Friday, January 31, 2014

Somebody Moved My House

Unless you've spent the last couple days in a cave, you know that Northern California got some rain. We went 54 days without measurable rain. The previous record was 44 days set back in 1976.

So, where does the title of this post come in, you ask? Well, the weather guessers said that this was going to be a warm storm and the snow level would be 6000 feet.    

Now, if you look at the first two pictures below, you'll notice that the white on my truck and the white on the roof of the house is SNOW. Photo's taken this morning.

To me, that would mean that I now live at 6000 feet instead of 3200 feet where I previously resided and somebody moved my house. Can you see the logic in my thinking?


OK, so they were wrong again.

In my infinite wisdom the only logical thing to do, since it snowed last night, would be to go fishing today. I didn't want to launch the Float Tube Cumberland, because I'm heading out to New Melones on Monday to tube. I decided to try Lake Camanche one more time on the off chance that I just might catch a fish. Boy am I stupid sometimes. Even my stupid pills can't correct this one.

Three hours, every Kastmaster in my tackle box, the 1/4 oz. Magic bullet, a Thin Mint behind a bobber (too windy for my fly rod) and rainbow Power Bait plain and with every Pro-Cure Bait Scent I had. Absolutely nothing.

While I was sitting, I decided to take a Selfie. Everybody is doing it and thought I'd take the plunge. After all if the President can so can I.    
By the way, the lake level is about five feet lower than the last time I was out there. Lower than I've ever seen it.

When I checked in, the guy at the window asked if I was going to the Day use area or the Peninsula? It didn't dawn on me what he was talking about because I had no idea what the Peninsula was so I just naturally said the Day Use Area. After three hours of nothing, I drove back to check in and asked what he was talking about.

He gave me a map and said that a lot of people he talked to would catch fish at the Peninsula while those at the Day Use Area wouldn't. OK, time to see what the Peninsula was all about.

Drove out there to find the roads with a good access to the lake were closed and also had signs that said "No Day Use". The only place to park would have been a dry camping area where you had to hoof it a half mile or so to the lake.

Let's compare this. Day Use Area, park next to where you fish, but don't catch anything. Peninsula, park in the dry camping area and hike a half mile (carrying all your gear) and maybe catch something. This is a no-brainer for me, quit fishing here.

Next stop, New Melones on Monday with the Float Tube Cumberland and the ever faithful Thin Mint.   

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Thin Mint

Swamp Yankee asked for a close-up of the Thin Mint.

Thin Mint
Let me see if I can put together a recipe of sorts since I buy these and don't tie them. (I've tried and they turn out terrible as do most of the flies I tie.

Tungsten Bead Head Thin Mint. Ties like a Wooly Bugger.

Hook - TMC 5262 or 5263 Size 10 or 12
Thread - Black 6/0
Tail - Maribou in Black/Rust/Olive in that order, top to bottom
Flash - Flashabou
Rib - Wrapped first with copper wire and then with Flashabou
Body - Black Crystal Chenille, regular black would probably do.
Hackle - Rust Saddle Hackle
Bead - Tungsten 5/32 Gold

That's the best I can come up with from looking at one.

Now, a little about yesterday's workout. This morning the stupid pill has worn off and both shoulder muscles are extremely sore. Legs are fine when I thought these would be the problem. One more stupid pill should do it and since it's going to (please sit down) start raining tonight and rain through Friday, I think I'll head out early next week and try it again.

Y'all come back.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Fish Didn't Win This Time

Plan A - Launch the Float Tube Cumberland into New Melones Reservoir. There was no Plan B. Headed out of the house at 0720 and after filling up the gas tank, headed to New Melones.  

Now I know the coffee stop at Starbucks in Angels Camp is a given, but not today. I was planning on float tubing and didn't need any additional liquid in my body. If you've float tubed, you know what I'm saying.

Before I get into the details, I took a couple of scenery shots to get the day started. The first one is where we usually bank fish. This one taken from the water side. 

The Fishing Spot
Up on top of the hill is the parking lot for the boat ramp when the lake is full.

