Saturday, March 29, 2014

Turkey Porn

You've got to love watching tom turkeys during the mating season. They take a couple of steps and then spread their tail. Step, step, step, fan. Step, step, step, fan. Step, step, step, fan.

And the girls? They couldn't care less. All they want to do is get away from those horny males. 

Sorry for the haze, but the shots were facing East in the morning.

I see a turkey sandwich on the hoof. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Spur Of The Moment Trip

We've had rain off and on for the last week and are expecting more in the next week. Since today was one of the few "non rain" days, I needed to get out. Frankly, I was tired of being in the house.

I hopped in the truck at 0715 and headed to New Melones Reservoir. I didn't expect anything since they haven't planted in about four years, OK maybe a couple months. Anyway it's been a while. 

What I first noticed is that the water level is down from the last time I was there even though we've had some rain since. The log sticking out in the picture below was a foot under water the last time.  

Lake Level Gauge
I set up one rod with rainbow Power Bait and on the other one I put on a crawler under a bobber. Everybody's been talking about crawlers under a bobber so I figured, what the heck. While the bobber was floating with the wind and the Power Bait rig was sitting, I took a couple pictures.

It's not so much the hill, but the green on the hill which is normally underwater this time of year. See what a little rain will do. 
Across the lake

Across and to the left

A little farther to the left.
In the picture above, all those stones are the parking area for the highest launch ramp. 

All these places should be underwater. That's the drought we are experiencing.

Two hours later and having tried: crawler under a bobber, crawler on the bottom with a couple white foam things (I got them at the sports shop because they didn't have any marshmallows), a crawler by itself, a crawler with garlic Pro-Cure scent, rainbow Power Bait, pink PB, pink PB with garlic, chartreuse PB, rainbow PB with garlic, I gave it up.

I put my gear into the truck and grabbed my fly rod with the ever faithful Thin Mint. I walked back down to where I was fishing and on the second cast, hooked and landed the only fish of the day, a 13" Rainbow. Just as I hooked up, so did this gentleman who was Bass fishing next to me. His name is Melchor and he's from Riverbank. Riverbank is over toward Highway 99 and the Modesto area.

Since I know nothing about Bass, I'm guessing it's a Largemouth, female, and about 2 pounds. Melchor seemed to know what he was doing. He was using, what looked to me, to be a black rubber worm of some sort. Apparently it worked because a little later he landed another Bass, but this one was more of a Guppy sized one. 

I worked my way all around the area and by 1:00 pm the wind had picked up sufficiently for me to throw in the towel and call it a day.

I took this last picture as I was leaving. My guess is that this is the beginning of the storm we are expecting to come in tonight and last into Sunday Morning.

Front of the storm
For the next seven days we're expecting rain with a day or maybe two, clear in between. We're a long way from being out of this drought, but we'll take all we can get.  

Till the next time I can get out.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Second Post Today

I've taken Howard's advice and set the comments for Google accounts and removed the Word Verification. We'll see how that works. The spammers only managed 6 since this morning.

Today was a practice day for Yuki out at the Trout Pond. I set him up with a fly box and a few olive Wooly Buggers and a couple Thin Mints to get him started.

Then I lent him my 6 wt Streamlight fly rod from LL Bean and a new 6x leader. I wanted him to get a comparison between his fly rod and mine. I also wanted him to practice casting. My plan was to work him from 4 or 5 hauls to a double haul cast that most of us use at the pond.

While I was flippering around the pond in the Float Tube Cumberland not catching anything, I watch how he progressed. I'd say that after the first three hours (9 to Noon) he got pretty comfortable with casting. I think I'm winning him over and he'll soon be a fly fisher extraordinaire.

So that was it at the Trout Pond today. He didn't catch anything, I didn't catch anything nor did any of the other guys out there with the exception of one guy that was fishing a size 20 nymph under an indicator. No, don't even ask.

We decided that the next foray into fishdom will be out at New Melones, but probably not until next week as it's supposed to rain for the next few days.

