Backcountry,    Fishing Report,    fly fishing small streams,    mosquito repellent,    orvis superfine touch fly rod

A Visit to Stream XXX (or, Small Stream Porn)

By Tom Chandler 7/13/2011 5 minutes

Our winter blended seamlessly into spring, which is to say they both kinda sucked for a particular fly fisherman jonesing for a small stream fix.

That ended last weekend, when Wayne Eng and I hit a piece of little-fished small stream. The brown trout weren't anywhere near as abundant as the mosquitoes (nor as aggressive), but they would eat a dry fly in a way that was recognizably my kind of fly fishing, and suddenly, winter and our long, cold, high-water spring simply fell away.

And did so in what amounts to a rampantly beautiful... spot.

Small stream brown trout spots

Regulars know I refer to my local small streams with highly unoriginal aliases like "Stream X" and "Stream Y."

In a fit of creativity, I'm naming this stretch Stream XXX, because while the brown trout aren't fish-porn worthy, I'd suggest the location itself qualifies as Small Stream Porn.

Of the Triple-X variety. I mean, look at it:

Wayne Eng, small stream style

Fly fishing a small stream

If you're a fly fisherman, that's major wood action (I'm referring of course to all the downed timber, which provides exceptional trout habitat).

Stream XXX was running high -- higher than I'd ever seen -- but it was still wholly fishable. High water tends to discourage trout from taking dries (they've got a lot more water to move through), but thankfully, enough trout made the trip to keep it interesting.

I started the day throwing the vaunted new Mini-Hopper, which accounted for four trout (and several other grabs).

Then I found this #10-sized penny from heaven on bankside brush:

#10 Bug Porn

That prompted a switch to a #10 March Brown (Catskill style), which went to a watery grave a few fish later, precipitating a move to an Old Joe Kimsey Favorite -- the orange Skinny Humpy.

The beauty of a Humpy is that each fish frays it towards a state of grace; the more chewed it gets, the better it seems to catch trout (short of total dissolution).

The skinny humpy

That, my friends, worked like stink, proving that Joe Kimsey probably still knows more than we do, and we buried him a while ago.

It's gratifying to stumble on the fly of the day, but more importantly, I was fishing and casting and hooking trout instead of lobbing who knows what who knows where, and the sensation was, well... triple-X pleasurable.

The Clothing Angle

Firmly in the "unpleasant" column we find the mosquitoes, who attacked in force and got worse as the day progressed. They're irritating to the point of distraction, and at one point, I found myself trying to re-tie my leader while stumbling around in circles; stopping and sitting on a log was an invitation to insanity.

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Some deal with mosquitoes via chemical weapons, though I've largely given up on Deet. The stuff melts fly lines and bamboo rod varnish, and works (I believe) by altering your DNA to the point that mosquitoes no longer recognize you as a mammal.

Is that really something I want covering my body?

Better, I think, is to simply cover up:

The mostquito-proof fly fisherman

This looks odd, but it's a damn bit better than constantly swatting your eyeglasses off your face.

Note the CalTrout-styled buff, which -- when combined with a hat -- leaves very little skin exposed, yet doesn't run nearly as hot as you'd think.

And yes, that's a long-sleeve, one-piece Patagonia Sun Hoody -- a lightweight, cover-everything piece of clothing -- the kind of which is currently found on a lot of flats fishermen, who are more concerned with sun exposure than bugs.

I'm trying it here in the decidedly flats-free Northern California mountains, and so far (that's two trips), I like the hoody better than your typical long-sleeve fly fishing shirt, which isn't nearly as snag-free.

Also in the ensemble (but not the pictures) were a pair of Glacier Glove sun gloves, which protected the back of my hands from mosquitoes and the sun, and if you'd ever seen them, you'd know that's a good thing.

There is plenty more testing to come, but as someone who hates both bug repellent and sunscreen (and who has some serious skin issues), I may just be looking at my mosquito-driven future -- a lightweight fishing rig that leaves only my eyes and fingers exposed.

The problem is that you look a little like you're from outer space (or France), and I'm going to immediately write a letter to Patagonia asking for a camo version of the shirt, figuring that buys you more acceptance in rural areas than silver.

