May - Bourdet Ranch - Cecilia Stipes

Throughout the month of May I made weekly bass fishing trips to the Bourdet Ranch in Hollister. Some of the club's ardent, passionate bass fishers joined me: David Marks, Elaine and John Cook, Tom Saso, Dan Eaton, Keith Munger, Sophia Zadubera, Richard Stipes and Greg Foy. We rated the fishing from moderate to very good, depending on the weather and pressure changes. Nevertheless, some very nice bass were caught over the month. Elaine brought in a 21"-er, Keith did exceptionally well as always pulling out multiple big bass, a true bass whisperer! David Marks caught his first bass ahead of his trip to the Roostercomb Ranch and then afterwards, his largest bass to date at Bourdet. And I did quite well also over the month, with over 75 fish one day. Richard was lucky enough to spot a full-grown mountain lion walking the levee between the two ponds while fishing from his float tube approximately 60 feet away. A few photos are included for sharing.

Annual Birthday Spring Fishing Trip

Every year Jeff Goyert and Jim Tolonen plan a spring fishing trip, coinciding with their birthdays and the opening of Trout Season. This year, Northern California was the target. We drove up to Redding, leaving very early on a Tuesday, and picked up some flies and tippet at The Fly Shop, then headed off to the McCloud River for a couple hours of afternoon fishing. We parked at Ash Camp, crossed the bridge, and fished both up and down the river, hooking a few rainbows and a nice brown before a thunderstorm forced us back to the car. We then spent a night in Mt. Shasta with a great dinner at Lily's, just a couple blocks from our motel. The first thing Wednesday morning, we were off to the MAIN EVENT - three days and two nights at the Sugar Creek Ranch.
This is a 114- acre property owned by The Redding Fly Shop, with eight ponds/lakes, two "lodges" for 2 to 6 fisherman, and tent and RV camping. The property is located in Siskiyou County, off Highway 3, an hour and a half North West of Redding, in an area decimated by hydraulic gold mining; now somewhat re-grown. They allow pontoon boats or float tubes, (discourage waders to protect the banks); although we brought our float tubes, we found fishing from shore to be more than adequate.
The cost is two hundred dollars per night per person, for very nice lodging, with kitchen, two bedrooms, deck, etc. and including daily fishing access to the entire property. It is a classic "private pay to play" location, and in fishing jargon is definitely a PLP, (that's Private Lunker Pond) - Big Fish, no crowds. Minimum five weight rods, and recommended 2X or 3X leaders and tippets.
Our first day we tried two of the lakes; and we were surprised by the size and power of the fish. Very feisty rainbows, 19 to 23 inches, with big shoulders - the kind of fish that spool you two or three times, and in many cases go acrobatic. I had one fish that jumped up to 5 feet out of the water, seven times before I got him to net - more like a steelhead than a pond trout. There was a storm coming in, and these fish wanted to eat big! They would only take leggy Wooly Buggers, Size 8 Giant legged Prince Nymphs, and Jimmy Legs. Everything fished under an indicator. We lost count, but estimated about a dozen fish each to net, with another half dozen long line releases, missed takes, and a couple break offs. So, not every cast, but enough to keep the interest level way up! As the storm arrived, we went back to the cabin to make dinner and retie worn out leaders and flies.
The second day was completely different. Clear blue skies, no wind, crystal clear water meant the fish were very selective. We had fewer takes, mostly on size 14 and 16 nymphs and 16 or 18 midges. Lots of visible drive-bys, or fish coming up to take a look, then turning away. Still brought a half dozen each to hand, with more than a few more lost or missed.
The last morning, we only fished an hour or so, and the fish were very selective. We caught a couple, but watched many more just swim on by. So, we left for the long Friday drive back to Santa Cruz.
This place is definitely a recommend, not cheap, but for a very nice on-site cabin/lodge and HUGE fish, and a half a day drive away, great fun. There are picnic tables and camp chairs in the shade near the lakes for lunches or breaks. Long handled nets are also strategically placed around the lakes. One of the on-site guides, groundskeepers, told us the best times are April through mid-June, then September to November depending on weather. The water gets warm and weedy, and the fish go deep and quiet in the summer. We could still see snow on the surrounding peaks at May 16, but the days were shirt weather.