We are a foodie family. The boys in the family love just about everything especially seafood. The girls in the family… not so much, but they do enjoy steaks and pasta and limited ethnic foods. They WILL NOT eat anything that comes out of water.
Before the boys left home I was getting requests to make this and that. Of course I obliged. And of course I had to make two different dinners, one for the boys and one for the girls.
Now that the boys are gone, I’m eating less of my favorites because I’m cooking for the girls.
The DFW predicted well over 300,000 salmon returns this year. How they know that I have no idea. They have been wrong multiple times but they keep predicting. They did not predict the salmon collapse 10 years ago. So last winter when they predicted a run of 300,000+ fish for fall of 2020, I was very skeptical. Even though the season does not end until December, it’s virtually over now. They have dropped the water levels so low that it’s very difficult to launch boats. I’ve fished this area consistently for 30 years and have never seen the water below 4200 CFS. It was 3600 CFS as of this writing.
As for the salmon counts, the “official” numbers are not in yet but as a group of guides in this section of the river, we all agree it’s the worse season ever. Even worse than the year it collapsed. We actually caught more fish that season.
It could be the fish were here, but due to the very hot summer, very warm water, very low water and lots of fires that caused lots of ash fallout could have put lock jaw on these fish.
Last year my boat landed 45 salmon and it was a very slow year. This year only 19. Good years are 300-500 fish a season. The full time guides get 500-900 a season sometimes more. I stop fishing when the fish turn too dark to be good table fare. However we got into a few late in season that where really fresh.
Lots of clients ask what is the biggest salmon I’ve caught on the river. A long time client and one of my first customers from the Millpond in Cupertino, Frank Clohan, landed a 56 pounder. A local client Seth Burreson landed a 54 and a group of guys that came out from Texas, one of the guys (Hardy), landed a 52. My personal best is this fish. Not sure what it weighed but it was every bit as big as the others. Just for scale, the other fish posted here are 15-28 pounds.
If the “official” numbers are as low as we think, there’s a pretty good chance the salmon season will be closed or altered in the future. This years’ run will seed the run in 3 years so if few fish this year….. you get the picture.
The boys are off to college and they are really loving it. According to Michael when he was asked how are things? His reply was ” Living my best life”. That is so great to hear.
Michael is in Flagstaff attending NAU. Matthew moved out to an apartment with his best friend in Chico and is at Chico State.
I see Matthew at least a couple times a week and it’s a joy. When he comes by the house, he’s like a celebrity because we are so happy to see him and so happy to cook for him. I’m starting to play a little more golf and they boys have taken a liking to it so I’ve been hitting the driving range with Matthew and playing with him about once a week.
Michael came home for a surprise visit a few weeks back and it almost brought me to tears. I missed him so much it was a wonderful surprise. No one knew except Melanie. Mo and Po were surprised too and Mo did break down in tears.
Emma is now the only child at home and is a sophomore at Chico High. She just started back to school a few days a week for only a few hours. Michael is full time at school and Matthew is still 100% online. Looking forward to having Michael back for the winter break!
Spent a day and a half north of Houston last weekend. Got to fish one morning for hybrid bass. Man they pull hard for their size. Still a little warm there for good hybrid fishing but we got lucky and got a few.
This season the trout fishing was really good. We fished lakes I haven’t fished for 20 years or more.
I stopped fishing Manzanita Lake when the fish were resembling snakes. They are still pretty skinny but it was a lot worse! That was in the late 90’s. I heard there was a great callibaetis hatch going on up there so I headed up there on a day that was forecast for good weather. The con man…I mean weatherman ,was wrong again. It was supposed to be 42 to 56 degrees in the morning but in actuality it was 34 degrees all morning! I was not prepared and was freezing my bumm off. It even snowed on me. Fishing was good for a couple dozen fish but I was only able to dredge for fish. I would have preferred to fish a callibaetis hatch.
