Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Only The Lonely

I guess I was the only one dumb enough to be out in this weather.

Left and right from where I was parked. I don't see anyone, do you?

I had a couple of errands to run in town (Jackson) this morning and since I couldn't do anything until about Noon, I took a run out to the North Shore of Lake Camanche. In case you don't know, Lake Camanche is just south of town, maybe 15 miles.

I would have taken my neighbor Roy along, but I didn't think he would appreciate me calling him at 0515 and saying "Hey, lets go fishing". To go was one of those "instant" decisions that happen.

It was foggy, wet, but no wind when I got there. We were expecting the wind to pick up later and blow out the fog. The wind did pick and by 1100 it was blowing steady at about 20 mph. The valley is expecting wind gusts up to 50+ mph today and tomorrow.

Since I didn't catch anything (I did get one bump at 0830), I guess the fish weren't even dumb enough to be out in this weather.

Enjoy the pictures and be glad you're inside where its warm and toasty.

Till next time.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting Skunked Is Getting Old

Besides, who can catch fish in this weather?

And, I left the house at 0545, the middle of the night.

The wife had to be to work early this morning, so I just hopped into the truck and ran out to Lake Amador to see if I could catch a couple of Cutbows. I tried every color of Kastmaster (did get a couple of drive by's on Brook Trout and solid gold colors), Sonic Red Roostertail, gold Panther Martin and Rainbow Power Bait with corn, anise, and Threadfin Shad flavors.

The new thing I tried was a black Wooly Bugger on a 4 foot leader under a clear bobber 1/2 full of water. Supposed to be to go-to way for catching. Obviously it didn't go-to for me.

So it was yucky (weather wise) when I got there at 0630, the fog lifted a bit around 1000, and then the fog came back around 1100 and looked just like the picture again.

The joys of winter in Northern California.

I'm going to take a nap. Till next time.


ps, the new picture is of White Pines Lake last summer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat

Some of you may not be old enough to remember the American Sportsman TV Show, but if you do, you know what the title means.

Monday was the thrill of victory with those two big Rainbows.

This morning I set out for Lake Camanche with the Float Tube Cumberland at 0800. My plan was to get one of those big Rainbows on my fly rod and beat my personal best for flyrod which is 2 lbs 8oz. I left a little bit later than normal, but I had trouble getting my turkey and trimmings body out of bed. Over indulged yesterday on all the goodies. The other thing was that I didn't stop to get any coffee (would have been Starbucks) because I wanted to spend more time flippering than having to run back to shore to take a p... every half hour or so. Coffee does that to me. I should have known better.

Got to the lake at 0900 and got the Float Tube Cumberland aired up, all the gear in, and on the water in about 15 minutes.

My first direction was the buoy I had such good luck by on Monday. I had to flipper out beyond the buoy into no man's land (out beyond the 5 mph zone) and fished back toward shore. There were two guys fishing where I was on Monday and I wanted to be out beyond their zone. I figured my best bet was the tried and true Thinmint. I didn't get any interest, so I put down my fly rod and used my Okuma with a new rainbow pink Kastmaster. Nothing again.

Set out for the point and fished the Thinmint all the way. Got to the point and did a 360 making sure I covered all the area, like I did the last time (where I had two on and lost both), then proceeded back toward where I put in. Not so much as a bump. I watched the people fishing from the shore (and there was bunch of them), but I didn't see any fish coming to hand. Got back almost to put in and finally got the first and only bump of the day. I sat there for, probably a half hour spinning 360's and trying to find the one that bumped. No such luck.

By that time it was Noon, my feet were cold (forgot to put on my wool socks), my legs were starting to cramp (lack of flippering practice), and my stomach was growling (you wouldn't think, after all that turkey I ate yesterday), but I put in and hauled out the Cumberland.

Since I was already there, I pulled out a couple of my rods with 4# and slip sinker rigs, my red chair, and tacklebox and sat for an hour or so with Power Bait on one and Kastmasters on the other.

Today was the agony of defeat. There wasn't a fish to be found. Felt kind of like that guy on The American Sportsman who wiped out on the ski jump. He lived, by the way.

It's a good thing I'm an optimist. There's always next time.

