fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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highs & lows: fishing Memorial Day 2007

Though I straddle the fence when it comes to my choice of lure fishing — spin casting vs. recently adopted and as yet unsuccessful fly fishing — my memory of Memorial Day 2007 may forever be tarnished by the image of a guy using a fly rod, reel and line to cast a worm into small stream. My lack of success with fly fishing precludes me from calling this sacrilegious, but it sure made me cringe.

But on to the good stuff. This Memorial Day weekend Christopher and I headed out Saturday from the cabin at oh-dark-thirty, headed over the still snow-capped Sonora Pass. Our first stop was the West Walker River. And it was just a stop. The water was high and a bit colored and not too inviting to fishing. Christopher didn’t offer any suggestions as to the nest stop, so I headed south, to one of my favorite sections of the upper Lee Vining Creek.

I’m not anti-social by nature, but I love to be alone with myself or my son when I’m fishing. It’s a reason that I love this little area of Lee Vining Creek; over the last three summers we have pretty much have had this section to ourselves. Under the clearest of blue skies and the warmth of the early morning sun we stepped I peered into a slow moving and shallow section of the creek water to find my suspicions confirmed; if we did all the right things we would catch trout.

There’s a bend in this creek that creates two large and deep pools, almost ponds or small lakes. But this year the shortage of snow was abundantly clear as the water we were about to fish. The outlet of the main “lake” was low this year. This was not a good thing for two reasons. First, it doesn’t bode well for great fishing later in the season. Secondly, it allowed me to see the numerous trout cruising the shallows. As I stood still, they seemed to tease me by coming within a few feet of the shore before zooming back to deeper water.

I truly had hoped to cast some flies — I’m still looking for my first trout on my fly rod — but as is typical of many high Sierra streams, stunted pine trees crowd the shore and make casting difficult for a new fly fisher like me. Out came the ultralight and my favorite Panther Martin. And away skittered the trout. Even the shadow of my spinner was enough to whip these wild brookies into a frenzy. Eventually they calmed down — maybe they recognized me and realized I was no real threat — and I was pull the little PM through various groups of fish and spark a mild interest among what were probably the dumber trout.

Christopher, in the meantime, decided to chuck bait during much of this trip. From the opposite bank he was able to hook into a small brookie that was adept at practicing the self-release tactic. (Even with bait, he de-barbed his hooks.)

Though the beauty of this place often mitigates any fishing frustration, Christopher wanted to land a fish and so moved to my side of the creek and headed around a bend. This bend creates a deep pool that always suggests trout are present. This year, however, snow still covered the opposite shore, which is often in the shadow of a mountain.

I followed Christopher fifteen minutes later to be greeted with, “Dad, you should throw a lure in here!” So I did to find three or four fish chasing my lure nearly every cast. Christopher was the first to land a fish, the small brook. I was next, pulling a decent rainbow that hit less than five feet from shore. A little bit later I switched over to a gold Kastmaster, in my opinion THE great all-purpose lure for large bodies of high Sierra water. Like last year and the year before, this Kastmaster was taken almost the instant it hit the water. My reward was the rainbow below.

My first thought was that this might be a holdover, but it looks a bit too nice…maybe wild? [singlepic=214,250,,,right] After a while, we decided to what was what at Tioga Lake, finding it low by at least seven feet compared to last year during July and still partially covered by ice.

We also explored the creek further down Lee Vining Canyon, but couldn’t be enticed — due to a lack of fish or a surplus of other fisher folks — to spend too much time in one location.

Over the roughly four hours spent up and down Lee Vining Creek, I pulled in four rainbows and Christopher landed one brook and four rainbows. But more importantly, my batteries were fully recharged and the inspiration to fish the high country rekindled.

That afternoon we struck out for unfamiliar territory. And stuck out. We stopped for our first visit to the beautiful Twin Lakes area, specifically for a look at Robinson Creek. We saw a lot of bait fishing going on here, and encountered only one gentlemen with a beat up rainbow on his stringer. I’ve heard good things about this creek, but guess I’ll have to spend more than a few hours exploring it… Being tired and not wanting to drive over the pass in the dark, we called it a good day and headed to the cabin.

A bit sunburned and sore, Christopher and I got a little extra shuteye Sunday morning (5/27/2007) at our cabin in Twain Harte. But not wanting opportunity to pass us by, we headed out to some local water to pursue some stockers. We have a few local spots to pick from and ended up wet wading in nice canyon stream.