I fished McCoy Flat 3 times in 4 weeks. It was that good. Over the winter and early spring we fished trout in Baum Lake and McCumber. Great fishing for numbers but the fish were between 10 and 17 inches. At McCoy Flat they are thick and healthy 18-19 inch plus fish. They pull much harder than the fish at Baum and McCumber.
McCoy fish also have a very different diet. Their flesh is deep orange/red. They are eating some kind of critters with an exoskeleton to get flesh that color. The fat fish I cleaned had this in their tummy.
We explored Echo Lake too for the first time. Pretty lake loaded with brook trout but a float tube or pram is needed there. Too much brush and trees on the banks to get a good cast out.
Got into a few Hex hatches at Almanor. Just mediocre fishing for us but the real highlight was getting invited to stay with Dr Hood at his beautiful house in Almanor West!
Dr Hood has been a great positive influence on the boys. They look up to him and they both want to be orthodontists like him. I guess I’m chopped liver!
The pond was fishing well too. Michael landed a 10 pound catfish on a spinner bait early one morning.
I got to spend some time with Wes Yamaguchi on the Yuba. It was an exceptional shad year there. Shad fishing on the Yuba is automatic. As many as you wish to catch. Incredible fishery in our area.
We have been on an oyster binge lately. I think that would be an understatement! Devoured over 200 oysters in 2.5 sittings.
I have the recipe for the Felix’s charbroiled oysters in New Orleans. At least I think it is. Tastes just like the original. It was posted online for a brief moment and then it was gone. My timing finding it was impeccable. It’s the bomb!
Chico High school graduation was a single file drive by ordeal. We were told where and what time to be there. When we got to the “spot”, the boys got out of the car and walked up to the principal and received a faux diploma, then a quick picture was taken then straight back into the car. That was pretty much it. Anti climatic high school graduation for the boys but at least there was some kind of graduation ceremony.
All three kids had dates for the Winter Formal in February and we took a bunch of pictures. Thank heavens we did because as it turns out these would be the last school “Formal” pictures we will get.
I did not post these pics in late February because I knew (thought) we would be getting some nice photos from the Senior Prom. As you know, that is no more.
The kids are doing some schoolwork via internet but for the most part they are done with school until late summer or fall.
The school says they will have a graduation ceremony sometime this summer. The way our luck has been playing out, it will be the same week as our Cuba trip late July. If that is the case, I would have to cancel Cuba in which we would loose most our money.
It has now been 9 weeks since we closed the office. Getting the taste of retirement but it’s not quite the same. The kids have been home mostly, staying up late and sleeping in until 11am or later! When weather permits we were able to get out and fish some local waters. Where we have been going is very remote with few anglers, if any, around us.
Low water Feather River stripers were the target earlier on but the bite died and the full moon came and the spawn happened so we turned to some trout fishing.
Lake McCumber has been fishing well for a few months. PG&E is doing some work at Grace and Nora lakes so the fish normally stocked in those lakes are going into McCumber. The fishing is excellent for planter rainbows from 10-17 inches and wild browns are also abundant. It has been about 20 years since I last fished there. I remember it well because that’s where I asked my Father in Law for his daughter’s hand in marriage. There was cussing and yelling and we almost tipped our prams over…….. NOT… 😂 I married above my pay grade and my FIL is awesome.
After a few trips to McCumber, we switched gears to Black Butte Lake. The launch ramp is closed so we launched from a gravel bank. We had got word that the carp fishing was great and that we would get hundreds of shots at thousands of fish. That did not happen for us. We saw 30 plus fish and cast to maybe 20 of them. The carp is a tough fish to catch. Michael got one to eat but never came tight on the line. We fished bass on the way back to the truck and landed 6. We went back a few days later and saw even less carp and only got 3 small bass. The full moon was coming up so that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.😃
We also fished the river, the Afterbay and the backyard too.
