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.