Thursday, April 28, 2022

Time with Dad

Took my dad out fishing once again.  Options are dwindling in our local mountains.  I need to take him to places that don't require strenuous hikes or places that have uneven terrain as his balance is now compromised.  My first thought was to take him to a local watershed that is alongside a gated paved road but once I parked in the lot the area was closed until December of 2023.  I then drove to another area along the road.  I've never really fished this area as its always crowded with clowns that make a mess of it but I decided to fish it today since it was easy access.  We managed a handful of fish in couple hours.  Fishing wasn't great but it was quality time with dad nonetheless which was the point anyways. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Shadow of it's Former Self

Time to Hang It Up

Decided to check out our favorite local creek one last time before the summer heat plays havoc to the place.  All I can say is the place is done.  The jewel of SoCal local fishing is no longer.  Foolishly the Forest Service has graded the road to allow easy access into this area.  I don't understand the logic.  The roadside is littered with weekend idiots who trash the place.  Graffiti is on every rock.  This area, for the most part, was pristine.  Soon the knuckleheads that trash the lower section will migrate toward this area and in no time it'll be a shitpit like much of the LA mountains.  It's already started as I've seen more tagging than before.  The fishing has also declined considerably.  Not one fish over 7 inches today.  All were 5-7 inch range.  What a sorry state.  It's sad to see.  It's not going to get any better either.  Water levels are low and summer is just around the corner.  This place is fucked.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Fishing in Alpines for Bass

 April 4, 2022

Took my dad to an alpine lake after my initial plan creek fishing was scraped after hearing a report that the river is blown out.  All the holes are buried in silt.  Fishing wasn't great and we only fished a few hours before heading home.

Friday, April 8, 2022

April Fool's Day Fishing. Fishing with a New Glass Rod.

April 1, 2022

Not long before this outing I received a new old stock TFO FSG 3/4 glass rod and I wanted to take it out.  Initially the intention was to fish the local mountains on a section of river that has been recently opened.  When we arrived at the base of the hill though we were disappointed to learn that the only road into the area was closed for construction.  We had come up with Plan B and only two real options existed.  One Double back the way we came and fish another recently opened river or continue north and fish the area I scouted just weeks ago.  I decided on the later as I planned on taking my dad to the former in a few days.  So with another hour drive we headed northbound.
I really wanted to check to see if the bass I saw three years ago was still there.  When we arrived there were two or three cars already parked at the trailhead.  I saw two spin anglers fishing downstream and making their way back up.  Once we finally prepped and started to head out they were ahead of us.  This wasn't good as there are only a few good access and fishing points in the whole system.  It's largely overgrown so this maybe problematic.  Fortunately for us they verged into the first easy access point and we never saw them again.  Having only been here twice before I'm not too familiar with the best spots so I entered in a few areas I had normally bypassed.  Well I bypassed them for a reason they simply are a pain to get into.  After a couple attempts and drawing a blank on the creek we decided to just hightail it to the pools that we've fished in the past.  Starting with the bass hole, it proved devoid of fish.  Fished a few areas and I managed only two fish, missed one.  My buddy with one a a couple misses.  The water was low, silty and had a green color filled with moss.  I won't be returning any time soon.  An absolute disappointment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Wild Trout and Wildflowers Part II

