Friday, August 30, 2013

Thoughts on Wildfires

As I was driving down to Sacramento yesterday to pay for my new camping trailer, my thoughts were of the fires that burn California every year.

It is something that is always on your mind once it stops raining in the Spring until the rain starts again in the Fall. With the Rim Fire just a hair short of 200,000 acres, 34% contained, but full containment not until September 20th, and the constant "in your face" news coverage, you have to wonder when it will be your turn.

As you drive down the hill and out into the valley there are no less than eight places where fires have burned. You don't hear about them because the local firefighters just come and put them out. They're not big, but they could be. Next time you're in a Starbucks and come across a firefighter, buy him or her a cup of coffee.   

If you look at the picture below (courtesy of Channel 3) that could just as easily be my driveway.

Photo courtesy of KCRA 3 TV
People that live in these kinds of areas know that it could happen to them. Some choose to ignore that fact, some have the idea that staying and using a water hose on a 200 foot wall of fire is what they should do, and some plan the leave when the time comes (that would be me). 

Some Summers you worry more than others. Some Springs you get more water and the threat isn't so bad. Other Springs, like this last one, was not very wet.

We knew this summer would be dry. We know the fire will come. They question is when?


ps, Last update on the Rim Fire unless some bad happens.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Firefighters Winning and Fishing

This is about the Rim fire. It is now the 7th largest fire in California history dating back to 1932.

When I last posted on Sunday the fire was 203 square miles. This morning its 280 square miles, BUT where it was 7% contained, it's now 20% contained. There are still 4500 structures threatened and 23 destroyed. There are 3700 firefighters on the line with a current cost of 44 Million dollars.   

I headed out of the house at 0800 and this is what it looked like driving down the road to Highway 88. 

Shakeridge Road
Once I got on Highway 88, it didn't change much. Kind of reminds me of  the inside of the Olympic
Auditorium in Los Angeles during Friday Night boxing. Really, really smoky.

Highway 88
My destination this morning was Silver Fork of the American River. I read a post on one of the local forums that said there was water in the river and the water was cold (it was 56.5 degrees). Thought I'd just check it out. It also said that fish were seen, but the writer said he couldn't catch any.  

I stopped at the bridge on a road and you're going to love this, called Hells Delight Road. Now this road has special meaning for my wife and I. It was off this road we camped together for the first time. At daybreak the dirt bikes started and it sure was Hells Delight.

Parked on the side of the bridge and wadered up, strapped my oxygen tank on my back, got the Tenkara rod rigged, and my fly rod rigged. I was headed upstream. 

Up stream from the bridge
It wasn't very long before the first Rainbow came to hand on a yellow, size 12, Sloan's Paralyzer. It came in at a blazing 6 inches or so.

First of the day
Shortly there after came #2 on the same fly. This one a bit larger at about 9 inches. OK, maybe 8 inches.

Second of the day
Further up the river I came across this area. It is where the river runs during the winter. I was a good 25 feet from the river and pointing the camera away from the river. 

Winter wash
Not to put down the two fish I caught, (by the way, the second one was a Rainbow too), but the stuff I found on the way back was quite interesting. 

In the picture below, on the left is a fly fisherman's net. Needs a little cleaning up and then I'm going to donate it to the fly club raffle. Next to it is a Husky wood saw. That will also be donated to the raffle. The long blue bag is a tent peg bag. On the right is a bag of Chinet Paper Plates, 225 count and never been opened. Still has the factory twist on the twist tie. Geezers know this kind of stuff. Much more stuff and I'm going to have to start taking a wheelbarrow with me.  

So, two fish brought to hand and four missed. I missed one on a green Sloan's Paralyzer because I kept donating the yellow ones to the trees. All in all not a bad day, but a little hard to breathe.  


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fire Update

It is now 133,980 acres, 7% contained, and inside Yosemite's Northwest boundaries.

I was down in Sacramento yesterday and had the pleasure of watching one of those 747 planes with fire retardant taking off. It was a pretty damn impressive sight.

There are two groves of Giant Sequoia that are unique to that area being threatened. Special effort is being made to protect these groves and rightly so.

