Saturday, January 28, 2012
I chose not to battle with the crowds upriver and so pointed my truck towards the quaintness of Sarah Court. I found some willing fish but they were just lil bait nippers. I finally got one to stick when my float sank. It was a shiny, scrappy smolt...
Moved up to the next bar and found even fewer fish.
I did find a tidy lil campsite in the alder and willow trees someone had staked out. It was complete with; rubber raft mattress, rock ring fireplace, kindling neatly stacked betwixed two as-yet-unfelled trees and an empty carton of Donald Duck Orange Juice. I took note of all this as I used the toilet. I flushed with sand, rocks, leaves and a seasoned digging stick so the tenant wouldn't have sewage in his living room.
WTMI? Well, if the fishing was better...
I hiked back out and when I arrived at the parking lot, was oh so happy to find my truck with all doors, hatches and windows intact.
I grabbed some fast food and took stock of the time. HELL!! Its' only 1530 hours! I can zoom on up to Sailor Bar and be fishing 'fore 4 and so it was done.
There were way too many cars and trucks in the dirt when I got there so I knew I'd have some kinda company but also knew that most of the riff raff would be stomping around on the spawning gravel and though not so great for spawning fish, would be great for fishing well above and away from the morons...
I tried to float the area but the sun shone too brightly between my bobber and me and it hurt my eyeballs too damn much to try and follow it. I sent a spoon out there next. I made several swings through the sweet water before my line stopped and I felt that slow womp, womp. I lifted the rod and took a slow, lazy swing upward but it only raised the fish and raised the fish's awareness enough to spit the barbless, Siwash hook.
With only a good hour of light left, I decided to pick the most sensible tactic (bottom bouncing roe) and stick with it.
Zeroing in on the spot and the correct weight took longer than usual. It was a more precise exercise than usual. 1-1/4" of 1/4" lead was too much and 1/2" of 3/16" was not enough and it couldn't just be tossed and drifted... I had to lift, reel, drop, slide, let sit, slow down, help it along etc... to keep from getting hung up.
I changed baits from flo red to natural to orange and back to flo red. I got bit on all of it. The first fish was a big buck that felt like a log until I moved and it moved... I lost that one. I hooked a second fish right out in front that was a more classic take. She came unbuttoned also.
Some guy with a spinner started encroaching on the water I was working. He stayed just barely out of the way though it kind of irked me that with miles of river, he found the need to stand 10 yards from where I had just lost a fish. I contemplated saying something and then the best possible thing happened... the water exploded not too far from his leg.
A bright little buck of about 5lbs. tore up the water and seemed to splash DUMBASS! at the befuddled spinner guy who asked, "You got it?" "Yah, I got it... and was just about to tell you, just a few minutes ago... I lost a fish right where your standing..."
A jumping, splashing fish at ones' feet is the best possible way to let a guy know he's in your drift, snicker, snicker~;)
It was a long. long day that closed with a happy ending and a purdy sunset.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Ryder, whom I introduced to steelhead fishing 6 years ago... is now a died-in-the-wool fly fisherman and spey-casting aficionado. He's got a 4.0 GPA, a partial if not full-ride scholarship to the Seattle University, two years experience at a summer fishing lodge in Alaska and is in love with the girl of his dreams (actually a young lady who is 3 years his senior...)
WOW! the dude's got it going on.
As providence would have it, I happened to have met Whitney Gould, an advanced, fly fisher, guide, instructor and two-time, Women's National Spey Casting champion just 2 weeks ago.
I saw her making impossible casts in the pond at the Sailor Bar launch ramp after fishing one day... It struck me as odd. My first thought was that she was waiting for a boat to get untrailered and then go fishing.
I asked her why with such amazing casting ability... she wasn't out on the river chasing steelhead.
She humbly offered that she was getting ready for a tournament of some kind at the Golden Gate Casting Ponds in April.
We talked a bit and everything she said and didn't say told me what a remarkable human and a real sweetheart she was~:) Her dog, Willa reinforced this.
I told her about Ryder and how awesome it would be if they could connect.
Whit' as she is oft called, offered to meet up with Ryder and offer him free lessons.
I'm a gear guy but I subscribe to the Nemaste wisdom of fishing and know that we're all in the same family, related to the joy of Carpus Piscus (SP?). I also knew that Ryder would be very excited about meeting someone so immersed and so accomplished in the obsession of 'Spey-O-Rama'...
Fast forward to the weekend of the ISE show at Cal Expo.
I never firmed up plans but thought I would meet Ryder at the show on Saturday.
I got distracted by fish and didn't make it.
Fortunately, Ryder took the initiative to introduce himself to Whit after a casting demo and it looks like they'll be able to hang out at the ponds next week, COOL!
The fishing end of things for Ryder and I didn't work out as any better than Superbowl plans for the Forty Niners but... owell, the best is yet to come.
Here's a couple of photos from our last outing in early December:
The often times tranquil, Arden Braids...
Monday, January 16, 2012
Yes it left us
Yes we need it
Yes it's coming
Or so they say...
All of the rain-filled reservoirs and aquifers and the uber-snow-packed mountains which had us oh-so-assured that the drought was over... have since drawn down, way down... and here we are again, parched and prayin' for some Pacific precipitous pounding...
The fishing has devolved from great to good to fair to f#@$ed up or something like that...
It's everywhere too!
The valley, the coast, the Pacific Northwest, even the Cabela's oprator in Nebraska said it was unusually warm and dry for this time of year...
So what does a fella' do in the absence of rain? and low/clear water conditions?