During this down time, I was able to get a lot of things cleaned up and organized. One of the major tasks was my fly tying station. I don’t think I’ve seen the desktop in years. So within 8 seasons of Game of Thrones (70 plus episodes) I got my tying desk organized! I even organized my fly boxes which was a huge deal since there are well over 200 fly boxes to go through (those are just trout flies). I didn’t have the stamina to go through the saltwater stuff (another 100 boxes). Now I’m afraid to tie flies! Don’t want to mess up the desk!🤣
I will be back at work soon so everything else will have to wait. Hopefully NOT due to another shutdown!
We weighed all our options before leaving for Singapore on March 13th. It was not an easy decision but since Singapore was not a “hotspot” we figured it was safer there than here. And it sure seemed that way! Almost every entrance or doorway to a mall, restaurant or market, there were thermal cameras manned at the door. Places with no cameras, we were greeted by personnel that took our temperature. The food and shopping were amazing and the crowds were light. All that made for a very memorable trip to a very special place.
We met a few times with my cousin LuLu and nephew Wei Meng. They took us around town a bit and showed us some spectacular evening sights. Wonderful to see them again!
There were so many things to do on our list but we did not have enough time. Six days in Singapore is a fraction of the time needed to really visit and see everything, even though we all have been there before. The last time we were there, the Marina Bay Sands had just been built, the Gardens by the Bay was in construction and the Jewel at the airport was an empty lot.
Our first full day there we went on a food tour. I’m glad the family got to eat some of the foods I grew up with.
On the third day we took a cooking class. We made traditional Singapore dishes ( Char Kway Teow, Satay with peanut sauce and a sago dessert) and it all turned out fantastic. We would do that again (different dishes of course) the next time we are in town.
Our apartment was incredible. Super close to shopping, food and the MRT (subway trains). It was 3 bedroom 2 bath place on the 19th floor of Orchard ParkSuites. To have a place that big right in the heart of Orchard was amazing. We will definitely stay there again!
For me this trip was about eating the food and to be with the entire family for possibly the last time for awhile. The boys go to college this fall and their vacation schedules are unknown. Hopefully we will be able to travel as a family again soon but we just don’t know.
The Coronavirus was definitely on our minds during the entire trip. When we left SFO, things weren’t too bad in the US. After our first day in Singapore, Governor Newsome ordered a shelter in place and the dental society highly recommended dental offices shutdown and only allow urgent or life threatening treatment. So while we were in Singapore, my office had to be closed. With the 15 hour time difference and ahead one day, it was a little difficult to stay in contact with the staff to get things in order. We closed on March 17th and have been closed since.
On our 5th day, I received an email from Philippine Airlines stating one of our flights were canceled. That spooked us a lot but we would probably rather quarantine in beautiful Singapore than at home. BUT…there’s no place like home! Our flight home connected in Manilla and Manilla had just shut down all flights in and out! After a full day of trying to get a hold of a live person at Philippine Airlines, I gave up. The phone just rang and rang. We decided we needed to just go to the airport and talk to someone at the ticket counter at PAL. So we left at 10:30am Friday and went to the airport. Not an entirely smart move. Since there was only one flight out on PAL that day (we did not know that), the counter only opens 3 hours before the flight. That flight was at 8:00PM! So instead of shuttling back to town, we “toured” the Jewel at Changi Airport. It’s a destination all on it’s own. Huge is an understatement. Of course there was food and more shopping but at that point in time our minds were focused on getting home.
Five O’clock came ( seemed like it took forever) and we spoke to a ticket agent. She said yes our flight on Saturday was canceled but they will put us on the flight out of Manilla on Sunday night. However we still have to get to Manilla on Saturday. That leaves us a 22 hour layover in the Manilla airport. I suggested we fly out Sunday out of Singapore because that would make the layover only 3 hours AND give us another full day in Singapore. She said we should fly out on Saturday because if for whatever reason we miss the flight from Singapore to Manilla on Sunday, the flight from Manilla to SFO is the LAST FLIGHT OUT OF MANILLA. Yikes. OK, 22 hour layover it is!
