Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Probably The Last Drought Post

You're probably sick of hearing about the drought in California so this will probably be the last post on anything related to the drought (unless I go out to New Melones), but I had to show you this.

First picture, not much to look at, just across the lake from where I was. Oh, sorry, I was at Lake Camanche this morning. Wanted to find out if they were planting yet, what the water temperature was, and if anyone was catching anything from the shore.

Across the lake
Further to the right
This was on the drive out (I was at the North Shore Day Use Area) to where I wanted to fish. See the bush on the right toward the top, keep that in mind.

On the drive out
Short of using repelling gear, this was the place that had the easiest access.

To the left

To the right

Further to the right and then back toward where I parked.
As it turned out, the water was fairly deep when I cast out. My estimate was about 10 to 15 feet. Water temperature was 60 (according to the girl at check-in), but stocking had not started quite yet. She thought maybe after the storm due Friday. Supposed to be wet and cold (snow level at 4500 ft.).

After a couple hours of soaking Power Bait, my take is that it's still a bit too warm, in fact that by 10:30 I was sweating in a tee-shirt. What's needed is a couple of good, wet and cold storms to make the fish move into shallower water. Guys in the boats are still doing well, but they are deep (45' to 50' and over by the dam).

OK, let's go back to the bush in the third picture. That's the same bush on the right in the picture blow. Yuki and I have fished out from that bush and done well in past years. Now all you'll get is sand fish. Kind of like rock fish. You know what I mean.  

Dry as a bone
 Pan to the left and you can see how far the water is away from that spot.

Farther than a stones throw.
Here is the same place taken in January 2012. Still not a lot of water, but definitely more than today. 

See the island way out in the distance?

The island
 This is it today. You can drive right up to it. No water between.

The island today
If you make the picture below big (by double clicking on it), right above the car at the end of the peninsula, is that same island. This picture was from 2/18/2013

A lot more water.
 Almost done, a full lake, picture taken on March 5, 2013 just prior to the Yuki/Kayak incident.

Full to capacity
Last, but not least, the only one getting any fish today.

I think I've touched on all the lakes, upcountry and downcountry regarding the drought with the exception of New Melones and I'm not sure I want to go out there. Some of the comments I've heard are pretty sad. I know I mentioned how bad it was when my wife and I went out that way some time back, but they say it's a lot worse now.

Could use a little rain dance or two.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Driving Home The Drought

I heard a rumor that Lake Amador started planting last week. I knew the lake was low, but wanted to see for myself, so yesterday I took a drive out there.

I checked with Laurie at the restaurant and she said the plant went well, the fish are healthy, and the fall/winter season is rocking and rolling.

I took some shots at a couple different places. Wow.............

Make sure you double click on the pictures to make them bigger. Give you a better perspective of the drought. Just an FYI, we are getting some rain, but not very much. This last storm dropped about 3/4 of an inch a the house and there is more to come this weekend.

Top of the dam is on the far left out of the picture.
 That is a REALLY long climb down.

The boat dock from the restaurant parking lot.

The spillway
 Caught many a fish to the left of the buoy's laying on the ground. Some up to 5 pounds.

You can see the buoy's on the very left.

We've fished 10 feet below that bush. 

Can't even see the shore from this angle.
Across the lake from the "point".
From the "point" back toward the boat dock.
From the reports I've seen, limits are being taken, but early in the morning. Tomorrow Yuki and I plan to put his boat in (you can only launch small boats, kayaks, and float tubes because of the water level) and give it the old college try.

Remember, last year both Yuki (7 lb. 15 oz.) and I (7 lb. 10 oz.) got personal bests there. Fishing from a boat is a whole nuther ballgame. I'll take pictures. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

That's About It For Upcountry

I had three options this morning. One, stay home and read. Two, Stay home and watch the idiot box. Three, go fishing.

I picked door number three. When I was on "Let's Make A Deal" many years ago, I picked door number 2 that was the wrong one. Number one was the wrong one too. Get my logic? Good.

Got to Silver Lake at 8:00 and instead of heading to my usual spot, just parked in the boat trailer lot (there weren't a lot of boat trailers there) and walked out to the peninsula. Thought I'd try some place different. 

