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A Hat Creek trip full of bugs 5/13- 5/16/2021

May 31, 2021 11:03 AM | Rob Farris (Administrator)

Hat Creek, the Stream of Dreams

See the full report with pictures in June's club newsletter.

Denis Haire experiences:

Spring time and the anticipation of the Hat Creek Salmon fly brings a renewed hope and dreams for a great trip to the area. Having never seem a Salmon Fly, one of the dreams for the trip was to see one in the water and possibly a hatch. After an early dinner, our group of four made our way to the Powerhouse Riffle for the evening hatch.  Euro nymphing rubber legs and smaller trailers were productive, but the most amazing sight was the evening hatch.  Right at dusk, a hatch of Green Drakes,  Salmonflies and Golden Stoneflies, caddis, and yellow sallies created a blizzard of insects that I have never experienced before. I chose to stop and watch in amazement and began to realize the creek must be healthy to support all of this! The next day on the water was not as productive but fish were caught in the morning. As for the afternoon, a weather front moved in that may have turned the fish and the hatch off.   Now we put our hopes on Baum Lake.

  After an evening and morning of rain, lightening and thunder we ventured to Baum Lake. When we felt it was safe to be on the water, Rob and Todd launched their watercraft while Scott and I attacked from the shore. The water was higher than normal and the weed growth was down a little so moving around the shore was manageable. After setting anchor and finding accessible areas to the water, we all used balanced leech type rigs under an indicator. And that was a great choice! There was a constant roar of “Another one”, “That is a good one”, and “Look at the shoulders on that one!” could be heard. At the end of the day, collectively we had 100 fish with more than 25 of them being 17 inches of greater. Only in my wildest dreams could a day like this have happened. Needless to say, my badge of honor for this was a sore arm and wrist that required some libations and some anti-inflammatories…

But of greater importance is the comradery and being in the outdoors that defines what this club and sport is about. A shared passion builds bonds between people that last. Fly fishing builds those relationships especially strongly because of the waters where the club and sport takes us. In these special places away from much of the clutter and distraction of our modern lives, the scene is set to actually get to know someone. Throw in a Stream of Dreams, a lot of good fish and a couple of cold beers and you just may have a friend for years to come.

Scott Rosingana experiences:

Hat Creek had been on my bucket list of spots to fish for years, but it’s always a little intimidating showing up someplace, without any real knowledge of the fishery, and giving it a go.  When I saw that the fly club had a trip planned to Hat Creek, I couldn’t wait for the signups to open so that I could get my name on the list.  After signing up, time couldn’t move fast enough, and I looked forward with anticipation for the trip to finally arrive.  The day finally came, and I hooked up the trailer, loaded all of my gear, and very excitedly hit the road.  After a stop at The Fly Shop, and a beautiful drive past Mount Lassen, I arrived at the campground.  Being new to the fly club, it’s always a little intimidating for me to show up to one of the events being the “new guy”, but Rob, Dennis, and Todd made me feel right at home.

After getting all set up, it was down to Hat Creek and my first look at the river.  Beautiful!!  There was easy wading, lots of good runs to fish, and an amazing amount of life on the river.  I euro nymph fished the entire evening and was incredibly excited to catch my first ever euro nymph fish, a beautiful rainbow.  I caught several fish that evening and was amazed to watch Rob and Todd catch about 4 to every one that I caught.  The evening was topped off with an amazing hatch of bugs that was so prolific that it made it hard to breath at times. 

Day two on Hat Creek was another beautiful day.  Fishing was a little slower and we definitely had to work harder for the fish that we caught.  There were fewer bugs flying that day and we had a decent amount of wind that day, but all in all, another amazing day on the river.

Day three was at Baum lake.  I’ve never had a lot of luck fly fishing lakes so I was a little skeptical, but excited to give it a try.  The weather in the morning was a little rainy and there was some pretty spectacular thunder and lightning.  The rain was short lived and we were on the lake fishing before long.  Rob and Todd set me up on spot in a bend of the channel and it wasn’t long before I was on the fish.  Fishing a balanced leach under a strike indicator, the hardest part was being patient enough to let the fish take the leach before I set the hook.  At one point, I’m pretty sure that I was hooking as many bushes as fish, so off on a little brush clearing expedition and all was good!  At the end of the day, I had lost count of how many fish I caught, but it was well into the 20’s and at least 8 of those fish were in the 16”-20” range.  It was absolutely an epic day and my opinion of lakes has definitely changed! 

It was an amazing trip with a great group of guys.  I feel fortunate to have been able to make this trip and I definitely plan on going back!

Todd Hyrn experiences:

Saturday evening and to celebrate our fishing successes and good company, our fishmeister carefully selected fine dining in MacArthur some forty minutes away. Off we went to break bread, eat beef and carbo load on tater tots larger than any of us had ever seen. The grassy campground where we pitched our tents, set up our trailers and took a hot shower proved to be just what the doctor ordered on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, Rob was up early for a jaunt to Manzanita. Unfortunately, he had no partners with the other three anglers choosing to head home. Another great trip with jokes, jabs, and stories to last a lifetime.

Rob Farris (Fishmeister) experiences:

It’s a real joy to have a new member join us on an Outing; welcome Scott Rosingana!  I’d like to encourage more of our new members to experience the great waters we have access to and knowledge of, and the comradery of other Club members through attending an outing as Scott did.  There’s no better way to meet others with similar fishing desires, experiences, and knowledge.  Not to mention having a heck of a lot of fun as you can see above.

Got a full fly box?  I schedule this time every year for  the Hat Creek Club trip as it’s in the prime springtime for terrific hatches.  Speaking as a club entomologist there is no better period for “maximum bug impact”.  There were three different varieties of stoneflies hatching with large 2” Salmonflies, Golden Stones, and the smaller yet more prolific Little Yellow Sallies in both adult and nymphs, large size 10 & 12 Green Drakes, and everything else from Caddis to various mayflies such as PMD’s and PED’s.  What else could you ask for?    

Baum was as epic as I’ve ever seen.  With both Mark Spruiell and Chris McCann’s help over the last two years I’ve added lakes into my normal river repertoire.  And with the assistance of Mark’s custom ties I had a record day on the lake with 42 rainbows to the net including a 20” 'er to start the day.  And it doesn’t get much better than over a 100 fish day between all four of us.  Just an awesome and fun time on a Saturday!

While I was left abandoned at the campsite on Sunday by my compatriots nursing sore arms, I finished up at Manzanita chasing the Browns for a little variety.  I ran into a beautiful high elevation morning with few others around at Lassen National Park since the main road around the peaks is still closed to snow.  But the lake access was open and I was the only one on the lake from 6:30 until I got blown off at noon.  Nevertheless, I was able to get into a few nice 15-16” browns that made it to the net to make it a valuable 45 minute ride up from our campsite.  All in all, I’d like to thank Todd, Scott, and Denis for a great time and warm up for the summer.  And my final outing grades are below:

Outing grades:

Number of fish:   B (Hat), A+ (Baum), C (Manzanita), Size of fish:  B (Hat), A+ (Baum), C (Manzanita)

Weather:  A (Day 1), C (Day 2), C (Day 3), C (Day 4), Campsite:  A (great to have showers & grass site)

Size of Crowds: D (Hat), A (Baum), A+ (Manzanita), Hatch timing:  A+; Hatch variety: A+, Hatch density: A+

Ribbing of Fishmeister:                  F

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