FISH ON!! of course.
I went out today expecting not much at all.
My expectations were easily met.
Ted blanked, as did the Russian guy with the shopping cart, the duct-taped rod and squeaky reel and the 12 ft leader with tiny, red beads, suspended above his also-red, anchor-sized hook... A family of 5 who dropped in from who knows where with every color, curvature, shape and size lure imaginable to humankind... also scratched their heads in disbelief...
At some point, I got a phone call from a certain game warden who had been peering down upon his dominion and wondering what a canoe was doing under the bridge...
Fast Forward to a swift evac, a cup of Peet's coffee and another departure...
Said warden went north to keep the hunters legal and the geese safe. Ted went home and I went to the south side of Sailor Bar.
I bottom bounced with an egg-sucking leech, roe, and bumper eggs for nada.
Mark, Ole man Bruno and Joe T were out there with a couple of strangers sprinkled in for good measure.
I was watching Mark's indicator (a thingamabob, methinks...) float down and fall about 5 feet short of a bunch of holed-up fish.
I contemplated rigging up a float rig but when I looked closer at the fish and saw mostly spawn-colored males, I re-neg'ed and kept bouncing bottom and occasionally throwing long for the 'Hail-Mary' which as for Aaron Rodgers... never quite transpired.
Minutes later, I caught a glimpse of a silver flash out of the corner of my eye.
OK, gotta do it. No one including me is hooking and no one including me is using a float and getting that perfect dead drift either alas~
I rigged up the gay-ass, stealthy lil pinner piece of plastic known as the Drennan Loafer and spread my shot out evenly and threw out just upriver. Quick mend on the line to get it behind the float and off the water and then followed it down with my challenged eyes. I saw a tick! I think... Did I?
I reel up and see a slightly droopy skein and sagging eggs but it still looks good enough hanging on a #8 bronze single egg hook.
Second pass down the same lane and at 11-o-clock, my bobber plunges. It stays down and when I lift up, I'm expecting a snag and not because it wasn't a perfect drift; it was! and not because there weren't fish there; there were! and not because my bait was dragging bottom; it wasn't! and I know it wasn't because I had the float set to run my leader at a depth of 1ft and the water was at least 2.5ft deep along the path of my drift.
My cynicism lay in the fact that I'm just not confident with the float... and that's mostly because I get frustrated having to watch it, CARE-fully cast it, untangle it, and pay constant attention to it...
The rock I snagged slightly moved when I raised my rod tip. When I set the hook, said rock swam and violently shook its rock head. When it saw me and came up, she bolted and got all snake-like, twisting and turning constantly as she darted back and forth.
In the end, she succumbed as the very small hook was deeply embedded in her lower lip.
Many onlookers came and tried to duplicate what they had witnessed but to no avail save one young man who caught a smaller but brighter fish on a big piece of red yarn.
The forthcoming storm should bring some fresh and willing steelies into the river later this week. Time to find my raincoat~;)
Friday, January 6, 2012
At least 700 fishing days since my last post...
2011 was the first year I actually spent more time at home working instead of on the river chasing fish.
Back to my senses in 2012 and it feels great~!
I actually never severed my connection as even while absent from the river I was getting reports from dedicated angler friends. I also spent some time doing advocacy work (meetings, letters, public hearings) to protect that which we all live for and love (fishing in our Sac/SJ Delta watershed).
Here's one such letter sent to a bureaucrat :
I attained a Bachelor of Science degree in ecology/environmental communication from Humboldt State University.
More importantly, I have fished and studied the fisheries and greater ecology of the Sacramento/San Joaquin delta ecosystem and its tributaries for the last 30 years.
I know from empirical data and factual evidence that the decline in pelagic fish species and more specifically, in endangered fish species (ie, delta smelt and Chinook salmon) is corollary with the increased volumetric flows of fresh water out of the delta watershed. Predation on these listed fish by striped bass is minimal and not a significant factor in their demise as has been recently suggested.
This year, on the American River, we witnessed an amazing return of 2-year class 'king salmon' (Thousands of fish) to the Fair Oaks Bridge. This was the result of A) the CA. Dept of Fish and Game's decision to plant 2 million salmon smolt at a boat launch adjacent to the aforementioned bridge 2 years ago and B) the fact that last winter, we had record snow pack and rainfall which kept our rivers flowing at significantly-higher-than-average levels (3,000-6,000 CFS) during fall of 2011 salmon returns.
During the prior three years, the central valley witnessed drought conditions and the American River flowed at (1,000-1500 CFS). Coincidentally, the American River hosted quite meager salmon returns during those three years.
Even a layperson with no biological background can look at this actual evidence and draw the rightful conclusion that salmon returns are most directly affected by water availability.
Simply put... Fish need water to maintain healthy populations.
Stewart Resnick is using his affluence (wealth and power) to pay off Feinstein, Brown, and other politicians to protect his financial interest in selling and profiteering from MY, OUR PUBLIC TRUST RESOURCES = water, fish, birds, scenic beauty, soil, plants, and all constituent pieces of the wonderful and life-sustaining Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Ecosystem.
This is absolutely unethical and goes counter to Public Trust Doctrine legislation which seeks to protect that which belongs to everyone and yet no one.
His push for legislation to help eradicate striped bass, is merely a tactic to sidestep any responsibility of environmental and social responsibility.
Here is a well-documented video series on the topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h8sAv0pQJU
PLEASE educate yourself about this very corrupt plan to misallocate public trust resources which would ultimately lead to the demise of our natural resources.
Mark L. Lynn