I had talked to a friend on Monday and he said that he and his family went to Bear River over the weekend and got skunked, that's why I picked Silver Lake.

Different Spot

Back Toward The Parking Lot
First line in the water and I realized the water wasn't all that deep even as far as I could case. When I say "not that deep" I mean maybe 18". Yes I tried all areas in between me and as far as I could cast and 18" was about as good as it got. I was using a short 12" leader on my slip sinker rig. 

But I left them out there for an hour or so just in case there was lone Rainbow cruising around in 18" of water. There wasn't. 

I know the picture below is familiar, but the reason I took it was that it rained on Monday night and there was supposed to be snow down to 7000 ft. Silver Lake is 7261 and you know that hill is a lot higher and guess what? No snow.

Familiar Peak
I'm not sure why I took this one across the lake. Guess I just got carried away with the picture snapping thing.

The Other Side
Then I moved to my old spot and the first cast out told me that this wasn't going to be any better. At a guess, I'd say maybe 24" to 36" deep at furthest cast and all areas in between.

When I got to the lake at 8:00, it was parka and gloves (32 in South Shore this morning) and by 9:30 it was long sleeved t-shirt time. By 11:00 I could have used a short sleeve tee.    

The drought has just sucked down Silver Lake, that's all there is to it. 

A little fall color on the Aspens

Another little grove of Aspens
Well, it turned out to be a fishless day. I suspect that any fish in his right mind wouldn't be crusing in 18" to 36" of water especially since there were a couple Cormorants flying around.

Calm as glass at Noon
I figured that if I didn't get a single hit in 4 hours, I probably wasn't going to get one at all, so I packed up and headed home. Interesting what a difference a year and a drought makes. Last year at this time we were knocking off limits almost on a daily basis. This year, NADA.

So I guess that will do it for upcountry fishing until next spring.

I heard a rumor they are supposed to start stocking Lake Amador (person best last year at 7 lb.10oz.) tomorrow. I guess I'll have to take a drive out there and make a stop at Camanche next week to see what's shaking. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Great Scone/Muffin Experiment

When we purchased the Clipper, we didn't realize it didn't have an oven. It didn't have a dishwasher either, but Katherine has me so what does she need one for?

When we went to Pinnacles National Park this spring, we were planning to have Scones for breakfast on Saturday morning. Wrong.......... No oven, no scones.

The Clipper

The Kitchen, no oven
We have a Coleman coffee maker that sits on either the camp stove or the stove in the clipper and makes coffee as good as our coffee maker at home. So when we ran into the problem of no oven, I went out on Coleman's site and found this.........

Coleman Camping Oven
For $40.00 at Coleman or $27.00 at Walmart, scones were on the camping horizon. The only intelligent thing to do, and Katherine is certainly intelligent (no hissing or booing), was to try it out BEFORE going camping.  

What it looks like put together
That is what we did this morning. Made scones or sort of scones in the camping oven on the front porch.

Sits on the camping stove
It only uses one of the burners and with the correct setting gets to 400 degrees (required for scones) in a pretty short time although now that I know the setting, it will be faster next time.

Without having a correct sized pan (8 x 8 is all you can put in the oven) Katherine used a muffin pan that was close in size, thus scones/muffins.

With a little sugar glaze on top, they were AWESOME. Doesn't take long to devour a dozen or so muffins.  

Cinnamon Pecan Scones/Muffins
Only one drawback I can see is that it used almost a whole tank of propane, but for those scones, well worth it. I might also mention that our local propane company now has refillable canisters the size of the one attached to the stove in the picture above. And it's about DAMN TIME somebody did that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Baching It At Upper Blue Lake

My wife was headed to Sacramento this morning to get her hair done and do a lunch/dinner with her BFF whom she hasn't seen in almost 10 years, so I figured that the only logical thing for me to do is go fishing. I think most of you would agree.

I've been chomping at the bit to get a little time up at Upper Blue Lake before winter sets in. I checked the weather report at 7:00 and it said "sunshine and blue skies" with a high of about 62 and winds 5 to 15 in South Lake Tahoe (closest place to Upper Blue Lake), so off I went.

Pulled out of the house at 7:45 and after a coffee stop (you know where) got to the lake just before 9:15. 