Parking Lot
By the time I got the Float Tube Cumberland aired up, it was just before 0900. Some time ago Bill Trussell sent me a couple Muddler Minnows to try in the lakes out here and today was a good time to do just that. It was the first fly of the day and the only problem I ran into was it floated. Sure, I could have put a little split shot on the line, but they were back in the truck and I was already out a ways.

So what I did was put on a beadhead black Wooly Bugger (supposedly the best for fish here) for weight and added the Muddler as a dropper. I'd like to report that the fish murdered the Muddler, but it wasn't to be. Sorry Bill, I gave it a good hour, but I will try again next time, by itself, with some weight.     

The black Wooly Bugger didn't produce anything either so I went to the ever faithful Tungsten Beadhead Thin Mint. Then the party began. 

Almost immediately this 14 inch or so Rainbow came to hand. He hit the Thin Mint so hard it almost pulled me out of the Float Tube. It also set the tone for the rest of the day.

First Fish Of 2014
I flippered back and forth in front of where we usually fish and brought three to hand, all on the Thin Mint. When something is working that well, no need to change. Then some bank fishermen showed up and I moved along. I crossed the launch area and fish a little cover where there were rumors of Browns.

The next four were in that area were all Rainbows. Along about Noon I was getting tired (I don't think I'm quite 100% yet) so I started back toward the launch ramp and then it hit and the fight was on. I thought "big Rainbow". The fish was a good sized Brown. I guess the rumors are true.

First Brown of 2014
I only kept him out of the water long enough for a photo op, but not long enough to measure him. My estimation is probably 17 maybe 18 inches. Nice big tail and plenty of power.

I have solved the problem with the cramps I was getting and what was making me hesitate to float tube. It turns out that it wasn't a cramp after all , but arthritis in my hip. To counteract that , I just took a stupid pill.

Explain the stupid pill? Several months ago I told my doctor that I refuse to be 67 so give me something for the muscle pain I incur when "I'm stupid". Apparently works for float tubing too.

So, the Float Tube Cumberland is back in business.     

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fish 2, Mark 0

Headed out of La Casa Kautz at 0715 this morning and with New Melones in mind and a stop at Starbucks in Angels Camp for coffee and a butter croissant. I had two lines in the water by 0845.

And as Porky Pig would say "That's, that's, that's all folks". I tried plain rainbow PB, pink PB, rainbow with garlic. Rainbow with sweet corn. Spitting in the water. Everything and couldn't get even the slightest interest.

So while I was sitting there soaking up the sun. Not too much, I'm already on the calendar for partial ear removal, I noticed a couple guys float tubing by.

I thought, "Hey, I know these guys. Just talked to them last night at the fly club meeting". Truth be told, I over heard them talking about coming out to New Melones today so I wasn't too surprised.

I hung around for a little over 3 hours and without a bite, called it a day. One can only be bored so much.

Both the guys to the left and right of me were in the zero fish category just like me. Out in the tubes, one fish on, but lost and that was it until I left.

Might quiet at New Melones.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nothing Upcountry

As I mentioned two days ago, I wanted to take a drive upcountry and see if there was a little open water.

I pulled out of the house at 0700 and after a coffee stop at Cook's Station, drove to Bear River Reservoir. The lake was ice free, but several things stood in my way. One, the gate was closed. It is winter after all, but you just can't tell it. The water level was so low that it would have been a good 1/2 to 3/4's of a mile straight downhill to fish. I just don't have the energy after the flu bout the last month. I could have driven around the gate (there is a spot), but the fine, if caught, I understand is $500.00+ and I don't have a spare $500.00.

Ruling out Bear River I headed up the highway to Silver Lake. Yuki sent me an email on Saturday that said he took a drive up to Nevada and in passing Silver, Caples, and Red Lake they were all frozen.

Being from Missouri (the "show me" state), not really, I drove up anyway. What I was hoping, with the recent 60 degree temperatures, that there might have been a little open water along the shore, but as you can see in the picture below, twas not to be. 

Ice right to the sand.
I do have to hand it to these two (yes there two out there somewhere) brave souls ice fishing. You know I don't ice fish. The Killer Whale thing.

