Friday, September 2, 2011

August -- 2 trips to Klamath chasing Steelhead

I got up to the Klamath River twice during August with the first trip being documented in this blog. I made it up two weeks later (and two weeks ago) and put 4 hours in at Blake's Riffle. I got on the water at 4:15 and fished hard to 8:15. The trip was eventful for a number of reasons.

One, I took a hiking staff with me into the water. It worked great but I thought I could collapse it and put it inside my waders. As I fished I felt the next best thing close to having a stick "up my rear". It didn't allow me to bend or twist. I then got a good idea to slip it through my wader straps and sit along my back. That worked out great. However, the short time I had the pole in my waders created a LEAK in then, right about hip high ---- aarrgghhh.

Two, I fished everything I had -- fast and slow water versions of the Silver Herniator -- Assassin's, Copper Assassin's, Brindle Bugs, small black Wooly Buggers. Nothing worked. Then, at 6:45, the sun was off the water. At 6:50 my Assassin got smashed by a half pounder and I got it to the net. The next five casts were struck by a fish with no hookups ...... then nothing. A spin fishermen caught a large half pounder, about two pounds, but he wasn't happy because it wasn't an adult (both of my half pounders this year didn't weight 1/4 of the fish he released lol). I stayed on the water for another hour and then left.

I am planning on heading up this Saturday, and hopefully some fish are hanging out around Blake's Riffle. I plan on using a full floating line with a sink tip on it during the day -- to get the fly to the bottom throughout the drift since they haven't been taking regular swings during the daylight hours. Regardless, it will still be fun.

I have posted a picture of the Klamath River that I downloaded from the net. It is of an unclaimed mining area but it looks a little like Blake's Riffle. One has to walk out in shallow water for 75 or so feet to cast out to the deeper water. The golden colored rocks are beautiful but pretty slippery and I find that without a wading staff I almost fall two or three times on the way out to "fishing water". I will get a picture up of Blake's Riffle soon -- my camera is in my car lol.

Take care all,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Herniator (Modified)

It is rare when one can meet the inventor of a a fly that has become a standard for an area. I had that opportunity today when I walked in to the Eureka Fly shop and met Tim Paxton, the inventor of the Herniator fly. The Herniator is a must-have fly for the Klamath River, especially when seeking Steelhead. The Herniator, as I've been told, is great for slow water due to the soft hackle and wing that will move gently in the water. Fast water evidently pushes the hackle and wing into the body.

Tim told me that the commercial versions of his fly will work, but he added an underwing of peacock. He stated that the peacock underwing supports the outer wing while also pulsating in the water to add another level, sound, to the equation of getting a steelhead to strike the fly.

I decided to design a "fast water" version of the Herniator. The three changes I made were: 1) a cone head held perpendicular to the hook with wraps of lead; 2) Tim's original underwing of peacock herl; and 3) grizzly hackle instead partridge. My hope is that: 1) the cone head will get the fly into the correct depth in faster water; 2) the peacock underwing will keep the outer wing off the hook; and 3) the somewhat stiffer and shorter grizzly hackle will act similar to the hackles of other famous steelhead patterns like the Moss Back and Brindle Bug. I will find out tomorrow when I head back up to the Klamath to try to hook some half pounders.

The fly on the left in the picture above is the standard commercial tie of the herniator: 2x hook, silver bead head, peacock metallic ribbon, peacock herl, peacock flashabou, and partridge hackle. As stated above, this tie is for slower water to allow the partridge to pulsate through the drift of the fly.

The fly on the right is my attempt at a fast water version of the Herniator: a 2x hook, silver cone head stabilized with lead wraps, peacock metallic ribbon, peacock herl tied in at the tips, then tied on top to create the underwing made from the stiffer sections of the herl, peacock flashabou, and grizzly hackle tied in the wet fly form.

So, tomorrow, I put the fly to the test. Hopefully a slug of halfpounders will have moved into Blake's Riffle by tomorrow morning. I would love the chance to test the fast water version of the Herniator in addition to my chamois worm fly.

As a final thought, there must be something about highway 299, a road that travels from Eureka to Redding. Tim Paxton of Eureka invented the Herniator in addition to several other patterns and Mike Mercer from Redding has invented many patterns that are the essential standards for the Trinity River (which follows 299) and all types of water found in the West (and I'm sure they will work all around the world).

Tight Lines All

HTC 10b: Steelhead

I tied flies for a day to make a new box of flies for the Klamath River. Hopefully I would run into a pod of half pounders (small steelhead under a couple of pounds -- usually 12 to 20 inches), adult steelhead, and possibly salmon. I tied a dozen each of Assassin's, Copper Assassin's, Moss Back's, Silver Herniators, Copper Herniators, and a Worm Fly that I hoped would work.

I headed up to Blake's Riffle yesterday evening to find only a pair of spin fishermen entering the water. The entire riffle was vacant of fishermen. I went to the top of the riffle and almost fell in several times on my way out into the water. One has to wade out about 60 feet to thigh high water to be able to reach the deeper water and swing your fly through the deep water and into the edge of the riffles.

I entered the water at 4:30 and was fortunate to have a half pounder "suicide hit" my Assassin Fly on the swing at 5:00. It jumped out of the water twice and I was glad I brought my 7 weight rod (all my other rods are at Lewiston Lake). In the fast water the 12 to 14 inch fish made me put in on the reel instead of just stripping the line in by hand. I got it to the net and took the photo above. Again, I'm disappointed in the quality of the picture, but using an inexpensive water proof camera with one hand while a half pounder squirms in the net while standing waist deep in fast water while standing on very, very, slippery rocks: cannot complain too much.