 March 19, 2022

Rain was forecasted for the evening but clouds were coming in by the time we woke up.  I woke pretty early and waited for the boys to wake up keeping myself occupied by staring out of the tailgate of the rover onto the river.  In the morning we were seeing fish rise sporadically right in front of our campsite.  We didn't bother to cast to them as it wasn't a steady hatch.  After breakfast we headed out to the trail.  We bypassed the area we started the previous day and decided to hike deep.  We basically started where Chul missed all his fish the night before.
The day previous we saw very little sign of skwalas.  On this day we did see some old shucks on boulders but very little were noticed in flight or on the water.  We did see some March Browns but mostly we saw various sizes of BWOs both rather large to micro. 
Given the cloudy conditions we figured there may be more dry fly activity than the day before so we left the nymph rods behind and only carried our dry fly sticks.  We arrived at the first location and began fishing.  Not much was happening and by this time it was close to noon so I stopped and had my lunch.  After lunch some fish were starting to come up on emergers.  Looked as though they were taking small flies so I decided to tie a dropper and keep my March Brown on the leader.  Not sure whether it was BWOs or midges I tied a fly that could represent either.  The fly was a size 20 Reaper midge.  It's sparkly enough to look like an emerger or an adult.  It wouldn't be long before my downstream drift was taken.  I managed to land it and then release it.  Chul took the next shot after he tied his fly. After he was done I tried again and had another rise with a fish coming from the depths but since elevated on a boulder I saw him the whole time and pulled the fly out of his mouth early.
We decided to leave the area in search of more willing fish.  Hiked as far as we could before the trail would veer us away from the river.  We didn't fish at all as any entry point was choked full of poison oak preventing us from getting to the water.  Besides the water that we could see from above on the trail didn't look too promising for dry flies.  So we weren't too keen on looking for a path through.  So we decided to hike back to the area we caught fish earlier. 
When we arrived to our spot clouds became more ominous despite forecasts of midnight rainfall.  We explored upstream somewhat but it produced nothing and access was limited by rapids and boulders.  So we headed back to the prime fishing lane.  I tried without any success.  After awhile the rain began to fall and it was time to take out the rain gear.  Despite wanting to stay for the evening hatch we decided it was best to head back to camp in case it got ugly. 
When we arrived at camp the rain let up some and fish began to rise on the opposite bank.  This area was a long stretch of flat but swift water.  I knew for the best drift I'd have to get to the other side and cast upstream to them.  While it wasn't deep it was deep enough to make things interesting.  As to not spook the fish I'd have to cross at the shallower but more rapid end of the run.  I put on my wading pants thinking it wasn't as deep to need full waders.  I was being somewhat lazy but also I wanted to wear my new pants.  In retrospect I should have just gotten wet and wet waded across or wore a full wader.  Why?  Because while crossing I lost my footing and took a spill getting me wet from chest down.  I did make it across and started noticing the rising pattern.  Still armed with both a march brown and reaper midge dropper I began casting.  In no time I was on  with the midge with a very nice fish in the 17-18 range.  I did net it with my new net.  So the fishpond did get it's first legitimate fish.   The fish were feeding on blue wing olive adults and I managed to get one in a vial for my collection.  This would be the only fish I'd be able to hook though as the feeding seemed to cease right after landing this one.  Now I had to cross back.  I would take another path though.  It seemed to be going smoothly until I reached a section that was just a hair deeper than my wading pants.  No other option but I had to step into it and get wet again. 
Once I crossed safely I changed into some dry clothes and started the coals for the grill.  Waiting for those to ignite I began to make the butter garlic rice that would accompany the Vietnamese grilled pork.  A constant downfall then began.  Cooking in the rain was a pain.  Luckily the rain while constant was light. 
While I was prepping the my meal Chul and Tim were making dutch oven upside down pineapple cake.  Chul wanted to redeem himself from a few years ago where the cake ended up burnt and basically inedible.  This was caused by his girlfriend stoking the coals like a child and causing inconsistent hot spots in the oven.  Now that she is out of the picture we didn't need to worry about her screwing things up.
The cake came out nicely.  Pretty impressive considering controlling the heat is more art than science.  Chul was a bit concerned since he had forgotten parchment paper and I suggested using tin foil to cover the edges instead.  It seemed to work.
The evening was spent near the fire.  We managed to collect enough dead California Oak to produce a blazing hot campfire.  I used the heat to help dry my wet clothes from my swimming incident earlier.  Campfires are quite nice especially when using nice hardwoods that burn long and hot unlike the garbage wood available on the eastern side of the sierra.

March 20, 2022

The following morning I woke up early as I usually do when camping.  Much earlier than the rest of the crew.  I opened the tailgate I simply sat up from my make shift bed in the rover and watched the morning develop.  I watched the river for any sign of feeding activity but it was still early.  Really early.  Eventually we packed up camp and fished a few roadside spots before heading out.  On one section I was fishing a prime nymphing lane.  Although I knew there was in a fish in there I gave up the hole and told Chul to fish it as he moved up toward me.  My mind was simply distracted on the Rover which was giving me suspension faults while driving the dirt road.  I knew exactly what was going on and it was either going to ignore the issue or the Rover was going to shit out on me and force me to limp back to a mechanic.  Chul took the run and began fishing it I on the other hand started picking up rocks looking for a March Brown nymph for my collection.  I have begun collecting collecting insects something I wish I did the last time I was here when the salmonflies were present or the time I fished the cicada hatch at the Green River.
I never did collect my march brown nymph although I did get an adult dun.  In addition I managed adult skwala, blue wing olive and a black caddis.  All these were basically collected by chance.  The skwala landed on my foot while I getting ready to hike back to the trip when it began raining the day before.  The BWO landed on my finger just after catching the 18 incher.  As for the march brown that guy was in my hat in the morning when I woke up.  I had nearly caught one on the river the day before as one landed on the netting of my Fishpond and when I was reaching for a collection vial the wind blew it away. 
On the drive out we'd have one last chance at seeing the wildflowers.  While not a super bloom as we've seen in the past it definitely was worth seeing it.  It wasn't nearly at its peak either.  Perhaps in the next couple weeks it'll be at its prime. 
The last time we came here we stopped by a taco stand on the way home and we wanted to eat it for lunch again.  It took some time to find it but we finally did only to discover we got there just as they were closing.  Disappointed we headed down the street to a burger stand for some slightly above average burgers.
After lunch we went our separate ways.  Wanting to avoid any LA traffic I decided to stop and fish an LA mountain spot.  But once I arrived I only had less than an hour of light.  Besides that it was howling.  Wind so hard it forces you to lean into it just to keep from tipping over.  So I left the fly rod behind and started scouting it.  Three years ago I fished this area and did well enough for me to consider a return on certain circumstances.  At that time I saw a rather large bass surrounded by multiple bluegill.  Since I was targeting creek trout I wasn't armed appropriately to fish for them  but of course didn't stop me from trying though.  Never got those fish but did catch several decent trout.  I swore to return.  I didn't get far enough this day to see if that bass survived.  I debated on spending the night here to fish it in the morning but decided against it.  While the fishing wasn't lights out on this trip I didn't want to taint it with a possible crummy end.  So I headed home bypassing most of the weekend traffic.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Wild Trout and Wildflowers Part I

