January and February can be really tough months to find active fish anywhere. At least here in California, we don’t have to put up with much extreme and brutal weather. The steelhead fishing picks up in February but the winter trout fishing for me is mainly aimed at the Northern California lakes that stay open all year. For a couple years that I’ve been fishing with Steve Prior at San Luis, we have talked about Steves love of trout fishing. There is almost no place better that Bailey Creek Lodge for easy access winter trout fishing and great accommodations. We arranged with Peter, the owner of the lodge, to drive up on Friday and fish till Sunday morning. Steve and I both agreed to leave by 10:00am to get back to San Jose to watch the 49rs play (sigh). I love the gourmet kitchen at the lodge and I was looking forward to cooking for us. Peter kept the fireplace stoked and I kept the BBQ and Sous Vide going . We ate like champions.
Bailey Creek is a fly fisherman’s Disneyland. The lodge has fly fishing themed fine art and decor in every room The fly plates on the wall are great and it seems I recognized many well known fly fishing legends that have left their mark on the lodge in some way. Even the dishes are fly fishing themed.
I’ve been to the Lodge many times and the fishing is usually pretty great when the bugs are out but with the 29 degree mornings and evening, there were very few bugs or midges out. When the water gets a bit warmer, it’s one of the best places to teach someone how to hook and land big rainbows. The fish can also be ultra selective and picky. Other times, its junk fly time and it can be automatic. Some very skilled anglers reported pretty tough fishing only a couple weeks ago and they weren’t wrong. The fish in the pond were not cruising the edges like they normally do. Instead, they were hunkering down deep and resting. At day break and dusk, they became very active for a short window coming up from the bottom and cruising around looking for anything to eat on the surface. Peter had told us that he fed the trout the day before but for some reason, the fish weren’t blitzing the food. We discovered that the pellets were sinking and concentrating at the outlet of the lake. We had some great action using Squirmy Worms, Brown Mop Flies and subsurface pellet flies on indicators. I guess sometimes they feel like a nut and sometimes they dont. For a couple hours on Saturday, I noticed fins in a foot of water on the shoreline next to the outlet. I rowed Steve over to the outlet and he started pounding the fish landing 4 of the biggest trout of his life. It was great fun.
The fish were in good shape -fat and great fins- but the cold water made them a bit sluggish. Steve caught one fish from the bank that jumped 4 feet into the air but that fish was not the normal. We ended up catching 10-15 fish between us each day of fishing but we farmed a few as well. We definitely enjoyed catching the first trout of 2022 like this.