Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Los Padres Rainbows

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cold Creek

Got out to a rather infamous crick on the way back from Mammoth this weekend. I figures I wouldn't have another chance to feesh this place anytime soon, so despite the cold and snow I gave it a whirl.
Usually I don't mention all the times I head out and DON'T catch fish on here, actually I never do, until now anyway. Yea, I got completely dominated by this not-so hot creek. It was real cold to me on this bluebird day. Hiking through the snow, which was a couple feet deep in spots, was worth it though. The peace of the stream buffered by all the white stuff was beautiful. Worked downstream with streamers for the first hour or so, without any action at all. After turning to work back upstream I saw some midges hatching sporadically and quickly dying, falling to their graves atop the white powder. I tied on a #20 midge to 6x, but it was fruitless. I saw one fish rise right next to my fly, but not on it. Time to get real and buy some 7x.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail...

The creek; I was the only one there.

Mount Williamson et al

Pretty much the coolest thing I saw was this little deer come up about 25 feet from me on the opposite bank, give me a sniff and long eyeballing, then just walk into the middle of the creek and start chowing down on creek weeds.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October in Oregon

For the second year in a row I made it up to southern Oregon for a church convention. This year, unlike the last, fall didn't arrive early. Las year it even snowed one day, while this year it was about 80 or more and sunny everyday. The contrast didn't stop there. Last year tried to fish a few pieces of water here and there sporadically, but didn't catch a fish. This year I was able to spend some solid time after the convention and focus on some trout water that was basically an organic soup of aquatic life.

The first time we made it out to the water we almost ended up back in CA, lost on an old logging road. We gained our bearings and found some water and a few fish.
They started out like this on the lower piece of the river, the pheasant tail was the ticket.
This guy put up a healthy fight and I was glad to see a fish with a bit more size. In all we worked this piece for 45 minutes and caught maybe six fish between two of us, John on spinners, all of mine on pheasant tail.
I think this is a mahogony dun, they were hatching off the lake almost every day.

Our first full day afterward we decided to fish a section of the river that was rumored to be good, and it was, definitely the most delicious piece of organic soup of aquatic life I have ever tasted, seen, heard, smelt, or felt.
The place was treacherous, yet glorious.
Wading, at first, was not on the agenda due to the fast current and the murky water. That didn't last long. I had fallen in and contused my shins in no time. Wading was not fun. Dirty, stinky, like walking in the dark, almost. The rocks were huge, small, unpredictable, and everywhere. They had moss growing all over them, and some other aquatic plant. The reads and grasses were 4 feet tall, the banks ridiculously overgrown.
I lost tons of flies.
I lost giant trout.
But from the jaws of defeat we snatched plenty of victories and we ended up catching some serious fish.

The average fish was easily sixteen inches, with a couple pushing twenty inches. They were brutes. Their diet consisted of, no doubt, everything from insects, to baitfish, to six inch crayfish.

Danielle, with a nice fattie

Al's first fish on the fly. This fatso was probably twenty inches, didn't measure him, but he was as long as my forearm and that is 19 ...unbelievable that this was his first fish on the fly, he can only go down from here. (although it was on a streamer...)
There were some big rapids, nice seems.
A slightly below average sized trout, but not too bad to look at.

After we had our fill of fishing this amazing river we ate our packed sandwiches and had some coldbeers and went to look at some other area streams.
They looked good, but only produced one more fish.

This crystal river comes right out of the ground just a few hundred yards upstream from here.

This was a real nice piece of water, meandering back and forth real gentle. But, we missed the hopper activity, it seems.

Al, the trout wrangler.
The last day up there was not to be wasted; I had a flight back to CA at 5 so figured it was a good call to make the most of the morning on my new favorite organic soup of aquatic life.
At the last minute, the most interesting Steve in the world decided to join me for some fish slaying.
It was epic.
Two and a half hours of epic.
Dizzying really. Not sure how many fish I lost or caught, it was non stop action, almost equal parts triumph and heartbreak.
Just little porkers, everywhere.

I lost even more big fish this time, and it stung a bit, but really not sure what I would or could do differently. They broke me off going under rocks or right out into the main channel or straight down stream, especially hard to deal with considering the overgrown banks complete with giant boulders which needed to be climbed or rock hopped.

The october caddis and stoneflies in black and brown were working just fine.

...but next time I might need to bring some orange crayfish patterns in about size 0...

This freak hit the october caddis, absolutely thrilling, completely unexpected considering the hatch hadn't started (it was only about 1 pm)


The most interesting Steve in the world caught and released who knows how many fish like this...using mepps spinners.

Sunrise over the lake.

October in southern Oregon?

I highly recommend it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Made it up to Yo recently with a hearty group of adventurers. It was my first time there and it was hard to not just sit and stare at El Cap losing all sense of time

An atypical view of El capitan.

There is a river, in the valley....What a place!

Got onto the water nice n' early one day and proceeded to have about 3 hours of about the best trout fishing I could imagine. They were hitting everything, yellow stimis on the surface and big PTs about 2 feet deep, it was like a dream.

Personal best rainbow trout. Took the stimi on the surface like a freight train with reckless abondon, there were yellow jackets and bees all over around this hole and maybe he had been feeding on them before I got my fly in his lane. Thought I was going to lose him a few times, glad I didn't


After the water started to warm i figured it was time to give the fish a break, so went for a snorkel in the water and got some cool underwater shots/video. Snorkeling is like the discovery channel, except way better

After lunch, as the sun started to drop behind the ridges and the water began to cool, we fished further upstream and had fun with equal parts bouldering/rock climbing plus fishing.