To liken the acres to square miles, it's now at 203 square miles about the size of the city of Chicago.

They are expecting 30-40 mile per hour winds down there today, so I suspect tomorrows report will be worse.

Currently 4500 structures are threatened with 23 destroyed.

The fire was also burning toward the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, where San Francisco gets 85 percent of its water, and power for municipal buildings, the international airport and San Francisco General Hospital.


Folks, this is not pretty.

Remember, it's only 100 miles South of here. Yeh, it's smoky again this morning. 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Smokey Once Again

The Rim Fire I talked about yesterday went from 53,866 acres yesterday to 102,500 acres this morning. That is twice the size of San Francisco, just for a comparison. It is now threatening 4500 homes and evacuations have begun.

A guy at Cal Fire showed a graph of the smoke plume as it was yesterday. It had risen to 42,000 feet and he said the only one he's seen that was higher was a fire in the Los Angeles area that rose over 50,000 feet. 

Here's a couple photos as I drove out the driveway this morning.

The sun  just peaking trough.
A little further (actually just around the corner) at tree level.

Another shot at tree level
There was a guy from NASA on the news yesterday too and he likened the fire to a pot boiling on the stove. With the lid on the pot, it holds the smoke down and with the down drafts, causes the smokey air where we live. By the way, if you get further down hill (like Jackson), the Delta Breeze keeps the smoke pushed up against the mountains and the air is clear, there.

Back to the NASA guy, if you remove the lid from the pot (about Noon time) the smoke then rises and smoke plume grows and the air here clears, like it did yesterday about 2:00 pm.

The fire is still only 2% contained and if it doubled overnight, there is no telling what it will do this night. Cal Fire has 1800 men on the line, most of them working 24 hour shifts.

You've got to love these guys and when I frequented bars in the past, I never saw one of them ever buy a beer. They are certainly hero's in their own right. 

I'll keep you updated. Now I have to go take a couple Tylenol because the smoke is giving me a headache.


Thursday, August 22, 2013


We started to smell the smoke this morning from the Rim Fire near Yosemite. Overnight the fire raged to 53,866 acres and is 2% contained.

Keep in mind that we live 128 miles North of Yosemite, but the wind is blowing South to North bringing the smoke our way.  

Watching the news this morning, it showed Doppler Radar picking up the smoke as if it were rain. Maybe I missed this in the past, but this is the first I've seen. I found that to be interesting. 

Our Driveway at 10:30 am
Air quality sucks and it makes is a bit difficult to breath. Even the cats are feeling the smoke.

I'm just glad, but feel sorry for those North of us who also have the smoke from the American and Swedes fires.  

We're not the only ones, there are an estimated 50 fires burning in the Western US.

Keep your fingers crossed and hope that there won't be more.  


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vacation The Final Day

OK, its Saturday Morning and after a meager breakfast of cereal we decided to drive out to a place called Grover Hot Springs State Park.

I thought this would be cool because it's on the way to the East Fork of the Carson River and maybe I could do a little fishing over there. You drive into the little town of Markleeville and hang a right for four miles to GHS.  
Grover Hot Springs SP
This is one of those places that has geothermal water running into a pool that you can bathe in. They say it has medicinal purposes and some friends of ours swear by it. There is a hot springs pool and a regular pool. When we got there, there was a line so we opted for looking around and passing on the pools. The three pictures below show the outlets and where the water runs down into the meadow below.

The meadow
One outlet
A second outlet
The sign says "don't drink the water", duh!

After we got back into the truck my wife said "Let's go to Tahoe". So much for fishing the East Fork. Back the way we came, hung a right on Highway 89 (right there by the 88/89 "fish them to extinction" hole), over Luther Pass and into the traffic nightmare of South Lake Tahoe.

We parked behind Harrah's and walked over to the Montbleu (used to be Caesars Palace) and with $80.00 split between us headed for the slots. We played some 25 cent slots, penny slots, and some video poker and when we walked out, we still had $60.00 which we promptly left in the American River Cafe in Harrah's for lunch. We are not big gamblers because my wife sees enough of that every work at day. She works at the Jackson Rancheria Indian Casino in Jackson.