Till then.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pink, The Color Of The Day

Christmas dinner, anyone?

Growing up in Winconsin, my father was a hunter like most of the neighborhood fathers in the 50's. On Easter we had ham, on Thanksgiving we had turkey, and on Christmas we had Goose. I think the Goose looked like these.

The morning sun over Lake Camanche. T-shirt weather by 10:00am.

What can I say, target practice. Got within a foot on several casts. Need more practice. They were getting much too close to where I was fishing.

OK, back to the title. Pink, and it's not even October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

Got out to Lake Camanche at 0830 (after coffee at Starbucks) and found the spot I was looking for. If you look at the sun picture, you can see a buoy in the distance. It's out 150 feet or so from shore. I put out one rod with Rainbow Power Bait and Sweet Corn bait scent. On my Okuma with 2 pound test, I put on a silver Kastmaster.

I covered about 180 degrees from where I was sitting (lazy bum that I am) with 8 casts. With no interest, I changed to gold. Same process. Then changed to silver/blue, Brook Trout color, Fire Tiger color, and last, but not least, orange. When I didn't get any interest in those colors, I walked back to the truck and out of my "backup stock" tacklebox I got a Rainbow Pink one.

All these Kastmasters I'm throwning are 1/4 oz on 2# test Fluorocarbon. Good thing it's strong. The one thing I do when I have two rods out, is that while I'm reeling in the one with a lure, I watch the one with Power Bait in case I get a hit. When you're doing that, a hit on the lure is a surprise. OK, any hit on a lure is a surprise.

Then the fun began. On the 4th cast, that would have been straight out from where I was sitting (lazy bum that I am. Wait, I already said that.), the line stopped dead in the water and the fight was on. Wasn't much of a fight and if you double click on the picture below, you'll see that there are "things" on this fish. I don't know if it's a fungus or maybe Cope Pods or what, but it didn't put up much of a fight. Kind of lethargic. Since it was kind of "skaggy" looking, I put it back to live it's life out in the lake, probably not very long. Time: 0930 and the weight was somewhere in the area of 2 1/2 to 3 pounds.

15 minutes later (0945) I hooked up with another that took 20 to 30 feet of line and then gave me back my lure. Mighty nice of it to do that.

Then around 1030, I hooked up again. This one was no slouch. We rocked and rolled for about 5 minutes until I got it close enough to put the net on it. Well, put the net on part of it, as it was too big to fit into the net. Note to self, get a bigger net. The best I could do was scoop it from the back and pitch it up on the bank. The hook was badly embedded in it, and by the time I got it out, the fish was bleeding too bad to put it back.

I stuck it on the stringer, took a weight reading with my Handy Dandy Berkley Digital Scale and it came in at 4 lbs, 15oz. You can see by the picture of the lure how bad it mangled the hook. Notice the tail is worn down. Hatchery trout.

After that, I got a drive by at 11:00 and another one at 11:10. That was it for the day. Since I only had the one, I stopped by some fishermen down the shore a bit and asked them if they wanted the fish to add to their stringer. Since they only had one, they said "sure". Two big trout make a nice dinner.

That's it for now. I might take a run out to Amador on Friday and give the wife some peace and quiet and a little time for herself. I'll let you know if I do.

Till next time.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lake Amador Today


That about covers it.


ps, you know I threw everything I had at them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Give "Em What They Want

Since I'm meeting Rich at Lake Amador tomorrow, I decided to take a quick run up to Bear River Reservoir and see if the gate (supposed to close on November 1st) was still open.

After the usual coffee stop, got to BRR at 0815 and the gate was open. Drove down to the shore and walked to my usual spot about 100 feet from the dam. I was the only person up there with the exception of one boater, so I had my choice of places. Put out one rod with Rainbow Power Bait with Sweet Corn Pro-Cure scent because I've had such good luck with this scent the last couple of times I fished here. I put a gold Panther Martin on the second rod. Didn't get any interest in the PM, so switched to a Brook Trout colored Kastmaster. Nothing there either, then I switched to a Rainbow Pink one. Nada there too.