Did I mention that it was 28 degrees in South Shore (that's what we call South Lake Tahoe) this morning? Did I also mention that Upper Blue Lake is almost 2000 feet higher in elevation? That would make it 2000 feet colder than South Shore. And the 5 to 15 mph winds were (and this is just my opinion) sustained at 15 mph. It looked something like the photo below minus the snow. I let my wife take the camera with her so I was cameraless (that a real word?).

Please ignore the snow
On the road, just before you get to Lower Blue Lake, there are two or three (depending on whether they have water in them) small ponds (not deep enough for fish, maybe 3 inches deep) that I noticed had ice on them and frost on the grass around them. A definite omen of the winter to come.

Not to be deterred, I put on my heavy hoodie, gloves, and hat. For the most part, that took care of the cold and wind, but just in case, I did have my parka.

By 9:30 I had two lines in the water and a pink Kastmaster on my little Okuma. I was ready, but where were the fish? It was a little before 11:00 when the first hit came. Being cold and a little slow (I've got to use some excuse) I missed the hit and managed to get the hook and sinker jammed in the rocks. The first of many today. Shortly thereafter I got a hit on the other line and managed to bring this one to shore. It was a little 11 inch Rainbow and being lip hooked, put back for another day.

The next hit came right at Noon. As soon as I picked up the rod, I knew this one was larger than the first one. I got three or four good runs before I got it to the net. Again it was lipped hooked and a nice 14 inch Rainbow was put back for another day.  In between all that waiting, I did swing several Kastmasters in pink, silver, and gold, but that's all the Kastmasters did. 

Since my wife was going to be gone all day and probably into the night, the day was mine. Around 1:00 pm I decided to take some of my gear up to the truck because I had lot there and I would have had to take a couple trips to get it all back to the truck anyway.

I was just at the top of the hill by the truck and all of a sudden, I was on the ground. I must have tripped over a rock or something, but at 68, THAT HURTS. For sure, that put the skids on the rest of the day. Even with a "stupid" pill, I was going to hurt so I figured that I'd better get the rest of my gear while I still could.

A walk down, a careful walk back up the hill and my bachelor day of fishing came to an end.

I hate when that happens.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

No Fishing, Just A Little History

I had planned on going fishing this morning. We have a storm moving through, but the local weather guessers said the rain wasn't going to be south of Highway 80 which is a bunch of miles North of me.

I headed out of the house around 0715 and after a gas stop in Pioneer and coffee at Cooks I headed up the hill. Before I got to Bear River Reservoir, I hit the clouds. Some would call it fog, but it was low clouds hanging on the hill at about 6000 feet. I've got no problem with clouds or with cold (South Lake Tahoe was around 31, 32 this morning), but you put cold, rain (they called that one wrong) and wind (guess I missed that on the weather report) it just gets down right nasty up there. I noticed, as I crossed Carson Spur (elevation 7990') a touch of snow along the road.

I checked Caples Lake, Silver Lake, and even Bear River and couldn't find a decent place sheltered enough for me to put in a line and on top of that, it was raining fairly hard by then.  

On the many, many trips up the hill, I've seen a sign for Tragedy Springs Road and wondered what it was about, so I stopped on the way back. Can't fish so I might as well get a little education.

This sign is off the Highway
I parked and with camera in hand, started up the hill. First place I came to is this little a-frame place. I'm not sure what it's for, but it looks a lot like a bear proof trash can.

 A little further up the trail, is an explanation of Tragedy Springs.

 This is apparently where the three members of the Morman Battalion were buried.

Grave Marker

The grave
The next picture is a little hard to read unless you can make it full screen, but it is a replica of an inscription cut into a Fir tree which stood near this spot bordering the old Immigrant Trail. It says "To the memory of Daniel Browett, Ezrah H Allen, and Henderson Cox who was supposed to have been murdered and burned by Indians on the night of the 27 of June 1848".   

Plaque dedicated by Native Sons and Daughters of Amador County 8/30/1931
This last plaque is at the pull off before you start up the hill. You can double click on this one and read, pretty much the same information I wrote above.

I went about 100 yards up the hill, so I don't know if there is anything else up there, but I braved the wind and rain (no cheering please) to bring this little piece of California History to you.

