Another beautiful spring creek and my wife’s favorite place to fish! Meandering out of the icy springs at the headwaters, the Fall River winds it’s way through meadows and pastures at a leisurely pace. Deep weed beds hold thousands of trout up to 24″ that feed daily on numerous mayfly and caddis species throughout the season.
The early part of the season (from the opener to about late June) is prime time for dry fly fishing. This is why most folks, including my wife and I, love to visit the Fall in the spring. If you can figure out the PMD hatch, you’ve got it made! Nymphing at this time of year is usually a ‘slam dunk’…it’s the dry fly fishing that will tempt and taunt you. Long-ish leaders, 6x tippet and a good downstream drift are required. The “Fall River Twitch” is the way to go. The “Twitch” has been the most effective technique on Fall River for decades. From an upstream position to the fish, cast downstream and across, then feed line out to extend your drift a long ways down to the fish. Think: Short Cast – Long Drift. This way the fish see your fly first, and enables a precise presentation without spooking the fish. If you’re casting to a pod of rising trout, work from the outside in and you can often pick them off one by one.
Summer days can be challenging. Less prolific hatches and sometimes dogged winds through the valley can raise havoc on otherwise good presentations. One way I’ve discovered to beat the wind is to anchor at bend in the river where the current and wind are in the same direction. Not almost, not close to…exactly the same direction. The bobbing of your indicator or dry fly will mimic the wind waves. It’s about all you can do really other than maybe swing leeches. Fishing across a stiff breeze will almost certainly kill your hook rate.
Summer evenings on the other hand, provide one of the true “events” in northern California fly fishing: the Hex hatch. Hexagenia limbata mayflies hatch by the thousands during the last hour of light on the Fall River and all the creatures above and below the river put on the feed bag nightly. If you’ve never experienced it, you owe it to yourself to see what it’s all about. Throwing size 6 dry flies in the fading light and setting on the sound of a rising fish is excitement that’s not to be missed!
Late September through the end of the season is another favorite time to fish. Cooler days with some clouds and rains mixed in re-spark mayfly hatches. The crowds of spring and the summer Hex hatches have gone home and the fish begin to rise again with abandon. It’s not uncommon to have an entire run to yourself at this special time of year. I rarely get to fish this the Fall at this time of year anymore. Usually by October I’m steady rowing a boat on the Lower Sacramento…shame cuz’ I miss fishing both Fall and Hat late in the season.
Read more at The Fly Shop’s Fall River page
See the Fall River photo Gallery (more to come this spring!)