Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As The Year Goes Out With The Wind

Well, that’s a wrap. I know it’s only Tuesday the 30th, but I’m done for the year. I had planned one more trip for 2014, but a head full of snot and winds sustained at 20 to 30 have put the kibosh on any fishing before, probably Friday.

I’ve had this head full since Christmas Eve. It started with a small sore throat and progressed into a good snoot full as of yesterday. Today it’s waning and by Friday I should be back to my usual lovable self. 

Since I can’t go fishing and it’s too cold to even go outdoors, I thought I’d do a quick recap of the year.

As fishing goes, it was pretty shitty until April 7th. That was the day Yuki and I did the 7+ pound Cutbows at Lake Amador. Then it wasn’t until May that things picked up.
Oh, I got a couple here and a couple there, but that was until May 23rd. That was the day I caught my second Mackinaw (first one was years ago at Lake Tahoe). You know the one with the weird jaw, up at Silver Lake.  It was one of eleven fish caught that day.

Weird Jaw


Then on the 29th, it was another eleven fish day at Silver Lake. Remember they were dumping the hatchery and the catching was easy. 

Then on June 20th while we were up at Hope Valley Campground in the Clipper and we went to a new lake called Burnside Lake. It was only a one fish day, but the discovery of the lake was the point.

Burnside Lake

In July the drought really kicked in and I quit fishing the small creeks. In fact, June 25th was the last day I caught anything on a small creek. I did take a run up to Silver Fork after I found out that Silver Lake had to continue releasing water into the creek, but came home empty handed.

It was quiet until September 5th when I found out that the EID had planted 1400 pounds in Silver Lake on August 28th. That was also the day that I reclassified the Common Merganser and start calling it TROUT THIEF.  Twice, if you’ll recall, they tried to steal the fish off the stringer.

Common Trout Thief

Between September 5th and November 10th where Yuki and I scored at New Melones, it was one fish here and another there. Actually it was only 3 total for that whole period. The drought was wreaking havoc on every lake and stream in the area. Even the “fish to extinction” crowd was nowhere to be found. To this day I think they’re somewhere over in Nevada trying to kill fish there, which is just fine with me. 

Since then I’ve had one good day at Lake Camanche, but as Porky Pig would say, “That’s, that’s, that’s all folks. 2014 is the worst year for catching since I've started keeping a journal back in 2008. I hope 2015 will be better.

Since my next post will be after the New Year, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year and I’ll see you next year. 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone

I thought about putting a Santa fishing picture here, but nixed the idea.

I have plans for one more trip this year.

Happy Holidays

Mark and Katherine

Monday, December 22, 2014

We Invaded Lake Amador

Who's we? Me, Yuki, and Juan from Breaking the Bank Blog. Juan and I arrived just about 9:00 and Yuki was right on our heels.

When Juan and I checked in the girl kept mentioning a 12 lb. Trout that was just caught. She mentioned it a couple times and then asked if I heard what she said. Oh yeh, I heard. See, she knows I write for the local paper and want to make sure I got that in. A little plug for the lake.

Out on the point by a very dry spillway. 

Juan on the left, Me in the middle (just happened that way because I found a spot where I could put my chair pad and plop my butt), and Yuki on the right. 

That's Juan

That's Yuki
I think I got this right, but let's see. Yuki had two rods out with crawlers. I had one with rainbow Power Bait and one with a crawler under a couple of those white floaty things. Juan had one with rainbow Power Bait and one with a crawler.

Wasn't very long before Yuki pulled in one about a pound+. Yes, I know he wasn't supposed to catch any until I left, but remember the last time we were at New Melones, he did the same thing Only this time he hadn't stopped for coffee. What's with that?

Then we waited for the  next bite. And waited, and waited, and waited.

About 11:30 (I didn't look at my watch so that's only a guess) the stock truck pulled up around the bend from where Juan was. We couldn't see it, but it's a distinctive sound.

I think Yuki has seen this phenomenon before, but it was a first for Juan. Let me explain. At Lake Amador, when they stock, I think they drug the fish. I've probably mentioned this before. When the fish are in the lake right after stocking, they swim around in circles, do a lot of surface "popping". They look like that are surface feeding en-mass, and they even swim right up to and bump the shore. AND, they won't touch anything.