Christopher and I know the most productive pools on this “crick.” He headed upstream while I stuck near the middle of its length. I found the mother lode, with at least two dozen fish holding in two pools about four feet deep and separated by a washing machine-sized boulder. This is where I found the aforementioned worm-on-fly-rod guy and happily noted, with some guilt, the fact that he wasn’t catching anything.

I would note here that I again tried to use my fly rod, but with limited room and even less interest in what I had to offer, I shifted back to a spinner. I knew gold on gold had worked here in the past and figured at the every least I could anger one of these trout into a strike. I set up a bit downstream from the lower pool, casting up an retrieving slightly down and across the current. I got some interest, but no takers.

Across the water an older gentleman and a younger guy were drifting worms through the pools. From across the creek I asked what they had caught — expecting these to be planted rainbows — and was surprised to be they had plucked a smaller stringer’s worth of smaller “native browns” from the creek since sunrise. Soon they crossed the stream to my side and as they passed by I felt obligated to impart some of my limited wisdom. (Yeah, meeting them as I was crossing to commandeer their former position.) I pointed out the pinkish fins edged in white, the more squared off tail, a few reddish spots with blue haloes and the irregular worm-like markings on back on the pan-sized brook trout the younger man was carrying on his stringer. He was appreciative, telling me it was one of a few times he’s fished the Sierra foothills.

My good deed for the day was later rewarded, after Christopher rejoined me. After giving him some pointers on where he might want to drift worms, I concentrated on that lower pool that was consistently filled with about ten fish. Soon I focused less on the fish and more on my casts. I figured that the prefect placement of my Panther Martin would be six to twelve inches from the opposite shore, allowing the spinner to drift downstream on a moderately fast retrieve through the leading edge of the pool. This generated a lot of interest. About the time that the worm/fly rod guy and his cigarette smoking buddies packed it in, I was awakened by a dynamite strike. A fourteen-inch bookie close enough to eyeball me, and off he went again. This fish put on one of those good fights that deserves a catch and release philosophy.

Later, when Christopher and I had this stretch of the creek to ourselves, he landed a nice brook he had enticed to take a worm.

The rest of the weekend was composed of mostly rest and relaxation. Life is good.


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did this fisherman die happy?

From Helena Independent Record in Helena, Montana (May 20, 2007):

Helena Man Killed by Lightning
By Eve Byron, IR Projects Editor
     A Helena man died Friday afternoon after being struck by lightning while fishing on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.
Few details of the incident, including the man’s name, were available on Saturday.
     Broadwater County Sheriff Brenda Ludwig said onlookers watched as the man caught a fish about 3:20 p.m. Friday, “and the next thing they knew, he was struck” by lightning.
     The man was alone in his boat near the east shore of Canyon Ferry, across from the Silos.
     “It’s just a tragedy,” said Ludwig, who wanted to be sure all of the relatives had been notified before she released the man’s name. “The weather can come up on you so quickly. You really have to be careful.”

Since graphite is an excellent conductor of electricity, quite an argument for the avid fly fisherman to include a bamboo rod in his arsenal…

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slight different fishing regs in Iraq…

From The Daily Journal in Fergus Falls, Minnesota (May 16, 2007):

Fishing in Iraq: National Guard Troops Enjoy Opener Half a World Away
By Tom Hintgen
     Many Minnesota National Guard members from this area serving in Iraq have good memories of the spring fishing opener. Among them are Zach Eifert of Fergus Falls and Doug Aas of Pelican Rapids.
     Just for fun, some Guardsmen in Iraq held a simultaneous fishing opener coinciding with the Minnesota Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 12, at Camp Adder, Iraq.
     “We hope your fishing was better than ours,” Public Affairs and photographer Capt. Mark Lappegaard joked. “There’s no fishing limit here in Iraq and our only rule is no explosives.”

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a sign of intelligence in goverment?

From the California Chronicle: Wolk bill to protect native trout and amphibians moves forward.

I’m not planning on taking up suction dredging anytime soon to supplement my income, so sure, but this might be a good idea.

A bit of irony associated with this article, however. The photo displayed with the article — an ad actually —  is of a fish caught in Jurassic Lake, which is Patagonia, and is for a company that organizes fly fishing trips around the world except, apparently, in California.

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a straight spoof: “Hot Fuzz”

A conspiracy of controlled chaos, parody played straight, and Timothy Dalton’s wonderfully odd turn as a sinister villain with a twinkle in his eye allow “Hot Fuzz” to be a genuinely smart yet silly film. This lampoon of the Hollywood cop action film leans more towards homage with sometimes subtle but nearly always dead-on verbal and visual references to both the good and ghastly action and suspense films, including “Mission Impossible II,” “Point Break,” “Chinatown” and “Bad Boys 2.” One might still call “Hot Fuzz” just another action comedy, but it’s a thoroughly good one that can stand up to many the better films of the genre.