I ended up catching two "quarter pounders", fish about 8 to 10 inches long. One was silver and looked like it just came out of the ocean while the other looked like a juvenile trout that had not left the river. I also caught about 6 "eighth pounders" or 4 to 6 inch fish, probably smolts. It is amazing how hard the smolts hit the fly as it is swinging across the current.

I fished for 3.5 hours, moving down the riffle after 3 or 4 casts at each spot. After an hour I got my footing down and could move down the stream safely. After 3 hours I was getting tired from casting, stripping line back, and moving down the riffle while always making sure that I was stable in the water. I left with about 45 more minutes of possible fishing time -- usually the best time, but for safety I called it a session and drove home.

I plan to give the Klamath River a couple of fishing sessions until my tennis teams have Saturday matches, leaving my Sundays for grading and getting ready for the upcoming week in school. Although I have fished at Blake's Riffle before, this outing had the feeling of a Heritage Trout outing and releasing the healthy juvenile steelhead back into the water was awesome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

HTC 10: The Coastal Rainbow

On the way home from southern California I stopped at Lewiston Lake. I decided to fish the next morning to catch the final fish in the HTC challenge. I was told that Lewiston Lake, part of the historical drainage of the Trinity River, would count as a location for a Coastal Rainbow that would qualify for the HTC.

I headed out at 10 AM (real early for me), and there were many, many midge husks in the water. The Callibaetis Mayflies were hatching, lightly, so I decided to fish midges under an indicator. After two hours moving around the lake I decided to head in. On my way in I saw a fish jumping near the northern corner (farthest from the marina) of the island just across from the Pine Cove Marina. I dropped my anchors and decided to give the area a try.

I can tell that the lake is again being stocked. I actually saw fish in the 14 inch range cruising around my boat. I cast my line into the water along the back side of the island and my flies were attacked on 6 consecutive casts. I hooked 4 and landed 2. Then, as quickly as it started, that spot was done -- no more hits.

I stayed in the area because I could see fish swimming by occasionally. The midges stopped flying by and the Callibaetis appeared to be coming off the water a little better. I changed my top fly to a size 16 flashback PT nymph and my bottom fly to a size 18 tungsten bead zebra midge (from a top burgandy zebra midge and bottom tungsten bead blood midge (both size 18)). Eventually, my line was ripped across the water as the largest fish of the day (approx. 16 inches) smashed the PT nymph and I quickly brought it into the net.

I did take pictures of the first fish caught as the 10th HTC fish of this quest. However, again, my Olympus left me with pictures that were disappointing. However, after looking at pictures taken by my old Nikon Coolpix last year, many of them were also out of focus. I think the problem I'm having is that I'm guessing at the focus as I have an active fish in a net with one hand while trying to take a photo with the other. I also cannot see the digital screen very well because of my poor vision at close range (I'm now one of the old guys who has a set of dollar store reading glasses hanging around my neck lol).

So, I have a picture of yesterday's fish that I could turn in to HTC awards, but it is really out of focus and all one shade of green. The photo above is from July 26 of last year and qualifies for the HTC challenge. I'll send in yesterday's picture to the HTC challenge so my qualifying fish will have all been caught between June 29 and August 2, 2011 -- just for the fun of it.

I'm pretty burned out from the southern California trip and four hours on the lake yesterday without enough water. I'm sure I have material to reflect on this summer's experience. I'm glad I did it, as a personal quest, and catching a Golden Trout in it's native waters has been a life long goal for me, and now it has been done.

More later.......including new tennis courts at Fortuna High, a new tennis season about to start, and my 28th school year. Life is pretty darn good.

HTC 9: The Golden Trout

Saturday 7.30.11

After catching the Kern River Rainbow I took a road trip to find the California Golden Trout. It was a long drive on a poorly marked road that seemed to go on forever, but I made it. I headed down to the stream to find another exposed bank in front of another bathtub sized pool, with water flowing into it and then leaving over a bed of pushed over grasses. I had seen this type of flow before during this challenge. Evidently, the creeks get low sometime during the year, the grasses grow to 2 or 3 feet tall within the stream bed, and then the stream returns and knocks them down.

As with the pool that held the Kern River Rainbows, it was only a foot or two deep, and looked like it might hold one small fish. I threw my fly into the water just as I had at the home of the Kern River Rainbows, and after a few casts had my first Golden Trout, hooked, photographed, and released. Catching a Golden Trout was on my Bucket List, and I had accomplished my goal. I spent another hour at the pool, sucking air because of the altitude, and had a dozen or so rises.

Once again, I dropped the fly into the correct area by mistake. It must have been the hundredth or so time the fly dropped into this pool and I figured any fish over 3 inches would have been put down. However, again, the largest fish in the pool attacked the fly and ended up in my net. Again, I could have spent the entire day in the pool, and a week fishing the creek. The fish were packed into the pool and I'm sure they are found in large densities throughout the creek.

I've heard that the Golden Trout was beautiful and in person it appears to look like a fish not found in nature, but painted by an artist on an acid trip during the 60's. I had a wonderful time searching out this fish and it was an honor to have met them.

HTC 8: The Kern River Rainbow

Saturday 7.31.11

It took me an hour to find the creek. It ran through a campground and I saw a family with fishing poles, so I knew it had to be somewhere close. I got out of the car and finally heard running water. I geared up and followed a trail to the creek.

The creek was guarded by willows. I almost ripped my face off trying to get through them to the stream. After two bushwacking trips through the willows I had no fish and lost several flies to the willows.