On  the way out of town we stopped at a little flea market and the only interesting thing I saw, besides strawberries, was a guy with a bowl of flies for $1.00 each. I looked through then and couldn't see anything I wanted to spend any money on. They were dries in a chartreuse green color and several different patterns. Might have been good around the lake somewhere, but didn't float my boat. Oh, there was a 12' aluminum boat for sale there too, but a little pricey at $1000.00.

Once we got back to the camp, I grabbed my fly rod and wandered over to the West Fork of the Carson to see if the "fish to extinction" crowd left any fish there and of course, they left NOTHING.

I walked downstream about a quarter mile without casting a fly. The water was really low and very warm. If there was something there (and I saw one spook way downstream) it wouldn't have been good to even try to catch anything.    

Sunday we packed up and headed home stopping for lunch at Kirkwood Inn. I think there might be a tent trailer in my future. Hard to get these old bodies off the mattress on the ground. We'll see.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vacation Day 2

Friday morning and we slept in. Right, who sleeps in when your camping? Rolled out of the sack at 0530 and got the coffee started. We got one of those Coleman Drip Coffeemakers just after we quit camping ten yeas ago and have never used it. You fill it with water, put coffee in the filter, and put it on the camp stove. Home made coffee, camping.

The wife made pancakes and eggs, the pancakes with a recipe from her favorite place (King Arthur Flour in New Hampshire) and I've got to tell you they were the best pancakes I've ever eaten, bar none.

After cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we got into the truck and headed up the road to Upper Blue Lakes. Remember the "sure" with the eye roll of "yeh, right" I got from the campground hosts, I had to make sure I caught fish. My reputation was on the line.

Usual spot, wife in her new camping chair and two lines out with rainbow Power Bait. Got one bite, missed it. Got a second bite and missed it too.

Upper Blue Lake
Both bites came over a period of about an hour. I was at the bottom of the Power Bait jar and as it's been in the past, when I get to the bottom, I open a new jar and throw out the old. For some reason the bottom part of the jar just doesn't get any hits.

I did just that and cast out. You know that fishing with a slip sinker rig, you cast it out, let it fall to the bottom, and then tighten up the line awaiting a bite. The line hit the water and started sinking. I let out line, more line, and more line and thought "it can't be that deep".

I tightened up the line and low and behold, there was a fish on the end. Must have taken it on the drop. Turned out it was an eleven inch Rainbow.

I was so prepared to catch fish that I didn't have my net, my stringer, or a bucket to put it in. I found a piece of thin rope and used it for a stringer. By this time my wife was getting a bit toasted, but being the trooper she is, she just kept reading her book and didn't say anything.

Second rod out and within minutes, an eleven inch Brown came to hand. I said OK we can go now, I've got two for the campground hosts. I rummaged around in the truck and finally found a gallon plastic ZipLoc bag, put the fish in, and filled it with water. Figured it would hold them until we got back to the campground.

The hosts has them for dinner on Saturday night and pronounced them wonderful. We, on the other hand had meatloaf, zucchini, and mashed potatoes for dinner on Friday. Sat by the fire, read some, and called it a night.

Tomorrow Day 3 and two adventures. Stay tuned.    


Monday, August 19, 2013

Vacation Day 1

We picked the campground at Hope Valley because it was fairly close to home and we haven't been camping in more than ten years, so we needed a trial run. It was also remodeled last year and the spaces can be reserved through That way we knew we had a space when we got there.

Back on July 23rd while I was zooming up to Upper Blue Lake, I stopped by and took pictures of the spot. Here they are.

On the left is a charcoal stove and a place to put things (pots & stuff) while you're cooking.

The picnic table which is made of concrete and heavy enough that you wouldn't be able to put it in the back of your pickup to take home. Behind it is the tent pad. Perfectly level and filled with a gravel/sand mixture that holds the tent pegs, but isn't too hard on old bony knees. On the right is the fire pit.

The brown box on the right is the bear box. No, there aren't any bears in it, it's for your food at night so the bears don't feast while you sleep.

