What an adventurous weekend. Christopher and I headed to the cabin Friday afternoon, thankfully missing most traffic. We crawled into bed early with dreams of bent rods and tight lines.
About 7:30 a.m. we were picked up by Chris H., a fellow fisherman I had corresponded with and who had provided me with good advice for off-season fishing. In his four-wheel-drive GMC pickup, we headed for the back roads and towards the South Fork of the Stanislaus River. Our goal was wild trout in the seemingly rarely fished section of the river. Unfortunately, our progress was quickly stopped by a gate that was closed after being open a few weeks ago. Diverted but not undeterred, Chris H. took the back way in. This was a stretch of the Stanislaus that I wouldn’t have expected to see as it definitely requires a trail-capable vehicle to get there.
Soon we were on the water. This part of the Stanislaus holds a lot of promising spots and has some beautiful sections. And rarely did we even see another vehicle go by. But I didn’t see a single trout. Chris H. apparently saw some fish, but couldn’t get them to bite. We moved upstream a bit, and tried again. No luck. We moved upstream again. Nothing. Late in the afternoon we finally moved up to an area where DFG supposedly plants trout…and you can see where I’m going by the use of the word “supposedly.” We were skunked again. Not the best opening day to be sure, but I asked Christopher if Sunday morning he’d want to head to Moccasin Creek and invited Chris H. to join us if inclined.
Christopher and I hit Moccasin Creek just before eight o’clock the next morning, only to find half a dozen folks already pounding the water and my favorite spot (our spot according to Christopher) occupied. Chris H. arrived as I was walking past the hatchery, and he joined us in trying a few spots. After a while, I slipped on my waders and we all proceeded downstream. Christopher turned back after a while, but Chris H. and I continued on. After a while, Chris H. found a couple of trout holding to a cluster of branches that were under water, but even after we both artfully cast lures and nearly hit the heads of these two fish, we hadn’t a single bite, much less any interest in our offerings.
After returning upstream, we found that Christopher had slipped into the “favorite spot,” and we joined him. Christopher had noticed the fish — about a dozen or so along this fifty-foot stretch — rising to the surface. Chris H. went back for his fly rod and I found my way through some blackberry bushes to get a better angle on the pool from the narrow bank. After a while, Christopher took a break from the frustration of limited interest in his flies and lures, so I moved upstream and started working a pool through which three to five fish would move in and out.
After all too many casts, one fish finally began to pay attention to my little gold on gold Panther Martin. A few more casts and he attacked. Line stripped from my ultra-light setup and I knew this wasn’t what I was used to catching in Moccasin Creek. This fish jump a few times and took off anytime he saw shoreline. I couldn’t so much as reel this fish into shore as guide it’s struggles so that I might get my hands on it — and release it — before it was too played out. It was about two minutes before I could get it to shore, to find it was the biggest brook trout I have landed. I would estimate 15 to 16 inches. What a fish and what a fight!
Shortly after I landed my brookie, Chris H. got a hit on his fly rod and pulled in a decent brookie of his own, also the biggest he’s caught. This seemed to rekindle Christopher’s desire to get a line wet, so he rigged up his fly rod and tried casting into a pool just downstream from a boulder. I think he had a bit of interest in his San Juan worm fly, but not enough to hook up.
Nice surprise in this put-and-take creek.[/caption]I continued to work the more downstream pool, and just about when I was going to call it day, I felt my lure receive a gentle nudge. So I duplicated my cast and again felt a nudge, but as I continued to reel in, my pole began to bend and the fight was on. This fish apparently had gently mouthed my lure and neither he nor I realized he was hooked. This brook trout also put on a good fight, and seeing my little battle, Chris H. volunteer to net the fish. I guided it upstream, but it took about three attempts before he was in the net, and just after being netted, the lure “self released” — that’s how light the hook was set.
I know it was a very frustrating opening weekend for Christopher and I wish he could have lucky enough to have caught something. But it is called fishing and not “catching.” I do feel blessed to have landing two awesome brook trout in the last hour before our fishing adventure ended. Time to start planning our next trip!
P.S. Found out later from Moccasin Creek Hatchery that
The brooks are used as a bio filter for rainbows in certain waters. They were reaching maturity and the decision was made to plant them out as a change of pace. Only moccasin, Lyons Canal, Powerhouse received brooks. Next week it will probably be rainbows again but brooks will be planted on occasion. This years egg numbers for brooks are about the same as last years about 1 percent of our total production. Glad you enjoyed them I was hoping someone would.