West Carson Redemption – 05/28/08

I went out to the WC after work yesterday. It was raining, but there was no thunder and lightening, so I figured it was as good a time as any. I knew that the flows were down due to all the cold temps, but I was really shocked at how good the water looked. Just the previous week, the rivers were muddy and blown out. What a difference some cold temps make.

I strung up at the gaging station hole and watched several fish moving around against the far wall. Since there was no sign of any bug hatch or rising fish, i tied on a two nymph rig under an indicator. After a few casts to the near bank to “clear” that water, I waded into position to cast and drift the opposite side of the river. On my second drift, I snagged on a submerged log and lost both nymphs. At least I know where the log is. A quick retie, with a change in nymph choices, and I was drifting the slot again. Bam! Stuck again. This time I only lost the dropper nymph, a zebra midge. Feeling lazy, I decided to retie once I waded back to the bank and moved to the next hole. BUT, before I moved on, I had to drift the slot a few more times to cover the water. I wound up pulling three nice stockers on the next four drifts from right up against the wall, but just before the submerged fly-eating log. All were Rainbows, one was a healthy 14″ while the others were the standard 11″ size. They all took the #12 Prince Nymph that my buddy Dennis tied…thanks Dennis. Time to move on.

Next hole upstream, I sat on the rocks observing the water while I retied. This hole is always a PITA since the cable runs right above you and you have to cast sideways to avoid hanging your line on the cable. I added a green copper john as a dropper to the prince and proceeded to hook into the prettiest fish of the evening. This one was a kick-ass 8″ Rainbow, probably something that held-over from last year. If it came from the hatchery truck, then it did not look anything like its neighbors downstream. He took the Prince nymph and put up a great fight in the fast water before I landed him.

Next hole up, I managed to catch and land another two stocker fish. Both these fish took the Prince and both were your diagnostic hatchery 11″ ‘bows. I got one fish tight against the bank I was standing on by casting upstream and drifting down to my feet. The other fish was just on the outside of the fast water in the central slot. That one was a rough drift because you have to cast upstream over fast water and into the slow water, quick upstream mend, anther quick upstream mend, and yet another upstream mend, and then pray that the drag of the faster water in the center of the slot does not affect your fly. I actually thought my strike indicator hesitated because of a rock, but I set anyways, and guess what…a fish was on!

One more hole before calling it quits. This last hole is a challenge during normal flows, and a real challenge in high water it is pretty deep hole and the best position to be is on the far bank IN the water. From the bank I was on, it was a slingshot cast to get your line and bugs upstream. From there it is strip, strip, strip, let the line float past and water load, fling, and repeat. First drift, I get into a fish, but he shakes off. Two drifts later, I get into another fish. This fish manages to swim all around the hole, thrashing the hole, before shaking the hook. I took another dozen drifts for good measure and called it an evening.

And thus ends my quick one hour after work trip to a close-by river. Weather reports show temps heating up considerably, so I may not get a chance to fish the rivers before they blow out again.

Hot Creek on Memorial Weekend – 05/24/08

When we planned a camping trip to June Lake with the family to kick off our camping season, we never predicted that we would have to endure cold temperatures, rain, and about 2-3 inches of snow. I know that we were at 7000′ feet elevation, but this is still the end of May. Guess it was meant to be one of those challenging weekends.

My in-laws offered to watch Bailey Saturday morning so that Erin and I could get in a few hours of fishing. Saturday dawned cloudy, wet and cold. We suited up and headed out to Hot Creek which was just under 20 miles from our campground. I fully expected that it would be shoulder-to-shoulder since it WAS Memorial weekend AND this was the FAMOUS Hot Creek. Upon arrival, there were a few cars at the first parking area, so I headed to the second parking area and we were the only car at that lot. I was still in shock at the lack of crowds.

Wonder why it\'s called Hot Creek?

We hiked down the steep trail to the river and commenced to fish with minimal crowds. The stretch pictured below had two other fishermen. I have fished this section in times past with 20+ other people, so this is EMPTY water.

Some good holding water

It snowed and rained intermittently the entire time we were on the water. The morning started off slow for me, but about 30 minutes into the morning, I got a solid grab. I could not set the hook quick enough, so the fish shook off.

This pattern proceed to plague me for the following few hours. When it was all said and done I was 0 for 5 and Erin was 1 for 2. Erin’s second fish, the one she lost, was a monster – and that is a funny story of loss, in and of itself. It was a classic case of husband-wife miscommunication. I *thought* I told her to tippet down to no less than 5X. She swears that she asked me if 6X was fine. I must have not heard and just gave a stock husband answer of “yes dear” as that is what she was using the entire day. Now, do not get me wrong. You can be quite successful with 6X on Hot Creek as the average fish in only about 12″. But the creek is known to harbor some MONSTERS. And that is what happened. Erin hooked an 18″ brown who knew that to get off you run downstream to the fast water. Erin put up a decent fight for about three minutes, then the fish broke off.