Below is where you park, past the picnic table, to the tent pad. Just a whole site look.

And just in case you had the urge to know, that's a toilet shot from the parking area.

I'll start with Thursday. The reservation started at 2:00 pm, so we decided to leave at Noon, stop at Kirkwood Inn for lunch and then drive over Carson pass to the campground. We opted for lunch at home and then left at 1:30 pm arriving at the campground just before 3:00 pm.

Once we got everything unloaded, the tent put up, and the rest of the stuff in some semblance of order, I decided to put off any fishing until the next day.

One note, when we got there we stopped by the campground host and after letting them know we were there, asked if they would like a couple fish for dinner if I caught any the next day. I got a "sure" with the eye roll of "yeh, right".

I'll leave you with a shot of some semblance of order. 

Some semblance of order
 And a fire in the fire pit.
I know the west is on fire, but fires in the pit were still allowed in this campground although they were banned in all other campgrounds and open spaces, so we did the Indian fire thing with wood we brought from home. Not familiar with the "Indian fire thing"? Indian makes small fire and sits close, white man makes big fire and sits way back.

Stay tuned for Day 2.  


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It Was Only One, But A Big One

I had a few hours to kill this morning so I thought I'd run  up to Bear River Reservoir and do a little bait dunking. It's tough to be retired, but somebody has to do it.  

My wife had a class at work and needed to be there at 0700 and since we were up at 0-dark 30, as soon as she left, I headed up to Bear. I parked and walked down to the lake at, and you can call it between the dams, the far side of the first dam, or the near side of the second dam. Any of the three will work.

The view from the red camping chair

You haven't seen this part of the lake before.

I got my chair set up and put out one rod with rainbow Power Bait. Since Bear River is known for its big browns, I was there early, and a gold Kastmaster was successful at Caples for browns, that is where I went. I put a ¼ oz. gold Kastmaster on my little Okuma with the plan to start next to the dam and work a fan casting pattern to where the Power Bait line was.

In the summer, most times you’ll find trout deep, even in the high mountain lakes. The water in Bear along the shore (I didn’t have my thermometer with me) was quite warm so I put all my power in the cast to get the lure as far out as I could. The Kastmaster hit the water at just about 100 feet from shore and about 30 feet out from the dam. I let the lure drop to the bottom and then started my retrieve. I made two turns with the handle and bam, I snagged on the bottom. But wait, the bottom was moving, ever so slowly but moving none the less. 

You have to remember that I only have two pound test on that rod and can’t just horse the line in. So I lifted the rod and reeled in line. Lifted the rod and reeled in the line. Then I guess the fish realized it was hooked and the fight was on. After a short fight I put the net under the fish and then I got that feeling again. I’ve had it before at Lake Amador and Lake Camanche. You know the one where the fish won’t fit into the net. I’ve made notes to myself before about getting a larger net, but I still use the same net. OK, so I’m a little slow.

The first attempt to get the fish into the net resulted in the fish back in the lake. Second time I managed to get the first two-thirds in the net and then I could address getting the hook out. 

After a couple of photos and deciding that the fish fell outside the two pound rule, I gently put it in the water. This fish was of a size that to make sure it was fully recovered, I held it (after wetting my hands) by the tail and moving it back and forth to get the water running through its gills finally letting it go back to the depths.  

I don’t believe I’ve ever explained the two pound rule before. When I first started this fishing thing, in earnest, back around 2008 sometime, I caught a trout (in Bear River) that went 3 pounds 6 ounces. I brought it home and being as large as it was, cut it in half eating one half and freezing the other half. We found the piece we ate tasted dirty. In the years since, I’ve found that any fish over two pounds tastes dirty too, thus the two pound rule. 
OK picture

OK, too
This fish was 19”-20” and 2 ½ -3 pounds and to top it off, the only fish of the day, but what a fish.

Camping and fishing later this week. Stay tuned for the reports starting Monday night or Tuesday.

Till then.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Birthday Thanks

Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes. It was a nice day and I got everything I asked for, for my birthday and one thing I didn't ask for.