Stay tuned.   

Word Verification

FYI, I turned it on in hopes it will thwart some of the spammers. I was looking at the blog this morning and noticed one dot flashing on the revolver map that was off the coast of Africa. Sure enough at 6:21 am (right when I was looking at it) there was a spam comment.

I've been getting 100 to 300 a day and frankly, I'm sick of 'em. 

I'll leave it for a while because it's not too hard now that Google is using all numbers instead of trying to decipher what ever the word of the day is.

Thanks for your cooperation. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pictures Just For You

Took a little field trip to the Shenandoah Valley (California not Virginia) this afternoon. After picking up lunch in Plymouth (California not Massachusetts) we drove here. Actually it's just down the street and around the corner. As usual, make them bigger and see them better.

We went here first.
This is the shape of this building. Has something to do with pumpkins and Fall.

Kind of looks like a square pumpkin

From here on, I have no idea what kind of plant they are. Oh, they had names, but I've never heard of most of them.
Yellow something
Phlox I think.

Pink something

Up close pink something

White something

Flowers were actually the leaves.

White tree

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Did you hear it? Landed here at 9:57 am this morning.

All I heard was this great big SPRONG and there it was.

We've scheduled 3 day trips in the Clipper each month through September.

The Clipper
I'll give you an update with pictures when we get back, but here is the schedule.

April - Pinnacles National Park. My son is going too and has the camp site next to ours.

May - Island Park Campground at Pine Flat Lake in Fresno. We're going to try to hook up with Daniel Roloff from the Impractical Fisherman blog. I plan on fishing Pine Flat Lake and the Kings River that runs out of the dam.

June - Back to Hope Valley Campground to fish Upper Blue Lake and the East and West Forks of the Carson River.

July - Hendy Woods State Park up in the mighty Redwoods on the North Coast.

August - Will put us at Half Moon Bay State Beach for 4 days. Our spot is right on the ocean. I'm going to take a stab at ocean fishing.

September - Still up in the air, but we'll find someplace to go.

So welcome to Spring. It should be a lot of fun this year. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Couple Of Pictures From Yesterday

Yuki sent these along after I left and he got blown off the pond.

Float Tube Dude

Yuki's Yak
That's, That's, That's all folks.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fly Tester Day

Mel or at the Pond Stalker blog sent me a handful of custom flies to try on the trout out here. Actually I think he wanted to see if they worked before he tried them.

I rolled out if La Casa Kautz at 0730 and planned to meet Yuki at the Trout Pond and give them a shot. Yuki hasn't been on the water since the "kayak' incident almost a year ago so I figured the best way was to be there when he launched for moral support.

I got there around 0830 and was sitting in the Float Tube Cumberland tying on a fly as Yuki rolled up. He got his kayak in the water and I rigged up his fly rod with a 6x 9' leader, a little 6x tippet
and an olive Wooly Bugger. I wanted him to have as much of an advantage as I could get him.

Back to Mel's custom flies. I wanted to give them a good chance so I picked three for today. The first one was on the top left row (all three are the same). He dubbed them the Wildwood Special because of the road I live on. I also picked (as of yet un-named) left side, bottom row, right side (kind of orange and black colored), and right side, bottom row little green nymph kind of thing (both the same).  

The custom flies
 I worked them in the inlet cove where there was the most activity, but for some reason the fish in the pond don't seem to like shiny flies. Just to be fair I also tried several Crystal Buggers (olive, black, and rust) to make sure I knew what I was talking about.

Finally after about an hour and a half, I switched to an olive Wooly Bugger (no bead) and proceeded to get bump after bump, but couldn't get anything to stay on the line. I switched to the Thin Mint and didn't get a notice, so I went back to the olive Wooly Bugger. The first thing I did was drop one right between my legs and right through the little hole into the lake. The second (and only other one I had) I tied on, got a good hit, and broke the tippet right at the double surgeon knot.

