Tuesday, November 14, 2023


 September 13, 2023

On the water by 5:30am and its still dark.  It's windy and cool but water temps are 78°.  Cloudy.  Should be good for topwater.  Fished until 9:30.  Fish were in deeper steep edges.  Banks of the lake are lined with duckweed.  Most fish caught or blowups were in the duckweed.  I had over a dozen blow ups with only one to hand at least  three pounds.  Luc had even more blowups,  a few to hand and one at least three pounds.  Started with DBB crease fly and with no success switched to yellow popper.  Then started to have success.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Honoring a Friend

September 6, 2023
In July I lost a fishing buddy; his family tasked me with handling his fly fishing estate.  As compensation I could keep anything in his collection I wanted.  There were a few I items I wanted, such as his Helios ZG 9ft 4wt or his Sage TCX 6wt, but after Roy said he wanted the 4 and I knew a friend had lost his TCX in a boating incident, I decide those items should go to another home.  The last time I fished with Steve, we fished a local mountain and he brought his Superfine 150 Anniversary 7ft 4wt so I decided this would be the rod I'd keep.  An added bonus is the rod would most likely be used more than the other two options as small local mountain trout streams are within an hour or so from my house.
I wanted to honor my friend so I headed up the mountain to fish his rod and hand tied flies.  I debated where in the mountain I wanted to fish.  There was a section Justin likes to fish that I've never tried.  Generally I like to head further up.  After parking at the lot I noticed a rather dodgy character in his car so I decided to fish my usual jaunts and headed further up the mountain.  Mist and light rain filled the air but after I reached a certain altitude it was sunny and clear. 
When I reached the parking lot there was broken glass in my spot.  Not an encouraging sign.  California has become such a shithole you can't go anywhere without the threat of your vehicle being broken into.   People have told me that they keep their doors open, literally open, wide open, just to encourage would be thieves to not break their windows.  Of course car is left empty of anything worth stealing.  This strategy has one flaw, it makes it easier to actually steal the car not just the contents found within.  Personally I just don't leave anything within sight or leave anything that may appear valuable in the car.  Fishing alone and having all day to fish I began fishing immediately opting not to hike in as I usually do.  Armed with a small stimualtor I began probing the water but to no avail.  I then switched to a larger one so I could see it better but after a few casts it was failing to stay buoyant I switched again to a foam ant.   Again switching because I was having a hard time seeing it.  This time I changed to something I knew I could see, a size 10 Royal Wulff. 
Once I switched the fishing picked up.  Water was still fast but at the same time very skinny.  You had to pick your spots and most pools were gone.  I caught more fish than I could count.  Many of the fish actually took when the fly submerged.  The most memorable fish was the last.  Ended up being a tank of a fish, around 13 inches.  While I've caught larger fish in this watershed in the past, this is the largest I've caught in over a decade. 
After catching that fish, it was time for a stream side lunch.  Since Steve was Japanese that a pork katsu sando was appropriate for the occasion.  Once finished I thought I did enough and decided to head back home.  I think Steve would have been proud.
Daturi Wrightii. "Jimson Weed." Causes Hallucinations.

Romnea Coulteri.  "Fried Egg Poppy" or "Matilija Poppy."

Aguilegia Formosa. "Crimson Columbine" or "Western Columbine."

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Another Disappointment at Barrett

