fort Baker. Best baits are either live pile worms (watch those pincers!) or my favorite; Berkley Gulp! Blood Worms and Berkley Gulp! Sand Crabs in natural, rust red, chartreuse, or hot pink depending on the water clarity. Use the natural or rust in cleaner, greener waters and chartreuse or hot pink in more turbid waters

For those of you perch pirates hearing rumors about a treasure chest of silver dollar perch. I can only say "Arrrrrrrhhh! Those reports be true, matey!" (And it's not even "Talk Like a Pirate Day!") There are huge wads of silvers in the bay right now but they are still a bit small.

If you think I was pumped on my last blog post, then "b-b-b-baby, you ain't seen nothin' yet".

If I were going to play hookey from work today (and by no means do I advocate that kind of behavior...) top choice is Lake Nicasio. Nicasio is normaly an 830 acre mud hole this time of year, but not right now! This year, lack of rain has kept the lake level way way down and the water unusually clear. So, when that storm blew in last weekend, instead of blowing out the lake and putting fish down, big pre-spawn females started to charge the bank and relate to mud lines. In fact right now you can't walk 50 yards without seeing a run off spot and the mud line that forms downwind of it.

Best bets are 1/2 oz spinner baits in chartreuse/white with double gold willow blades (to keep the bait from rising too fast), Lucky Craft LVMAX-500's in Mad Craw or Chartreuse Shad, 6" Junebug Yamamoto Senko worms rigged wacky, Booya! chartreuse/white chatter baits, 5" Storm Wild Eye swimming shads in chartreuse shiner, and either full size Brush Hogs, Double Wide's or 10" Berkley Power Worms all in green pumpkin or junebug rigged with Brass n' Glass.

Take your time working the bait, but don't spend more then 25 minutes on any of these runoff points unless you get bit

Oh yeah -- bring a camera and a scale! I know of five fish over 5lbs caught on Monday and Tuesday alone, with the biggest being just shy of 10lbs. The bite is on!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bassing - Best Bets, Current Conditions and Events

Largemouth bass fishing on our local watershed lakes during the months of February and March offer your best shot at sticking, not just a pig, but your best possibility for catching multiple pigs on the same day.

For example, if you hit lake Phoenix Lake on the 3rd or 4th day of a warm weather pattern, you should start to see schools of fish that had been suspending in some of the deeper holes begin to break up and start cruising the shallows. The majority of these fish will be males in the 1-3lb range. But, the big females in the 3-12lb+ range will stay behind in so called "staging areas" where they await the full moons that light their overnight visits to the shallows where the males have been busy building nests in preparation for their arrival.

These "staging areas" are usually the first deeper water away from the spawning areas. If you are fishing a cove, they will be mid-water-column, at the mouth of the cove. This is one of the only times of the year that big fish will be concentrated in a small area. These fish are also now a little "lure dumb" from having not seen many artificials for the past two months.

The best way to target these bigger fish is to run a reaction bait right through them - something like a Lucky Craft LV Max-500 in the Mad Craw color, or a reddish or craw colored larger Rat-L-Trap. You can also throw double-willow bladed Spinnerbaits as well, but for effective results, you should run a trailer hook because they will be striking short and slow.

If you don't get bit, move along and let those fish relax. After about 40-50 minutes make the same casts. This time however, you might try slow rolling a 6-8" Castaic Trout Swimbait Most importantly - don't change your retrieve if you feel a small tap - keep the slow roll going and don't set until you feel the full weight of a large fish loading up the rod. Another option is to let a 5, 6, or 7" Senko (Watermelon/Black Flake is a good starter color) glide and fall slowly with a horizontal posture right past their noses on a slack line. Watch to see your line either twitch, jump, or (oh boy!) start swimming away before setting the hook

That said, Nicasio Reservoir appears to be happening right now. Yes, it's still pretty cold and the low water conditions are not exactly the stuff of dreams. This larger body of water lacks the cut and dried patterns of Phoenix Lake, but if you have the right baits and are ready to work a little bit, Nicasio can reward you with more 5-pound-plus fish then any other lake in Marin County.