By then I figured that if I was going to get anything on Power Bait, I would have, but I didn't. Tried new Power Bait with Anise and then with Threadfin Shad and there was just no interest in any Power Bait what so ever.

On my other rod I put a silver Panther Martin and hooked up a 10" Rainbow. Because it was small and lip hooked, it went back for another day. After a bunch more casts and no more interest in the PM, I switched to a silver 1/4 oz Kastmaster. I landed and released two more small 10" Rainbows and that was all the interest I got for the day. It seemed that the hits came from the shaded area next to the dam or just a little out in the sunlight.

You just have to be prepared to give them what they want. Today is was silver and not scented Power Bait.

Just before I left, I moved to a spot by my truck and got out my red chair so I could soak up a little sun (it was just a little bit windy and chilly) as well as a little Vitamin D. Two rods out with Power Bait in a little different area, but nothing there.

I suspect that this will be my last trip to Bear River or any of the other upcountry lakes until next spring since we are expecting a good, cold, winter storm starting Friday and running through the weekend with snow levels below our house.

So tune in tomorrow and see how Lake Amador turns out. Till then.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

OBN Writing Prompt

It was done last Wednesday and since I was down with a bad tooth, here is an article I just published in the local newspaper.

Preparation essential for cold-weather fishing trips

Kautz’s king cab is filled with essential equipment and supplies for a cold-weather venture into the fisherman’s world.

With November here and December right around the corner, the weather is going to be a bit chillier. If you are an all-year fisherman, like I am, you need to take some precautions when you’re out chasing fish.

One of the big words is “layer.” Never a truer word has been spoken. You can always take off a layer or two, but you can’t add layers if you don’t have them. When I head out for a day of fishing, my truck is full of clothes. Because I drive an extra cab pickup doesn’t mean I have tons of space in the back. In fact, when you add in three tackle boxes, two buckets — one for fish and the other for bungee cords — a chair pad, a camping chair, tarp, first aid kit — handy to have if you stick a hook in a finger, as I did earlier this year at Lake Amador — and a big net, it doesn’t leave much space for clothes.

OK, I’ve got a tonneau cover on the bed, but it tends to leak when it rains a lot. It’s old, and all the molding around the edges is gone. So I just throw all the clothing on top of the tackle boxes and hope I can find it when it’s needed.

Let’s take a look at the conditions one at a time.

We’ll start with rain. I’m a weenie when it comes to fishing in the rain. Back on Oct. 10, while I was fishing at Lake Camanche, it rained for the final two hours I was there. That was OK — it was warm and the rain was warm. I don’t mind getting a little wet. Heck, I was raised in Florida. It rains all the time down there. I used to wear swimming goggles when I rode my bike to the beach, so I could see where I was going. But in the winter, that’s a different story.

You get caught in a winter rain and you can get into trouble in a hurry. Ever heard of hypothermia, which is subnormal temperature of the body? It can be deadly. You want to make sure you have proper clothing. I carry a rain coat, rain pants and a fleece hoodie to wear under it, as well as top and bottom thermals.

How about snow? I have a fleece-lined parka, two fleece watch caps, ear muffs, three types of gloves — neoprene, fleece-lined leather and fingerless fleece, with finger covers — and chemical hand warmers. I carry all this, with the exception of the parka, in my backpack that is always with me. I also have a blanket in the truck, stashed under the back seat.

One more thing about snow: you always want to make sure you have extra food and water with you. I have an ice chest that fits behind the passenger seat, in which I carry several bottles of water, a couple of sandwiches, half-a-dozen granola bars — I like chocolate-coated, chocolate chip ones, from Quaker — and a thermos of coffee. Sounds like a lot, but how long would it last? You can always take it home, but, if you need it, you can’t always get it.So, there you are up at, say, Red Lake, and there is six-inch-deep snow on the ground. The lake is still open, you’ve caught a nice limit of brook trout and you find yourself stuck in the snow. You’re sure glad you have that folding shovel you carry with you all the time and are able to dig yourself out. In the winter, I also carry a plastic snow shovel in the back, even though I have four-wheel drive and good, meaty snow tires.