So we kept ourselves amused for 45 minutes or so just watching their stupidity. It's Pretty entertaining.

Once the show stopped, I got a good hit on the Power Bait rod. Brought to a 2 lb. 12 oz. Rainbow as weighed on the Handy Dandy Berkeley Digital Scale. That's it in the picture below. 

Doesn't look all that big, huh
It was a football fish with a very beaten up tail. Most definitely a hatchery fish.Unfortunately Juan got the skunkeroo today so I gave it to him to take home. His first trip to Lake Amador. I would have rather had him catch the fish, but there will be other days.

One more trip next week to finish out the year. Think it will be at Lake Camanche North Shore.  

I've got to say that with this fish, I hit 100 trout this year which is the worst year I've had since I've been keeping track in my journal starting in 2008. ALTHOUGH, I did have a personal best of 7 lb. 10 oz. caught in this very same lake and just around the corner from where we were. I also didn't do a lot of small stream fishing which usually produces large numbers of small fish. Because of the drought I left them alone. Also the hatchery closure put a damper on stocking places like Silver Lake, Caples Lake, and Bear River Reservoir. So, a lot of mitigating factors.

So next week I'm off to Lake Camanche North Shore to finish the year. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Inflate-a-Yak

By the way, that's what I decided to call it, the Inflate-a-Yak. 

I got the Sea Eagle 370 Pro Package back on November 25th, and it's sat on the back porch until this morning. I wanted to make sure I had lots of time before I did the test run. By test run, I don't mean putting it in the water, just putting it together.

Out on YouTube is the "how to" video. All the comments said 8 to 10 minutes and you're on the water. Not the first time.

The first step is to put the Retainer Ring on the air valve. Sounds simple enough. What they forgot to tell you is putting the Retainer Ring on the valve is like putting an O-ring the size of a dime on a valve this size of a silver dollar. Then to do this function mentioned above, you have to FIND the air valve. I was kind of concerned when I could only find three holes for the air valves and had nine air valves. Don't concern yourself, I figured it out.

Now that I've spent three hours putting the Retainer Rings on the air valves (OK, maybe an hour), I was ready to inflate. First inflate the bottom. Hook up the foot pump and start squeezing. Fifteen squeezes into the inflation, screw that, I'm getting an electric air pump.  The instructions (Yeh, I read them. I know it's not a very guy thing) say absolutely no air compressor. Kill joys.Could have had that sucker blown up in fifteen seconds.

OK, got the bottom filled, now the sides. With the pump on the floor, I leaned on the pump (Kind of like doing push-ups) and WOW it was a bunch easier. Once one side was filled, I used the little handy dandy tester to check inflation. Pretty cool, can't over-inflate with that gizmo. Second side was a snap. Maybe I don't need an electric pump after all.

All that is left is to inflate the spray screens. About four pumps and they were full. Then the seats. Two valves each and about six pumps each. Slide the seat into the boat, put the paddles together (no inflating there) and you're ready to rock and roll.

Now, about five hours into the inflation of the boat (Hour and a half max. My wife always calls me Mr. Exaggeration.), it's time for a picture.     

The Inflate-a-Yak in our living room
The cats thought it was kind of fun that Dad was doing stuff in the livingroom, nosy as they are.

Now it was time to deflate. Unscrew the valves and it's flat in about a minute. Roll it up from the front to the back and stuff it into the bag. The picture shows a guy carrying said bag and he has plenty of space left over. WRONG, barely fits into the bag with the seats and the paddles, but it does fit.

Now, next item is the specs say the Inflate-a-Yak weights 32 pounds. They must have inflated it with Helium, because that thing weighs A LOT more than 32 pounds. We decided to store it down stairs (for lack of storage upstairs) and I had to slide it down the stairs. I could barely lift it up. Probably need the hand truck to get it to the truck when we head out in the Spring.

So, Ladies and Gents, that is the Inflate-a-Yak.

Today is the Winter Solstice. That means longer days and shorter nights from now until mid-June. It also means the next three to five months (We've never had snow past May 15th) are going to be the wettest and coldest of the year. Our first trip of 2015 in the clipper (and now with the Inflate-a-Yak) is in Mid-April. Don't know if it will be warm enough (we will be at a lake) to be Yaking so we'll just have to see. The next trip after that near a lake won't be until August.