The Footwear Angle

After deciding they were failures on freestone streams, I wore the Patagonia Rock Grip wading boots, and they worked beautifully, but then, of course they would.

This stream was all mud, gravel, grass and trees -- barely a slippery freestone-style rock in sight.

A downstream drift

They're wonderful wading boots when they're not filling the same niche as ice skates, but most rivers come equipped with rocks, and Tommy needs a pair of studded rubber soles for the tough stuff.

The search continues, though I might just opt for the studded Orvis boots in the right size. Sometimes searching's overrated.

The Fly Rod Angle

This visit concluded my test of the Orvis Superfine Touch 8' 4wt, a rod that has performed admirably, and I stand by my earlier thinking that it's a modern interpretation of the classic 8' 4wt small stream rod.

I'll write a longer review soon, but will say it's a nice, modern rod -- one that is (somewhat atypically) designed to fish at reasonable small-stream ranges, and has all the heft of a toothpick in your hand.

Rods so light you almost don't notice them are a manifestly marketable these days, though personally I'd probably still opt for my 8' 5wt Phillipson -- which has enough mass that you can feel it loading even when you're only casting a leader.

I also recognize the personal nature of that reality, and we'll explore that more in my review of the rod.

See you on a small stream, Tom Chandler.

Small stream brown trout

Small stream brown trout
Destinations
El Portal is located 11.5 miles west-southwest of Yosemite Village, at an elevation of 1939 feet. The population was 474 at the 2010 census. Yosemite Valley is a mere 20-minute drive ... morefrom El Portal along a relatively flat road, which makes El Portal convenient while providing less expensive lodging than the Park itself. Visitors looking for even cheaper lodging could drive further to Mariposa. Those looking to save could drive as far as Merced, but that is quite a haul for visiting Yosemite.

The town lies along State Route 140 by the Merced River located on the western edge of Yosemite National Park. Town buildings include a post office, community center, and a small school. There are two hotels, a small general store, and a gas station, but not much else. Its proximity to Yosemiite national park and the Merced river that make it special.

Fishing permits are available at the El Portal Market. Fishing limits Park Boundary to Foresta Bridge, 2-trout limit, min. fish 12 inches, open all year. Foresta Bridge to Bagby, 5-trout limit, open last Sat. in April through Nov. 15.
Fishing Waters:
Fishing Waters
The North Fork and South Fork of the Kern Wild and Scenic River is located within a four-hour drive of more than one-third of the population of southern California. With its range ... moreof elevation, topography and vegetation, it offers a broad spectrum of recreation opportunities for all seasons of the year. Principal outdoor recreation activities include fishing, hiking, camping and whitewater boating.

The North Fork flows through Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest, past post-pile formations, spiked-granite protrusions and sharp rock ledges. The North Fork Kern River canyon within the Golden Trout Wilderness may be the longest, linear glacially-sculpted valley in the world. It contains regionally unique features referred to as Kernbuts and Kerncols. These rounded to elongated (parallel to the axis of the canyon) granitic knobs (Kernbuts) and the depressions between them (Kerncols) were first identified and named in the Kern Canyon.

//

The North Fork River corridor also includes regionally uncommon wetland habitat at Kern Lakes and the alkaline seep at the Forks of the Kern. The wetland habitat contains several uncommon aquatic and marsh species; the alkaline seep also supports several uncommon plants. The river's deep pool habitat supports a population of wild trout and also vividly colored hybrid trout.

The South Fork Kern River flows through a diverse landscape, including whitewater, waterfalls, large granite outcrops interspersed with open areas and open meadows with extensive vistas. The segment in the Dome Land Wilderness flows by numerous granitic domes and through a rugged and steep granitic gorge where whitewater rapids are common.

