8th grade “graduation” for Emma and prom night for the boys.

Back when us old guys were in school, when we graduated from 8th grade it was exactly that, graduated from 8th grade. These days , at least in this area of California, no such animal. It is now called 8th grade promotion. I kid you not. So Emma has been “promoted” from the 8th grade to a freshman in high school. All the same flare and theatrics with speeches and music and awards, but the MC’s and the program only mention “promotion” and never mention the word graduation.

Very proud of Emma. She received the Presidential Award for scholastic achievement and another award for maintaining 4.0 gpa throughout Middle School. She is excited to be a freshman!

Prom night for the boys..

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Memorial Weekend basketball tournament in Reno….NOT!

We look forward to a long fun basketball weekend on Memorial Day weekend every year. Emma and the boys play in the huge tournament that is held at the Reno Convention Center.

This year as the week approached both boys got terribly sick. Michael was bedridden for over a week. On the day that we were suppose to leave for Reno, there was no way the boys would make it, so Melanie and Emma went without us.

The very next day Matthew said he was feeling better but not well enough to head to Reno and play in a varsity tournament. He said he wanted to go striper fishing for just a few hours. The striper fishing on the Feather has been off the hook and apparently he was listening to all the reports I was getting.

We loaded up the boat and was headed out by 12:30. Uncle Wesley and Uncle Danny were already fishing when we got there. The bite was just OK for them so we went off to look around for ourselves.

We ended up fishing the Yuba River and found a nice pod of fish. The graph “lit up” and we stayed on fish for 2.5 hours. Matthew was getting grabbed almost every cast. We landed over 30 with very few undersized fish. One 5 pounder and one 12. We lost 3 other big fish, most likely in the double digit rage.

Matthew had not fished for stripers on the Feather in 6 years. He said he had a great time and had forgotten how hard they pull. I was grateful that he wanted to fish and was very lucky “Mo Mo” was able to come over and watch Michael while we were away.

Six years ago!!

Our pond is has too many adult catfish and we are culling as much as possible. Time to get the big cats out of there!

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Spring break in the “French Quarter”……

For spring break, the boys flew east to the New Orleans French Quarter and the girls flew farther east….way farther east! …to the original French Quarter.

The boys trip was met with bad weather for fishing. A cold front came in 2 days before we arrived. The first 2 fishing days were overcast and the 3rd was sunny. However all three days came with moderate to high winds which made the marsh muddy and really tough fishing conditions. Cold, overcast 2 out of 3 days, windy, muddy. Then we add the full moon and we were lucky not to be skunked!

We caught fish all 3 days up to 12 pounds. Unlike the fall/winter time that we usually go, the fish are smaller and the big bull reds are out in gulf. We also decided to go back and fish Lafitte instead of the Hopedale area just for a little change.

Our guide Capt. Scott Poche of Crescent City Charters was a pleasant and capable guide. He picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel everyday. That is a bonus because that meant we did not have to rent a car.

The food as usual was excellent. Our multiple stops at Felix’s Oyster House was amazing. Revolution, Antiones and a Brazilian Churascaria were our restaurant choices for dinner. The Oysters Rockefeller at Antione’s was just okay but nothing beats charbroiled oysters at Felix’s.

We normally don’t have a free day there but this trip we did so we decided to check out the WWII Museum. It was really good. Very crowded but really good. We checked out the exhibits and saw both shows (Beyond Boundaries and Final Mission) and still got to the airport in time for our evening flight.

We would like to go back again this Thanksgiving for the big bull reds but it will depend on the boys basketball schedule.

The girls visited Paris again…3rd time in 2 years! They are in LOVE with that city. They said it never gets old and would go back in a heartbeat.

On this visit they went to Disneyland Paris and said it was wonderful. Very French and much bigger than the Hong Kong Disneyland. They also took a day trip to Normandy. They finished the week with a croissant baking class.

Spring break went by too fast. Before we know it summer will be here!

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Bailey Creek Lodge, some minor flooding and Lewiston Lake.

We were able spend a day and night at one of our favorite places, Bailey Creek Lodge. The meals were outstanding again and the fishing was excellent. The boys invited their friend Carson and Emma invited Brooke. Victor and Judy also joined us again for some great food and times.