Stay tuned.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Really Getting Lazy In My Old Age

Let me explain that. I was going fishing today, period. Next Monday Juan (Breaking The Bank Blog), Yuki and I are going to hit Lake Amador so I didn't want to go there today.

When I fish Lake Camanche I usually go to the North Shore Day Use Area or the Trout Pond, but you already know that. As I was driving down the hill, I decided to go to the South Shore and fish the lake since I've never been on that side of the lake before. The Trout Pond is over that way too.

A stop at Starbucks for coffee (it was a little chilly this morning and a cup was nice) and back on the road. Turned left on the road to both North and South shores. Got to the 4 way stop (straight ahead goes to South, right goes to North. North is about half the distance of south. I went right. Closer, access I know, terminally lazy.

Got to the lake and drove out to the usual area. Eight guys fishing there, so I make a U-turn and went back toward the parking lot. Found a spot that was fairly easy access (I left my repelling gear home) and walked down to the lake.  

The spot for today
When I went through check-in, the girl said they planted day before yesterday. OK, fair enough. A good chance I might get something. Something would be good.

Two lines out and then the chatting began. Oh, did I mention there were two gentlemen just to the left of me? Turns out one lives in the same community I did before we moved up the hill. We had plenty to talk about. After the usual amount of story swapping, I went back to the red Coleman camping chair. My back was about at the end of standing for a little while. Seems it doesn't take much these days. 

The two gentlemen to my left.
Of course I asked if they'd caught anything and they had one on the stringer. I got out the the handy dandy Berkeley Digital Scale and it weighed in at 2 lbs. 3 oz. Definitely nothing to sneeze at. 

Once again I sat. Pulled one line in and started working a pink Kastmaster. Put the Kastmaster down and put the other rod back out. Sat some more. I am getting really good at sitting.

Finally...........I got a bite. Got it in and it was a Rainbow a little over a pound. I put it on the stringer, but ended up giving it to those gentlemen over there to help their stringer along. 

A little over a pound.
They packed up a little before Noon and moved over the the boat launch area (you can see it behind the fish or the picture with them in it) and as they were packing up I got a HUGE hit. Hit is the definitive word here. It was there and gone just that fast. I was reeling in my line to check the bait when it hit. What I noticed was it hit about 15 feet off shore not the 50 or so feet where I was putting my line. SO.........I put on new bait and dropped it about 20 feet off shore. I didn't even have time to set the rod down and WHAMO it was on.

I reeled, and it pulled the line. I reeled some more and it pulled some more line. When I finally got it into the net, it was one of those fish that barely fit in the net. I estimate a little over four pounds. Released and back into the water. I attempted to do a Selfie with the fish, but I won't insult you with the picture.

I had a couple errands to run in town and some chores to do at home, so at about Noon-30 I called it. I picked up one rod and low and behold, the fish below was on the line. I never noticed the bite. A quick picture and back into the lake for someone else. My estimate on this one was a little over two pounds. A nice surprise to end the day.   

2+ pounds
Not a bad day for such a lazy guy. I stopped over where the other guys were and they had added another to their stringer. A nice day was had by all. 

Like I said, Monday it's Me, Juan, and Yuki invading Lake Amador. That should be interesting.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Christmas Tree and Cats

For the first four years we lived here at La Casa Kautz, we put a Christmas Tree Upstairs. During that time we had Sasha, but Sasha was a rather rotund kitty. She was also quite paranoid about most everything and we didn't have to worry about her bothering the tree.  

When we lost Sasha in 2008, we got Jasper and Smudge. Two boys and a Christmas Tree, I don't think so. To say the least, when they got wound up, watch out. 

So during the short time we had Smudge, the tree was put downstairs. We didn't allow them downstairs. We wanted to be able to sleep at night.

When we lost Smudge, we got Jasmine and Sophie because Jasper really missed his brother and we wanted him to have company. Unfortunately Jasmine never got settled and we had to have the Vet find her a new home, which they did. She's much happier now. 

That leaves us with Jasper and Sophie. Jasper is a most lovable cat, but probably the most nosy cat in all of Northern California.

Mr. Nosy
Sophie, on the other hand is a bit of a chicken.

