Category: Trout


By , December 7, 2009 8:57 pm

North Fork BeautyI went up to the San Gabriel River to get in a little Rainbow Action this past Saturday, because the Urban bite has slowed down and all of gangsters and people wanting to swim the river have realized that it is now to cold to go up there.

I started off the day on the West Fork but the road was closed at the Second Bridge and there were fly fishermen on all my usual spots, so I decided to hike and fish the North Fork. Most of the fish caught on this fork are small in the 2-4 inch range, which is good to see because it means that the Rainbow Trout are still producing naturally ( since the river will not be stocked with fish for a while). 

However this heavy rain that we started getting today is making me a little worried, since all the recent fires in that area mean landslides and poor water quality. But, I decided to spend a few extra casts on each hole, and I was rewarded with 3 or 4 fish all in the 7-12 inch range (and if you don’t know that  is a good size for that section of the river).

The strangest thing about my catch of the day was that with every cast the fish just got bigger and bigger. Yet after all this fishing, I am left still wanting to hike up into the West Fork at least a few miles, there is just something about those fish. In my opinion they are the most beautiful Rainbows that can be caught in the San Gabriel Mountains!

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By , December 2, 2009 10:12 pm

Thanksgiving is looking alot like Christmas

There are several places around the world where it is often claimed that the weather is so variable that one need only wait twenty minutes or so for a change if the current situation isn’t to one’s liking.

SoCal would not be one of those places.

Instead, one of the claims to fame for SoCal is that the weather and geography is such that one can ski in the morning and turn around and surf in the afternoon.

As a native Angeleno I can vouch for the accuracy of the second statement and as a fly fisherman I would further refine that phrase to say that one can stream fish for trout in the morning and surf fish for perch in the afternoon.

It often happens that, depending upon the time of year, one can also be standing in the snow in the morning while roll casting a 3-wt. on said narrow mountain creek and then be wet wading in the surf with an 8-wt. come the afternoon.

It’s an awesome thing, even if it does make packing the car and loading the vest or pack a tad difficult.

Now as most of you probably already know, this past weekend we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and, as is the common custom here in SoCal, about a hundred thousand of us trekked up into the mountains to “get away from it all”. As much as I hate crowds, I must confess that I, along with my lovely wife and some of our dearest friends (yes that includes my fishin’ buddy Sean and his beloved bride) were among the mobile masses.

Nothing says “over the river and through the woods…” like struggling to maneuver around a thirty-five vehicle long line of SUV’s in the drive-thru for Starbucks and then crawling along in a twenty-five-mile long traffic jam while the vehicle next to you literally shudders from the bass beats of the Black-Eyed Peas.

However, once we eventually inched past the turn-off toward Las Vegas, where most of the vehicles seemed to be heading, traffic opened up and my mood lightened in proportion to the frequency that billboards gave way to oaks and then pines.

We finally arrived at our mountain retreat by late afternoon under clear sunny skies and mild temperatures.

My parents had made the drive up the hill (as we call it– even if it is a 6500 foot high “hill”) earlier in the week and good ‘ol Mom had immersed herself in a cooking frenzy such that we were greeted by the mouth-watering aromas of turkey in the oven and sweet potato pie cooling on the counter.

Needless to say, in addition to our feast, we had much to be thankful for and the rest of the day, including the moonlit walk along the boardwalk over the southeast shore of Big Bear Lake, more than made up for the mildly rocky start.

Before retiring for the night, Sean and I confirmed and reconfirmed with our spouses and the rest of our party that they had absolutely no intention of arising early (as in before 11 a.m.) and thus assured, he and I made plans to hit the upper portion of the Santa Ana River while everyone else recovered from a turkey and stuffing induced coma.

Friday dawned clear and cold. We fortified ourselves with hot coffee (I also managed to break into the fruitcake — yes the fruitcake — without making too much noise) and we headed off.

If this “Black Friday” was chaos at the malls, it was bliss in the local mountains. We saw only two other vehicles during the entire drive to the river and encountered no other anglers the entire morning. Tens of thousands of people in the mountains and we saw no one – such is the paradox of SoCal.

But then again, perhaps the rest of the angling world had heard that conditions were less than suitable and we were the ones on a fool’s errand.

In any event, we found the correct turn-off and drove about a mile back on the dirt road paralleling the river, stopping frequently at various wide spots and near bridges that criss-crossed the water. Sean used a dry/nymph rig and I fished a size 18 nymph in the deeper pools and wider riffles–which is to say the sections that were wider than what we could jump. We hop scotched along the different sections of the river working our way downstream. The sun had not yet reached into the bottom of the canyon and it was cold. In fact, ice lined the bank of the stream, especially in the deeper shadows.

As the morning wore on, the sun eventually peeked over the ridge and the overall scene immediately took on a magical quality. Sunlight washed over the tops of the trees and highlighted the light glazing of frost in the almost bare upper branches. A few moments later, shafts of light poured down through the trees and illuminated the ice, transforming the river into a something like a Thomas Kincaide painting.

As beautiful and as peaceful as it was, the fishing was poor. Sean managed to pull in only one small but vibrant Brown Trout the entire time and I only managed to illicit one feeble, half-hearted rise toward my fly. We changed flies frequently but just couldn’t find the winning pattern.

Solo Brownie

We moved further downstream. Sean found a smooth, clear pool with what looked like the dark outlines of several decent Trout holding by the near side bank. I held tight where I had a panoramic view of the unfolding mini-drama as he crept slowly forward in a low, crouching position using the spindly brush along the bank for cover so as not to spook the fish. He made his cast. It was textbook perfect with a fine, tight loop that slipped between the overhanging, barren branches and past the leaning trunk of an old Jeffery Pine.