With a gradient of 30 feet per mile, the North Fork Kern is one of the steepest and wildest whitewater rivers in North America. The Forks Run is a nearly continuous series of Class IV and V rapids and waterfalls. The Upper Kern is a popular stretch of river for whitewater boating, camping and fishing. The Lower Kern runs 32 miles from Isabella Dam to the canyon mouth above Bakersfield, California.
Trips
$
275
-
$
615
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 4 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 1 day
Fishing Waters:
The Merced River originates in the Southeastern corner of Yosemite National Park. Its headwaters begin at 7900 feet at the Clarke Range. It flows over Nevada and Vernal Falls, and ... morelastly, Illilouette Creek before she flows through the main Yosemite Valley. Then the Merced, picks up water from Tenaya, Yosemite, Bridalveil, and Pigeon Creeks near the end of the valley, and meeting up the water from Cascade Creek before the river flows through the Merced River Canyon and then outside the park. Its South and North Forks join it a few miles outside the park.

The Lower Merced is another river that can be drifted, water flow permitting, or walk & waded January through May.
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
Destination:
The Trinity River is California's most productive steelhead river. It's steelhead season is also the longest. We catch adult fish from September through March. During the early season ... morewe fish near Willow Creek. We follow the fish up the river through the Del Loma, Junction City, Douglas City, and Lewiston areas. We primarily swing flies with spey rods and switch rods, but we are not above catching these fish with nymphs and indicators if that's what you prefer. We use rafts and drift boats on the Trinity.
$
325
-
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 8 hours
Fishing Waters:
Destination:
The Yuba River is one of the most popular known fly fishing rivers in Northern California, and that is why it’s one of the most sought after rivers for fly fishing enthusiasts. This ... moreriver is one that can yield 20 fish one day and leave you scratching your head the next, that's why having a knowledgeable Yuba River Fly Fishing Guide is so important. The abundance of aquatic insects on this river is why it is so sought after, it's one of the few rivers in California that you can effectively fish dries year round. While the river plays host to a number of species, including steelhead and king salmon at times, the resident wild rainbows are the most sought after species throughout the year. They can be picky at times, but once you get in tune with their feeding habits you're bound to have a blast. The fishing on the Yuba is top-notch and I haven't found a river yet that is this much fun to fish. This river produces year-round spunky wild rainbow trout that can reach over 20".

Pound for pound the Yuba River trout is a species of its own. They are the toughest, hardest fighting trout you will ever hook into. If you've never had an 16" fish take you into your backing within seconds, then it’s time that you fish the Yuba River. In the fall, it is also home to a native/wild King Salmon run with some pushing 50lbs and big enough to devour any Yuba trout in its path. Nonetheless, it's the Yuba's steelhead that really puts the icing on the cake. Though not huge like the American river winter run steelhead (Yuba River steelhead range from 2-6 lbs), these half-pint steelhead are among the hardest fighting and the most beautiful fish you will ever have the pleasure of encountering. The Yuba gets a shot of them midsummer, then again from November to April. Not only is there year round fishing, but there is also an abundance of bug life as well ranging from BWO's, PMD's, Midges, Caddis, Skwalas, Golden Stones, March Browns, Hoppers and every so often a Salmon Fly, that will have these fish feeding no matter the time of year. There is even an egg bite on t he Yuba too, this happens during the salmon spawn in October, also during this time of year there is something special that happens on the river that I will show you too. Something you never thought possible and it will be our little secret. Even after all that the Yuba does, however, have something else to offer. As an added bonus from the fishing, there are a lot of wild critters roaming its banks as well, big bucks, strutting toms, beavers, otters, ducks, geese and even black bears. All that and great fishing, what more could you ask for.

-Brian
Outfitters
World class experiences in a world class location. We are passionate about guiding in Yosemite - fly fishing, hiking, majestic forests, and our surrounding waters! We explore and we ... morefly fish because the little voice that we hear, drives us into the most beautiful destination locations that the Sierra Nevada mountain range has to offer. Discover beautiful Yosemite National Park, it's hiking trails, it's fly fishing on the Merced, and the mighty Tuolumne rivers; or the seemingly endless Stanislaus river, and the stately Mokulmne river. We have a deep rooted love for Yosemite and it's surrounding areas, but this is only out done by sharing that passion for fly fishing and hiking with others, and watching our clients catch a sunset, a fish, a memory, and a passion for the outdoors!

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.

