This 2019 LTFF Intermediate Class fish-out for Striped Bass on O'Neill Forebay is scheduled for 7:00AM -- 5:00PM on Saturday, September 28. The O'Neill Forebay is in the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area (SRA) on CA Hwy 152 just over Pacheco Pass.
The limited spots in this Sept. 28 fish-out is initially reserved for 2019 registered "Learn to Fly Fish" (LTFF) Intermediate Students ONLY -- unless specifically announced otherwise by the LTFF Program Director John Murphy.
Registration will be limited to 6 students. Anyone registering for this O'Neill Striper fish-out is strongly encouraged to have attended the free Striper Clinic on Thursday evening, September 12, 2019, in the Anglers Lodge that will have served as the pre-meeting for this fish-out. Come to the Striper Clinic to learn what flies work best and other valuable info about gear and techniques.
Students must bring their own (or rented or borrowed) personal watercraft for this fish-out. There are not any local rental shops that we know of in the vicinity of O'Neill Forebay. Also, all personal watercraft and wading equipment must be CLEAN and absolutely DRY. They will be inspected by a park ranger there before being allowed to be used in these waters. This includes your waders, boots, fins, paddles, PFD's, etc. -- anything that may come in contact with the water.
Located in the Central Valley within the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area just below the reservoir dam, the O'Neill Forebay (like the reservoir behind the dam) can be exposed to very strong winds blowing down off the hills -- in which case it will be closed to all watercraft and this fish-out could be cut short or cancelled on short notice (there is little point in fly fishing from the shore in high winds). If it has to be cancelled beforehand due to forecasted weather reasons (for which you will be notified by either of the two mentors), all registrations fees will be refunded.
The entrance to this Forebay (which is just below the dam since it happens to also be an Afterbay) is on the north side of Hwy CA-152E when driving east from Gilroy over the Pacheco Pass (before you get to Los Banos). Although this one-day fish-out will officially end at 5:00pm, you also have the option of staying until almost sunset that evening (when the action can be very productive if the wind cooperates) and fishing with others in the group or independently. But all watercraft must be off the water at sunset or face a fine from the park rangers.
This is a wonderful Striped Bass fishery, with a great many fish in the "schoolie" size of 13" to 16" making high numbers of landed fish possible. Even though the fish in this O'Neill Forebay and the main reservoir are a land-locked sub-species of Striped Bass, this reservoir also holds the record for the largest Striped Bass caught in California.
Bill Scharninghausen will mentor this LTFF fish-out. As an extremely experienced Northern California angler, Bill also mentors our LTFF Surf outing each year.
Meet spot: We will meet up with Bill at 7:00am just inside the Forebay park entrance (off to the right) where all watercraft, waders, boots, and fins will be inspected by a park ranger for invasive species (again, be sure that ALL gear is clean and totally DRY! Any damp gear will be cause for rejecting your boating permit.) Those expecting to fish for two days or leaving the SRA for any reasons will need to have their gear bundled and tagged by the ranger at the end of the first day or before driving out of the gate.
Safety: Use of your own personal watercraft will be required for this fish-out, and wearing a PFD on the water will be mandatory. Personal watercraft can be float tubes or Watermasters (either of these work best), pontoon boats, or kayaks. The Forebay can be quite windy so a good anchor may be helpful if you need to stay put while changing flies or rigging. Under no circumstances however should you try to rely on your anchor to hold your position more than momentarily. Seek refuge on the shore, and not at anchor, in any marginal wind. There is also a wind warning light system controlling watercraft access on the forebay. For info about this system go to: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=558
Gear required: A float tube or pontoon boat; chest waders; at least one wading belt; a PFD (to be worn at all times on this water); a 7-9wt fly rod; fast sinking shooting heads such as Type 6 or T-14 (Bill prefers to use an integrated shooting head of 250-300 grains on a 7wt rod); 15-20# nylon tippet; clousers or other striper flies; stripping fingers, stripping glove, or stretchy tape for this purpose; forceps or pliers; nippers; your own lunch and drinks; sunglasses; and finally, rain and sun protection for on the water, including a hat with straps or a buff to secure a billed hat. You don't need a lot of gear or flies, so keep it simple.
Camping / Lodging: If you don't want to make such a long day of driving, fishing, and driving home afterward, there are options for both camping in the rec area itself and staying in local motels. For more info about the rec area, especially the two campgrounds on O'Neill Forebay (San Luis Creek Campground which is reservable, and Medeiros Primitive Campground which is on a first-come basis only and not quite as convenient).
Students shall make their own arrangements for staying overnight on Friday or Saturday nights. To make a reservation for San Luis Creek Campground, go to: https://www.reservecalifornia.com/CaliforniaWebHome/Facilities/AdvanceSearch.aspx
Note: We discovered last year that you could no longer choose your camp site online. If that is the case again this year, the camp host at the San Luis Creek Campground (or at the SRA gate) may be assigning camp sites upon your arrival.
There is at least three motel options (including a couple Motel 6's) no more than 4 miles east of the SRA but before Los Banos (near the I-5/ CA-152 interchange), but many more options in Gustine and further east in Los Banos. Google for "Hotels near San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area".
The registration fee for this fish-out is $75.00, which includes a few sample flies, but does NOT include any gratuity, meals, the rec area access fee / daily boating permit, camping fee, or other lodging cost.
For more information, contact:
John Murphy 650-799-1695 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Scharninghausen 415-203-5819 email@example.com