I left the creek and moved downstream to find a "fishing hole". The bank of the stream had obviously been used many times for chasing fish. The stream led into a pool the size of a bathtub and then moved into a 100 foot glide. I sat down on the bank, high enough for every fish within sight to see me as a giant bird directly above the stream (used to teach physics -- know about refraction lol).

I sat on the bank, with only the leader and a foot of line out of the tip of the rod. I flicked a size 16 cdc caddis into the pool and 'bam', a small Kern River Rainbow was caught and photographed. I spent a half hour tossing the fly into the "bathtub", 10 to 15 times a minute. Just toss, drift, toss, drift, and more than a dozen fish rose to the fly with a few hookups. I was breaking every rule about catching fish but these beautiful members of their species were at high altitude and only had a short season to fatten up.

I really didn't want to hook them. I just was amazed at how many fish were in such a small area.
By accident, one toss of the fly hit the water in the perfect spot and the big fish of the pond hit the fly. The fish seemed way too big for the water I was fishing. The picture above shows the mammoth 6 inch fish, maybe 7 inches, but gorgeous, aggressive, and the king (queen?) of the water.

I still had one more fish to hunt: the California Golden. I let the fish back into the water with gentleness and respect and decided that although I could have stayed for hours, it was time to go.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

HTC 7: High Altitude Gold, The Little Kern Golden

It was ten hour drive to southern California. I rolled out of the air conditioned car to meet 103 degree heat. This was not going to be a fun day lol.

Thanks to Phil and Andan, the leaders of the Davis Flyfishers HTC trip, I was given information on where to find the three southern California HTC species without having to backpack many miles at high altitude. I didn't need another opportunity for someone to rescue me from altitude sickness.

After resting in a hotel (did I say it was 103 degrees?), I decided to scout out the water I would be fishing the next day. It is amazing how a road can look easy on a map and really hard to drive. I thought I was in Hawaii on the Road to Hana (a crazy, winding, one lane road on Maui). I found the trailhead and walked down, down, and down, dreading the hike back up. But, there was gold at the end of the trail.

The creek was small, about 4 feet wide, and about 6 inches deep. I found a pool, well, the trail went through the creek, and could not imagine that a fish could live there. However, I saw a trout rise near the edge of the pool by the trail!! I tossed in my bug, waited a couple of seconds, and bam, caught the beautiful fish in the picture above. I fished a little while longer to several rises, but missed them and my attempts at setting the hook sent my bug into the trees above. When I finally broke my fly off in a tree I figured these beautiful fish needed to be left alone.

The hike back to the trail was a reminder of my altitude sickness. I had to stop several times, but couldn't catch my breath because of having to swat the cloud of mosquitoes around me. No pain, No gain. However, it was worth it to view such beautiful fish in their headwaters.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Found Fishing Buddies: And they Rescued Me

There was a second part to the Lahontan Cutthroat trip. As I said in earlier postings -- I need a fishing buddy because I keep forgetting this. This time it was my hat, at 8700 feet, that partially contributed to a second part of the story.

The picture above is of my new fishing buddies. From left to right are Andan Bailey, Phil Reedy, Sam Chamberlin, and Leslie Vivian. They were from the Davis Flyfishers club and were on a HTC trip for Sam and Leslie to catch their first Lahontan Cutthroats. They passed me on the trail early in the morning as I was going in Great, Slow, with lots of stops for water and food.

I made it up the 800 foot elevation gain and to a long meadow feeling fine. Feeling great and proud, I put my rod together and tried to catch, photograph, and release a Lahontan Cutthroat. With no success I ran into the Davis 4 in the meadow. They welcomed me into their group and decided that I had to catch the next Lahontan. It was interesting, me being a high school chem/bio teacher who studied biology in college, to run into Phil, a community college chemistry teacher, Andan, a high school physics / chemistry teacher, Sam, a retired salesman from the railroad industry, and Leslie, a landscape designer with a passion for flowers (and I took 4 plant taxonomy classes in college!).

The group lead me up the meadow to a more accessible section of the creek. They surrounded the water like an army (hidden) and helped me catch my first, and only Lahontan Cutthroat, with lots of directions that allowed for a successful trip (they could see the fish using their polaroid lenses while all I saw was "shiny water" lol).

I sat down on the grass and rested from my hike in and experience. My backpack with water was 100 feet away. I decided that I needed some water and stood up. Then WHAM -- I got dizzy and fell to the ground. I was in total exhaustion mode, from a combination of dehydration, exhaustion, and most likely altitude sickness. I did not have the energy to stand up. When my backpack was brought to me I downed two pints of water and in a minute or two was able to stand up and stumble.

My new fishing buddies realized that I was in trouble and they were going to lead me out of the meadow, over the pass, and to my car at the trailhead. Leslie took my pack, which weighed about 20 pounds with emergency supplies and two days of water (and water purification drops if necessary). Sam was my personal coach, standing beside me and picking out targets to walk to, and Phil and Andan were tour guides talking about the history of the area, the fish, and pretty much anything to keep the trip interesting.

With Sam's guidance, I would walk 10 to 20 feet at a time, then I would rest all my weight on my trekking poles, and go to the next target when ready. I stopped at almost a dozen rocks when possible, allowing me to sit down and not use up my "walking energy" getting up from the ground. Leslie, being a botanist, had a wonderful time running up and down the slopes looking at all the flowers (and yes, if I had been in better health I would have joined her and taken photographs of the flowers -- they were in full bloom and beautiful).

