Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art: Blog http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog en-us (C) Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art marcel@sieglephoto.com (Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art) Mon, 11 Sep 2017 05:54:00 GMT Mon, 11 Sep 2017 05:54:00 GMT http://flyfishingjunkie.com/img/s9/v90/u593748225-o157740278-50.jpg Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art: Blog http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog 93 120 Mel Krieger – The Lost Interview http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog/2017/9/Mel-Krieger-The-Lost-Interview Mel and Fanny Krieger
In 2008 Fly fishing instructor and legend Mel Krieger passed away. Mel was an exceptional caster and fly fishing instructor and was the face of fly fishing for many years. In the 90s when I was still living in San Francisco, Mel was a regular at the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club.  I had the honor of interviewing Mel and meet his lovely wife Fanny. He was also one of the last people I photographed using film. 



Mel-Krieger

FFJ: It was great today seeing you again in action. How many people do you think you’ve taught fly-casting throughout your career, any idea? 

MK: I couldn’t begin to tell you, but it has been thousands. 

FFJ: How long have you been doing this now?

  MK: About 30 years. I first started teaching in the Fenwick schools. For a while the Fenwick Rod Company was one of the first companies ever to set up fly fishing schools throughout the country and Fenwick actually appointed different people to run the schools. I did the schools on the West Coast, Gary Borger did them in the Midwest, and another man did them on the East Coast. I did all these weekend schools while I worked at other things. And got more and more involved in teaching, started writing a bit and then Fenwick lost their power in the marketplace. At one time Fenwick ruled the fly fishing market. I mean if you didn’t have a Fenwick rod  . . . I mean people laughed at you. If you had a Winston bamboo you were the odd one in a crowd. And then what happened is that Winston started making a good glass rods as well. In those days Fenwick did a really wonderful thing . . . I mean we had schools almost in every state of the union and they were full, but nobody was really promoting fly-fishing schools. So we got into it. 

FFJ: What did you do before fly-fishing? 

MK: Well, I was a sales manager for a refrigeration company, mainly involved in sales. Then I opened up a small business, a travel agency, and we opened up a visa service.

FFJ: What kind of service?

MK: A visa service, we got visa’s for people traveling outside the United States because San Francisco is a center for the consular corps. So that earned me enough income so I had a little more time to start doing more teaching, more fishing. I started traveling and taking groups with me. I discovered that I was pretty a good analyst and I started reading on fly-casting and what not. 

I discovered that the tournament casters were much more sophisticated than all the fishing writers were in terms of fly casting, and much of the fly casting information was the kind of stuff that was passed on from generation to generation. It wasn’t really up to snuff with modem fly casting, so with that in mind I started writing a little bit and exploring. The best information I got on fly-casting at that time was from a tournament caster in England, who wrote a pretty good book on casting. He was heavily involved in tournament casting.

FFJ: How long ago was that? 

MK: That was about 25 years ago, I mean after I had been into it for 4 or 5 years. I read all the books on fly casting, weren’t that many. I learned that it wasn’t a very sophisticated thing and nobody had written down the real mechanics of fly-casting. That’s when I started writing and I got a little recognition.  Fenwick dropped out of the picture, they stopped the schools. Gary Borger and I continued to do our schools . So we did our own schools, and I kind of adapted them to myself and they became reasonably popular and that’s the story of my fly fishing life. With my travel agency I started traveling and taking groups fly-fishing in various places in the world. Now in my travels I do clinics in Japan, Argentina, and I am going to do some clinics in France, England, and I have done a whole bunch of them in Italy, everywhere. 

FFJ: When did you meet Fanny (Mel’s wife)?

MK: I met Fanny in Houston, TX some 42 or 44 years ago. And we married 41 years ago. While I was picking up on fly-fishing Fanny was not very involved at that time. We have two kids, and while they were growing up Fanny and the kids came with me to a casting school in Squaw Valley or Southern California, or what have you, and they would go swimming in the motel swimming pool and sometimes they would piddle with the casting, really not involved at all. When the kids left home, they went off to college, Fanny didn’t want to be left at home since she loves traveling. . .  so she started casting. And although she is really not an outdoors kind of person, she is not athletic, in the sense of being a tennis player or golfer, she came out here (Golden Gate Fly Fishing Club) while I was gone for a long trip. And she really worked hard at it for about a month and became reasonably confident as a caster and now I must tell you if we go up north and I go fishing, Fanny spends more time on the water than I do, she loves it and really, really enjoys fishing! 

FFJ: Are you competitive when you fish? 

MK: No!

FFJ: Do you still fish in California a lot? 

