Thursday, February 8, 2024

Unfruitful Scouting

January 31, 2024

Decided to check out a watershed I was told held fish.  After a late start I arrived at the parking lot at 11am.  I hiked down 2.6 miles before I started my back upstream.  Water looked promising with some nice big holes.  After fishing a few of them it did not look like there were any fish left in the system.  After fishing several of these holes I decided to quit at around 2pm.  On the way out it was time divert my attention to appreciate nature.  Found several mushrooms but could not identify any with any confidence so I left them be.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Revisiting an Old Spot

 January 28, 2024

For the past several months I've been trying to fish with a friend but we couldn't find the time to get together.  I get a text saying he is free so set a time to fish.  After some careful deliberation I decided to check out a creek most likely to be free from weekend crowds.  It's been over a year since and at that time it was only fishing adequately I wanted to see how it fared after last year's big winter.
On the drive up it was howling so it was a bit of a concern since we'd be fishing some ultralight rods (000 wt for Justin and a 2wt for myself) but once we arrived at our destination the mountains were blocking the majority of the wind.  Initially I planned to fish the main stem of the river I've never seen but it was almost nonexistent so we moved it the fork I usually fish.  From the the outset it was good, we were both on fish with a few casts. 
Fishing would be good the rest of the day.  I'd say we'd have at least 100 takes each by days end.  Justin had stop counting landed fish at over 20 by lunchtime.  Of all those takes I would guess we landed 40% of those.  Best fish of mine was about 11 inches with the average fish 6-8 inches.  We turned back when we reached an area simply too dense to move freely.  On the way out we cherry picked the few good holes that produced earlier in the day.  Once out of the canyon we fished the parking lot area for more fish.  By 5pm we were out of there. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

A Long Mile

January 19, 2024

In the car from the road I measured the distance from the point I planned on starting to the parking lot was about 1.2 miles. In terms of river miles it was probably 2 miles or so. I figured it would be a rather short session and I'd have to drive to another section to get a full day. How wrong was I. It was so dense and slow moving on the river it took me 6 hours to get off the water and I didn't even finish the course.
Got to the parking lot late at 10:30, hiked down to where I began measuring the distance up above from the road. On the water by 11. Saw fish instantly, good size ones too. Starting with my usual setup the fish were bumping my size 10 fly but not taking it. I decided to size down to a 16 for a change. I was still using my old leader that I never add tippet to and it was down to 4.5 feet. Basically down to the butt section. It was probably 20-30 pounds but it still threaded through the eye of the hook. Fish didn't care. Because I was fishing such heavy tippet and within the overhanging canopy I would on several occasions hook onto a wayward branch, if I couldn't release the fly with finesse techniques I would get more aggressive and I would bend several hooks this way and I would change flies then. Fished a variety of sizes to test if it made a difference from 18 back up to my usual size 10. It didn't so I eventually went back to fishing big. I hooked at least 4 fish in the "trophy" class (10+ inches) but lost each one when my hookset would be interfered with by some over head branch. I spooked an absolute pig. Because of refraction and my poor eyes I generally estimate fish size in the water much smaller than they actually are. Just for context, I've fished many times with my buddy, who has way better eyesight than I, and when we've seen a fish in the water we'd ask each other how big we think it is. I'd say "looks like 12-13" he say "no way that's at least 18." He'd be right. So if the fish I saw yesterday looked big, it must have been huge. It was in an impossible hole to fish, fallen trees prevents any drift. A bait or lure angler also wouldn't have any chance. No wonder this guy got so big. Of course this place has produced hogs in the past so its good to see it coming back.
Fishing was excellent and there's a ton of fish in the system. It was getting dark and I didn't want to stop but eventually had to if I wanted to get out safely. Rather than hike down river a quarter mile or so to the obvious trail back up the canyon, I took the most dickhead path up. I made it 90% of the way until stopped by a fallen tree that blocked the path. I'd have to climb back down the canyon and get back on the river until I decided to look on the other side of the tree. It looked like there maybe a path out so gingerly made my way around it once there it looked like if I crawled I could make it through. I realized once on that side the branches were so brittle I could break a path through. Once past I was 95% way up but now facing a what seemed like a 90 degree incline. I had to climb that crumbling vertical face now. Not easy even without a fly rod in hand but I finally made it up to the paved trail and got out of there safely. I heard an Army guy once say "if it looks stupid and it works it's not stupid." I'm not too sure of that because that was kind of stupid.
On the way home stopped by a local Mexican restaurant for some carne asada.  