I tied on a bead head olive Wooly Bugger, but they wouldn't even give it a glance.

In the mean time, Yuki was casting his little heart out and getting better with each cast (he doesn't fish much with a fly rod), but here again he couldn't get a glance at his olive Wooly Bugger. It's a tough audience at the Trout Pond.

I tied on a Thin Mint and worked my way all the way around the pond with out so much as a bump.

Then the wind started to pick up and it was one of those kind of winds that you sit one way with the wind behind you and then you turn around because the wind is now blowing in your face. Then you have to turn around again because the wind has moved so it's blowing in your face again. Makes you feel that all you're doing is spinning around in a circle.

Finally, sitting in the cove by the inlet and casting toward open water I hooked and brought to hand the only fish I could manage to keep on the line. A quick photo op and back for another day.

About 14 or 15 inches
Sorry Mel, but flashy didn't seem to interest them today, but I'll keep trying. Maybe another lake will be the key. I'll let you know.

I pulled out at about 12:30 and headed to Mickey D's for a hamburg and fries before I fainted from lack of nourishment.  

Not a spectacular day, but not a skunk either. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's The Time Of The Season

Tomorrow is the official opening of Daffodil Hill although people were visiting today as I drove by.

I've mentioned in the past that there is 600,000 Daffodils on the side of the hill and many more scattered around this much visited attraction here in Volcano, California.

It could look like this:
 Or this:
Also 3/18/2012
But this is what it looks like now.

This is not daffodil Hill, but down the road at Bob Williams place. He doesn't have 600,000, but he has a bunch.

Enjoy the pictures and if you're local, take a day, drive up, and check out Daffodil Hill. You won't be disappointed. There is also Daffodil Days in downtown Jackson going on tomorrow. Crafts and all that.

And this is our lowly contribution to Spring. It's only one, but it comes back faithfully every year. 
Our one and only.
Happy Spring, a couple days early.

And the snow, we could still get some. Latest we've seen it is May 15th. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm Not Putting The Float Tube Cumberland In There

Like I said last time I wanted to launch at Lake Amador and cruise for some of their Donaldson (Cutbow) Trout.

Since it is fairly close I left when my wife headed for work (0745 or there abouts) which put me at the lake around 0830. As I drove across the dam, well you can see in the picture below how low the lake was.   
Lake Amador
Over on the opposite side, behind the dock and behind that little hill is the launch ramp. Before I committed myself to paying more bucks than Camanche I drove down to the bottom of the launch ramp. There was debris everywhere and the water was almost the color of root-beer. If you were putting in a boat, I didn't see a problem, but I wasn't putting any part of my anatomy in that water. And as you know, in a float tube a good portion of that anatomy ends up in the water especially your posterior. Sorry it kind of grossed me out even if I do wear chest waders. .

Plan B was to head out to New Melones and launch there, BUT since it was already 0845, by the time I drove the hour and a half out there (I usually leave at 0700 not 0745) it would be almost time to turn around and come back. I opted for Lake Camanche. Besides it's a lot cleaner.

Since I didn't have anything to lose, I headed for the South Shore Trout Pond. Took me 15 minutes to get there. I know I've moaned and complained about the Trout Pond, but it does have a couple of pluses.

First is where I launch. As you can see in the picture below, it's only about 20 feet from where I parked. The edge is a foot deep and you can sit down and put on your flippers  in comfort.

Trout Pond
Second, the water is really clear. You can see the bottom at around 10 feet.

Third, if the wind came up, it could only blow me across the pond which isn't all that big instead of blowing me up Jackson Creek (Lake Amador) which is about 35 miles from launch.

More Trout Pond
 I launched, tied on a Thin Mint, and flippered around the pond. After one circle I changed to a J. Fair Wiggle Tail. I started getting hits right away, but nothing would stay hooked. I think, and this is only a guess, that the fish were hitting the tail of the fly and not getting enough of it to get hooked. If you're familiar with the Wiggle Tail, the tail is about three times as long as the hook shank.