MK: Yes, I have a little place up in Northern California on a small stream and I got an old trailer and we made a kind of a cabin out of it and that’s kind of my little church. I go up there and do some writing.  I do a little fiddling with my casting and a little fishing. When we go up there Fanny fishes, while I almost take a break from fishing.

FFJ: What’s your favorite river in California if there is such a thing? 

MK: That’s a hard question it’s probably that little private stream that I located.

FFJ: How do you think fishing compares to fishing 20-30 years ago? 

MK: I am not really a good judge of that. I actually took up fly fishing 35 years ago and at that time I didn’t really have very much experience. From what I can gather a love of fishing has gone down a little bit, more industrialization, more people on the river, more utility of the water, etc. But I also know that in recent years some of the rivers have come back stronger than they were before . . . like the upper Sacramento and some rivers in Montana. I think that right now there’s lots more fishing than there was 20-30 years ago with the advent of salt water fishing. It has been a real good jump on fly-fishing. And in some areas because of the validity of a commercial enterprise it is more advantageous to keep clean water and have good fishing that it is to siphon the water off for raising alfalfa. That’s obvious in Canada, in Canada and in Iceland they stopped a great deal of the commercial fishing because their fish is worth infinitely more as a sport fish than can be caught 5 or 6 or 8 times compared to being caught once and killed and sold as meat. So some of those countries are beginning to recognize the economic value of sport fishing. Of course the bad side of that is, that some of the best fishing is very expensive. So it is all for the people with money but there are some wonderfully good fishing areas that are developing . . . and I see more.  I don’t really have a bad outlook on the potential for water. I think we’ve got a good chance for it. If we can curb the population growth a little better I think fly-fishing has a lot of room to grow. 

FFJ: In the time you have been fly fishing, what in your opinion has changed the sport the most?

MK: Catch and release. I think that it was brought on as a conservation measure and its proven valid . . . it has really helped some rivers . . .  it doesn’t help all the rivers. 

But that’s not the real impact. The real impact in our sport is the philosophical, the idea that we “go out” and release fish. Suddenly instead of a blood sport where you count the numbers, instead of playing golf where you have to have numbers, instead of tennis where you have to have a competition across the net, suddenly we have a sport with no reward. You don’t tell people how many fish you caught. You don’t need to catch any fish; we’re strictly relying on the experience. I mean even a mountain climber has got a summit. We don’t have anything. And its an unbelievable concept. As a result women are jumping into our sport in unbelievable numbers. If women get involved in it we have got a family oriented thing we’ve got kids getting involved in it. I see fly fishing as being one of those sleeping giants that are beneath the soil and I think one day its going to explode. If catch and release has done a tremendous amount in that area, even in areas where catch and release doesn’t make any sense, because they have got too many fish in the rivers and biologists even encourage people to keep fish, even there fly fisherman release fish. 

Some of us fly fisherman can’t conceive of killing a fish, you know its changed the sport dramatically. The only place it hasn’t changed is England, which it sitting on its laurels of 500 years ago. But even there it’s starting to happen. Iceland is one of the great salmon fisheries in the world and they have catch and release in many of their rivers. You pay $8000 a week to fish there and you can’t keep the fish on some of these rivers. You will have fly fisherman who won’t go to rivers where fish are maimed and killed. It is a revolutionary concept.

FFJ:  If fly fishing is becoming so popular we are going to have many people on the rivers. Do you think that there is a danger that we are going to love our sport to death?

MK: There is a little danger of that, I think, but I think we are a long way removed from that. Salt-water fly fishing has really taken off for example. Bonefish which is a great sport fish, is the rat of the ocean, its everywhere, and we probably exploit a 20th of all the bone fish that’s available in the South Pacific. We probably exploit a 10th of all that’s in the Caribbean. We haven’t begun to explore all the other species that are untouched. Black Bass, that never really quite hit home and it’s one of my favorite things to do of all. So I think there is that danger, but I think we are a long way removed from that . . . I really do. 

FFJ: Do you have any hobbies? 

MK: Yes, through the years I have had a lot of hobbies. I have been involved in a lot of games. I’ve been a tennis player, and a handball player, and I’ve done it all. I have taken up golf in the last couple of years. I took up golf for two reasons, first because it’s kind of fun to learn a new sport and second because of my interest in understanding communication and teaching. I figure that golf is a much more sophisticated sport than fly-fishing, in that there are many more people, it’s a much more studied game. There are the huge prizes and people are really analyzing it to death and I thought that maybe I could learn some communication skills or instructional skills. And I think they’re interesting. Right now I’ve probably gone through a dozen books, I have had lessons from three professionals, I subscribe to magazines, and I am really trying to learn the game. So far I have found that it’s every bit as convoluted as our instruction and it’s confusing, I have an advantage in that I understand some of the mechanical aspects of the game. So it has been very intriguing for me. 

