fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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st. pat’s@benicia (28-34)

If the first three games of the BHS Panters’ football season are any indication of how the rest of the season will turn out, most fans will be without fingernails in November… AGAIN, the game was a squeaker! The defensive lines of both teams were nearly evenly matched, especially during the second half. The ball was turned over both on fourth downs and by punts by both the Panthers and St. Patrick-St. Vincent’s Bruins. Sean — despite receiving a big hit that apparently bruised his shoulder — was all over the field, making some good plays. Let’s just say that the announcer has said his last name often enough to know how to pronounce it. A couple of times he and his fellow teams ensured St. Pat’s ended up with negative yardage. Just like the Lodi game, this one came down to the wire. At the half, it was tied at 20-20. With Benicia leading 34-28, the Bruins got the ball on their own 25-yard line with 1:21 left in the game. The Bruins drove the ball into Benicia territory, and with 6 seconds left, St. Pat’s QB threw an interception which left 1 second on the clock. Sean told me this afternoon that he’s doing fine, but he sure toughed it out under the Friday night lights…


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quick fishing trip

Chris on the West Walker RiverPerhaps for the last time this trout season, Chris and I made a quick trip to the cabin, got some shuteye for about five hours, then headed over Sonora Pass to wind up to the Tioga Pass area about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

It’s amazing the difference three weeks can make. We first stopped at Saddlebag Lake, where the chill in the air and the cold breeze that would follow us all day bit into our fingers. Our visit earlier in the month wasn’t this cold! I don’t think the temperature rose much about 68°F. Generally, the water level seemed to be almost perfect. New pools to target, but still enough water to allow the fish to move up and down the streams.

We ignored the possibility of frostbite as we settled into the rhythm of fishing. At Saddlebag — which we have never fished before — we were teased by some bruisers cruising the shoreline near the dam but they paid little heed to our flies or spinners. A few rose to my son’s flies and a few chased my spinners, but none would commit to a strike. (Next time maybe we’ll head across the lake to the inlets or even hike up to some lakes behind Saddlebag.) Regardless of the lack of catching, it was beautiful…

After an hour and a half, we headed over to Lee Vining Creek (South), where we just knew we could find some trout. Sure ‘nuf, skittish brookies were skittering up and down the shallower reaches, where Chris was able to pull in five of the fish with flies (small, as to be expected in the high elevations), but fun nonetheless. I also convinced a brookie to grab a small Panther Martin. We wandered up and down the creek for about four fun hours. I eventually pulled in two wild rainbows and two stockers, as well as being surprised by another brookie in the bend of the creek just before it heads under the road. Just as important, it was great to be in one of my favorite places. Even my modest lunch seemed to taste better under the clear blue skies.

During our descent we stopped at the lower Lee Vining Creek, near Poole Power Plant, but didn’t stick to the more usually fished areas and instead headed upstream a bit. After fighting our way through some bushes, I was rewarded with a heck of a strike in a small pool and Chris got a fish on, but it didn’t want to be landed, and wasn’t.

There was just enough time at the end of our day to stop by Pickle Meadows. It was amazing the number of boulders and rocks that have appeared since June. We fished up and down a few spots with the only action being a smallish rainbow that snagged my lure in one of those pools I tend to think holds only water. Always a surprise to get a fish in one of those! In the end, Chris pulled in nine fish; I landed seven. Not bad for a beautiful day in the Sierras!

Here’s to hoping we’ll get in one more trip before mid November. After that, we’ll have to settle for planning for next year…

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benicia@armijo [fairfield] (10-9)

Another squeaker! This football game came down to the last three minutes or so, with the score at 7-9 in favor of Armijo. Armijo had the ball but couldn’t move it past the first-down marker, and rather than go for it, decided to punt into fierce winds that were a heavy influence that evening. The center hiked the ball which, caught by a sudden breeze, sailed over the head of the kicker. The kicker chased the ball down and landed on it near the 20-yard line and he was immediately smothered by few Benicia Panthers.

Taking over, Benicia tried to move the ball into the end zone. At the 2-yard line Sean got the ball for a short 1-yard gain. On a third down Benicia unsuccessfully tried to pass the ball for the score. On fourth down, with less than five seconds on the clock, Benicia’s kicker nailed the field goal and the game. Sean’s stats for the night exemplified the whole team’s strong effort: 10 tackles and at least four assists, and one field goal block! Good job all around and one heck of a game!

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one more cast?

Got word that Christopher doesn’t have to work this weekend, so we geared up and “de-barbed” the hooks on any new lures in anticipation of hitting the road to Twain Harte Friday night and spending Saturday fishing. It’s going to be a very quick weekend, and may be our last fishing trip for the season.

We certainly shouldn’t have too much traffic Friday night, and it’ll be over Sonora Pass on Saturday. Word is that the bite is hot at Saddlebag Lake, so we’ll head there first to fish it for the first time. Then maybe off to Tioga Lake, from where good reports have recently filtered out, and maybe we’ll hit various fishing spots down the canyon as we head back in the afternoon.  Wish us luck!