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Exploration of Good Looking Water

 January 9, 2024

A couple outings ago I fished a small creek that I ended up giving up on after I decided to check out a nearby river that I though might be on the mend.  After that outing I had a friend go to that creek and he ended up fishing the same area I did and he managed some nice fish.  I decided to return and start below my last starting point and fish some areas I've never checked out.  I've caught some fish in this system but never had a stellar day.  I got a late start at 10:30am.  Area looked good.  A lot of great holding water.  I thought I'm definitely getting fish this time.  Hours passed and I only managed one rise, that I missed, and spooked two others.  By 2pm and the creek becoming more and more impassable I quit and decided to drive down to another river.
Here again I'd be fishing an area I normally bypass.  It simply gets too much traffic so I avoid it like the plague.  The spot I wanted to start was cordoned off so I had to drive further down and begin from there.  It wouldn't be long before I'd start to get into fish. 
There weren't many but I'd still be getting some.  I'm not too sure why the fishing was so poor.  Fished till dark which wasn't wise since I was in a canyon I've never been in and wasn't too sure how to exit but I made it out safely. Fishing was slow not sure why. Was it because I was fishing my heavy leader I've not changed or added tippet to for about 6 outings which is probably now 0x or greater? Was it because I was fishing an oversized sized 10 fly in the middle of winter? Probably not as I did mange rises and fish later in the day with the same set up. This is my usual set up anyways. It is possible the the fish were simply hugging the bottom and refused to come up on a dry. It's also possible that since these areas are heavily trafficked there simply isn't many fish left in the system. I'm assuming its the two latter but who knows.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

2024 First Outing of the Year

 January 2, 2024

In November I fished briefly a tributary after the main river proved a bust.  With only an hour of light I fished a small section but in that time it proved very productive.  Since then I've been itching to go back to see how well the upper stretches would fish.  I called my old buddy to see if he wanted to check it out.  Despite almost always having a full schedule we managed to book a day.  He picked up just before 7am and after a visit to the local bakery for breakfast and some lunch we were off.  By 9:30am we were on the water fishing.  At the first hole I got one early and after I hiked downstream to Ed and he told me he just missed one.  He failed to set the hook properly when his hook set was interfered with by an overhanging branch.  Given the action already in the cold morning I thought to myself it's going to be a good day.
Nothing could be further than the truth.  After hours of perfect drifts in the most idyllic waters proved unproductive I started questioning what was going on.  Eventually Ed was able to land his first fish of the day.  He continued upstream looking for willing fish.  By noon I told him if we don't run into fish we're heading back downstream and fish the lower section where I knew there were fish.
At around 1pm I hooked up on a quality fish.  Once landed I tried to tape him but she refused to stay steady but she was at least 12 inches.  We such a beaut we decided to continue on looking for any siblings willing as receptive as this one.
Times were getting desperate and Ed had switched to a nymph rig.  After looking under rocks and seeing all the bug activity it wasn't a bad decision.  By 2pm and with no fish willing to eat we decided to head back.  After an hour of hiking we made it to the lower sections and I gave sone of the choice holes to Ed.  He was able to rise a few fish.
I was able to get a handful of fish here.  Missed quite a bit of them as after seeing the fish come to the fly I would prematurely pull the fly out of their mouths.  After a bit we split up and I moved further upstream to look for the section where I lost a very nice fish the last time.  When I reached the area Ed had already finished and was at the truck while I tried to find "the one that got away."  After a few drifts into the section my fly got caught up in some submerged branches thereby ruining any chance of getting the fish this time.  I moved up a little further and eventually gave up around 4pm.
We managed to get out of there before dark and I passed out on the drive off the mountain.  To say that we were a bit disappointment would be an understatement.  I thought it would have been a much better day.  On the drive home we theorized why it was so poor.  Could have been the pressure change from the upcoming rains.  Could have been the water change from the last rains.  I did notice that the upper stretches of the river were clean and clear but the lower sections were dirty.  Who knows.  I guess that's why we love fishing we're always thinking.