When we got to Manilla we were escorted to a “Transfer Lounge”. We were told we cannot leave for any reason. They even took our boarding passes for the SFO flight. The room was small and dark and did not have any couches to lay flat on. The GOOD was we had a bathroom and a shower. The BAD, no food or water! They also did not allow us to bring in our luggage so showering was not an option. After 7 hours someone came in and asked if we wanted them to get us some food and drink. Well yeah! She said the airport is basically closed so there are no food venders there. They will have to drive out of the airport to get food. Plus we had no Philippine pesos! I gave her money in USD and hoped it was enough. We did get food but it took a long time. VERY basic meal..brown and white. Hey it was food and we got water too. Felt like a detention center.
When we finally boarded the plane to SFO, it was high fives all around! Upon entering US Customs, the boys and I had our Global Entry interviews ( the girls already have GE). It went smoothly and we left left the airport with no one screening us for….anything!
Not being able to work for weeks is a strange feeling. Never in my life have I taken so many days off in a row. Probably like most of you. There is a silver lining. A lot of good quality time with family, all the little “projects” are getting done and I get to fish with the boys again! They can’t hang out with their friends so it’s fishing with me or stay home and watch Netflix. Of course I make them go with me:))
Since we have so many free days we are picking and choosing good days to go. Most of the launch ramps around here are closed. The ones that are open are jam packed. Now the state is considering closing all fishing. We’ll see how productive the next few weeks are.
The boys are now 18 and I can feel their sense of independence. They are cruising through their last semester of high school and enjoying it. Boreal Ridge Snowpark has seen them 10 times this season already and they took Friday off from school to go.
If they were playing basketball this year for that awful coach, their snowboarding fun would not have even begun. I think they made the right decision but we really miss seeing them play. As a consolation, they will play CARD basketball soon (Chico recreational league) and we are seeing Emma start on a 17-0 team.
On New Years morning Michael agreed to fish with me on the river. Our river outing for striped bass is usually only 2-3 hours long. We make our usual stops and if they are not there we head home. That day as we launched from the ramp, we saw a big boil on the surface. It was a striper munching on a newly released smolt. We made a few casts but nothing. We headed up stream about 15 minutes and found busting fish in one of my favorite runs.
Michael cast his 10 inch glide bait and immediately hooked up. Lost that one but recast to another busting fish and landed that one. A few minutes later we saw a smolt swimming fast on the surface of the water and I mentioned to Michael “something is chasing that guy”. We lost sight of it and moments later we heard a big boil 50 feet downstream from the boat. Michael made a cast that was a little short but still worked the bait in. Since our glide baits are slow sinking, we can easily see the bait. The striper came back and pounded that bait and Michael was on again. We hooked 5 and landed 3 and then the surface activity died. We worked our way back to the boat launch with no other bites. Good way to start the new year.
Took Benson and Victor out for their maiden voyage for glide bait stripers. They both cast very well considering the heavier rods and big baits used. Only one small fish that day but at least it was not a skunk. There was more boat traffic than ideal and I would guess many of the spots were previously fished.
Life has been really busy with work ramping up and Emma’s basketball season in full swing. Her team is 9-0 and has won every game but one by more than 20 points. Most of the games were won by 30 or more points.
I was able to get some fishing in on the Feather and Sac. I fished with Jeff Richelieu and a great up and coming guide Joe Garza of JAG Flyfishing on the Feather. We hooked 16 fish and landed a handful. Had knots and hooks break!
Also got some striper fishing in. Fished with legendary fly fishing striper guide Steve Santucci and the best striper guide for monster fish, Billy Driessen. We landed fish on flies, glide baits and spoons.
Papa John came back from the Amazon with a behemoth of a catch! Guides estimated 200 pounds and this was hooked and landed on a fly rod.
We had the kids winter formals. Lots of girls over at the house getting ready!
Our office Christmas party was fun. Ate a great dinner and played some games at home. What a truly great team they are.
Next post will likely be 2020. Unless we get a big striper during the holidays! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!