Sunday, August 31, 2014

After a Year Absence

Despite being one of my favorite bass lakes, I didn't fish Barrett at all last year.  As always tickets early in the season were next to impossible to obtain and with the low water year, reports in the early part of the season were poor.  So when opening day approached this year, with another dry year, I didn't even bother trying, nor did I even bother looking at reports.  Freshwater fishing in general particularly freshwater bass fishing has been poor throughout SoCal and up until last week I ignored looking up reports of Barrett assuming it was the same.  According to those reports, Barrett was only having roughly 4 boats leaving the dock each fishing day.  Shocking considering this lake normally sells out.  I concluded that most are unwilling to pay the high fees to fish here when the open ocean is currently producing some serious tuna action.  Despite the low number of anglers entering this reservoir, the gear anglers were reporting over 70 fish days.  So I ordered a ticket.
Chul and I arrived at the gate just after 1am and we slept in the Rover until we were awoken at 4:30am by the lights of the lake manager driving toward us to allow us entry.  I brought three rods with me, my ten weight for poppers, my nine weight for bulky submerged flies and my newly fixed five weight for my general subsurface fishing.  It was still dark when we started just past 5am.  My Sage RPLX ten weight is matched with a Charlton reel lined with an eleven weight line.  Years ago my buddy, Bryan Webb, gave me a box full of his bass flies, included was a massive hard foam popper with a rattle.  It has sat in that box for ages until I decided a few days prior to this outing that I wanted to fish it to try and lure one of the pigs out of its lair. 
It was not long before I threw this massive fly that the first fish took.  With only a headlamp for illumination I couldn't even see the take and only heard a massive gulp and splash of water so I set the hook.  I had no clue what I had on at the end of the line all I knew was that even with a  ten weight this fish had some heft and was pulling the boat around.  Eventually I pulled him out of the water and saw it's size.   After bogaing him at 5 pounds I released him.  It took Chul sometime to get his first fish on topwater, it happened  just after the sun started peaking through the mountains.  He managed at least three or so missing several on the surface.  I could not get another fish to stick on my popper despite having at least three attack my fly.  With the sun shining through we switched to sinking lines.  I started with the nine but gave up after tiring throwing big flies so I moved to the five weight.
We moved to the point Ed and I like to start when we fish together.  Putting his Sage Bass rod down, Chul fished his seven weight with a 330 grain line and was taking fish after fish with a shad pattern he tied last night.  He managed the only crappie of the day which was a good size.  I finally managed my first subsurface bass after a wolf pack attacked the shad just behind us.  I threw my ASSF at the boils and within seconds I was on.  Roughly 1.5 pounds or slightly greater.  Chul caught fish here and there but I couldn't get another one until I switched to the nine again this time with a new shad pattern I created.  I concluded that my line 150 grain line was simply not getting to the fish.   Once I did that I started sticking fish, all our fish were in the 2 pound range and lower.  Hauser was loaded with fish boiling on shad and many of our fish were taken by throwing in these wolf packs.  On one session I was three for three, three bass on three casts.
We reached the end of Hauser and switched to our lighter rods, the five for me and four for Chul, to fish the submerged timber.   We managed a few bass in the pound range within the wood and Chul managed a bluegill.  He had now caught just about every species in this lake, expect for a smallmouth which may no longer exist here.  We also caught a fish on each of our rods that we brought.  The most successful flies for us were shad patterns with a lot of flash. I created a few flies that all had success.  I'm not sure how many fish we ended up with but I'm guessing at least ten a piece.  This was not considered a stellar result by Barrett standards but it was a solid outing considering most of our recent fishing trips have been left a poor taste in our mouths.  After 11am the winds became too much for our fly lines and by noon we gave up to head out for some lunch. 
Drought conditions have not been kind to California watering holes, and Barret is no exception.  The lake has completely changed to what I am used to, it was like fishing a completely new lake.  All my favorite fishing spots were now at ;east forty feet above water.  In the past fishing my 150 grain line was sufficient as I was throwing flies to lurking bass in the vegetation.  Now fishing along the banks is mostly fishing  boulders and dropoffs so the lighter line wasn't very productive.  Hauser and Pine are completely different.  Both are barely arms now and significantly shorter.  Islands that once existed are no more and are now mountains.  I should have taken more pictures of the contours for future reference when the lake fills up again.  If I return again this year I will have to do that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twilight Topwater