Maybe I'll try fishing later in the week. It's not supposed to rain again until next week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Few Thoughts On Yesterday's Post.

I have some thoughts on why I didn’t find any fish yesterday. Both places and the one I fished back on September 16th have camping sites as opposed to campgrounds near them.

Over the years I’ve known and heard about many who’ve fished Silver Fork and taken the little 6, 7, 8 inch trout for a “trout dinner” while camping there. In fact, there were shoe prints all over the first place I fished and they weren’t mine. 

I would suspect that those mentioned above use every method they can to take these little fish not knowing what they are doing to the native trout population. I’m sure their justification is that they pay their $50+ for their license and are entitled to what fish they catch. That is a crying shame, but it is what it is. 

As for there not being any fish where I was, I’m sure that the above mentioned paragraphs explain why, but there are areas of the creek that I’m sure have fish and probably some quite large ones. The only problem is that you need to be prepared for a day hike down into a canyon that is probably 200 feet straight down, below the road, where none of those justified fishermen mentioned in paragraph 3 cannot or will not go. It’s also a place where we 68 year old Geezers fear to tread. 

I’ve had good days and bad days on Silver Fork. The DFW stocks the bridge at the 8 mile marker a few times a year, well maybe not next year, and I’ve taken limits of stockers on several occasions. In years past, it’s been like shooting fish in a barrel. Some of those fish must get away and hopefully they aren’t Triploid Trout. If you’re not familiar with Triploid Trout, they are bred to grow big.

There are two sides to the Triploid. First, they grow HUGE, they grow fast, and the meat is better than your normal stocker (Diploid Trout). The other side is they can’t reproduce, don’t mingle with native populations, and when those small natives are caught and put on the grill, that’s it. That fish is done reproducing.  

So, that’s my thoughts on the trip yesterday. One other note, Alan commented that “Rock hopping is not that bad”. Well, I’d like to extend an invitation to Alan that if he ever gets out to California, I’d be glad to take him “Rock hopping” California style.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Silver Fork, Strike Two

I headed to Silver Fork with the intent that "3" needed to give a better performance than the last time we were there or "3" was going to spend the rest of it's short life in the corner of the office.

Now you don't think all those flies in the bushes was me, do you? After all, I'm an ace fly fisherman and could never cause that kind of disruption. 

Just to make sure (and intimidate "3") I took along Tenkara. With Tenkara in my back pocket, I put an orange Stimulator on "3" along with a new 7'6" 5x leader. I know 5x seems big, but "3" tends to lose flies if I use a 6x or something lighter. 

I bypassed where I went the last time in favor of the two spots further down the road. The first place I stopped "3" did a good job of casting the Stimulator out 20 to 25 feet. See, intimidation works.

After multiple casts and not so much as a drive by, I switched to a yellow Paralyzer. "3" was still in fine form though the 1/4 mile of the creek we worked. On the upstream side, it then got too brushy to get through. On the downstream side, the boulders were insurmountable. 

Nothing here
Nothing here either
Nope, nothing up here.
So I moved to the spot were I had the run-in with the ground bees last year or maybe it was the year before. I forget.

In the pool below, I drifted the Paralyzer, but to no avail. 

Nothing on a Paralyzer
While I was leaning on a rock, tying on a nymph to try something deep, I noticed this rock formation. It amazes me how Mother Nature can balance a rock the size of a VW Beetle on a pointed rock the size of a basketball. Believe me, all that big rock was touching was the little one underneath, and leaning against the one on the left.

Balance Rock
The nymph didn't do anything so I put the Paralyzer back on (or one out of the many I have in the fly box) and walked upstream to try another pool.

Another Pool
Once again, "3" performed flawlessly, but the fish (if there were any in the creek) stayed hidden.

So "3" redeemed itself and will fish another day. I, on the other hand, after two 1/4 mile excursions over rocks, some the size of my truck, have come to the conclusion that I'm just getting too old for all that rock hopping shit. After the second spot, I could barely get back up the hill to the truck. Seems since I turned 68, I've lost more of my "get up and go".

I think I'm going to have to find some less body damaging places to fly fish.

Maybe I'll go back up to Upper Blue Lake later this week or next week. Catch a day when it won't be so windy.