After a half hour of missing hits, I went back to the Thin Mint. Now the others that were catching, were using an olive Wooly Bugger. Did I bring any? OK, you know the answer to that.  I'm not going there.
And more Trout Pond
Finally........ I did hook one and it was quite a fighter. It took about three minutes to get it into the net and once I snapped a couple pictures, got it back into the water, but had to move it around to get it going again. I didn't want to take the time to measure it, but an educated guess would be 15 or 16 inches. Kind of a tubby little thing.  


Same fish, other side
It may not have been a stellar day, but it was warm, the sun was shining, there was little if any wind, and there was actually some fish biting. I under stand that yesterday was stellar. A friend of Yuki's said he caught 27. A guy on the bank said he caught 15 yesterday. I, on the other hand, cleaned up after the storm. Probably should have gone fishing, but it probably wouldn't have been the Trout Pond.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Maybe Tomorrow

All I have to say is that you can't float tube when the wind is blowing as hard as it is here today.

My plan was to head out to Lake Amador yesterday and give the old Thin Mint a shot at the Cutbows out there. I had planned to go with the fly club on February 19th, but the old dizzy thing kept me incapacitated that day.

Well, the wind decided it wanted to blow yesterday. By blow, I mean 20 to 30 sustained from North to South. Hard to float tube in that. OK, I'll go Wednesday.

Last night the weather guessers said the wind was going to die down in the valley, but increase in the foothills and mountain. Great. It increased all right. Sustained at 30 to 40 from East to West all night and still going strong this morning.

When I went out to start my wife's car this morning (don't you wish you could do this without worrying about somebody stealing it?) the place was a mess. Limbs and pine cones everywhere and I'd Just finished raking it all.

So I thought I'd take a couple pictures for you to check out.  

Blew the cover off the log splitter and blew all the firewood down the hill. Just kidding about the firewood, we've used up the four rows (four cord) and half of the other two rows already this year. In the background is the 4x8 plywood panels I use on top of the firewood piles to maintain a level surface to cover with the tarp. Blew them over too. 

Click on the pictures and you can see them better.

Log splitter
The next two photos are Cedars about 80 foot tall. The first picture is bent by the wind.  

80 foot Cedars
This one is the same trees, but with the wind they never got a chance to stand up straight.

Same trees
Take into consideration that we have some that are larger both around and taller. I probably have 300 trees this size on the property. You can watch them sway with the wind and pray they don't break. I did have one break that was 12 inches in diameter and maybe 25 feet tall, but it was down by the pond. Just hope none by the house break. 

This is my shop and I've cleaned up in front of it at least 15 times this winter.

Front of the shop
Note all the pine cones. Before I took this picture I had already picked up half a five gallon bucket full of cones. 
Front drive
So no float tubing today, but everything is loaded and if I can get a calm day tomorrow, I'll be out at Lake Amador.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jim Wanted To Go Fishen'

I got an email from Yuki the other day that said Jim wanted to go "fishen" at New Melones on Wednesday. I figured, sure why not. Can't be any worse than Camanche.

Since my wife worked late last night and had to do more work in the middle of the night (2 am to 5 am that IT crap sucks) I got up at my normal 5:15, threw myself together a blasted out the door just before 0700.

I had to get gas at a little market in town so I took a chance on a cup of coffee for the hour trip out to the lake. Turned out the coffee was pretty good.

I got to the lake at 0830 and noticed that the water level has risen some. The weather guessers said that New Melones went from 43% of capacity to 44% of capacity after the past storms we've gotten. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but for a lake this size (2.4 million acre-feet) that's quite a bit of water.

Once I had two rods out, yeh rainbow Power Bait on a slip sinker rig, I went looking for the log we usually fish over.
The log
Can't see it? Sorry my camera doesn't have a polarized lens on it so you'll just have to take my word for it being there.

Since I was standing there with my camera in my hand, I took some shots around the lake.