It took energy I didn't have, and encouragement from Sam, to travel 2 miles in about 3 hours, not "one step at a time", but ten feet at a time. I was in big trouble -- all I wanted to do is lie down and sleep, but forgot warm clothes and an emergency shelter to make it through the hours and possibly the night. I probably would not have died, but would have been air lifted out and the bankruptcy that would follow would have led to another 5 years of teaching before retirement lol.
These four people took it upon themselves to rescue a stranger in trouble. I would not have made it out that day -- only with their compassion and commitment to me did I walk out of the meadow, especially through snow drifts on the 600 foot incline on the way out (800 feet in, 600 feet out). I cannot describe in words how much pain I was in and how I would not have made it out without their help. They rescued me, and now it is my turn to help someone in the future. I will help someone in the future, hopefully, with the commitment and compassion that the four flyfishers from Davis showed me.

Upon our conversations I found out that the Davis Flyfishers have a trip or two each year to Lewiston Lake. I will be there to be their host and guide.

Thanks Phil, Andan, Sam, and Leslie. I look forward to fishing with each of you in the future.

Take care all,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

HTC 6: Warner Lakes Redband

After resting from my back country Lahontan Cutthroat trip, I headed up into the high country for the Warner Lakes Redband Trout. There is only one small spot in California to catch this species, although it has a much larger native range in Oregon. As one can see from the picture, they are beautiful fish, as are all the fish in the Heritage Trout Challenge (HTC).

I have succeeded in reaching my goal of obtaining six of the available ten trout in the HTC. I have one trip to southern California to try to catch the remaining 4 species available (There are currently 11 native species of trout native to California, but one, the Paiute Cutthroat, is off limits at this time.)

It has been enjoyable, hard work, spiritual, cleansing, and I'm sure many more things that I'll cover in future posts. I recommend the HTC to anyone interested in seeing some beautiful country and many beautiful fish.

HTC 5: Lahontan Cutthroat -- 2 Fish, 1 out of Water

Well, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is a beautiful fish that lives in a beautiful area. I had a little trouble with the altitude, but with the help of four members of the Davis Flyfishers club, I was able to land my first Lahontan Cutthroat. Little did I know that the adventure of the day had just started, and those events will be covered in a separate post.

I did like the fact that they carried large plastic bags to put water in and to keep the fish wet. The fish calm down quickly when in the bag, a picture can be taken, and then the fish can be released easily. I also liked the camaraderie between fly fishermen. Two of the members of the Davis Flyfishers were leading a HTC trip, with the other two catching their first Lahontans. When I met up with them, each member had caught a Lahontan. They collectively decided that the next fish to be caught was by me. They let me first on the water, cheered me on, and nobody fished until I got my fish. They even let me use one of their rods that had a nymph on it so I didn't have to retie.

All I can say is that it was a beautiful experience, several people increased their karma bank accounts, and I'll be there for someone down the road when needed.
Have fun,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jury Duty and No Fishing Buddy: AARRGGHH!!


So, what happened Sunday? I drove to the area that "houses" the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in a native stream. However, I miscalculated and it appears that I will have hike in, camp and fish, and hike out. I did not have the days available due to jury duty so I drove home (more than 7 hours away) because I don't have a fishing buddy. If I had one he or she would have reminded me to take my jury summons with me and chill all day today at high altitude. I would have called after 5:00 PM and would have found out that my jury pool has been excused. Then, a quick back pack trip into the Lahontan's range and home in time for seeing my daughter as she visits home. AAARRRGGGHHH.

Now, I have a choice -- drive all day tomorrow to high altitude, spend the night HOPING that my body will adapt to the high altitude, hike for hours at high altitude, set up camp, fish, spend the night, hike out, then drive another day back home. Also, I will be spending another $150 in gas and risking a lost trip due to high altitude. My thoughts of adding this trip to the front of my southern California backpacking trip scares me more. The Lahontan Cutthroat is at a higher elevation than the campground in Sequoia National Park that I'm staying at for 3 days of acclimation before venturing in to the back country. If I get altitude sickness going for the Lahontan Cutthroat just before going into the Sierras -- my entire trip into the southern Sierra Nevada backcounty could be ruined.

AARRGGHH. I think I'm heading out in the morning. Nothing like a long road trip.

Take care all,

HTC 4: The Eagle Lake Rainbow

Update for Saturday 8.16.11

Okay Eagle Lake! I get it! You don't have trout, you have adult Steelhead! But more on that later. I made it into the Christie Campground at Eagle Lake at about noon (okay HTC researchers -- The Eagle Lake Rainbow is found at Eagle Lake!). I had pretty good information on what to do from a Great Website devoted to information about fishing Eagle Lake. I drove in to the market in Spalding and had a great conversation with the man working the morning shift. After a couple of good jokes (or attempts at such), he told me that the fish are deep. He also stated that all the fly fishermen left two weeks ago and the "die hards" left a week ago. He suggested that I might get lucky for a fish at the southern end of the lake near the Christie picnic area. After a couple more jokes he told me where he was going to be fishing at 5:00 in the morning, from a boat, and gave me directions to drive to the shore. Well, thankfully I have a Subaru because I was 4-wheeling a dirt road for 3 miles but discovered the end of the road that left several hundred yards of walking to get to the spot. I really did not want to get up a 4:00 and drive off road, but it sounded like it was going to be my only chance to catch an Eagle Lake Rainbow.

I set up camp, cleaned out and organized my car, lost my keys for 45 minutes (NOT Fun), and prepared my gear to fish this evening as a warm up. I put my 25 year old Cortland Crown reel, filled with 20+ year old 4-wt floating line, on my two year old Ross Essence, 8.5 foot, 4 piece, 3 / 4 wt rod. Using the information from the website above I put on a size 10 golden brown mohair leech. Actually, the color was blended by Mike at the Eureka Fly Shop and he calls the flies made from his blends G.O.A.T. flies (Greatest Of All Time). The colors are blended for the lagoons and other fishing opportunities on the north coast, but they work elsewhere as I found out today.