At this point it was time to head out. We both noticed that it seemed the river was really turning on at that point as people around us seem to be hooking up with some regularity. Funny how the fishing always seems to get good when you have to leave.

Now for some tackle specifics – I was using my Sage 8′ 4-wt SLT and was dead drifting a double nymph rig under an indicator. Erin was using her Sage 7’6″ 3-wt SLT and was swinging a double nymph rig wet-fly style. I am going to guess that most of my strikes were on the #20 flashback PT as the timing between the strike indicator movement and my sets were always indicative of a less than tight line. Erin’s hookups were both on a #18 PT as well.

I hope to get back for another round or two before it gets too hot and weedy.

BRTF and Proposal 2-XA

Proposal 2-XA Video

Although this does not directly affect us here in the Sierra’s, I feel that as fishermen, we all feel the pain when something like this happens. Just imagine if your favorite fishery was taken away.

Life for the salt water fishermen who fishes off the coast of central California may change in the near future. The CA DFG, heavily influenced by several large environmental groups is considering a massive closure of off-shore fishing to boats, consumptive divers and people fishing from kayaks. Proposal 4, if passed, will have a tremendous impact on sport fishing in California.

Two groups of concerned fishermen have banded together to create an alternative proposal called Proposal 2-XA. At the forefront of 2-XA are the members of Coastside Fishing Club and the members of Keep America Fishing. These members propose that 2-XA offers the best balance between recreation and conservation. One member is quoted as saying:

As a group, we believe that conservation of our natural resources is key. As consumptive users, it is in our best interest to conserve resources. Of course, the scientists that sit in cubicles and Ivory towers truly want to study nature as if she has never been impacted by humans. Since we are on this planet, then that is impossible.

If proposal 4 is passed “as-is”, that could set a dangerous precedent in the state of CA. Who knows which watershed will be in the cross-hairs next.  With a strong precedent set, it will only become easier to take away your fishing privileges. Shutting down fishing in the name of conservation could become an epidemic. Is this a case of environmentalism gone wild?

East Carson – Brown and Muddy – 05/15/08

Yesterday after work, I spent a few hours on the East Carson. What a difference 10 degrees makes. I cannot use words like tinted or off-color to describe the muddy, roiling mess that I saw. yes folks, we are well on our way to a blown-out run-off river. At least these warmer temps will start the process of spring run-off and hopefully it will end sooner, versus later.

So what does a trout bum do when a river is blown out? Grab the float tube and head to a lake? Not this one. I continued to drive higher up looking for clearer water. As I approached the turnoff for Wolf Creek, the river did look *less* muddy and I decided to rig up and dredge a wholly bugger through some likely runs. A hours worth of trying and I was able to pound up but one lowly 10″ stocker. An interesting note, I only saw one other angler during what is normally prime fishing time. I must be part of a group crazy enough to fish chocolate milk….mmmmm…yummy!

Recon with Bailey – 05/09/08

I had to head up to Tahoe to take care of my Mother-in-laws cats while she is away. Bailey and I decided to take the scenic route and follow the length of the West Carson River up into Hope Valley before turning and heading to Tahoe.

We stopped at Pickett’s Junction (88 and 89) at the bridge, and walked down into the meadow section. Bailey and I did not fish as time was limited, but I wanted to recon this section as I had not fished it this season and the fishing has a tendency to be good as this is a major stocking point for Fish & Game.

First thing I noticed, outside of the usual plethora of cars and fishers, was that the water was darkly tinted. Pretty strange as this section has a tendency to run high during run-off, but much clearer than what I noticed.

Bailey and I would up talking to several people who were fishing and no one was catching any fish. There were two guys throwing spinners and powerbait. They reportedly fished the river for several hours without a single nibble. There was also a couple fly fishing and they reported that neither of them had seen a fish. The fly fishers were both throwing dries. It was a little chilly and the water temps were mid-forties, so I would not have chosen a dry, but to each his own.

Bailey and I walked up the river to the handicap access platforms looking for trout, but saw nothing. One thing I will say about kids…their eyesight is very sharp. Bailey has pointed out fish in water that my aging and polarized aided eyes have missed. So I will assume that the stocked trout are all holed up somewhere else, or they have simply been fished out in the first few days of planting. Hopefully the fish have all been pushed downstream into the canyon section that I tend to fish the most (grin). I am planning on hitting some fresh water this weekend with the lakes all finally starting to ice out. Maybe some hungry Macs are on the catch list??!!