Down one cove

The cover around the corner

Out toward the lake
I soaked Power Bait from 0830 until 0915 and then got the one and only bite of the day. This 15 inch Rainbow was a nice healthy male with nice pink markings and a big tail. I just couldn't keep it so I snapped a quick picture and put it back for another day. Once it hit the water, it was gone in a shot.  

15 inch Rainbow
I realized two things today. One, the fish were surface feeding on BWO's the size of a pin head and I didn't have my fly rod. That was even after Charlie (from Amador Fly Fishers Club) told me to treat my fly rod like my American Express Card. Never leave home without it. Sometimes I just don't listen.

Second is that fishing from the Float Tube Cumberland is a lot more fun on this lake. Yuki decided that we were going to launch (he with his kayak and me with the FT Cumberland) sometime next week.

I left at 12:30 and by then Jim had missed one and landed one, Yuki was fishless, but if the day was to be normal, I had to leave for him to catch fish. The Yuki hex, remember?

Till next time. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The $87.00 Rainbow Trout

There was a lull in the storms this morning which gave me a chance to get out of the house and wet a line. I had several options and this is how they broke out. Keep in mind it's been raining off and on for days.

Lake Pardee: I haven't been out there this year, but on opening day this guy caught this Rainbow. Turned out to be 16 1/2 pound lake record. Here is my take, if you look at the tail, I doubt it put up much of a fight and since they stocked right before opening day February 14th, this sucker must have slipped into the stock truck.  

16 1/2 Pound Rainbow
Since it was supposed to rain by Noon and I didn't have a handle on this lake, I passed. 

Lake Amador: I wanted to fish this with the Float Tube Cumberland, but with rain due shortly, passed on this one until another time.

New Melones: Too far to drive for a short time to fish. Passed here to, so that left Lake Camanche. As you know, I've not had much luck at Camanche the last six times I've been there so with no expectations I wandered out there after a coffee stop at Starbucks in town. 

At check-in I asked if anyone has been catching anything from the shore. I know the guys in the boats have been doing fairly well. They said a few here and there on garlic Power  Bait.

This is what the lake looked like when I got there.


Across and to the right

To the left, up the shore
The biggest part of the ground at the North Shore Day Use Area is made up of rocks and clay. With all the recent rain, you might as well have been walking on ice. I found a spot (actually I was the only one out there) by the double buoys and carefully threaded my way down to the edge only slipping four or five times. Nothing serious though. Did have a lot of clay caked on my sneakers.

I started with two rods with rainbow Power Bait. Half hour later changed them to one with RPB & garlic and the other with RPB & sweet corn.

An hour later I pulled in the one with sweet corn and worked all my colors of Kastmasters and the 1/4 oz. Magic Bullet. Nothing.

Put both back out with just plain rainbow PB, but one out about 15 feet and the other as far as I could toss it. It actually landed even with the buoy which is about 100 feet out.

Finally at 11:15 the one at 15 feet got a hit. I was so shocked that I slipped getting up from the red Coleman camping chair and almost fell into the lake.

I put it on the stringer long enough for a quick photo and then back into the lake. Seems a little extreme, but once it got into the water it was gone in a shot. No harm, no foul.  

Pound +
Which brings me to the title of this post. I've been skunked the last 6 times out here and at $12.50 for the entry fee, it comes to a little over $87.00 for this one fish. It's unfortunate that we have to pay to fish, but all the downcountry lakes are run by companies like East Bay MUD (Camanche and Pardee) and Amador by Lake Amador Resort. New Melones is a Bureau of Reclamation lake and I can use my Geezer pass, but I use up $12.00 in gas getting there or we don't fish. 

A little before Noon the storm was looming on the horizon. It got windy, colder, and I could hear thunder in the distance so I decided at 12:30 to pack it up and head home. 

Here comes the storm
So the Camanche skunk is finally gone and I'll probably be meeting Yuki and Jim at New Melones on Wednesday, if it's not raining that is.