All I asked for was a birthday card and a piece of birthday cake. I originally was going for a nice 7'6" 3wt, but decided that we really didn't need to spend the money.

What I got was a card and a piece of really good Carrot Cake. Then my wife told me she ordered me a Barnes & Noble Nook. It was scheduled to be delivered on Thursday in time for my birthday, but we found out they hadn't shipped it. She called, she checked, got everything straightened out, and they would have shipped it on Thursday and I would have gotten it,what next Wednesday.

I told her to just cancel it. I was going to Sacramento that morning (Thursday) and I'd just go by the B&N in Citrus Heights and pick one up and I did just that.

You have to understand we read A LOT. There isn't a time that I don't have at least two and more likely three books going at one time.

Don't misunderstand, we love the people that own the used book store where we get our books, but this allows me to pick the books I want to read and they are more than likely ones that my wife won't.

Besides that, it was time I moved into the electronic tablet age. I don't have an Iphone, Android, or one of those other "smart" phones because, frankly they don't work up here anyway so what's the point. 

I should be able to get one day fishing in maybe Monday or Tuesday (I'll let you know) and then we are off on vacation. We'll be gone until late next Monday (the 19th) so I'll be updating Tuesday and let you know how the fishing was.

Have a nice rest of your weekend.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Birthday, Not Quite Yet

If you want to be technical, I was born on August 8, 1946 at 7:19pm CST (Wisconsin).

As promised in the post dated July 29th, here is my story. I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger and author not to push my book at this time. Just send me an email with your information and for the mere price of $14.00 (including S&H) you can get an autographed copy with what ever you'd like me to say about you. Remember, I'm a fisherman and can lie with the best of them.

I went through a box in the closet and found these pictures that I didn't even remember having. 

So here we go through time and space from that evening in 1946 till today.

Maybe a year old?

In Wisconsin, maybe 4 or 5.

My fifth birthday

I always wanted to be a cowboy

In Florida, Little League & Confirmation

In the back yard in Florida 13 years old.

Senior prom.
My date and girlfriend all through high school is the lovely Janice Lee Wilcoxon. You might be familiar with the Wilcoxon name. Henry (her uncle or some relative) was Henry Wilcoxon, cinema star in movies like Cecil B. Demille's Cleopatra where he played Marc Antony and other films. 

High school graduation picture
 Notice I had hair back then.

Yours truly last year.
So there you have it my friends, 67 and counting. 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

No Pictures, Just Information

Howard (Windknots & Tangled Lines) mentioned that he would like to know how the lakes are connected and if they come out of different drainages. So I sat down and did some research and thought the best way is to list them from top to bottom. These are all lakes I’ve fished and talked about in the past.

Before I get into a lot of this, I need to mention that a good majority of the lakes upcountry are owned and operated by the electric companies in the area. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Bay Area Municipal Utility District (BAMUD) are two such companies that use the lakes for electric power generation and water. With this in mind, a lot of the water out of these lakes moves by way of a flume system that boggles the mind.
Blue Lakes are such lakes owned and operated by PG&E. Blue Lakes (Upper and Lower) look like they are snow melt fed for the most part. Lower is fed by Upper and then, and pay close attention here, a small creek (called of all things Blue Creek. You’ll remember I found this wandering one day) runs out of it, but the majority of water from Upper and Lower moves, I assume, in flumes to lower lakes and I’ll get to that in a minute. 

Blue Creek meets Deer Creek and they meet Sandy Creek which becomes the North Fork of the Mokelumne that meets other creeks and runs all over the place. You get the idea. The rest of the water is flumed somewhere, but I don’t have enough knowledge of the area to tell you how the flume systems works.

Red Lake is also snow melt fed and the water running out of it (Red Lake creek) eventually runs into the West Fork of the Carson River down in Hope Valley. 

Woods Lake is snow melt fed and runs out Woods Lake Creek and into Caples Lake. Caples is also fed by Emigrant Creek. Keep in mind that these lakes are high in elevation (Upper Blue 8100’, Woods Lake 8200’, and Caples 7806’) and there is a lot of snow up there that melts in the spring and fills these lakes. 