Monday, January 1, 2024

2023 Highlights

I haven't been able to fish much the past two years.  Much less than my previous years.  But at least I was able to go out and I did more fishing this year than I did last so that's a good thing.  Several trips had to be canceled.  I had an Arizona trip to the White Mountains scheduled for the spring and a early fall trip to Utah that never materialized.  

That said I did have some moments worth highlighting for the year.  Here is some the triumphs:

First Barbel in Taiwan.  Nothing remarkable about fishing but it was added to the species list.
First Tilapia in Taiwan.  Another species added to the list.  While I never seriously targeted this fish, I did try to catch one once at Lake Mission Viejo when they stocked it.  Wasn't ever able to get one but I did while trying to get my barbel.
My biggest Taiwanese Mahseer at over 50cm caught on a dry fly with the guidance of my friend Danny Lin.
Personal Best on Bass on topwater (Freaky Frog) no less.  6lbs 11oz. 
Lost my friend Steve.  As a memorial used his gear, rod and fly, for this local lunker.  This is the best local I've seen the past decade or so.
With the help of Roy, I managed to return to the ocean for some inshore fishing.  Caught nothing spectacular or worthy of boasting but it was good to finally fish some old jaunts.  

Friday, December 29, 2023

Part Two: Snowbow Chasing

December 22, 2023

Friday was a complete reversal. Sunny with no wind. Perfect conditions. Buddy was not feeling well so he rested in the truck before heading out later so we never got to fish together and why my fish pics all suck. Began fishing earlier but did not get my first fish until just before 11am. They were resident fish, none worth me taking my camera out of its pouch. By 11am though I managed my first laker. I had to chase him downstream 60 yards as it took to the current and forced me to follow or risk breaking off. Finally got it into calm waters to land it.
Next fish was smaller than the first but I was able to wrangle it much easier as it never got past me and into the rapids.  It seemed that the three hook ups came from the end of a pool and not from the undercuts where I typically catch them.
The next fish was a resident stocker that was holding in front half of the pool.  It hardly fought and from the moment I hooked it I knew it was no lake fish.  I would go back to the truck to meet my fishing partner who fished below me and managed to hook about five but only could land two.  After lunch I went back out while my buddy stayed in the truck to rest as he wasn't feeling well. 
Hiked up further up and I had caught several resident fish ranging from dink to respectable.   In time I would lose another nice laker.  Not quite sure why the hook came loose could have been from a poor hookset.  I honestly do not recall.  In time I'd have another chance though. 
This was holding in the middle of the river.  I casted blindly upstream of a big hole and before the fly plunged down into the pool my indicator dipped and I set the hook.  Another nice buck.  Like the first fish, this one got past me and into the rapids so I had to chase him down.
By 2pm I was satisfied and worried about my buddy's well being I headed back to the truck to head home.  Not sure if I'll be able to make it out here again this winter season but I certainly hope so.  I do hope the next time, if able, is s snowshoeing experience. 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Part One: Snowbow Chasing