With Nicasio, it's all about spots. Best bet would be to take a baitcasting set up with 15-20lb test line and a brass and glass rigged green pumpkin Brush Hog. If you have another set up or two you can also throw a chartreuse chatter bait, such as the BooYah Boogie Bait, a white/chartreuse spinnerbait, or a 4-5" swimbait like the Storm Chartreuse Shiner, or the River2Sea baby bass. If you want to fish for a big bite, throw the Castaic slow sink platinum series Sunfish or a Berkley 10-11" Power Worm in black/blue or june bug

I wanted to give special mention to Noah Stevens, he is a regular customer of the shop and a highly skilled jig fishermen who is known to prowl Lake Alpine with the Jigmonster Lava Craw Jig and stick some quality smallmouth bass from time to time. Noah is also a member of the Sonoma Belly Boat Bass Club and just won their first event of the year with only two fish, one of them being an astounding 11.94 lbs for a new club record, way to go Noah!

I also wanted to say thanks to everyone who came out to the 1st open meeting of the Marin County Bass Club which met at the San Rafael store. Special thanks are in order to Chris "Flipper" Franks who gave an excellent seminar on swimbait fishing in our area. Chris is an up-and-coming tournament pro and member of the Jigmonster bass fishing team.

Meetings for the Marin County Bass Club are held the second Wednesday of every month and are open to the public. For more info on the club please visit Our next meeting will be on March 11th at Western Sport Shop in San Rafael. I will be giving a free seminar on jig fishing both from the bank here in Marin and from the boat on our major tournament waters. This presentation will cover all aspects of jig fishing, including types of jigs and where and when to fish them.

The Marin County Bass Club will also be holding a big fish derby on March 21st at Phoenix Lake. The entry fee for the event is $15 and you must sign up before March 14th. Look for more details here or call me at the San Rafael store - 415-456-5454.

Now get fishing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Upcoming Turkey Clinics

Mark your calendar now for the 2009 Spring Turkey Season clinics to be held at Western Sport Shop. These free clinics will cover calling techniques, decoy use and other necessary topics for spring success. There will also be time for your specific questions. They will run approximately 1 hour, and begin at 10 am.

Saturday, February 21st - San Rafael store

Saturday, February 28th - Santa Rosa store

Saturday, March 7th - San Rafael store

Saturday, March 14th - Santa Rosa store

Spring Turkey Season starts March 28!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chuck Echer to be Inducted into the NCCFFF Hall Of Fame

Just got the announcement that Chuck Echer will be the29th inductee into the Northern California Chapter of the Federation of Fly Fishers' Fly Fishing Hall of Fame on Saturday Evening February 28th, 2009

Chuck’s contributions to the art and sport of fly fishing will be formally recognized as he becomes

the 29th inductee into the NCCFFF Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Advance reservations required.

More Details -

Hall of Fame to be held at the Veterans Memorial Building,

301 Main St., Pleasanton, California. Social hour

and silent auction start at 6PM - Dinner at 7PM

Followed by live auction, proceeds to conservation.

For reservations to this special event please use the Dinner Reservations Form on the website.

Reservation form along with payment must be received by February 15, 2009 to reserve your space. Seating is limited. Details, More info, Registration form at:

In 1977 Chuck Echer began teaching fly fishing at the American Sportsman Club, and the Piedmont Adult Education School, the Wilderness Unlimited Youth, and Adult Educational programs and the Becoming an Outdoor Woman Educational Program. His speaking engagements on still water tactics and demonstrations of the Paraloop “V” Hackle play to packed rooms at FFF Conclaves, ISE and the Fly Fishing Shows. European Angling Shows have also shared his talents at venues such as Holland’s Fly Fair and Netherlands Fly Fishing Guild, and the Angling Fair of Chatsworth, England.

We know Chuck a skilled angler recording IGFA records. In the company of legends, Chuck received the most prestigious award in fly tying, the FFF Buzz Buszek Award, in 1993. NCCFFF is proud to recognize Chuck Echer as the 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee for his long time contributions to the art, science, literature, techniques, enjoyment and conservation of fly fishing.


HOF Chairman John Ryzanych, 510-881-8210,

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rain Brings the Fish!

Thank Goodness for rain! Best bets right now are sturgeon on San Pablo bay, Russian river steelhead, wild trout up at Kent Lake, and bass at Nicasio reservoir.