Dinner took longer than I anticipated and was left with only about 20 minutes of light by the time I arrived on the water.  Hastily I put on my waders and cut off the old fly I used last time in favor of a foam body popper.  Within less than five minutes I was on my first bass, no more than one pound if that.  I lost two more that I felt the line go heavy but was unable to set the hook.  Must have been grabbing the tail.  With the sun down, I managed one more of similar size before I called it quits. Not bad for less than forty minutes on the water.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Preseason Warm Up

With the season forthcoming and since I haven't shot with Mike in a couple years, I decided to hit the skeet range.  I was also able to meet Mike's new pup, Lizzy, a pointing black lab.  The old man and I shot our side by side Merkels but Mike left his side by sides home in favor of his Benelli Ultralight.  This is the gun he takes every year to South Dakota for pheasants and since he is required to shoot nontox there he has moved away from hunting with his double barrels.  He used to use his Garbi, WC Scott or AyA but he grew tried of paying for bismuth rounds and now sticks with the Benelli that can shot safely with steel.  Mike as always showed us up  but  I actually shot better than I expected considering I haven't picked up a double since last season.  I still need to shake the rust off though.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sleep>Dink Bass

I got thirty minutes of sleep before my alarm went off and had to get ready before Chul came and picked me up at 4am to head down to San Diego Bay.  Fishing was slow with only a few fish caught none of them worth photographing.  I should have just slept in.  Though I haven't gotten a full report and only a brief text, my buddy Luc, on the other hand, apparently slammed it in the open water with the tuna. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bassin' The Brown Water

Its been awhile since the last time I really fished my local brown water.  For over a year everytime I drove past I noticed that the water was always up, making sight casting to carp nearly impossible so I simply gave up on the matter.  With most of our recent outings a bust, I decided to check the brown water once again and target bass this time.  After a lengthy discussion of our hatred of hipster sportsmen posers, Chul and I hit the water.  In all honesty I didn't have much faith but  after only five casts, I hooked up on a fairly respectable largemouth.

The river has changed and while it looks like there is a lot of water, there are plenty of areas to sight cast to carp in the shallows.   When we saw a few we switched tactics and I removed my bunny leech in favor for a Prince Harry Aggravator.   Unfortunately we had no success today with the golden ghost.  The wind made it problematic to make a proper presentation.  Despite the lack of carp we found several spots with baby and juvenile bass which would take my fly on every cast.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Mountains Maybe On Fire But The Bay Was Not

Plan A, trout fishing the East Fork, was cancelled when Chul made his ride home and noticed the smoke coming from the San Gabriel mountains.  So instead we loaded his pram and headed out to the bay.  On arrival we missed the optimum portion of the tide swing and only fished the tail end.  On my first cast I managed a dink calico which proved to be my only fish of the day.  Chul managed a handful of dinks and the fishing completely stopped. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Should Have Been Here Last Week...

In the early 2000s I spent a lot of time fly fishing the surf, eventually I grew bored with it and moved on like most in the scene.  But I needed to feel the tug of a fish today and with reports of corbina being taken with regularity last week, I finally motivated myself to get out and try my luck.   A number of corbina were spotted throughout the two hours of fishing this afternoon but none were willing.  Winds, crowds, and quick sets between choppy waves made catching one of these elusive fish problematic.  Today only confirmed to me why I dislike this type of fishing and why I gave it up a decade ago.  Despite that, if I go back out I'll have to go out early in the morning so I can avoid the circus and winds to improve my chances.
Reports last week were good.  One of many corbina caught last week.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back From The Vaterland

Earlier this year on a turkey hunt, my Lowa Scout backpacking boots failed and the soles came apart.  The boots were over a decade old and, to be honest, not really cared for properly as I rarely cleaned them.  So when I came home from that trip I called Lowa regarding a repair.  After confirming that these boots were indeed repairable, I sent them to Lowa USA.
I got them back last week.  For $85, Lowa USA returned them to Germany to have the mid and outer soles replaced.  In addition they gave me new footbeds, laces and refurbished the leather with treatment.
Included also was a vial of Lowa active creme.  The boots are now as good as new.  Not bad for $85.