While there easily recognized bits copied directly from “Point Break” and “Bad Boys 2” — both are explained to the audience by being shown within the film — film fans will have to keep a keen eye out for a good many subtle bits lifted from films such as the aforementioned “Chinatown” as well as “Men in Black,” “The Omen,” “The Shining,” “The Matrix,” etc. Let me know if you also sees a visual homage to “Mad Max.” (You can find more triva through a Google search.)

Though it all, a little bit of a very English plot, the gentle Englishness of a police force with no guns (normally), a barrage of film-geek jokes and simple nonsense yield a fun two-hour film that doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a comedy. The action is well directed and the editing rather crisp, though it takes a bit too long to get to the action. But while we wait for the guns to blaze, Simon Pegg, who plays Nick Angel (a policeman working in London who is too good, making the rest of the Metropolitan Police look bad) and Nick Frost, who plays his partner Danny Butterman, entertain the audience with a natural rapport and comedic banter. And a wealth of good British actors in many of the supporting roles elevates rather than detracts from Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost’s performance. If you enjoyed “Shaun of the Dead,” I daresay you will find “Hot Fuzz” to be a worthy follow up and pleasant way to spend a time in your local cinema.

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joseph & his dreamcoat: a debut

Karen and I headed off to Egypt this afternoon for Adam’s performance as the lead in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” as put on by St. Dominic’s Catholic School’s sixth, seventh and eight grades. 

It was a fun show! All of the kids seemed to put their “all” into it, with a great Elvis impersonation by the young man portraying Pharaoh. Adam did a great job at Joseph, and it was particularly fun to watch his reaction to the affections of Mrs. Potiphar.  (I loved the minimalist set design, which put the focus on the actors.)

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where on the road is AB?

Guess that all this time shifting with our mondo-cool Series 3 HD TiVo ain’t always a good thing. With the capacity to store up to 300 hours of television shows, easily allows me to let hours and hours — more like half hours and half hours — of “Good Eats” to pile up on the hard drive. (I tend to save them for the off season.)

In doing so, it seems that I missed the boat on “Feasting on Asphalt 2.” Apparently, AB (that’s Mr. Alton Brown to non-foodies) hit the road last month and will still be riding along this month to finish filming six episodes of “Feasting on Asphalt2,” a self-apparent follow up to the first “Feasting on Asphalt.” (There’s also a mysterious title “A Taste of Tarmac” floating around on AB’s Web site…a possible subtitle?)

According to his blog, AB last was in Mississippi…but that was back on April 25. Digging around, perhaps I found the reason for the sudden stop to his blogging about his escapades…

Like the country song says, “I got a long way to go and a short time to get there.” Turns out it’s not too safe to write while riding my bike, so the whole Feasting on Asphalt 2 adventures will post once we finish shooting. Remind me to tell you about the wasp that got inside my helmet…

A wise decision I would say, and I am sure he doens’t want a repeat of last year’s nasty turn of events.  In the meantime, mark your calendar or set the alarm in Outlook or on your Palm for August 4, when “Feasting on Asphalt 2” will premiere.  (This means you Tom, Luci, Nicholas and Nathan!)

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today’s early opening for Tioga Road

Blogger Loyd Schutte put out an early alert on his Yosemite Blog that Tioga Road is set to open today at noon. This is one of the earliest openings of the road in recent memory and is good news in terms of some early season fishing in the high country.

A light snow pack, early warm weather and limited damage to the road sped its clearing. The last time the Tioga Pass Road was opened close to mid May was during 2004 and 2001. Beyond that you have to go all the way back to 1990 for such and early opening date. If you’re inclined, you can take a look at the pass at the Tioga Pass Web Cam.


stocking the fly box

Flies, flies and more flies. I was lucky enough to pick up some flies tied by other members of the Diablo Valley Fly Fisherman club during Tuesday night’s auction. (Even got some hints from a “fishmaster” about some flies that might do well on Putah Creek, our only local trout water.)

But I’ll tell you what…I’m going armed with a bit more cash next year if this fly fishing thing takes root. Gear was generally going for the equivalent of half the retail price, and it was for a good cause. It’s also great to experience the sincere “hellos” from club members, which helps dispel the myth that fly fisherman are a snobbish bunch with expensive equipment. I’m already saving pennies for next year’s auction!

A few flies from the auction.

A few flies from the auction.