The late winter rains really hit us hard up here. The river was about to crest in Hamilton City and for those of you that have seen Irvine Finch launch ramp under normal conditions, this is how it looked at near flood stage.

Our backyard seemed like it was going to have no issues but as you can see the rains kept coming and the water level kept rising. The metal shop was surveyed and engineered to be built at the 100 year flood elevation. The water did not get inside the shop but if it continued to rain for a couple more days, it might have.

Got to spend a day at Lewiston with Benson so we could try out a new casting platform I had built. For sight fishing it’s wonderful to spot fish from that height. But for casting to spooky fish from that height was not good. Tougher to get the 20 ft. leader to turn over correctly from that casting angle. If the cast was too flat, the leader/fly would flutter down and not be straight. If cast at a steeper angle the fly would hit the water more abruptly. It was difficult to find that sweet spot. Then add a little breeze and the 20 ft leader is toast.

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Chico vs Enterprise – Syntwins score 29 of teams 37 points

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Boys turn 17, Michael fishes Baum Lake while Matthew tries snowboarding.

The boys had a nice birthday dinner at 5th St Steakhouse then back home for a home made Mudpie. The next day the boys went out to Hula’s with 15 friends and they all came over after dinner to hang out and sit in the hot tub…amidst very cold temps!

Matthew tried out snowboarding at Boreal and lucky no injuries came of it. He enjoyed it a lot and wants to do it again. While he was there, Michael and I took the 10 ft. pram to Baum Lake. I had not heard any reports but the lake usually fishes well in the winter.

We arrived at 9:15 am with air temp at 27 degrees. Dressed warm we did not notice the cold. We were fishing by 9:30 and our first casts produced fish. From that point on it was an outstanding fishing day. Most of the fish ate small PT’s and midges but when we saw rising fish, a well cast Griffiths gnat did the trick. At a few points during the day it was a fish a cast for many minutes. The fish were all very healthy and fought well on 9 ft 3 wts with 18 foot leaders and a tiny yarn indicator. I had one trout take me into backing. That had not happened since the The St. Mary’s trout in Southern Alberta 3-4 years ago. Michael also had a fish that almost got him into backing. The rainbows were really fat and strong.

Michael also “slammed” today. Catching all three predominant trout in one day. His brook trout was the only brookie that was landed and the ratio of rainbows to browns were about even. There was a time during the day that I tried many different flies and they ALL worked. I even cast out a beat up fly and lo and behold…fish on! Just like the saying goes… ” When they are NOT biting, it doesn’t matter what you use. When they ARE biting, it doesn’t matter what you use”. We landed over 50 trout each and by 1:30 we were ready to head home.

Baum Lake is still very productive and a wonderful spot for the winter doldrums. If you can stand the cooler temps, you will be rewarded with some great light tackle trout fishing.

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Matthew and Michael at the Tournament

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Lewiston Lake

Since the Camp fire started on November 8th, the kids have been out of school. If all goes well they will return December 3rd. Michael starts back tomorrow because he has a class at Butte College.

To get away from the smoke 2 weeks ago in Chico, Melanie took the kids and some friends to….where else…The Happiest Place on Earth. It was a last minute decision and it was a week that most people don’t have off so it made for a not super crowded park. Yes they did feel guilty about going since 50,000 people were displaced and most of them lost their home in the fire. It was and still is a tragedy that we will feel for years to come.

I have been trying to get the boys out fishing since they have been off but between smoke filled skies and basketball practice and rain and wind, we have not had an opportunity…until today.

We left for Lewiston Lake at 8am and were fishing by 10am. We motored out to a flat north of Pine Cove and saw Pop B there! He did not know we were going. We fished with him for a bit then headed up to a pod of fish near Turtle Rock. We stayed there and the boys sight fished to trout until they had enough. By 1pm Michael had landed 26 and Matthew 6. Yes that is a huge discrepancy but for some reason Matthew could not hook up on those fish. They had more grabs than fish landed so it was not the fly that was the problem….OR WAS IT?…. Well a smart angler would have asked to see his fly a lot sooner but that person was not on the boat:)) To my surprise, we discovered the hook opened up! Unbelievable that fish this size could have done that.

Both boys had a great outing. It was all sight fishing with 18-20 foot 5x leaders and 9ft. 3 weight rods. It was not too cold and it was good to see Pop B there. He is a trophy hunter so he was just casting to the big boys. He landed a 22 incher in the morning and was still hunting when we left at 1:45.