December 21, 2023

Rain was forecasted in the Southland but the eastside was supposedly spared.  On the drive up clouds would have us question that forecast and had us worried.  There would be some sprinklings here and there but nothing serious.  Over the 395 a rainbow would award us for our early drive but no pot of gold was at the end of it.  We had breakfast burritos at Mercado Mexico and after getting some sandwiches at the bakery we were off up the mountain.
Windy and cold from the start at 10:30am and it only got worse. Managed several resident fish ranging from dink to respectable but none worthy of a photo. At 2pm I finally managed to hook my first laker. With the winds now howling I had to keep my rod tip low to avoid the line being dragged and when I set the hook I set it low and to the side. Instinctively while fighting it I then raised the rod tip high and after a brief battle the hook came off. Had I fought the fish at a low angle I likely would have not lost the fish. By changing the angle I likely rotated the hook and it's a matter of time with the right head shake it will pop off. After that I went back to the truck where my buddy was having lunch. After sitting in the cab we decided it didn't make sense to continue fishing here as winds were predicted to get worse with top speeds up to 20mph. Moved to Hot Creek to hide from the winds. First fished the canyon section.
I recently acquired a try new 6wt Recon and I wanted to test fire it.  I had prerigged it before we left with a fast sinking line and a Nancy P streamer. Too lazy to switch the set up I fished it anyways. Water was low and so I was using wrong line.  I had to pick and choose my shots. I would have to cast in between the weed lines and strip fast to prevent the line from sinking in the garbage. In time I switched to a Boogeyman and had one flash at it.  Flared its gills gave a brief chase and then let up. With about an hour of light left we left for the interpretive center.  Fish were rising. I was too lazy to rig a dry fly rod up and with little light anyways I decided to stay with the streamer set up. Blanked here while the fishing partner was able to get a few on emergers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

New Gear Testing

December 17, 2023

Took to the locals once again in order to test some new equipment.  An Orvis Superfine Glass 6'6" 2wt.  New lightweight Orvis wading boots. OM Systems (formerly known as Olympus) TG7 camera.  I had planned on fishing with a buddy but due to a miscommunication he never arrived.  By 8:50am I was on the trail making my way, at around 10am I was 2 miles in and I started to fish the hole I saw the foot long the last outing.  While I managed several fish the 12 incher never showed.
I took my time here trying desperately to get that local hog but after a while I gave up and moved to make distance.  Since days are now short I wanted to make sure I had enough time to complete the course unlike last time when I was about a half mile short.
Fished a few more locations before I reached the area I had to turn back last outing.  By now it was closing in on 1pm.  I knew if I didn't want to be hiking out in the dark I needed to be heading back before 3pm.  I had a plan though I would fish the canyon and go through it to where it pops back out to the trail and hightail it out of there. 
When I entered the canyon I started to fish more aggressively than I did before.  I haven't seen this area since the hard winter and was curious how it looked and if the fish were still there.  The rest of the river the fish are scarcer than in the past few years.  Fishing here was decent, there is much better holding water and bigger pools.
I'd estimate 60 rises for the day.  Half were landed.  The half the fish popped off or were missed.   Don't know why but fish seemed to come off very easily on this rod.  It seemed to happen mostly when I had the rod angle horizontal to the water.   I was forced to hold this angle many times since I was canopied with trees branches above.  I was reaching the end of the canyon by 3pm and I could see the trail a few thousand yards away.  Unfortunately I could reach it as I reached a spot in the canyon I couldn't confidently or safely go forward.  This meant I had to go back from where I came.  An area without a trail.  Backtracking cost me an hour of light so now I knew I was going to be making a few river crossings in the dark.
I got on the trail past 4pm and with more than 3 miles I needed to start booking it.I took out my head lamp from my pack and wore it around my neck in preparation for the sunset.  Upon reaching one of the river crossings I saw a pair of hikers putting in their boots.  I asked them if they had headlamps and they did not.  I told them they're going to be making a few stream crossings in the dark.  So they followed me out and with each water crossing I made sure to light up the water so they could see their footing.  Got out of there in the darkness by around 5:30pm.