FFJ: I am not going to ask you about your favorite fish, that doesn’t seem to make sense now-a-days anyway . . . 

MK:  . . . you can ask me about my favorite fish, I mean I really do fish for bass and steelhead and salmon, Pacific salmon, Atlantic salmon, fishing in Argentina, trout fishing everywhere. I really do have a hugely varied fly fishing background. I have caught various salt-water fish, all of them have an excitement and intrigue. I fish for Bonefish . . .  stepping out of the boat and fly fishing in water that is knee deep, crystal clear, and its warm. You don’t have to wear the rubber boots you know, you wade around in the shallow water, like walking around in the shallow aquarium, it’s a wonderful, neat thing hunting those fish. But if I had to pick one fish . . . fortunately I don’t  . . ., but if l did have to pick one fish, there is no question that to me the trout would be on the top of the list. The trout is everything from a macho pulling a big streamer through the water, to the chess game of matching the hatch. Trout fishing to me has got to be the most intriguing, even though they are not the strongest fish. 

FFJ: One last question, a hypothetical one . . .  we are going on a trout stream and I only let you take four flies, 2 dries and 2 wets . . . 

MK: . . . . are you thinking of in terms of efficiency?

FFJ:  . . . efficiency, like how they do it in golf. When I used to play we sometimes only took 3 clubs to play nine holes. So I would pick a 7 iron, a putter and sand wedge for example. 

MK: I would probably choose a humpie, the original the homer. . .  invented by Jan Homer. I would probably pick a homer, and probably an Adams . . .  if I had to choose. And then for the nymphs . . . I’d probably pick a Sawyers pheasant tail;  and there used to be a zugbug, but now I would probably choose a prince . . .  it would be the most effective all purpose fly that I can imagine. 

FFJ: Thank you very much it was a true pleasure

 

Mel passed away at his home in San Francisco, on October 7, 2008, at the age of 80, he is truly missed. 

Mel Krieger teaching a class
 

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marcel@sieglephoto.com (Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art) fishing fly instructor interviews krieger mel http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog/2017/9/Mel-Krieger-The-Lost-Interview Mon, 11 Sep 2017 05:53:50 GMT
Hat Creek Ranch http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog/2010/4/Hat-Creek-Ranch

hat creek

View of Hat Creek

Spring break was rapidly approaching and my wife and I were desperately trying to find something fun to do with the kids. We hadn’t had a vacation for close to two years, being freelance photographers, with two kids, it is always hard for us to coordinate anything long term especially in the summer months. It also happened that the kids spring break fell right around my birthday week (yes we celebrate birthdays for a week in our little family), so it became clear we needed to find a place that was kid friendly and had some fly fishing in the off season. I called my friends at The Fly Shop in Redding to see if they had any suggestions and they just had the perfect place for us, Hat Creek Ranch near Burney, CA. While Hat Creek was still closed for fishing for the season, the Ranch itself had three private trout ponds that were open all year.  Needless to say it didn’t take much arm twisting to convince us to jump on it.

What makes Hat Creek Ranch so perfect for families is its location.  Burney Falls and Lassen Volcanic National Park are near by and are a must visit, but there are many other scenic places you can discover.  And there is of course some great fly fishing in the area, including the lower blue ribbon section of Hat Creek, the Fall River and the Pit River. Even in the off season there is still some great fly fishing to be had, the Pit River and Baum Lake are open all year.

 

View of the valley

The Ranch is about an hours drive east of Redding, past Burney, and wasn’t hard to find. When we got there we were immediately enchanted. I always try to keep expectations low, just in case, but as soon as we entered the property all of us lit up. It got even better when we saw the interior of the cabin. The cabin was just perfect, a loft with four beds and a separate master bedroom gave us plenty of space. There was a fully functional kitchen and a great breakfast nook with view of Hat Creek. The living room was cozy and the whole place was decorated with a lot of love. We soon ran into the owners Becky and Craig, who were sharing a large hammock, enjoying the afternoon sun. Craig gave us a quick run through and let us know that the John Deer Gator parked in

front of the cabin was ours to use.  Knowing that we had a storm system moving in within a couple of days, we decided not to waste any time and immediately took the John Deer for a spin to check out our surroundings. The ranch is about 300 Acres and is situated in a volcanic valley. You can still see the remains of it’s once violent volcanic past, with lava flows and dormant volcanoes surrounding the ranch.  In addition to having three ponds, the ranch also has half a mile of Hat Creek flowing through it, which offers some challenging rainbow and brown trout fishing in the summer time.

