Gold in Them Thar Hills

It did not take much for my good friend Christie Dobson to convince me that I should take her fishing. We have made two attempts to run the upper section of the Middle Fork of the American River without success, and we thought the third time was going the be the charm. On our first trip we set shuttle and made it almost all the way to put-in. Upon approaching the Tunnel Chute over-look, we noticed many whitewater rafting vans stopped. It turns out something happened at the dam and the scheduled release was cancelled for the day. So, we had to divert back to the lower section which you can float at 200cfs. On our second attempt, we made it to the river. Christie had a good day but lost a big rainbow towards the end of the day. She hooked it at the beginning of a long class II rapid. She managed to fight him all the way through the rapid, then I blew it and caught the wrong eddy. That one got away. Third times a charm, as always.

Here, Christie shows us here prize.

After this success I turned my attention to teaching Christie how to manage the oars so I could get some Rod time. It took some time but on the same fly, I was able to stick another nice Buck.

We were fishing a 200 grain full sink line with two feet of 0x. I tie a fly I call the Sex Pig. Its a cross between Kelly Gallops ‘Sex Dungeon” and the “Ditch Pig”. Strip as fast as you can….

2014 Middle Fork American River Fishing Season Begins

With the spring water levels already starting to level out, the boys and I wanted to get into the Middle Fork of the American as soon as we could this year. So, we did our first trip at the end of April, knowing that there was not any guaranteed water release from the upstream dam. As Murphy’s Law dictates, our luck did not pan out. During the night the water dropped from 600cfs to 200cfs, leaving us stranded on the river and unable to reach our designated point. Luckily we were able to contact State Parks by cell phone and take out at an earlier access point, normally behind a locked gate.

Oxbow Powerhouse started giving us guaranteed flows at the end of may, and during the summer months, we have water 7 days a week for 5 hours a day. With three trips on the books already this year we have been seeing some of the big browns moving in the river, and, we have been luckly enough to stick a few as well.

Above Terry Thomas from Kiene’s Fly Shop shows off a beautiful buck he caught while pulling a black streamer.

Here Derrik, another local guide, shows us some pretty red spots.

Here, Grady Garlough, our head guide, demonstrates how to properly get photographed with a big Brown.

We are up and running for the 2014 summer season. For Booking information visit

Fly Fishing the American River#1: Silver Fork

Last fall there was a rumor swirling around town that a Fish & Game truck broke down on it’s way to Silver Lake where they planned on stocking 16,000 lbs of rainbow trout. The story goes that to save the fish, they dumped all 16,000 lbs into the Silver Fork American River. The boys and I decided to go and check it out.

2013 Summer Recap: The Sex Pig

The last weekend in September marks the last days of water on the Middle Fork American River. Due to the agreement form the Hydro Electric re-license process, they are only required to release fish flow (204cfs) after Oct. 1st. I spent many days out here this summer, and out of necessity, we got time to work on our fly selection as well. Mainly fishing with large Woolly Buggers, and several of Kelly Gallop’s designs, including the Sex Dungeons. I found bigger the better, and the faster you striped, the harder they hit. No matter where you fish, the debate has always been over what Color you’re fishing?

I stick with black so I only have to buy one color of fly material. However, olive and white patterns produce as well.

On one of our commercial trips, the client pulled out a fly called the Ditch Pig. Its was big, and moved some big fish.

The Sex Pig(show above) is what I came up with. A cross between the Sex Dungeon and the Ditch Pig is one of the many patterns that the boys like to eat! Produced several 25″+ brownies.

Kayaking Shirt Tail Canyon: Tributary to the North Fork American River

Shirt Tail Creek is one of the few runable tributary’s to the North Fork American River. In this video, Nick follows me on the bottom half of the run. With higher flows and no shuttle driver we put-in right at the falls, and Nick impresses with his ability to paddle this difficult whitewater with very little beta. Shirt Tail’s reputation holds strong among the class V community. Love it or hate it, it is an action packed mile dropping over 400ft. (filmed spring 2011)

Raft Flips at Ruck-A-Chucky Falls

Ruck-A-Chucky Falls is the portage on the Middle Fork of the American river. Located about 15 miles downstream of Oxbow Dam. Running this waterfall, ideally, you try to stay left at the bottom of the drop. Due to the heavy fishing frame I went straight in and pushed right, leaving me not quite enough room to fit through. Watch as my raft squeezes through the birthing canal and flips.

Fly Fishing: Chili Bar: September, 2011

On Friday, 9/23/11, we brought Greg A. and Dick H. on our Chili Bar fishing trip. We had a great day with both guys hooking into several very nice fish. We were on the river by 8:00am, and the action started instantly. At put in, I noticed some fish working on the surface on the other side of the eddy. Our main focus of the day was going to be fishing big streamers on type six sinking lines, sometimes using split shot. However, I rigged Dick’s rod with a small foam body dry fly to start, and he hooked up a nice little rainbow on his first cast of the day! At this point, I knew it was going to be a good day. Within the first mile, Greg slams a big brown. For the rest of the day, we fished hard, and both guys hooked into several nice fish.

Fish on at The nugget

This nice rainbow trout was caught in the run just below 2nd Threat

Fly Fishing: Red Shack Mission

The plan was set. We were going to meet at the red shack, just off hwy at 12:00pm. Scott Blankenfeld and I (Robby Hogg) have fished The Chili Bar Section of the South Fork American River six or seven times this year out of a raft. We wanted to get into the good stretches with a lower river flow to see if we could get some more dry fly action on the surface. From the turn-off down to the river is about 2.5 miles. Down hill on the way in, up hill on the way out. I had taken for granted how much access we get while using the rafts. The hike out reminded me of that fact.

The trail accesses The South Fork American River about two miles downstream of The Chili Bar Dam at Race Horse Bend. Once we arrived at the bottom, we decided to work our way up stream. Our rods were set up with a hopper dropper rig with a big grass hopper on the end of a 9’ leader, followed by 18” of tipit with a small dark wet fly. I feel this set-up doubles your chances. Right off the bat, we saw a rainbow working just above us. Scott presented his hopper, with a bright pink underbody, with great success.

We worked the the pools between Racehorse Bend and Meatgrinder with our hopper dropper set-up on the way upstream. At the top of the pool I switched and put on a big streamer. At this point I have not even had a hit. On our way back down I worked my to the top of the eddy right below Racehorse bend. First cast pulled out a little guy. At this point the sun started to dip and we called it a day. It took a lot of effort to get in and out of here, but over-all, it was another good day of fishing.