Caples Lake is an EID (El Dorado Irrigation) lake. It drains into Caples Creek and eventually into Silver Fork of the American. I’m sure there is a flume system in play here too. Flumes are like Starbucks, they're everywhere. You don’t think they don’t make these lakes just for us to fish in, do you?

Kirkwood Lake is the same, snow melt fed. It also drains into Caples Creek and then into Silver Fork of the American River. 

Silver Lake, again and I’m starting to sound like a broken record, is fed by snow melt. I sat on the highway side of the lake and watched huge amounts of water flow into the lake from the creek that feeds it. As the snow disappeared on the surrounding mountains I’ve also watched that same creek slow to a trickle. 

I could go on and on, but there is such a network of creeks and rivers in this area, in fact in all of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, that it is almost impossible to follow the drainage of all the lakes that are up there. Suffice it to say that the major lakes (Caples, Silver, Bear River) are fed by creeks that are fed by snow melt and there is a vast network of flumes connecting a lot of these lakes to make electricity for the surrounding area and down into the valley. 

When you have multiple mountains reaching upwards of 9000+ feet, there is a lot of snow to melt in the spring to run down a lot of creeks and fill a lot of lakes. 

Down below the lakes are interconnected the same way. The North fork of the Mokelumne River feeds Lake Pardee which feeds Lake Camanche with are both BAMUD lakes. The North Fork of the Mokelumne comes out of Tiger Creek Dam (PG&E electric generator) which is fed by a system of flumes that include the one out of the “secret” lake (didn’t think I’d get that one in, huh) and Salt Springs Reservoir.   

Lake Amador is a whole nuther animal. It’s owned by a private party solely for recreation. I’ve talked enough about the Cutbows there, the hatchery, and the camping that I won’t go into a lot except to say that it’s fed by runoff from winter rain. 

Disclaimer: This is the best explanation I could come up with and if there are incorrect statements or other explanations I didn’t discover, feel free to put that information in the comment section. That way those that read this blog will also benefit from your knowledge. 

I hope that's enough because Brother that's all I've got.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading what I write. 


Friday, August 2, 2013

It Was A Good Start

I told my wife this morning that I've been kind of bored with fishing the local lakes because the DFW isn't stocking them very often and if you want to chase holdovers and the big ones, you need a boat and I don't have one.

I thought that maybe going to a different lake might change my attitude a little. Many moons ago (actually it was on June 2, 2009), in one of my wanderings, I stopped at Kirkwood Lake near Kirkwood Ski Resort. I didn't fish it that day, but was back there on the 19th and did throw a couple of lures. I didn't do any serious fishing that day, but put it on my radar to try another day.

Well, that day arrived this morning. They stock this lake a couple times a year and with the pathetic fishing in all the other lakes, what did I have to lose.

I got to the turnoff about 0745 and as I made the short drive all I saw were cars, cars, and more cars. Every turnoff and parking spot was filled. There was virtually no place to park. My guess would be that because there is a Girl Scout camp by the lake, this would be the Girl Scout camp out for the year.

Since I was just a couple miles from Caples Lake it was better than nothing, so I drove there and parked in the lot below the spillway, grabbed my gear, and walked to the sandy side of the spillway. I picked a likely looking spot and put out two rods with Power Bait. With the cast as far as I could throw, it still seemed to be, maybe three feet deep, so I moved down the lake another hundred yards and out them back out. This time is felt a bit deeper.

In less that thirty minutes I brought the first Rainbow to hand. It was  a little nine incher and hardly worth keeping so I put it back for another day. I didn't even take a picture, but in hindsight I guess I should have since it was the one and only fish of the day. I don't mean the only fish for me, but for me and everyone I talked to this morning.   

I figured, since I was sitting on a rock getting slightly toasted on my right arm (the side toward the sun) I'd take a couple pictures from the opposite side of the lake where I usually fish.


Across toward the highway

The spillway
By the time I left, there were six people fishing in the area from where I took the above picture to the big rock by the tree. It got a little crowded.

Not a terribly exciting day, but at least I beat the skunk. 

Till next time.