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October Delta stripers

Fished the Delta three days the past 2 weeks. Two times in Wes’ boat and once with Mike Costello (thanks to the gracious invite by Jeff Sasaki).

The first trip with Wes was good.  We had very few dinks and most of them were what we called “fun fish”, 3-5 pounds. Our largest were 6-10 pounds. Wes picked me up at 8am at the launch and I fished until 2:30pm (wanted to head home before the Sac traffic started).

Wes and I together landed 66. Wes went back out by himself and landed another 30 for a total of 96 for the day. It turned on in the evening he said.

Two weeks later I was invited by Jeff to fish with Mike Costello. Mike is a trophy hunter so we fished large flies all day. Total for the day was 38. Jeff landed the 2 biggest fish , a 7 and a 17 pounder. Everytime I fish with the Sasakis (Jeff, Michael and Dick) in Costello’s boat, they outfish me handily. I’m snake bit in that boat! However, always a fun day with Jeff and Mike. Catching up with Mike makes for all day conversations.

I stayed overnight in Flag City and in the morning I fished with Wes again. I fished until my arms and fingers were sore.  Two days back to back fly fishing for stripers is tough for regular guys like me. Not conditioned enough I guess. Wes dropped me off around 1:30pm and we had tallied 62. However most were dinks. The largest was 5 pounds. Wes fished until the evening and landed another 27 but he said nothing of any size.

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Sapsuk River, AK……Coho Nirvana!

For those of you that prefer the short version, here it is: Incredible fishing for 6 straight days with weather to match. River was loaded with thick, girthy fish that were eager to eat a fly. One of the best trips in memory. Now you can stroll to see pics:))

And now…the rest of the story..

Early this spring I was asked by my Brother from Another Mother, Jerry Wang, to join him on his annual trip to the Sapsuk for silvers. His wife Diana could not make it due to personal reasons. I initially said no because leaving in September is too difficult for a number or reasons. The salmon season is in full swing, I take my wife to the CDA convention for a long weekend in San Francisco and it’s a short month as far as work days go. After some arm twisting and serious re-arranging of my work and fishing schedule I decided I should fish with Jerry again. It has been a decade and a half since we fished together on a trip. PLUS my wife suggested I really should go spend time with Jerry….so if the wife says OK, that is a major green light.





The trip started off on the wrong foot. When we flew into Nelson Lagoon on the Alaskan Peninsula, it was a minus tide. We needed water in the lagoon to ferry to the mouth of the Sapsuk, then transfer to smaller jet boats and then head up to the camp. The water was so low that we high centered the first boat! Not good. The small boats came into the lagoon to “save” us. However, after loading up in those boats, one of the boats traveling at 30pmh, came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the lagoon! Not good. After some unloading and loading and 6 guys pushing the boat to deeper water, we were afloat again and onward to the camp.

We arrived at dinner time and after our meal there was time to fish the camp runs. Jerry and I went to the downstream run and found no silvers. Not good.

After a 6:30am wake up and 7:00am breakfast, Jerry and I shared the boat with Kirk (another annual Sapsuk angler) and headed to Chen’s Bend (named after Glenn Chen, one of the the most influential people in my life when it comes to all things fishing). I immediately hooked a silver that thrashed on the surface angrily. At that moment I hear Jerry yell BEAR!!
I turned around and saw a very large bear on full charge towards me. NOT GOOD. When it saw my face (apparently a face only a mother could love!) it abruptly stopped, turned around and trotted away. We are pretty sure the bear was after the thrashing fish and not me but it still made for great drama.

The rest of the day was “bearless”. Just constant hooking, losing and landing silvers all day long. The rest of the week was basically rinse and repeat of the first day…minus the bear charge.

By the 3rd day the constant hooking of fish on spey was getting a little stale. Could that even be possible!!?? Not really BUT I decided to change things up a bit by using my single hand rod more. Since distance casting was not as easy as with the spey rod, I concentrated on the fish I could see close in. That worked well AND hook up numbers actually went up, if that’s even possible. I was getting more fish casting closer to fish I could see. To me that was more desirable than casting to other bank with spey and tungsten tips.

