fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

marking fall with dry fly fishing

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This humble writer should be stumbling hiking down to Hot Creek about this time these words are automatically posted. The expectation is that I will be on the road as of 5:00 a.m., clearing Sonora Pass shortly after sunrise, and three hours later parking the car about 100 feet above the creek. With any luck, I’ll be on the water before any big hatches direct the eyes of the many resident trout (estimated at 3,000 educated fish per mile as of 2008) to surface. 

Is rising early and all this driving worth it?

About the time you’re safely sipping coffee in your cozy breakfast nook and reading this, I’ll have the answer.

I’ve fished Hot Creek before, but only after a recent glance at the calendar did I realize this year the club fishing trip, led by yours truly for a third time as “fishmaster,” would begin the day after the official start of fall. To be clear, trout don’t care about dates on a calendar. However, first-hand reports from fly fishing friends hint that I could be in for some fun dry fly action. Crazy, trout slurping the surface kind of stuff. One of the signs of fall in the Sierra Nevadas.

Only this time I’ll be going small. Word is that size 20 flies might be just this side of too big. For perspective, those pesky mosquitoes everyone knows are roughly a size 18.

Beyond the fishing, it’ll be a new experience hiking down to the creek later in the season. Hot Creek — more so than other streams and creeks in the Eastern Sierra’s Long Valley — has always stood out as a beautiful green gem in an otherwise dusty brown high desert. This time around some frost, and perhaps a bit of ice, may gild the lily.

If all goes well, I’ll be on Hot Creek long enough to feel the sun’s warming rays, and hoping to not leave until sometime after midday.

I’ll then meet up with the rest of the club members to stow gear in our rustic digs. Later it’ll be up the canyon to play with small wild brook trout somewhere near 10,000 feet. These are the guys, or descendants of the guys, who showed me how much fun fly fishing can be. Willing to take a fly and just as willing to show off brilliant colors, it seemed as if each released fish jokingly told it’s companions, “Dude, you gotta try this bug that’s drifting toward us. And don’t worry about that green line floating behind it.” It was so silly that my son finally had to point out it was getting too dark to fish.

I’ve set aside Saturday to spend time on Crowley Lake with a guide. Guide trips can be addicting and relaxing…often all you have to do is show up.  My only responsiblity will be casting, hooking and landing fish.

The rest of my time on the “East Side” will be left to spur-of-the-moment decisions. Saturday afternoon could mean a visit to the Upper Owens, a hike along mid-canyon sections of Rock Creek or chasing down companions’ reports of willing fish in other waters. Sunday will mean finding my way back to the cabin, stopping to fish along the way, of course. Likely this will mean a welfare check on some wild brookies near Tioga Pass, perhaps a first attempt to fish Saddlebag Creek, then a swing by the East, West or Little Walker rivers. Monday morning I’ll wake up at the Family Cabin, with the only necessary decisions being whether to get in a few more hours fishing before descending from the foothills and where to eat lunch.

When it is all over, chances are good it’ll be a day few weeks before I’ll feel the itch to fish. If all goes well, I’ll make all five of my readers envious with a report next week.


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