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.

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