His dry/dropper combo landed neatly at the edge of the pool but did not move in the normal fashion. After a few seconds, he picked up and cast again. It was another well-formed loop landing precisely where targeted and still it did not drift as it ought.

Puzzled, he cast yet again to the same pool only to get the same result.

Now, it is often said that the definition of insanity is attempting to do the same thing over and over while expecting to get different results.

To the best of my knowledge, Sean is not insane.

Thus, after the third cast with the same results, he pulled in his line and approached the pool that had looked so promising but now simply seemed perplexing.

I too could stand it no longer, so I also approached this little pocket of water. We both stood there for a moment until the cause of the mystery revealed itself. A crystal clear and amazingly thin sheet of ice had formed on the surface of the water where Sean was casting. It extended out from the bank to about mid way across the pool.

He was effectively casting onto a glass tabletop though neither one of us could see it from our original positions along the bank.

There were indeed Trout beneath the ice. They sat tight to the bottom watching us, confident that we could not reach them. They were like the boorish uncle who teases the lion from the outside of the enclosure, smug in the knowledge that the thick plexiglass will allow him to escape the fate everyone else secretly wishes upon him.

We continued to stand there and laughed about this neat little trick of nature. We joked about being true SoCal boys and thus being naïve to the subtleties of frozen water.

Gotta Love The Scenery

It seemed like a good time to wrap things up so we decided to call it a morning and head back to our wives and breakfast.

The trip home was quiet and reflective. We didn’t speak much but when we did, it was to comment on the quiet beauty of the river and the unexpected but very welcome lack of anglers on what should have been a very busy holiday weekend.

We both agreed that a huge part of the appeal of fly-fishing is the discovery of the unexpected – sometimes it’s unexpected but obvious once you stumble upon it and other times it’s as fleeting and as elusive as crystal clear ice on a lonely, narrow mountain stream deep in the heart of a forest surrounded by millions of people.

I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.


By , October 27, 2009 9:27 pm

Laguna Niguel Lake

Laguna Niguel Lake   

2009 Annual Float Tube Event
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spots are limited to only 75 float tubers
Pre-Paid Event / $50.00 per person
6am -5pm

The Annual Float Tube Event is a catch and release event only. Anglers will use artificial lures and flies only.

No bait of any kind.

The lake will be closed to the public. No boats or shore anglers. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience our beautiful Rainbow Trout at Orange County’s finest fishery.

For reservations or info please email or call 949-201-9884


By , October 21, 2009 9:43 pm

East Fork Flowing Good I have had few moments in the time that I have been Fly Fishing where it seems like everything just comes together perfectly. I am notorious for losing a fly in a tree, breaking off a fish, or even snapping the photo on my camera just as the fish decides to make a last ditch effort to get away. Having said that my last trip up to the San Gabriel Mountains was just the opposite. My knots held up fine, none of the fish broke off, and I don’t think that I have been much closer to an honest sense of peace in my life. When you go up to the San Gabriel and you catch about 30 fish within a matter of a couple hours, let me tell you things are just going your way. I could barely even move, the fish were stacked up in holes, and they were almost all willing to bite. In my mind this had a lot to do with the recent rain, most likely stacking the fish and making easy pickings for my fly. I remember hearing a joke one time that they should rename fishing “tricking and killing”, well I can go for the “tricking” part but I rarely do any killing (especially not for Trout) except for the rare occasion at a water source over populated with a few tasty bluegills. Remember all forks of the San Gabriel River are no longer being stocked, so if you decide to fish up there make sure it’s catch and release only. I have no problem kicking over a Bait Fisherman’s holding bucket if he is taking wild fish. Let’s respect this beautiful resource so that we can all fish it for a long time to come!!!

Beautiful ColorsOkay Size for the Lower East Fork


By , October 10, 2009 6:00 am

North Fork Holding PoolIt has been a while since I have caught a Trout, and the other day I was just itching to get out and see what the San Gabriel River was looking like in light of our recent fires. The opportunity presented itself when my younger brother Steven asked me to take him hiking. So, we got up early and headed out to the West Fork, it was closed for maintainance due to the fire coming all the way down to the reservoir and so we had to improvise.  We decided to do alittle adventuring around the West and North Forks. I did not see as many Trout as would have liked to, but they are there and it looks like less people are fishing it, due to the fact that it is not going to be stocked for a while. I managed a few 4-7 inchers on the East Fork, but just could not get a good hook set on any of the fish on the North Fork. I know I could have caught more fish with a nymph, but there is just something about fishing a mountain stream with a dry. I hope to make it back up to the San Gabriel Mountains a lot this fall and winter season, and get a lot of good pics to post on the site.

The Younger Bro

First one in a long time


By , July 7, 2009 7:00 am

Below is an email that I received from one of our Followers Trent Marcus. If anyone sends us any fishing stories and photos we will be happy to post them on the website!!!

I neglected to give you an update after Father’s Day weekend.
My son and I went up to the San Gabriels early Saturday morning.  Seen a bunch of “pros” in the parking lot, gearing up.  We hopped on our bikes and beat them to the good spots up stream on the West Fork.  I caught a few.
The real action came on the North fork, just north of the day camping area.  I’ve always had great luck here.  The fish are smaller and it is excellent practice for reaction times.  My son caught his fish there.
All day long, we fished with royal wulffs.  I needed smaller flies.
All in all, we had a great day.
Thanks again for your input.



By , April 18, 2009 5:05 am

Recently I was sent a few great photos from one of our blog followers Dave Gollihugh. After seeing these photos, I am struggling to figure out if Dave is a better Fly Fisherman or a Photographer. Keep up the great work Dave, and if any of you guys out there want to send me photos to post on blog I would be more than willing!


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