18 comments
[...] the self-employed can ignore work sneak away whenever they want, whether to Maine via Bass Pro or small streams so crazily beautiful they earn a triple-X rating. Over at Singlebarbed.com we're told that there may be no stopping invasive species, so the [...]
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Great lookin stream, and fish. Im going to be hitting Colorado's version of stream XXX next Monday and Tuesday, ac well as some time on the Arkansas. Cant wait. Great fish porn Tom
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What do you mean "if"? You only live once...
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Wow, a 1wt. I've got a 3wt glass rod that I rarely drag out. In any case, the SFT series are interesting rods -- they really are designed to fish at "normal" distances, and it's interesting they're considered pretty far out of the mainstream for it...
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Looks interesting, but warmer than the Sun Hoody, which did pretty well in the 80-degree weather. Probably a better bet in the real serious bug stuff tho...
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Steve: Thankfully, I wasn't struck dead. That makes it nothing Caddyshack then. You need to be struck by lightning...
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I'm going to take a trip up to some nearby freestone streams (Stream XXX is largely spring fed) and see if they've calmed down. Bet they're close.
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Kirk: This river you will not mention by name is no exception. What river?
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Great story Tom. Maybe it's just me, but I think over the years your posts have somehow always been about a small stream somewhere. If I get a chance to wet a line in a troutstream this year, I hope I find one as nice as this one.
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Hmmmm ... Yeah, stream "X" or stream "Y" is a better alias than stream "A" or stream "B" .....
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Mosquito net jacket with full hood that fits over your hat is my choice for dealing with skeeters
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Hi, great small stream porn out there, thanks for sharing. Im a big ultralight fan, and I do fish streams like that with a 1wt or 2wt rod. Ive also tried the Orvis Superfine Touch (761-4), oh man, what a lovely rod. If you like to cover up to protect from sun and mosquitoes, you can try the Buff with insect repellent on it. PD: I bought the SFT, Im not an orvis endorsed or a buff endorsed guy... just ... more saying
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This is the price we pay for a good water year: Skeeter City.For the bugs, take a pointer from the bow hunters: www.bugtamer.com. I used one of their jackets last year in Labrador, which has the absolute worst bugs--black flies, as well as mosquitoes--I have ever seen (and I have been to Alaska, and Africa, and...), and it made life tolerable. Those dumb head nets just tickle your nose and fall apart ... more after a couple of uses, and the bandanna is not enough when the sun goes down.Also, if you are introducing a youngster, female, or other individual with utility whom you would like to enjoy small stream fishing, keeping the bugs off them reduces their sources of frustration to a number under fifty. The Bugtamer jacket does not smell, or confine you to any appreciable degree. It works on a multi-layer principle (the outer netting stays about 1/2" away from the inner layer, so the bugs can't poke you through the net). I sprayed mine with DEET, but you don't really have to. And like all bowhunting gear, it is pretty cheap. Bowhunters, folks who sew, can vegetables, use black powder; they are frugal, not cheap, and don't fall for the fancy titanium nano-tech glitter the rest of us suckers do.
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Was on a small stream in Northern Iowa this past Monday. Had it all to myself for hours. It was weirdly like that scene in Caddy Shack where the minister is having the best round of golf of his life and is then struck dead. I was pulling fish out of every run, every pool, every bend. I couldn't believe this was happening to me--me, who is gifted at spooking fish, and more inept casting you cannot ... more imagine. Yet there I was. As they said in the Big Lebowski, "Some days you eat the 'baar,' some days the 'baar' eats you. " Was eating baar last Monday. Thankfully, I wasn't struck dead.
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Thanks for the report, Tom. That is a beautiful stream and those fish are gorgeous. I am jealous.
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Beautiful little stream! Beautiful photos, and beautiful fish! Still don't know how to fish up here. I think there are no fish in the American River, at least not at 5200 cfs. But the Orvis boots are good, although I think what you say about size is right. Sometimes I put on an extra pair of socks. Went to visit my daughter in Sequoia last week. Nothing fishable up there because of high flows; still ... more lots of snow in the mountains.
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I envy you. If I get a chance to fish an actual troutstream this year it will have seen thousands of hours of fishing. Experts and beginners alike. Oh, well...
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Small streams tend to have a certain physical beauty that bigger rivers (with bigger trout) seem to have outgrown. This river you will not mention by name is no exception.
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