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apples and spinach

Autumn officially began for me Saturday…a week earlier than specified on the calendar. I mark the start of autumn with a visit to Apple Hill. It came a bit early this year as we plan to make two trips. I guess purchasing 10 gallons of apple cider gets a bit ridiculous considering my favorite apple farm is only a couple hours away. We picked up only two gallons this time, and I — and anyone else who wants to join me — will head back up “the hill” again during the next few months to lay in my year’s supply of cider.

It was a beautiful day to visit Apple Hill and we definitely missed the crowds. In fact, it was so quiet that not all of the crafts people had opened shop. Even the ol’ Mexican guy who creates “paintings” using only spray paint was missing. But it was a good visit. Even tasted an apple variety I haven’t seen before, called “Elstar.” Tastes like a combination between Fuji and Pippin. Pretty darn tasty. Of course, we visited Bolster’s Hilltop for the cider and Mill View Farm for turnovers, a dumpling and cider doughnuts (and delivering half a dozen doughntus to Sean on the way home). Before we knew it, it was time to head home.

Now, “Where’s the spinach?” you might ask. During the drive home we stopped at CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) for some great hummus and dinner. I initially ordered the “White Pizza,” which the menu described as being made with mozzarella, fontina, ricotta, parmesan and pecorino romano cheeses with garlic and — oops! — fresh sautéed spinach. Alas, no spinach!  …sigh…  I chose something else (Goat Cheese with Roasted Peppers) and was quite happy with it!

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lodi@benicia (27-34)

What a game…the ball went back and forth between the teams too many times! And I would say (and Sean would probably agree) that the Panther defense stepped up quite a few times. Sean also had a good game again…a big open-field tackle against the Lodi Tigers during the first quarter that I would dare say set up Benicia for a score. Then just before the end of the first half, he forced a fumble that was recovered by a teammate.  Throw in a handful of tackles and assists, and it was a very good effort and a lot of hustle. It was a squeaker during the last eight minutes and the balls switched hands three times and Lodi could have scored a touchdown and PAT to win the game. But during those last minutes and in the end, the Benicia Panthers won 27-34.

The Tackle.

The Tackle.


another Konoske!

Levi Alexander joined the Konoske clan today (Tuesday, Sept. 12) at 11:56 a.m., weighing in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces and stretching to 19¾ inches.  Congrats to Mark and Kenna!

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in search of a creek

Spent much of the first half of Saturday fruitlessly searching for wade-in access along Putah Creek, one of the few local waters that offer trout fishing and probably the only one that can be attacked with flies. Chris and I drove up to the Winters area, where the creek feeds into Lake Solano, a bend that is quite wide, and since the water gets warm, the trout are pushed to the deeper sections. We spend a bit of time there, but nothing. Since we were in the area, we continued on to Lake Berryessa, which feeds Putah Creek.

At Berryessa, we fished a bit from shore even through it is a large reservoir better approached with a boat and best trolled. We hit a few points, but only a few small fish followed our lures, with a few strikes, but our lure were bit too big for their mouths. We probably spend more time cleaning water weed off our lures than anything else. I was in the process of retrieving an obnoxious fluorescent orange Rooster Tail lure with the expectation of pulling water weed off it, when I found a smallmouth bass — maybe eight inches long — at the end of my line. Guess that was to be my only “catch of the day,” even if it didn’t give even an inkling of a fight!



benicia@fremont (15-6)

Sean had a pretty good game Friday (yesterday) against American City High School. His biggest plays were an open-field grab of a punt returner and blocking a point after attempt. He made about five tackles for the night, with the Benicia High School Panthers winning the game 15-6. Not a bad start to the season.

The Benicia Herald article is here.

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…it was a wild rainbow!

For those of you keeping up with my antics via this blog, you know that last weekend was an incredible fishing experience. Much of the discussion between Chris and I over the weekend was about catch some wild trout. But while we had targeted a specific stretch of the Little Walker River where wild trout were reputed to reside, and hoped that maybe we’d pull on out of other waters, I wasn’t certain that I could tell the difference between a wild and hatchery rainbow. Sure, I knew the brookies were wild because while they aren’t native, they are no longer stocked.

WILD rainbow from Molybdite Creek.

WILD rainbow from Molybdite Creek.

But with the help of a friend fellow fisherman who has some knowledge of the trout of the eastern Sierras, and a fortuitous photo, I can confirm that I caught at least one wild rainbow trout last Labor Day weekend. I had pointed out to Chris that some of the rainbow we were pulling in — roughly 5 of the 30 I caught — looked a tad different and noted a marked difference in the fish I caught in a small pool on the Little Walker. According to my source, wild trout normally have thin white tips or edges on their fins with extra par markings, with all fins intact, especially tails. Stocked rainbows usually have one of the back fins cut off and tails that are not be full. Sure enough, this rainbow had the extra parr marking, the thin white edge on the pelvic fins and the full tail (and all the requisite fins). Pretty neat!