Before the finale, I have to state that I need to find a fishing buddy, male or female, older or younger, to make these adventures more fun and successful. I took all my gear down to the edge of the lake (boots, waders, filled vest, long handled net, rod) and got prepared to fish. I started preparing at 5:30 and finally got my waders and boots on at 6:00. It turns out that my old waders fit me like spandex, and I was unable to put on and tie my boots with the combination of form fitting waders and an inflexible back --- well, not so much of the back as the stomach colliding with the quads to create an immovable upper body. You might think I need a fishing buddy to tie my shoes --- NO -- it took a while (although I was about to ask the kids down to the shore to tie my shoes for $5, but then realized that I only had a twenty). I eventually got my boots on and waded out about 30 feet, only to find out that my waders had a hole in them. But I kept going. I cast my line about 35 feet, with the 8 feet of the pole and the 8 feet of leader, my fly was landing about 80 feet from shore, hopefully near a drop off to a deeper area. I was hoping that some fish would move from deep water into the shallows to feed on the evening hatch. I cast and stripped the line back for an hour. Not a fish showed on the surface and I had no hits. A hatch of mayflies was coming off, as well as some midges. I remembered that the recommendation from the web site was to float a small green midge under an indicator when a hatch was on. I then realized that with all the gear I brought down the hill I forgot to bring a pair of line cutters. I was stuck using the one fly that was on the end of my line. So, I need a buddy so I will have what he or she has forgotten while he or she will have what I forgot.

So, what does Eagle Lake have similar to fishing for Steelhead? Well, all I could do is cast out as far as I could and strip my one fly back, changing the timing and length of pull to figure out what triggered these fish -- just like fishing for Steelhead --- cast after cast after cast after cast. But, there was a magical moment when I discovered that if I gently cast my line out, pick it up and cast it again for greater length, I could reach the same distance achieved by muscling and rushing the cast, and without the line tangles. It was a spiritual moment. I gently cast the line with as much effort as bouncing a ping pong ball across a table and the line flew. IT FLEW. I don't think I remember ever being so relaxed casting a line, and with such distance. I knew I would be ready for the fish at 5:00 the following morning.

Then it happened at 7:00 PM. My fly got caught in the weeds, again, for the 50th time, but I kept retrieving the line through the weeds. Weeds? No, it was a gentle tug of a fish, followed by a much larger tug, followed by a reel screaming run towards the middle of the lake. The fish surfaced and I was amazed at the distance between the tail and the head of the fish. Two more reel screaming runs and I got the fish into my net. I did not horse the fish because I wanted to document it and not lose it. After taking a picture of the fish I kept it in the water and resuscitated it and watched it swim strongly away.

I quit fishing at 8:00, happy to be able to sleep in tomorrow morning and able to head off towards the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. I will be back to Eagle Lake. The experience was more than rewarding. It was like the other experiences on this trip -- it was cleansing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

HTC 3: Goose Lake Redband

Report for Friday 7.15.11

After packing up from the home waters of the McCloud Redband Trout, I headed to the home waters for the Goose Lake Redband Trout. My directions were hazy and I spent more than an hour finding the first turn off. Once I got to the stream, shown above, the action was fast but not furious. I easily had 50 rises, landed 3 fish, and had long line releases for about 6 more, in less than an hour. I only fished about 50 feet of stream. Also, about half the time on the water was spent putting a new fly and tippet on the line. The willows held on to the flies much more strongly than the trout! The fish were hungry and had tons of energy. Each hookup felt like a fish twice its size. These beautiful fish own their stream and I hope to someday fish an extensive section of their stream(s).

After a lot of fun on the Goose Lake Redband stream, I drove to the area that the Eagle Lake Rainbow trout inhabits. Well, the species inhabits most of the world as it is a major variety used to plant trout into streams and lakes, but I'm near it's native heritage range. I don't think this species will be nearly as easy to document as the previous two on this trip. However, if I can document this species tomorrow I will be able to head out for the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout before interrupting my trip by heading home for possible jury duty next Tuesday -- aarrgghh.

I had hoped to document the Warner Lakes Redband Trout on this trip, but will have to drive to it's native range a second time because of the snow still in the mountains. My plan is to head back to the heritage waters of the Warner Lakes Redband Trout after I backpack in the Golden Trout Wilderness in August. It will be a long out of the way trip, but should give me nine of the possible ten HTC trout available (other than the Paiute Cutthroat in closed water). Then, all I will need is a half pounder steelhead on the Klamath River in August to complete my goal of catching all of the HTC trout with the exception of the Paiute. It has been a great trip so far and I'm having a blast. The fish and their homes are beautiful.

HTC 2: The McCloud Redband Trout

Report for Thursday 7.14.11

Well, I returned to the same area that I visited last week. This time I had a wide brimmed hat, a magnifier, a tent, and a well stocked box of dry flies. The campground was nearly empty, just one week later. Perhaps it was because there had been rain in the past week as evidenced by many more puddles in the dirt road. One of them made me happy I had a Subaru with all-wheel-drive because I slid left and right all through the 30 foot puddle (wide, not deep lol). The bad news is that all the standing water created a mass of mosquitoes. They were everywhere and found any spot on your body that did not have DEET on it. I ended up with bites on my forehead, left arm, a finger on my right hand, and on my stomach, even after "soaking" my exposed areas and clothes with DEET. The good news is that these mosquitoes leave an annoying itch for a couple of hours and then it goes away. Not like some of the Sierra Nevada mosquitoes that leave bites that swell up to the size of quarters and hurt for days. Another reason why the campground was empty is that a logging crew started at 5:30 in the morning, approximately 1/4 mile from us. I easily saw the light of the tractor from my tent. Each time a tree fell it sounded like a cannon going off. Somehow, I slept 2 hours through the racket they were making.