Ice fishing
So I'll have to settle for a trip out to New Melones Tomorrow or Wednesday to see if I can scare up something fishy. The Float Tube Cumberland is out for now because I just don't have enough energy quite yet.  

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thank God That's Over

For the last 20 days I've had some sort of the flu. It started with a sore throat two days before New Years. Then adding a cough and a head full of snot. I progressed to 13 days of being in bed or ensconced in a blanket in my chair.

Then last Sunday came phase two. This one was oh, so much better. Four days of running to the Porcelain God almost every time I moved. For those who have had this one, my sympathies. For those who haven't, you lucky dogs.

But, I'm back (I hope) and am planning on getting out next week. Don't want to push it and end up back in bed. Us old guys don't bounce back as easily as we used to.

Now, if you've been watching the tube, you know that California is in a major drought. 2012 was the driest calendar year ever. All the lakes are mere puddles and the temperature had been in the mid 60's for what seems forever.

This is what January should look like. 

January 2008

The normal winter program would be to fish downcountry, but with the warm temps I'm thinking of taking a drive up the hill. Don't know what I'll find, but the local forums are showing nobody fishing up there.

I know I posted a trip on the 8th, but I paid for that short trip to Camanche by spending another three days in bed which is the reason I'm not pushing it this time. I have to tell you, it's really tough when you find out you're not bulletproof any longer. Very damaging to your ego.

The DFW is planning on planting Camanche and New Melones next week so if upcountry doesn't pan out, I still have those two lakes I can hit later in the week. Monday is MLK day so I would avoid any downcountry lake unless you enjoy combat fishing. 

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The End Of An Era

Just in case you haven't had enough coffee this morning and don't have your eyes open wide, let me point you to the left bar and you'll notice that the link to the Ledger Dispatch Newspaper is gone.

Nothing disastrous, just time to move on. Well that and the fact that my CPA said I can't continue to lose money and have the IRS let it slip by. It was a good write-off, but the IRS will only give you three years without a profit. Then they start with the hobby instead of business jargon.

One of the two other factors was a Letter to the Editor that came in a couple weeks ago. It read like this:

I was reading the paper which we really enjoy and pickup weekly.  Mark wrote an article about fishing at New Melones.  I already facebooked it but it only went on a timeline.  He mentions that he had five fish on a stringer and was still fishing.  He also mentioned that he helped others fill their stringers.  These are both illegal activities and punishable.  With all of the over fishing that is already taking place I would not like others to think this is okay. If he questions my opinion he may contact D.F. & G.. Mark probably doesn't know that it is illegal or else he would not have printed this in the newspaper.  I would like to hear back from him if possible as it is a very serious matter. Hope all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Thank you,

He mentions that he had five fish on a stringer and was still fishing. Didn't say that. 
He also mentioned that he helped others fill their stringers. Didn't say that either.
Don't ever think I didn't respond to this and it wasn't pretty, but the point I want to make is that I told the newspaper I just didn't need aggravation like this in my life especially from someone who didn't know what he was talking about.

Then the last straw was the final article where I put a picture of a friend on it. If you go back to the December 17th post, the picture of Chuck sitting in the chair reeling one in, they called him Frank. Nowhere in my email or article is the name Frank. This is not the first time this happened and all they say is that they can't correct it now. Hard to show your friend that you spotlighted him when they use the wrong name.

So, I'm done with being a freelance writer for the time being and can do two things. One, fish when I want to, not every week so I can write an article and two, fish when I want to.

I still want to put the Float Tube Cumberland in New Melones and will do just that as soon as this "whatever" flu goes away.

Stay tuned.    

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First Outing Of 2014

I mentioned back on the 5th that I was at day 7 of the "what ever" flu. That would make today day 10 and after being cooped up with 3 cats for 9 days I was ready to get out of the house. My sanity was in question.

I didn't feel like making the 50 mile drove to New Melones so I took a chance on Lake Camanche North Shore. More like 30 than 50.

My objective was to drive out to the far end of the peninsula and fish an area that had been good in the past. Since all the other places I've fish in the last 4 times out here hadn't produced fish one, I figured, what the hell.