Lots of juicy critters fer eatin...yellow stoneflie larvae I think

Yosemite Valley

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

High in the Sierras

Since moving back to the Goldenstate there's one destination in particular that I'd been itching to get to: the Sierra Nevada mountains and its cool, clear streams. But, with the incredible snow year that they had up there I kept postponing joy for fear of being taken prisoner by the angry rivers. By the time Independence Day came around it was decided to get up there somewhere. A posse was formed, the details were settled, and the fish hunt was about to begin....but first I had to drive through LA and then the San Joaq valley....the valley, for as bad a rap as it gets, was like paradise comparaed to the gnarly grip of the holiday weekend LA traffic

Somwehere north of Bakersfield.

We made it up the mountain and set up camp at almost 8000 feet. The weather was crisp, dry, and calm, a great weekend was ahead of us.

There were substantial drifts of snow in the shade at the beginning of the hike down to the rivers

We passed some beautiful meadows like this

And some very strange flowers that grew in unexpected places

We made it down the mountain into the river valley and proceeded to pick out a campsite and make undt river cooler for our frosty beverages

This is a deep run on the feeder stream we camped next to; it was running pretty high and crossing/wading was not easy or safe, but that didn't matter too much at this point, we were all pretty stoked

Poop, from unknown wild beast

This was a suhweet looking deep run on the main river that I scouted the first day but did not fish; I was sure it would produce some good fish.

There were all sorts of flowers and the forest was real open, it was nice not to have to do a lot of bushwhacking. It was also a lot easier to get our bearings when we were exploring.

The next day started fishing about 7 and had high hopes. The water being pretty high and fast I was fishing hares ear and lightning bug nymphs deep under an indicator, starting at the deep run pictured above. It was slow going, and I didn't land any fish for the first hour or so. As the temperatures warmed and I made my way upstream I shifted to a dry dropper setup and started producing small fish like the one above on the current seams. These fish fought SO HARD that I quickly abandoned the dropper for just a dry fly because they were thrashing incessantly, tangling themselves in the line to my dropper. It was a curious, as high as the water was I only caught one or two fish on nymphs; dries fished on the seems and eddies would prove to be the ticket.

Further upstream we started getting into bigger fish, the royal coachman was consistently bringing risers in almost every pool.
Right before catching this guy I went for a swim in a deep run. Slipping on some rocks right into the main flow I kept my cool and let the river take me for a bit of a ride and then swam/crawled to the opposite bank. As I drifted, I saw 16 plus inch beast of a trout that had been holding up at the bottom of the run lazily swim up to the top of the pool to likely take cover in the whitewater. As cold and wet as I was, it was pretty rad to see that large healthy trout were cruising the depths of the stream

The fish like this fella kept coming; it was one of the most enjoyable mornings I've had fly fishing. I was using my new 6'6" full flex rod, and each of these fish fought like bandits.

Mr. Trout

We headed back to camp to get some grub and shade then headed up the stream we had camped next to. There were lots of fish like the guy above, nothing too big, but fun and it was a beautiful stream.

Parts of the stream were wide and shallow with a solid granite bottom, scoured out here and there with steps every so often.

When I came to the above spot I thought it looked good, as there was a pretty significant bend and the seam looked promising. I proceeded to wade to the position above and found the fish, to my dismay, to be right in front of me about 15 feet away, holding in about 18 inches of water! There was a whole pod of fish, two of which were over 16 inches and FAT. I was not expecting to see fish like this on this creek, but there they were. I was pretty stealth and managed to only scare them once. I must have fished this spot for an hour, trying nearly everything in my fly box; midge pupae, hares ear, copper john, san juans, pheasant tail, dries like BWO, adams, etc.
After all that proved fruitless I moved up to the top of the run and fished it downstream with an assortment of streamers and nothing. It was frustrating, but it helped me remember that I have A LOT to learn.

The rocks at the confluence, pretty cool sight as the sun set.

The stream cutting through the granite, pretty spectacular

On our way back to camp after turning around near the falls we started seeing the biggest mayflies (green drakes I think) coming off. They were about size 14s! I've never seen mayflies come off like this in person, not this big. I got excited, thinking I could get into the bigger fish I had spotted earlier; we put on the olive adams dries, stealthily approaching the spot I had come to earlier. I had some really quality drifts, but nothing. The bugs were coming off, but if they were feeding on them, it wasn't on the surface. It made me realize, again, what neophyte I am: I have so many holes in my fly collection, both dries and nymphs, but especially emergers.

The posse back at camp making feesh tacos, telling stories, resting our feet and enjoying the freedom that comes with living in the USA

Another interesting flower, it was like spring up there

The hike back the next day was pretty strenuous. We managed to make a wrong turn on the trail and proceeded to make our own way through the open terrain, rather than backtracking. The 6 mile hike stretched out a little longer, and the 1280 or so feet we went up in the last 3 miles was tough, but the meadow up top kept me focused on last spot to fish before the trip was through

The stream was an amazing habitat, downed logs all over the place, undercut banks, deep, unusual pools; I caught a few fish this size but wouldn't be surprised if there are some bigger fish in the prime spots.

Almost Paradise Meadow, last stop on the trail. Hustled back to the car and it was back to civilization and a big cheeeeburger at a haunted inn.

Driving through Bakersfield, I saw a street sign that was calling Ol Merle to come back to his hometown.

It was time for me to go back home, to work, to reality, but I was already day dreaming about the streams I had been to, they were already calling me back. They still are.