fly fishing with kids

My son fighting a nice trout

Craig had told us that the larger pond, called Reservoir was fishing well. The pond was stocked with large, willing rainbows who hadn’t seen much action. After touring the property we took our truck with all the fishing gear up to Reservoir.  We fished mainly dry flies with a small midge droppers. Knowing that the fish weren’t very selective yet, I opted for a buggy caddis dry fly that floated well and was very visible. To our enjoyment the trout were more attracted to the dry, rather than the midge dropper, which made for some great raises. I must say the trout were quite beautiful and healthy . . . oh and big!

Hat Creek Trout

One of the many trout caught at Reservoir

The trout would cruise the edges of the pond and a well placed fly would immediately get their attention, nothing like sight fishing for willing trout 😉 Needless to say that after catching countless fish we called it a day and went back to the cabin. When fishing with kids I always think it is best not to overdo it and concentrate on the kids.  My kids enjoy fishing, but they are not “junkies” like me!

While the kids were having a snack at the cabin I checked out the “New Pond” which is located just a two minute walk from the cabin. The New Pond is actually connected to Hat Creek and was a lot more challenging than Reservoir. This was the “grown up” pond for sure, and while most of the fish I saw were smaller, they seemed to be a lot smarter.

New pond

New Pond

I soon realized that the 4X setup I used at Reservoir was not going to cut it. These fish were wild, and they weren’t going to go for some “out of place caddis” with a bead head midge attached to it. New Pond was a challenge, and while I didn’t fish it super hard, I must say that it got the better of me. Switching to 6X and some very small midge patterns (dry and wet) I was able to hook several nice fish, but I never brought any to hand.

raise

Big rise at New Pond, someone get that guy for me

On the second day we decided to stay on the Ranch and take the John Deer up some of the trails and go for a little hike. We enjoyed the view of the valley and imagined how the area must have looked when the Volcanos were still active.

After our hike I wanted to make sure we still got a little fishing in. In the summer time Shasta County enjoys overall good weather, during the off season on the other hand, the weather can change drastically. We knew in advance that we had a storm system coming in and had planned accordingly. Winds were picking up and I was glad that we had taken my son’s spinning rod along. One thing fly fishermen often forget is how hard fly fishing actually is for novices, and how much harder it is for kids, especially during windy conditions. It is easy to set up a spinning rod with a “split-shot wooly bugger rig”, which makes it easier and less dangerous to cast a fly during windy conditions.  Using the rig Aiden actually out-fished his old man, I swear he seemed a couple of inches taller that day. While Aiden and I were fishing,  my daughter and my wife went with Becky to groom the two horses on the property.

Horse and Girl

Making friends

Becky made an exception and let my daughter ride Penny, since she rides English saddle and is almost as crazy about horses as I am about fly fishing. I think the day couldn’t have been any more perfect. We ended the day with a great BBQ and invited Becky and Craig to join us. Some awesome pinot noire and a lot of s”mores ended the day on a high note.

The next day the storm we had been expecting hit, the winds were gusting at 45 mph and it started raining. Pond fishing became almost impossible. The kids and my wife were content in the cozy cabin, which allowed me  to sneak out to fish the Pit for a few hours. Being in the canyon of the Pit, I actually got out of the wind and had some decent fishing. The Pit is a free stone river with big boulders and fast moving water. A wading staff and some strong legs are highly recommended. I actually don’t use a wading staff and took a good tumble, to my surprise, I didn’t hurt myself and kept dry, how, is still a mystery to me. There were caddis flies everywhere, nevertheless the fish were hitting Copper Johns and PTs. The fishing was actually fairly good and just a few hours on the river gave me my desperately needed off-season wild trout fix. The family took advantage of our cozy “home away from home” cabin, played board games and watched old westerns.

The next day it was time to leave. We woke up to some light snow fall, unfortunately the snow didn’t stick, but it was a pretty sight nevertheless. Craig and Becky sent us on our way with a bag of some homemade popcorn.

snow

Snow

The wonderful memories from this trip will stay with us for a long time and we hope to be back soon.

 

 

 

 

Here are some tips when visiting Hat Creek Ranch.

For information on Hat Creek Ranch visit: http://www.theflyshop.com/adventures/hat_creek.htm

Hat Creek Ranch is the perfect place to take your family and spend some quality time with them while enjoying some fly fishing. But even for the hardcore fly fishing junkie the ranch offers some challenging water. In addition the Lassen/Shasta region also offers some great additional waters to get your fix.