To answer your question, was I a boy scout? Nope, but I can’t say enough about “being prepared.” If you’ve got the room, take it along, even if you don’t think you’ll need it, because you just might. One other thing you might do is make a list, so you can check off the items you think you might need, so you won’t forget anything. If you’re like me, put that list next to your chair in the living room and, when you think of something, it’s there and handy for you to write it down.

One last thing, remember to always, always, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Red Lake or Bust

As I mentioned in the last post, I wanted to head up the hill and see the lakes looked like. Well, I hit snow at about 4000 feet, before I ever got to Highway 88. I'm not sure if this was a good or bad omen.

First stop was Bear River Reservoir (after stopping for coffee, of course). The gate is still open (don't know for how long, because there is snow on the road), so I drove over to the dam. My goal was Red Lake (Brook Trout for the smoker) so I just took a quick shot of the shoreline and headed back out. I could always stop on the way back if nothing happened further uphill.

Silver Lake was much easier as I could scope it on the way by. The lake level is way down as it usually is at the end of Summer, but no ice that I could see on the lake.

Caples lake was the same way. Water was clear and the lake level was down some but not very far. There was a lot of snow on both sides of the lake.

The blasting at Carson pass is still going on and the wait going over was only 20 minutes, so I waited. Once over and down the hill to Red Lake the snow was a little deeper. Parked as high up the road as I could (don't want to be climbing in snow covered slopes any more than necessary) and grabbed my gear.

Set up (carefully) at my usual spot. Noticed small areas of ice on the lake. Won't be long before it's iced over. By now, the Brook Trout HAD to be in a spawning mode and SHOULD be biting. One rod out with Power Bait and the other for lures. I tried every color of Kastmaster, gold and silver Panther Martin, bumblebee color Roostertail, and red/bronze Little Cleo. I never got a hit, follow, bump, yes, I, or Boo from a fish. Two hours of sitting on my but, in the snow (On a chair pad. You don't think I'm that dumb do you?) and NOTHING.

Now, did I mention the tooth ache I had on Tuesday? Well, it went from dentist to endondontist to root canal yesterday. Now the endondontist said I would probably experience a little after pain from the shots, drilling, and the infection for a couple of days, but a little pain never slowed me down. Little being the definitive word here. I had taken Tylenol (or a reasonal facsimile) at 0500 and 0900, but by Noon I thought my face was going to fall off the pain was so intense.

Packed up, drove down the hill (the wait at Carson Pass was 25 minutes this way) straight home for drugs more powerful than Tylenol. Finally got the pain under control around 4:00pm. I'm staying home for a couple of days.

I don't know why the Brookies are not biting at Red Lake, other than the DFG has not planted this year, but I do know that there won't be any smoked Brook Trout.

The next trip will probably be to Lake Amador. Got an email from my friends Rich & Mark and they are ready for a trip out there. Don't wait for me guys, might be a couple of days.

Till the next adventure.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Camanche Lake

I've been dealing with a tooth problem for the last couple of weeks. I originally thought it was a sinus problem radiating into my teeth, so I went to my doctor to have him prescribe an antibiotic to see if the problem could be corrected. It hasn't and I'm off to the dentist tomorrow morning to have him fix me.

So what does this have to do with fishing? Plan A was to take the Float Tube Cumberland out to Camanche and test a couple of larger Tunsten Beadhead Thinmints in size 6 that I put together. Only problem is that the more I walk around, the more the mouth hurts. Flippering around the lake would have probably sent me screaming back to the truck. This put plan A on hold.

Plan B was to put out my fishing chair (you know, that cool red one), two rods with Rainbow Power Bait, and quietly catch fish. Don't move, don't hurt. Works for me. The first two came at 30 minutes into the day. The picture below is the first one and the second one looked just like it. Something close to 1-1/2 to 2 pounds. Both went back for another day, same as would have happened from the Float Tube Cumberland. The water is colder than it's been, but still in the high 60's and I think, too warm to keep the fish.

From there on, it was sit quietly because the fish were not disrupting me in any way, shape, or form. Decent of them, don't you think. Those two were it for today, but I did see 10 or 12 more caught by other people fishing.