 August 26, 2023

Took off from my house at 9:30pm and arrived first at the gate at 11:30pm.  Last Sunday Tropical Storm Hillary closed down the lake.  The storm wasn't as bad as anticipated.  Wasn't sure how the storm would affect the the fishing.  When Barrett reopened on Wednesday the reports were not promising.  I woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to bed.  The lake staff were later this time opening the gate after 4am.  After unpacking we on the water by 4:30am.  We hit the first big cove and banks were lined with filmentous algae.  The entire cove proved fruitless.  Once out of the cove the light began to poke out of the mountains.  Chul was the first to get on a fish after switching to a smaller fly, a size 2 frog popper.  After a couple more strikes I downsized from a 2/0 to a size 2.  In addition I switched colors from pearl to silver.  It was only then did I get my first strike.  I ended up breaking off as the fish was dragged through some branches of a submerged tree.  Before it got away it felt heavy on my nine weight.  Chul managed few more bass and a few more bluegill. 
We leave this section to go deeper into Pine,  Sun is peaking and we move to every bit of shadow we can find.  I start getting fish.  One even chased my my fly striking it multiple times ultimately failing to connect.  Not sure if it were a bass or an aggressive bluegill.  I miscalculated the angle of the sun and we were out of shadows much quicker than I anticipated so I get us out the the cove and move toward Hauser.  There is some shadows here and there and we fish everyone.  I get the best bass of the day that I never even got to see the take as I was looking down when it hit so I could reposition the trolling motor.  Once we entered Hauser the entire lake was lit up and it was time to go subsurface.  Occasionally wolf packs would show themselves but as it was proven this year chasing them was of no use.  The simply were there and gone in an instance. 
By noon we've given up trying to get bass to eat and switched our focus on the panfish.  we took to the same nesting site as last time.  They were still there but in less number.  Good news was they were bigger this time.  I took out my three weight and starting catching some on a BH nymph.  Even a small juvenile bass took a liking to my offerings.  A helicopter flew low in the canyon creating a ruckus, ruining the tranquility of the canyon.  There were people on the banks so I'm not sure if they were Border Patrol looking for border crossers
It was brutally hot so we called it earlier than I expected.  On the way out we fished a cove or two but by this time the winds were simply making the situation unfishable.  On teh way out though I was able to try out Dagur's Sweet Alabama fly I tied just for this place.  It failed to produce but in all fairness so did all the other flies I tried on the way out.  We got to the truck and packed all the gear away.  It was so hot I had an ice cold liter of water I poured the entire contents over my head and proceeded to blast the AC full blast onto me.  It took more than an hour of driving before I finally felt like my body temp was going down.  Drive home was brutal.  I needed to take a pit stop at Carlsbad to take a 15 minute cat nap to rest before completing the drive home.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Nothing Spectacular

August 16, 2023

As with the last outing it was raining when I woke up so I brought my rain gear this time.  It wasn't needed though as it stopped by the time I arrived at Luc's.  We started on the west side again this time.  The bass definitely wanted the long pause ad a quick few twitches this outing. Early I lost a hog after coming off just after I felt it's heft.  After that most fish were juveniles or dinks.  Had at least a dozen blowups but only one to hand and it was small.  Luc had at least 18 blow ups with few lost.  He came home with a handful landed but nothing impressive.  We were done by 9am.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Monsoonal Rain

August 10, 2023

Arrived at Luc's at 5am and waited in the truck for the 5:15am start time.  It was raining on the drive there and I didn't look at the forecast so I didn't bring any rain gear with me.  By the time we were on the water there was already an angler launched.  Luc knew who it was, a very good angler who likes to jig fish deep water, so we were no threat to each other as we are always fishing shallow on topwater. Starting from the west side Luc had several blowups but we moved east when we noticed that the angler was also on our side.  From there rain picked up more but we'd get more bites.  I managed one after crossing the lake.
I was using a silver mylar popper size 2.  The fly would continue to produce reactions throughout the morning but I wouldn't be able to connect on any until the end of the day when I lost the fly on a fish.
Wind was starting to become a problem on the east bank but we'd continue to fish there until it became too much of a problem and we moved to the west bank.  There Luc would land a 4lber, while Luc had seen bigger, this was the biggest I'd seen since spring.  Eventually we'd run into the angler and he showed us his 7lb 9oz bass he caught in 4 feet of water.  Impressive for sure.  He kept in the livewell just so he could show it to Luc the released it back.  Once the sun began to break through the haze we jumped back to the other side chasing shadows hunting the last remaining fish from the shadows willing to take a popper.  While we both love the topwater bite I did go subsurface briefly only to test the Dagur's Sweet Alabama Rig fly I had tied a few days earlier.  I didn't get any reaction from it and switched to a popper after realizing I'd rather fish on top.  I must have had at least a dozen blowups this day.  Luc many more than that but the number I don't recall.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Engine Problems at Barrett