When fishing the creek, try to stay out of the water as much as you can to protect the habitat. Hat Creek is a sensitive spring creek, the upper reaches of the creek are not that wide, so wading isn’t really necessary.  There are some willows, knowing how to make a good roll cast will increase your success.

There are three lakes on the property. We only fished two of them. They offer different levels of sophistication. Trout will get more wary as the year progresses, a subtle presentation and fine tippet will help your success rate.

Bring a net, I forgot mine, which put unnecessary stress on the fish. Revive the fish if you take pictures.

When fishing with kids always make them where glasses and make sure the hooks are totally debarbed.

There is some great wild life viewing to be had so bring binoculars. There are some Bald and Golden Eagles on the property. We also saw Otters and at night you might run into some Beavers. There are also coyote, fox and bears in the area.

If you go with the family and don’t know the area plan for some half day trips. Lassen National Park is only 40 minutes away, but there are a lot of great places to visit.

If you want to check out some other water while staying at the ranch there are many great rivers and lakes close by. Rivers to fish are the Pit, Hat Creek and the Fall (requires a boat). But there are also smaller creeks in the area that offer some great fly fishing, such as Lost Creek and Burney Creek. Great lakes to fish is Manzanita Lake in Lassen National Park, about a 40 minute drive and Baum Lake which is only 10 minutes away.

If you come in the off season Baum Lake and the Pit offer great fishing and are open all year. Always check with The Fly Shop for the latest fishing reports and conditions.

Hat Creek Ranch has all the amenities, stove, refrigerator, coffee machine, small dish washer, BBQ and washing machine are all provided. Only thing you need to bring is the food and drinks. Bedding is provided, but you will be required to wash the sheets when you leave, so if you like to spend more time on the water I highly recommend bringing sleeping bags.  Burney has a couple of supermarkets, but if you want to have more choice I recommend stocking up in Redding.

Wet flies: Damsel flies, Midge patterns, Pheasant Tales, Black Wooly Bugger, Copper Johns

Dry Flies: Parachute Adam, #14-20,Callibaetis Spinner, #16 ,Callibaetis Cripple, #14-16, PMDs
Tricos, Elk Hair Caddis, #14-18, Midge patterns, some Cripple pattern

You can find out more about equipment and fly fish selections here: http://www.theflyshop.com/adventures/hat_creek_equip.html

Disclosure: Marcel occasionally photographs for The Fly Shop. But he was not paid for this review.
Photos © 2010  Meher and Marcel Siegle


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marcel@sieglephoto.com (Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art) recent trip tips & tricks http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog/2010/4/Hat-Creek-Ranch Sat, 10 Apr 2010 11:33:24 GMT
The Mysterious Bottle Nose Trout http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog/2009/3/The-Mysterious-Bottle-Nose-Trout So the other day I took my nephew Max, who was visiting from out of town, on a one-day fishing excursion to Putah Creek. March is not the best time to hit the creek, but we didn’t have many options available to us. Fortunately Max took a long his new camera, which kept this young and aspiring photographer busy, while I re-rigged and retrieved flies out of trees.  In case you’ve never fished Putah creek, it is a very “technical” body of water to fish, with lots of brush, finicky trout and fast water. After exploring different sections of the river in search of a good spot, we did finally find a run that looked promising and hooked up.

I must say that I have caught a lot of strange trout over the years, but this one was a first. My first impression was that this was a new species, or some kind of abomination. The nose of the trout was elongated and rectangular, it looked somewhat like the nose of a porpoise. Did I in fact catch a freak of nature or maybe even a new mutation of trout? After Max took a few pictures, I released the fish in awe, contemplating new names for this species,  “The Cyrano de Bergerac trout, Bottle Nose trout, Porpoise Head ” 

 

 

img_03652
Bottle nos Trout 1

But I knew there had to be an explanation, so I posted the picture on Bono’s Putah Creek Web Forum. Apparently I had caught a “spawned-out male”.  We all know that before they spawn, trout will go through a transformation. Besides changing color, the dominant males form a hooked jaw (aka kype).  But what happens after the spawn? Well the jaw mutates back, and during that process the fish might go through some funny stages.  So in the end I didn’t discover a new species, but I did learn something 😉


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marcel@sieglephoto.com (Marcel Siegle Fly Fishing & Fine Art) i didn't know http://flyfishingjunkie.com/blog/2009/3/The-Mysterious-Bottle-Nose-Trout Thu, 26 Mar 2009 10:04:10 GMT