The beautiful water from last week left me blank again. No risers showing and no fish rose to my feeble attempts at casting a dry fly for more than 5 inches of drag free float (after a splat). So, I moved to another section of the creek that had a 20 foot riffle section that was about a foot deep. I swung a size 12 black ant through the area and was rewarded with the beautiful McCloud Redband Trout shown above. I forgot to take my picture with the trout because I was surprised, didn't have my net with me, and wanted to get the fish back as soon as possible. I hope it will count for the HTC challenge even though I am not in it..

The beauty of the fish really amazed me, although I hardly got a chance to look at it (I get the fish back in the water as fast as possible). That we can catch a genetically pure species of trout, living in a very small habitat range makes me appreciate the opportunities we have in California to get into nature and to see wildlife, forests, and of course, streams. There is something cleansing about breathing fresh air and finding trout that are special, and beautiful. Makes the rest of the world seem a little more manageable.

Friday, July 8, 2011

McCloud Redband Trout: Infinity. Me: Zero

I thought I would head out for a quick 4-day HTC trip as a shake down trip for my two week journey in the near future. Well, the only thing that got shaken out was Me! I left my dry flies at home. I left my wide brimmed hat with the attached magnifier at home (Five minutes to get the tippet through a size 16 eye!). I had five size 14 parachute adams with me , and left them in the willows within a half hour. This was supposed to be a no-brainer -- walk to the creek and catch a McCloud Redband Trout in ten minutes. Well, 3 hours and 3 spots led to one underwater flash from a 4-inch fish. I then found that I don't fit well within my Subaru Forester now that I put storage units in the back. AArrgghh! I also don't fit well within stream side willows, but I doubt anyone does.

I hooked zero fish and landed zero fish. I'm pretty sure that 0 / 0 equals infinity, although someone will probably tell me that the limit of 0 / 0 is zero. It doesn't really matter when out in the wilderness walking along pristine creeks hoping to land a genetically pure specimen of a very isolated species.

So, I have some tying to do before my next trip. And, fortunately, the trip was cleansing. It is amazing how traveling out in the wilderness and breathing fresh air, closer to the clouds, makes all the things on one's mind a lot smaller. I can't wait to get out again next week.

Now, I just have to find my hat, my tent, and my dry flies. Not too bad a list to find in 4 days.

Take care,

Thursday, June 30, 2011

HTC: First Trout

Well, I caught my first Coastal Cutthroat Trout in my life yesterday. This was the first fish of the day. I used a silver leech pattern, size 10, and the pond I was fishing was full of 5 to 6 inch fish. The small pond is reputed to have 2 lb cutthroat in it, but I was happy to release this little beauty. The orange colors of their throats were spectacular. I will return to this spot again, but I will bring my waders and mosquito repellent!! I also went to a local river to see if I could catch a Coastal Rainbow smolt. The hatchery lets out 8 to 11 inch fish and even though they are hatchery fish, they qualify for the HTC challenge. Alas, I only found three inch Coho smolts, and after releasing two (one for a picture and one at a long line release), I quit fishing to not harass these beautiful young fish. I found out today that the hatchery lets their smolts out in March, so it looks like I'll have to get a half pounder steelhead in August for my HTC Coastal Rainbow.

This picture is blurry and I apologize. I recently purchased an Olympus 540WP, new, for $80, and another $15 for an 8 GB micro SD card. It is waterproof to only 10 feet, but that is fine with me. I don't like carrying my good camera near water, and my cell phone has 8 MB pictures but costs twice what my good camera cost, so 10 feet of water protection for under $100 is fine with me. However, after looking at online reviews, this camera got poor ratings, mostly in speed. I'm fine with the speed that the camera takes pictures, but I need to figure out how to get a squiggling trout in focus. The water and fishing line behind the trout are in focus, but not the beautiful fish. I guess I had better start taking lots of pictures of my hand holding a "virtual fish" to figure out how to get the "fish" in focus.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So much fun for 50 dollars

Well, I'm stuck at home to clean out my large storage locker. The end is in sight but it will cost me another 3 to 5 days of fishing at the lake. However, I will be saving $150 per month for the rest of my life, so it isn't too bad a deal. Now, how can I spend some of my savings in advance, in a way that will also save me money in the long run? A fly materials shopping spree!!! In my earlier posts I expressed my interest in obtaining all of the native trout in California in their heritage waters. With the snow runoff putting the trip off until late July, I figured I had better start tying flies for the small streams that I will be visiting. Fortunately, Tom Chandler at The Trout Underground found a great small creek pattern from the Arizona Wanderings blog. Thus, my foray into our local fly shop and our local Michael's crafts store.

From the craft store I found an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of leather that has the perfect color for making earthworm flies (yes, I've pounded half pounder water for hours only to have an earthworm guy move through the water hooking several fish -- figured I'd give it a try with an earthworm fly). I also found a small 3 x 9" leather trim piece, darker, that could also work, in combination or alone. The final piece was a lifetime supply of foam sheets (65 at 6" x 9" in several colors) to be used for the mini-hoppers described above. Not bad for $18.50 including California sales tax.

Then, off to my local fly shop. In the picture you will find a small patch of Elk Body Hair for the mini-hoppers. Rabbit Zonkers in natural brown for easy to grab Hare's Ears tails, ThingamaBobbers for floating Lewiston Lake, Black Hareline Dubbin, and materials for legs (speckled orange and black, speckled copper brown and black, and amber barred sili legs) round out the materials to tie dozens of dozens of mini-hoppers. I ran out of the shop for $24.50...not too bad and I got to talk to some nice ladies who were raiding all the Hoffman hackles. Social interactions along with feeding the fly tying addiction. Bonus!!