August 5, 2023

With high expectations, we returned to Barrett Lake for another session.  We were second in line at the gate and the second boat on the water.  On our way to our fishing location just as we were coming up to the Hauser arm the motor died.  It happened when I let off the throttle.  After several attempts to restart it we realized it was not going to operate.   My new 55lb thrust Minn Kota trolling motor paired with my new lithium battery were going to be put to the test early on this trip.  I started to make our way back to the marina for a new boat.  We fought the wind the whole time.  It costs us at least 40 minutes to get new boat and re-organize our gear.  By this time the sun was starting to appear and my original plans to fish topwater deep into the arms now destroyed I changed the plan.  As I reached our fishing spot I began letting off the throttle and it died again!  With no time left to get a new boat it was time to fish powered only by trolling motor.  Early light produce at least nine blowups for me.  I managed at least three to hand here.
With the sun now hitting the side we were fishing, it was time to move across the lake where there was still shade.  Without the main motor this would take some time.  I was still worried how long the new battery would last.  Without the outboard, the Minn Kota would be stressed to the limit.  We managed to get to the other side but by this time the whole area had already been picked through by at least one angler.  Fishing would get tough.  As the sun began hitting all areas of the lake I did manage one more topwater bass just behind a submerged tree with just enough shadow to get a bass to look up. 
With the sun now out completely and the section of lake busy we'd have to find some water with some willing fish.  As we moved up the arm boils from wolfpacks started to appear in the middle of the channel.  I'd troll over away from where we initially saw them in the hopes the school would start to make their way to us.  This never happened though and after several minutes I'd move us back into a cove loaded with bluegill. 
I'd move  us along the contours of the lake into the other arm along the way we'd see hundreds of bluegill and everywhere we went one inch fry would be everywhere.  By this time it was coming close to noon and the wind had now picked up.  Casts were next to impossible.  Even more difficult was positioning the boat for an presentable cast.  With all this going against us I decided to try and head back.  Hopefully we could find someone to tow us back as I wasn't too sure I would have enough battery left to get us there. 
While drifting at the opening of arm we hailed a boat heading back.  Thankfully they were willing to tow us back.  They too were fly fishing and they said they had a tough go.  They had some success early on topwater with gurglers but most fish were caught on extremely small flies once they noticed the fry.  Once at the dock the staff asked if we wanted a new boat or if she wanted to see if she could start this one.  She ripped the cord once and had the motor fired back up making us look like assholes.  She said we had the choke out.  While this was true when we arrived again at the dock but this was only because we were trying every combination to try and get the motor started again.  It was left open when we gave up.  We didn't have the choke open on each boat.  Also when we arrived the first boat was still docked this time it was yellow flagged as she couldn't get that one started again.  In addition later we would experience another problem and for sure the choke was in that time.
Now noon we decided to head out again this time with a working motor.  We'd had to deal with the peak winds though,  To try and escape it we'd head deep into Hauser.  Bass simply weren't responding to our subsurface flies.  I managed only one strike from a bass I saw come our of the weeds and gently swallow my fly.  I saw him take and struck only to pull the fly our of its mouth.  We went deep into the arm into the shallows where hundreds of bluegill were guarding nests.  For the next couple hours we would be fishing our lightest rods catching some very nice specimens. 
By 2 or 3pm we decided to head back.  We'd fish along the way without much success.  After a an hour or so we gave up on the idea and put the outboard at full throttle back to the marina.  Maybe 1000 yards away from the docks the motor began to sputter and eventually died.  I used the trolling motor the rest of the way back.  An absolutely disappointing and frustrating day.