I had been looking at a certain drainage on the map for a few days last week. My fish-dar was already starting to ping just looking at this place geographically and hydrologically and when I read some old DFG fish sample reports (over a decade old) I decided it would be a worthy spot to explore. This place does not get fished at all from what we saw and depending on your interpretation of the DFG regulations may be closed, it is kind of ambiguous. Either way, we made it up to where the dirt road ran out before 8am Sunday and were hiking upstream shortly after. No one else was there save the CCC bus. The trailblazers were just ahead of us, scaring up the snakes and whatnot. This made things much easier for us.
The stream was about what I expected in terms of size and quality near the trailhead; about 5cfs, averaging 10ft across with wider pools, gravel and bedrock bottom, and a very shallow gradient.
Our map was innaccurate and about 2.5 miles of road we thought we would be able to drive turned into 2.5 miles of extra hiking. This turned out to be a good thing...
As we moved up the trail we passed several private properties, it seemed these were people who just owned their own personal campsites up in the hills as there were not houses, just tents and a small trailer here and there.
After we made it past the scattered private land, we looked down into the creek bed from the trail and saw nothing but dry rocks and gravel and heard nothing but the wind and the birds. The creek was GONE! I quieted myself, and just said well, it must be flowing underground here and pressed ahead, but in my mind I was thinking "THIS IS NOT GOOD".
Pushing ahead another .25 or .5 mile the water was back in the creek channel, but was barely flowing. I looked back down around the creek bend and could see the creek just dissappear into the porous ground, it was pretty cool.
Heading further upstream the water volume started to increase again, back to near trailhead levels and our spirits were UP! We started to see great holes scoured in the rock, downed trees and stumps and I knew we were in business. My first cast yielded a missed strike about 3 miles from the trailhead. The fishdar was pinging like crazy now. The water was absolutely gin clear and cool, approx upper 50s. Casting into the pocket at the elbow in the picture below yielded the first fish of the day; a really interesting rainbow because of it's few black spots on it's head/back. Things only got better from here in terms of the fish's coloring, and, eventually size.
The little torrent.
First of many.
Tight quarters. (about 7ft across, 6-12in deep)
From the here on up the fishing was insane in terms of the number of fish caught. We lost count within the next 30 minutes. Fish as small as 2inches that were probably hatched this year were aggressively striking sz 16 barbless flies. I am not sure I have ever been to a stream that was more teeming with wild, native, fish of so many different size/age classes before. From what I saw, this may be the healthiest stream I have ever fished; it was a staggering number of fish considering the volume of water.
Keep em in the water...
More of the same goodness
This was the first real real honey hole we came upon. The water channeled really deep through the bedrock here and the fish were living the good life.
There were fish holding all along the right edge of the stream as the water had scoured out a perfect little cave for the fish to hang out in, totally protected.
Some more size.
Name that fly!
The sweetest hole we came accross.
EHC size 12 was ready for the closeup.
The best colored fish of the day (wish would have turned out better)
Fishing on up above here was still good, but we were hot on the CCCs trail and they had definitely scared some of the fish with all their clearing can grubbing. We came to one amazing looking pool/bend just before overtaking the CCC and I had this feeling in my gut that this was the spot the king of the creek hung out. I doubled back about 20 yards to make a stealthy cast upstream and to my left so that my fly would land in the riffle just above where the deep hole at the bend was. First cast was decently located and got a big strike, but it was immediately spit. Second cast, after a few seconds of perfect drift a fish absolutely inhaled my fly and I knew it was the king of the fish on this day for me, at least.
After a spirited fight I brought him in and snapped some pictures then sent him on his way.
After passing the CCC crew the trail became completely gnarly. Combine that with the facts that we had a) just seen a rattlesnake, b) caught a ton of fish, c) already hiked way more than we bargained for, and d) the creek was tighter that before and almost unfishable, we decided our day was done and headed back. It was amazing how many more fish we saw on the way back when we weren't fishing. The day was nothing short of epic, to say the least.