Not a bad day shopping, and certainly more fun than hours in the storage unit (although it is "kind of fun" looking through all the boxes). Now to tie up a couple of mini-hoppers for practice and then head out for the storage unit. July is coming up fast and it WILL be my month of fishing first, everything else last.

Take care,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heritage Trout Challenge Part 2

Ever since I heard about the California Heritage Trout Challenge, earlier this year, it has been my goal to complete it this summer. I have free time from June 15 through August 15, except for tennis practices for my team and such, to attempt this challenge. However, this is a very wet year with water levels in the snow packs at 200% of normal, so many places will not open up until mid-July.

So, I was prowling around the HTC information on the net and found that DFG is giving additional awards out to persons who have caught all eleven species of heritage trout in the State of California (Bull Trout are on the list but are extinct in California). The toughest trout to catch is the Paiute Trout, a species that is endangered and fishing is prohibited from it's native waters. But, it appears that DFG is planting Paiute Trout into other waters within it's native system.

Therefore, goal one is to catch, photograph, and release 6 of the 11 native species of trout in their heritage waters, within two months this summer (actually, some consider Steelhead a different species than resident coastal rainbow trout, so I could try to all 12). Goal number two is to catch, photograph, and release all eleven species within a two month period. At least four of the species require hiking in several miles (6 to 13 for some), and being 100+ pounds overweight, I had better get on the track and the hiking trails.

I am fortunate that I live on the coast of northern California. The coastal cutthroat and coastal rainbow trout are in my backyard. The McCloud Redband Trout lives in an area that I call home, in the sense that I still can see the beauty of Fowlers Campground and surround area in my mind's eye. The Goose Lake Redband appears to be a tough one to get, and if I can catch it, the Eagle Lake Rainbow and Lahontan Rainbow's waters are easily found. That will give me 6 of the 11 (12) heritage trout and qualify me for the Hertitage Trout Challenge. Another tough one, for number 7, will be the Warner Lakes Redband Trout. I figure that 6 of these 7, and all of these 7, in one summer, would be very lucky and phenomenal.

Then, the tough ones, down in the hot, hot parts of California: The Golden Trout, the Little Kern Golden Trout, and the Kern River Rainbow appear to require backpacking and hiking, and hiking and backpacking. With travel this will take at least a week for one shot at these species.

And then, the tough one. the Paiute Cutthroat Trout. I may be able to get some information from other fishermen on this one, but I don't want to ask until I have earned the other fish above. Yes, right now it is a challenge, and a life list, but in many ways it will be a spiritual journey. A last chance for me to catch native fish in their native waters within my home state. The journey will be worth it, and even if I don't accomplish my goals, it still will be a summer of a lifetime.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Orb, by Switters B

I have been following a couple of fly fishing blogs for the past two years. I love "The Trout Underground" by Tom Chandler over on the Upper Sacramento River. He is the best all around and most interesting blog, covering the most niches of fly fishing. He also draws from some other great blogs such as "Moldy Chum" and "Singlebarbed", two that I recommend. I like Singlebarbed because he ties and ties and has a new pattern up on his blog at least four times per week. However, this post is about Switters B, a huge fly tyer and innovator. I have been trying to find the materials to tie his fly, "The Orb".

Evidently, the author at Switters B was swimming subsurface in a lake when he saw a callibaetis hatch emerging. He stated that the emerging nymphs appeared to Glow when near the surface. He then created "The Orb", a size 14 nymph that has a large clear plastic bead, under wrapped with tinsel, at the head of the fly. I have been trying for a year to find the floating plastic beads he uses. Recently, I came across 1000 4-mm plastic beads on ebay and bought them. Unfortunately, they don't fit on a size 14 hook, but a size 10. I also picked up 6/0 clear glass beads and 5-mm plastic pearl beads from Michael's, and am having trouble getting them on the hooks.

I finally used my barb-mashing pliers to bend out a 2x short curved nymph hook, size 14 -- got a 4-mm bead on it, and put gray ostrich herl for the tail, the abdomen, and the thorax. My first attempt ended up with too large a thorax, but thought I'd put it up in this post. I'm looking forward to tying this pattern and giving it a thorough test this summer, as requested to all by Switters B. I'm sure I'll get this pattern figured out, and it gives me a use for the small left over tips from tying the ostrich callibaetis in the previous post.

My apologies for the blurry photographs. I'll edit these posts and get better pictures up asap.