I also checked on the Trout Pond (you remember that place from last year) and they haven't even started stocking it because the water is too warm, BUT they are making an attempt to deflect the Pelicans and Cormorants and allow the fish to make it into the pond. We'll see.

Weather Channel says we're supposed to get some rain on Friday so maybe I'll take a run up the hill on Thursday. We got our first snow last Saturday night. Just dusted, but a bit early in the year for snow. I would suspect that with the cold nights we've been having, the lakes are going to start icing up pretty quick. Probably should get one more fishing day in, upcountry, before it's too late.

Till then.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Just Should Have Gone To Bear

The blasting at Carson pass was supposed to be completed by Monday 10/31/11. Happy belated Holloween.

Plan A: Left the house at 0730 and stopped for coffee at Cook's Station. All this time I've been talking about them and I've never shown you a picture. What a bonehead. Here you go.

With coffee in the cup holder, jetted up Highway 88 to Red Lake to see if there were any Brookies showing up. It should have dawned on me when I passed several trucks coming down the hill full of big rocks, but I'm an optimist.

Got to the pass and there were 25 or 30 cars & trucks waiting to go through. One truck even had it's hood open and the driver was working on his engine. Not a good sign. I drove into the rest area, did an about face, and headed back down the hill.

Plan B: Stop at Caples and fish the dead tree. The fact that I didn't see anyone fishing Caples on the way up should have told me something too. Ok, I'm a little dense, but I'm an optimist.

It must have been a mighty chilly last night. You can't see very well in the picture, but the rocks are covered with ice.

In the picture below, if you look at the little rock sticking out, you can see the icicles hanging off it.

Not to be deterred, I put out two rods with Rainbow Power Bait and sat in the sun. That's all I did was sit in the sun because there wasn't a fish to be found. Caples has not been very good this year. I'm not sure why, but there isn't even any chatter on the local forums about any of the upcountry lakes.

Plan C: Bear River Reservoir. Chances were good that I'd at least find a fish there. Last couple of trips have been pretty good. I got there at about 1100 and set my new fishing chair out, one rod with Rainbow Power Bait and a dab of Pro-Cure Sweet Corn. Before I could get the second rod rigged, I had a fish on the first one. Lip hooked and back for another day. Got that rod out and the other one and hooked up on both. Oh, this was LOOKING GOOD. Both were lip hooked and back for another day. Rods back out and another one, but this time it was a good 12 incher. I kept that one. This happened in the first 10 minutes I was there. Then it got quiet. Half hour later, I put one more on the stringer, but this one a bit smaller, maybe 10 inches.

I'm not fishing where I usually fish (100 feet or so from the dam), I was a good 500 feet or more from the dam. There was a guy fishing in my usual spot already, but I wanted to fish near where I fished on October 28th anyway. When I was there on the 28th, I mentioned a guy fished in this spot, but didn't catch anything. I wanted to see if I could do any better. Here's a shot from where I fished. Along the shore and over the big rocks is were I usually fish.

After the first 5 (2 on the stringer and 3 released) it got quiet. Really quiet. In fact I didn't get another bite until about 1230. It was a smaller one (maybe 9 inches) too, but I put it on the stringer anyway. Ate a couple of granola bars, drank a little water and soaked up some sunshine.

Sitting, waiting, sitting, waiting. twiddling my thumbs, picking my, nevermind I don't want to go there. So I reeled in one rod and put on new Power Bait, cast it at a 45 degree angle toward the dam and hoped for the best. It kind of went like this: cast, splash, bite, fish. Cast, splash, bite, and second fish. Five on the stringer and time to go home.

The one thing I stressed on the October 28th post was the Pro-Cure flavor of the day. Today there wasn't a favorite. They hit on Anise, Sweet Corn, and Threadfin Shad, but they wouldn't hit plain old Power Bait by itself.

I just went over on the Pro-Cure site and there are 53 different scents. A couple of cool names like Butt Juice, Carp Spit, and Salmon Slammer. You know how I am with cool names.

All right, 8 for the day with 3 back for another day and five for Bob (I plow for fish). We are expecting rain to start tomorrow and the possibility of snow (down to 3000 feet they say) at our house by Friday morning. Let's hope not.

Probably won't get out again this week, so until next week.