On the 4th day after fishing all morning with mainly single hand and some spey, I decided to throw a #5 pink Virbrax on my baitcaster. The Vibrax is as close to a sure thing on every cast as possible. I hooked multiple fish in a very short amount of time and horsed them all in. By doing that I broke the hook off!
Our guide Mike took my rod and showed me if you reel the Vibrax on the surface causing a disturbance or wake, the fish will still jump on it. Sure enough the fish were still boiling and trying to eat the lure. That was so fascinating to me that I took that rod and walked up to the top of the run and did what Mike showed me. For the next 20 minutes I witnessed fish boiling, slashing and mouthing the hookless Vibrax! What a blast! That gave me an idea. I had some 1.5″ Smile Blades with me so I placed one on my leader of my single hand rod with the floating line then a bead then tied my fly on. My fly was too heavy to skim the surface of the water so I tried a weightless fly but that did not have enough weight to submerge the Smile Blade. Jerry had a box of extra flies in my bag so I picked a fly with small dumbell eyes and tried that. That was the ticket! The fly and the Smile Blade rode just under the surface and I got nearly the same results as the hookless Vibrax.
From that event on it changed my fishing preference on the river. I fished just subsurface and saw almost all the grabs. I could see fish come up from the depths to eat the fly. I could see fish accelerate from behind to inhale the fly. I could see fish attack it from the side. Sometimes the fly just disappeared. It was a great way to fish. The bonus was NO SNAGGED FISH! The downside was I had to eventually change out the fly to a non stinger hook because Mike said most of the fish were eating it way too deep and bleeding fish was the result.

The last 2 days on the river I spent 80% of the time fishing the Smile Blade set up. It was VERY fulfilling to see almost all the fish grab the fly. I left my remaining Smile Blades with Mike so hopefully someone else can fish that way for some variety.

I have a new respect for silvers. The few silvers I have caught in the past never did fight very hard. These fish have some strength due to their heavier weight and size. Glenn says the Sapsuk fish are bigger because they are in the ocean a few weeks longer than most silver runs. He says they can gain a pound a week feasting in the ocean before going into the river.

The Camp was very clean and maintained. The beds were comfortable and the rooms had diesel heaters. The meals were just OK. Nothing to write home about but the portion size was ginormous. After a long day of fishing, a hot meal was welcomed.

The only real disappointment for me at the camp was the outhouse. I guess I’m getting too urbanized in my old age. Wish I could have shut my sense of smell off during those visits to the loo. I was the only one with that issue at the camp.

Our guides were Trevor Covich and Mike Flynn. Both great guys and guides. I gravitated towards Trevor more because I felt like I knew him from all his YouTube videos I watched before the trip. He is an extremely charismatic, talented and knowledgeable guide. One of the best I’ve had. He can probably do stand up if he ever needed a side job!

So will I go back? Unlikely, due to the timing of the trip. Can’t go back with my boys anytime soon because they are back in school in September. As good as the fishing was, it’s too hard to get away anytime in September. In my retirement years, that will be a different story.

This is a fun fish on a fly rod. I cannot remember when I ever hooked this many good sized fish from start to finish on a trip. It sure helped that the weather was darn near perfect for the entire week. That alone is unheard of half way down the Alaskan Peninsula in mid September.

Glenn told me the Sapsuk River was the best coho fishing on the planet. I don’t have much to compare it to but I believe he speaks the truth.

Our group: Jerry Wang (my mentor and big brother I never had), Mark Won (beach fisherman extraordinaire), Kirk Wolf (great boat buddy on the trip and seemed to be hooked up constantly), Father Mike Coughlin (a true gentleman and good fisherman), Charlie Bunch (told great jokes during meal times).
Booked through Sweetwater Travel
I would have preferred to have my bootfoot waders.
No WiFi service at camp.
Used a Garmin InReach SE for texting home and office.
Bring mosquito netting next time.
Rods used: 9ft 8 weight Winston Jungle, 9ft 10 weight Orvis Helios. Sage One 7126. Sage Deathstar, HMG 2 piece 10-25lb casting rod.
Reels used: Mako 9500, Seamaster Mark III Dual Mode, Waterworks Vanquish V10, Bogdan 150, SA System 3.
Flies that caught fish: Coho Pollos (originated by Mark Won with some minor changes by Glenn Chen) and a generic foam popper.

Flies that I experimented with: They all worked.

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