Take care,

Summer Soon, Time for the Orbs

I am trying to become a "professional" fly tyer, starting with inroads at my local fly shop and the marina a Pine Cove on Lewiston Lake. I have 6 patterns in the shop at Lewiston Lake, and have an order for 4 dozen flies at the Eureka Fly Shop. I know Mike is being nice to me and throwing me a little work. Mike is a world class tyer who ties up most of the flies in his shop. As a high school student he shocked the world at fly shows with his skill.
As I'm filling my order, I also want tie some flies that will help me out at Lewiston Lake. There is a callibaetis hatch on the lake that I have never fished. Now that I have figured out midges and leeches on the lake, I think it is time to learn how to fish the callibaetis hatches (which I hear are FUN). Searching for patterns online, I didn't want to tie something really complicated so I settled on a mix between Rickard's Callibaetis and Mercer's Poxyback Callibaetis. I tied up a couple flies with mallard wood duck tails, gray ostrich body ribbed with gold wire, thick ostrich thorax with turkey shell and mallard wood duck legs. It was a pain and takes me twice as long as a "normal" wet pattern.
I tied up a half dozen and took them in to Mike. I told Mike that I was trying to find an easy pattern to tie as the ones I was making took too much time. He looked at them and said "These are Perfect. I want them. Tie me up 4 dozen!!!". Aaarrrgggghhh -- I've doubled by career orders but have a fly that takes me 5 to 6 minutes to tie. I have to laugh, though, that I've come up with something that Mike likes -- and another order. Now, to tie, tie, and tie.
I've tied about 2 dozen of these flies, and all came out as seconds that I'll personally fish with. The mallard wood duck feathers are hard to work with for the legs of the fly -- not at easy as partridge because the tips of the wood duck feathers are separated and not "full" like partridge. However, I think I've figured out a method for tying in the legs and should get production rates of 12 to 15 per hour (I hope).
Now, only two more weeks of school and then I'm at Lewiston Lake for the summer ( 4 days per week) and I'll see if this pattern is something I have to tie dozens of -- I hope!!

Take care,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It is getting time to get time: To Fish

Well, the flows out of Trinity Lake are ramping up this week until next Tuesday, May 3, when 10,000 cfs will flow through Lewiston Lake and down the Trinity River (well, half of it -- the other half will be shipped over the hill to southern California.

I hear stories about the docks at Pine Cove Marina almost getting washed out a couple of years ago when the release was 8000 cfs. IF there are no problems on the 3rd of May, then the flows will be increased to 11,000 cfs for the following 3 days.

Wow -- looks like all the good vegetation spots in Lewiston Lake may be scoured -- we will see. At least this year I will spend most of my 10 weeks at the Lake, figuring it out again.

BUT, I am getting excited about the California Heritage Trout Challenge. I'm spending time on the Internet trying to figure where to go in northern California. However, it looks like late July and early August will be the times to go because of ALL THE WATER in northern California. Oh well, that just gives me more time to figure out where to go (most people offer me free advice on where to go -- I didn't know that there were so many cities in the US called "Hell").

Take care,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wow, People are actually Fishing

Thanks to the social networking of the Internet, a person new to fly fishing contacted me about fly fishing at Lewiston Lake. As I'm one who couldn't figure out how to send a text document through Facebook, I'm posting a picture here of a handout I created related to using flies with spinning gear (on the way to learning how to throw out 75 feet of line perfectly straight (which I can't do lol)).

As a note, I've started three business to get me through my retirement: 1) a sports photography business, of which I have no sales; 2) a tennis academy of which I have trained and have become a certified tennis professional, of which I have no sales; and 3) the Lewiston Fly Company, my fly tying business, of which I've sold thirty dollars worth. So, above is a picture of a document that I hope is readable for all who would like to catch more fish with flies while developing long enough casts for lakes. (double-click on the image to enlarge -- then enlarge in your browser and it actually is sort of readable -- my apologies for no cool colors :)

Tight Lines,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Boat is Sinking, My Boat is Sinking

Well, I just got my monthly bill for my trailer "home" near Lewiston Lake. There was a nice note that I need to contact them because my boat is sinking--Sinking I say.

Rain water flows through the storage hatches and collects under the floor. In the past, Craig, the marina jack of all trades, would pump water out for me. This year I set up a sump pump, running off of a 12 volt battery, that is connected to a trickle charger that is plugged into an outdoor electrical outlet.

Evidently, the sump pump isn't working and Craig hasn't been able to help me out by pumping out water. There is nothing I can do until Sunday when I can get over there (something about work, tennis matches through Saturday, and bad weather so I can't get over the mountain. Oh well, I may find my boat sitting on the bottom of the lake when I get there. Bummer. I knew I should store it out of the water but I hoped to head over a couple of weekends this winter and get right out on the water. Perhaps I'm now under water.

Oh well...nothing I can do about it now.

Friday, February 4, 2011

High School and Fly Tying: Karma and Growth

I went to high school for two reasons: to chase girls and to play sports. It turned out I was not very good at either, so I went to college after high school because I didn't want to work full time. Karma got me and I'm in my 27th year of teaching high school.

What killed me was "falling in love" with all the beautiful, awesome, girls of my youth. There were so many and I was lucky to get two girl friends throughout high school. The killer part was years after when more than one and close to ten women told me "I had the biggest crush on you in high school. All you had to do was say 'hello' to me and I would have been your girlfriend'". AAARRRGGGHHHH.

The same thing has happened to my fly tying. I learned how to tie flies back in 1979. Sure, there were decades when I didn't, but by now I can dub a tapered body, about half the time, and tie simple patterns at a rate of about 15 to 18 an hour. But, there were years and years of frustration and hares ears that looked like sausages.

Then, I buy a copy of Don Ordes rope dubbing technique. I sat down and watched it and it was like a woman telling me she had a crush on me in high school -- why was I not taught that when I first started? I'm tying mostly wooly buggers and midges these days, but would have loved to have known how to make segmented flies, and more importantly, be able to make corrections after wrapping (since most of my flies had reverse tapering lol).

I haven't mastered all the techniques, or really gotten the time to use them (again, buggers and midges). However, I have just entered the professional fly tying world with my first order for $50 whoooo hooooo. Our local owner of a fly shop, who is a master fly tier, gave me a small order for some peacock bodied flies. He was Very Specific on how he wanted the peacock wrapped around the hook -- very specific, stating that it was the way to make the strongest peacock bodies. The punchline? He described exactly Don Ordes' rope dubbing technique.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated and have never been affiliated with Don Ordes and his business(es)-- I purchased his DVD at full price.