I wanted to fish here
On the way through check in, the girl mentioned that they had just planted Monday, so instead of where I wanted to go, I opted for something closer to where they plant. One can hope, can't they?

So I parked on the point just off the parking lot and set two lines out. You know what was on them.

I started here
I gave it sufficient time for any fish, in it's right mind to find my Power Bait, but none did. 

I moved out to where I originally wanted to fish and since I didn't get bite one where I was, I wouldn't be out anything, right?

Fished here second
Only problem with this site was the water was only a couple feet deep as far as I could cast out. That didn't deter me because in the past (a long time ago) this place has produced several limits.

I gave it sufficient time for any fish, in it's right mind to find my Power Bait, but none did. Yup, same line as above. Copy and paste is a wonderful thing unless it involves not catching fish. 

OK, on the next spot. Across the peninsula to the lake side by the two buoys and again two rods out. Once again sufficient time then I pulled one in and started throwing lures. Again nothing.  I know when to quit.

In summation I fished, I spent the day without cats, and caught nothing.

So 2014 begins........   

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Northern California Trout

I did my first post on Northern California Trout on January 6, 2009. That would make this it's 5th birthday.

A lot of things have happened in the last five years. I've almost learned how to catch fish. You can't count all those limits on Power Bait caught right after the lake was stocked. That's like shooting fish in a barrel, but I need to keep Bob stocked so I get my driveway plowed when it snows. More so the natives I've caught and released on a fly rod. Those are the ones with the biggest learning curve.

I've made a lot of good friends. Some I've met, others I haven't, yet. I think that I'm fortunate that all those good friends are still out there fishing now and then.

I've become what I would call a "Freelance" writer. Besides Northern California Trout, there's my book, published last year. You can still get it in paperback (from me) or e-book from or Barnes & I wrote articles for Sport Fishing Weekly until they disappeared. The original owners sold it and the new owners have never showed. And then there is the local newspaper. I've written 123 articles for them along with a couple of summer and winter specials.

All this because I wanted to help local people catch fish. I'm not one to follow the "mum's the word" when it comes to fishing. I'll tell you what, where, and how. That's how my friend Glenn caught all the Steelhead and I've not caught one yet.

I joined the Amador Fly Fishers Club and did a presentation on fishing small streams at last Junes meeting. They found me from the articles in the newspaper.  

At this point, let me throw a few statistics at you and I promise to leave out the fish count.
  • Starting year six. 
  • This is post number 704. 
  • Just over 135,000 hits. 
  • Most of the hits are from the US, but I also want to thank those in China, Poland, Ukraine, and all the other countries who continue to stop by. 
  • Here's a little statistic I think you'll find funny. Once I started this blog on 1/7/2009, the next eleven times I went fishing, I got skunked. 
OK, I lied, but I have to say this to make a point. I've caught 1029 trout in the last five years. I've mentioned over the past year the "fish to extinction" crowd. Their leader boasted on one of the local forums that he caught over 1000 trout this year. It's hard to keep up with those kind of numbers when they are using dry hands to hold them (and eventually killing them) and probably catching the same trout 5 or 6 times in the same day. How do you do that you ask? Follow the stock truck and fish as it dumps. Hopefully the DFW will do something this year.

I think that's all. Thanks to all that read what I write and I hope you'll all be along for the next five years.

ps, still sick. Maybe a couple more days.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hey, I'm Still Here

I've contracted that H1N1 C1S1 Avian Flu or what ever they call the bug that's going around. To stave off your question, yes I did get a flu shot back in October.

Today is day seven and trust me, it's not been a pretty picture. It started off with a little sore throat. Progressed into a cough and then finally settled in my sinus. OH yeh, all at the same time too.

Nothing I could take would make any difference. I took Nyquil, Sudafed, Tylenol, cough drops, liquid cough medicine, and anything else I had in the medicine cabinet. AND I HAD A FLU SHOT.

So, what I'm saying is that it's put a serious crimp in my fishing, BUT I'm almost over it and will be back out this week. 

Stay tuned and I'll see if I can catch something worth talking about.