This past weekend I had the honor and pleasure of fishing with Ray Hutcherson of Sea Level Flyfishing at his annual Shad Fishing trip on the Sacramento River put on spectacularly by the guides of Orland Outfitters. The lucky participants are shuttled by jetboat to a prime Shad run on the river where tents and a restaurant are temporarily setup. Upon arrival on the sand bar, you are greeted by expert guides, a comfortable chair out of the weather, and the best streamside food imaginable. The weather was very unusual this weekend for Shad fishing, but many shad were caught despite the wind and rain.
It was great seeing Ray in his pimped out Motorhome. He looked good and even though he didn’t fish, He got on the river for a day to chat and hang with the group of regulars. Ray will always hold a special place in my life having mentored me when I was 12 years old at the Fly Hutch in San Jose, where I bought my first good fly rod – a 4 piece 7ft 5wgt Scott Powerply. It was the only flyshop in town back then, and I spent every moment i could in that store examining the merchandise, casting the rods, and high grading the fly tying materials.
I had a chance to visit with my favorite nephews and niece, Mathew, Michael and Emma, who are so tall and grown up now that I can hardly see the little kids in them that I last saw. As the boys start high school, they are avid Paintballers and have inherited my son Mark’s equipment. I hope they have as much fun with the gear as we did when Mark was heavily into it.
Only a couple weeks till I get back to Charleston SC to fish for redfish with Jeremy and Charleston Shallows . I woke up this morning with the idea of going to San Luis in the morning but at 6:00, the winds were hovering around 15mph and I decided against it. I might go tomorrow in the later morning. With all the traveling that we are doing this coming year. Gina and I decided to get TSA Prechecked. To do this we need to be fingerprinted at the TSA center so tomorrow we might just go and stand in line.
The highlight of the trip for me was spending some time with Fred Pendergast who teaches spey casting for the San Jose Flycasters. With the lack of moving water in San Jose, its been hard to practice spey casting and I always look forward to the Shad fishouts so I can practice . After being introduced to Fred, he offered to analyze my casting. In half an hour, Fred had me casting and shooting line with my Deathstar spey rod like never before. I can’t thank him enough for his help. It truely was an epiphany for me. I once believed that if I watched enough instructional videos and read enough books, I could teach myself, but I was very wrong. Particularly with spey casting, there are so many subtle but critical elements that are the difference between a great cast and a terrible one. My casting flaws are different than others. Personal instruction may be the only way to pinpoint the unique changes in personal bad habits that spell the difference between good and bad casting. Those changes are tough to feel or adjust for unlike two handed casting which I spent years teaching. . Fred helped me understand where and how my anchor should look like in the water before the D Cast and how to sweep correctly. In addition, what was helpful to me was his explanation of the physics behind the changes which is something I need to know if Im going to change and improve. He also let me try some new lines that cast easier than what I have now. The lines are made by NEXTCAST . I ordered one as soon as I got home. I bought the 525 grain Nextcast Zone line for my Deathstar and Im studying running lines and remain undecided on them.