As for the sturgeon, I am getting steady reports of guys sticking keeper size diamondsides on ghost shrimp and herring filets at Paradise Park (off Tiburon), the Pumphouse (San Pablo Bay), and Oakland Airport (plus a few unsubstantiated in the South Bay). If you are fishing from the bank, Paradise Park pier is an excellent way to go, espcially if you can get a good out going tide. For all the boaters out there, try fishing the first half of the outgoing tides, west of the Pumphouse, and the second half of the outgoing tide east of the Pumphouse, closer to the shipping channel.

Russian River steelhead - the mouth is open and pods of new fish are entering daily. If the water is clear, it's hard to beat throwing small black beadhead wooly bugers, but if the rain colors the water a little bit then drift roe or throw small 1/3 oz Little Cleos in gold and burgundy. Also, Panther Martins are good in the river as well. It's one of the few bladed spinners that has good action regardless of current direction.

Guys are still getting wild trout up at Kent Lake on night crawlers, kastmasters, and in-line spinners. As for color, if the water is a little murky, go with gold kastmasters and gold bladed spinners, if the water is still gin clear, then nickel

Last but not least, bass fishing is starting to turn on and the best bet is Nicasio Reservoir. Fish rip rap with the allmighty brass and glass rigged green pumpkin Brush Hog, or if the water is fairly clear you can't beat a wacky rigged Yamamoto Senko in darker colors.

Also you can start looking for a reaction bite to improve daily. As this begins, your best bets will be Speed Traps, Chatter Baits such as the Boogiebait, spinnerbaits, and small swimbaits like the Storm Wildeye swim shad in Shiner Chartreuse. To fish this effectively, target the rip-rap by casting paralel to the bank and trying to bump the eadges of the rip-rap with your baits.

Okay - go get fishing!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pallets of Product & Steelhead Festival

New Items Arriving Now
Well, the pallets of product we ordered in the big Vegas show are beginning to arrive. We are moving out the winter waterfowl items (Last chance to grab stuff still on sale! - Deals on decoys - 15% off! - and camo clothing - 30% off!) to make room for the spring items arriving now.

First on the floor are the new Daiwa D-Shock rod/reel combos. We have a 5 ft. ultra light, a 6 ft. light and a new 7 ft. med action rod outfits with a smooth Daiwa spinning reel matched to balance the outfit. Diawa has really been cleaning up their spinning reel technology and these are just awesome!

As a pre-season deal, I am going to price the entire line of rod and spinning reel combos at $29.99 each. Not only that - I will throw in the line for FREE! (Actually, I'm going to let anyone throw in the line - you don't have to track me down...) We will custom spool the reel with what ever pound test monofilament line you choose. These are excellent Ready-To-Fish setups, perfect for freshwater conditions.

This just the begining of the "Recession Collection" of items we have found to help ease the pain of the current economic times. Check back soon and I will let you know as new items arrive.

Healdsburg Steelhead Festival - this weekend!
As a added bonus we will have some special close out pricing on some Rods, Reels, Fly Rods, Fly Reels and some other items at super low prices at the Steel head Festival, this weekend in Healdsburg. ( Saturday Feb. 7th only) This special pricing will only be available at the festival, and they are so low that I doubt that there will be anything left!

More info on the Healdsburg Steelhead Festival -

Talk at ya soon
Tom Nelson
General Manager

Monday, February 2, 2009

Season End - Season Start!

Duck Season Wrap-Up
Despite the lack of "real" winter weather, Mother Nature showed us who's really in control, the first 54 days was great for the ducks. Klamath Basin finally got some good weather for the hunters as of December, the harvest rate jumped up the last 46 days of the season. I enjoyed my time at the store helping customers deciding what duck calls to buy, or how to fill out for the state or federal draw's to send in. It seems like the hunters who did best focused on the fundamentals - good calling, spinning wing decoys and good decoy spreads, appropriate cover and of course, a good dog to make sure nothing got missed!

Turkey Season Soon!
Of course, I'm getting my turkey calls out now and practicing them - the spring Turkey season starts March 28. Beginning mid-February, I will be putting on some turkey calling clinics on Saturday mornings. Look for more information here, or signup sheets on the counters at the San Rafael store. If enough people are interested, we'll try to put something together up in Santa Rosa.