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 thought 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.