March 18, 2022

Alarm was set for 4:15am but I awoke much earlier than that.  I'd be driving separate from my fishing buddy and meeting his friend in southern LA County at 5am.  With any luck we'd bypass any Friday morning traffic.  With the hellscape that is LA you never know.  I planned on fueling up near his home while Chul picked up his friend and packed his truck.  By the time each of us were done we wouldn't be wasting anytime waiting for one another.  While at fueling my truck though, I receive a text that he was stuck in traffic.   Son of a bitch.  I checked traffic on maps and I estimated he'd he at least 20 minutes late.  After fueling I stopped at the address and waited.  I called Chul and told him that it's best if Tim just packs his shit in my truck and jump in with me for now.  If Chul was 20 minutes late add the packing time, a minimum of 10 minutes, we may start running into traffic once all is said and done.  I hate traffic.  I really hate LA traffic.  I foregone sleep to avoid this very problem.  Now I was getting irritated.
Chul called and received no answer.  I left then not wanting to get stuck in LA.  I'd met up with them on the road.  Driving was smooth up until the Northernmost part of LA.  I was dead stopped at 5:30am.  I was pissed.  For the next thirty minutes I'd be completely stopped waiting for the road to clear.  In time it did and I saw the corpse of the burned out car that the fire department put out.  I'd get over the grapevine and proceeded to wait for the two to arrive.  From there we would caravan north together.  We arrived at our destination at 11am and after scouted a few areas to make camp before choosing a nice one riverside.   After eating lunch we took Chul's truck to the trailhead leaving behind my mine and Tim's tent to stake our claim.
We hiked up the trail a couple miles before making our down to the water to fish.  We were carrying two rods, one for a dry and another for a nymph.  As expected water was significantly lower than the last time we came three years ago.  We noticed it on the drive up.  It was also slightly stained which is not unexpected since it was run-off season.  Though about a month early we were hoping to find a salmonfly hatch but that never materialized.  Given the early spring conditions we hoped it would stimulate some action.  We did expect some March Brown and Skwalas.  Fishing was poor at the start.  Chul missed a few on nymphs but no one seemed to get any hook ups.  I would start with my dries and switch to nymphing from time to time.  Hours and miles would go by before we'd see any action.  While up above on the trail we noticed three fish in the 20 plus range feeding in a slot.  I climbed down to the water and made a stalk.  Now at water level I could no longer see them and needed guidance from the boys above.  Initially I tried fishing dries but the fish didn't seem interested.  After several attempts I took a break and switched to the nymphing rig.  Several attempts later no luck and the fish were no longer visible from above.   With light now at a premium they left upstream to fish leaving me alone to find these fish.  I switched again to the dry rig and added a heavily weighted jig pheasant tail as a dropper.  It wouldn't be long before they took the new fly.  None were the biggies I was targeting.  The first was 6-7 inches. Thinking I was filming with my GoPro I comically exaggerated the landing of this "trophy."  I did so because I was taking my new Fishpond Nomad El Jefe Grande net on it's maiden voyage and it's first fish landed was an absolute dink.  Of course after making a spectacle and releasing it I did notice that the GoPro wasn't even on.   I get two more before the deciding to head back before I lost light.  I sent my buddy a message through our Garmin InReach and told him I'm heading back.
I managed to get back to the trailhead and the truck just before sundown and waited for the two.  Twenty minutes later they arrived and let me know that they were on fish but failed to hook any.  All on dries.  It took a few complete failures to realize that Chul was fishing a broken hook.  Most likely cracked when he debarbed the hook.  He went back to camp and prepared steaks on the Snow Peak fire pit for dinner before crashing for the night.