A bit of a chicken
Since 2008 when we got Jasper and Smudge, we've kept the Christmas Tree down stairs. Better to be safe than sorry.

Downstairs Christmas Tree
Then for the last two years (loss of my brother and best friend) we haven't celebrated Christmas at all. No Christmas Tree, outside lights, nothing.

You saw this before
But this year Katherine wanted the tree upstairs come hell or high water (neither was a possibility since we've been good and in a drought).

We still decided that the tree was going to go upstairs for the first time in seven years. First, it's a fake tree. If the cats attack it, pretty much no big deal. Second, we put it up a couple weeks ago just to get them used to it. We also sprayed it with cat repellant.

Next problem would be decorations. Glass ornaments didn't seem a wise choice so one day in Sam's Club we came across unbreakable ornaments. That'll work. 

We decorated the tree, attached it to the window sill with a pole to hold it steady when they attacked it, and put the angel top on. We did all we could do to prevent disaster.

The Christmas Tree
They've never touched it..........

Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Storms Over

A lot of people got hammered. Yuki said the wind blew so hard out at his place that it moved his horse trailer.

We got wind and a lot of water. Pays to live in the mountains. All the water ran down hill. On the other hand, now I have wet ground with a lot of Pine Needles, Oh joy.

We've got another one coming in on Monday and this one colder. They (the weather guessers) are estimating snow levels at 4000'. Probably get some here then.

I'm going to try slipping in a day, maybe Wednesday or Thursday because another storm coming on Friday. DFW is doing all the planting way south of here so my options are Lake Amador (don't know what the water level is), Lake Camanche (need football shoes to walk on that North Shore clay), the Trout Pond, or maybe, just maybe Middle Bar Bridge. Hmmmmm.

I'll let you know.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Perspective On The California Storm

From someone who lives here.

In the wee morning hours, we watch local news and then switch to HLN to get their views on the world.

This storm hit California early yesterday causing havoc in the Bay Area. It wasn't the rain, but the wind came through first. Hard to get a plane off the ground in 40+ MPH winds. Then the rain came.

I got a couple emails from Howard (Windknots) concerned with our welfare. I assured him we were high and dry and would stay that way.  The creek below the house would have to rise 35' to get near the house. That just isn't going to happen.

So let me put a little perspective on what happens when we get a storm like this. They called it the storm of the century, storm of the decade, worst storm in years, depending on what channel (both TV and radio) you listen to.

Here's the real story. The Valley got wind, a lot of wind and it took down some trees. Some of those hit houses and cars. Sacramento is second only to Paris, France for the number of trees in a city. You get high winds and trees and tree branches are going to fall. You can't catch them all before it happens. Up here, we have trees falling all the time. Fortunately most of them are up the hill behind the house.   

There was flooding down in the valley (Sacramento). Flooding comes from a couple different directions. One, the storm drains are clogged and the water in the streets can't drain. I've seen this from personal experience. I lived in South Sac back aways and watch the street in front of the house fill with water and then start filling the surrounding streets.

I heard something about the city pumping rain water somewhere with a pump that can move 7 million gallons of water a day. If overwhelmed (seems impossible, but could happen) than flooding.

Then we have all those little drainage creeks in Sacramento and the surrounding area. When we get heavy rain, they fill up and sometimes flood. Example: This morning local TV showed Arcade Creek running over Winding Way. We get a good storm and Arcade Creek ALWAYS floods. The same happens with Deer Creek out by where I used to live. A good rain storm and it ALWAYS floods. Nothing unusual for a good rain storm.

If you watch national weather it looks like we're floating away, but it's not as bad as they make it out to be.  You get some puddling on the freeway and those going 75 mph lose control from hydroplaning. A lot of times they lose control at 75 mph when it's dry. Don't speed in the rain. They don't listen.

Now, it's snowing up the hill. The weather guessers said the snow level was going to be 5000'. That's just before Cooks Station and about 15 miles up the road. This morning chain controls on Highway 88 were at Dew Drop. Dew Drop is a Cal Fire Station and maybe 5 miles from La Casa Kautz. I looked outside and the temperature was 36 which is right where it needs to be to snow here. We still have rain (for now). But, the snow up the hill is falling in feet rather than inches. This is good.

Correction, it snowed here at the house. I went out to start the wife's car and there was just enough to put a little slush on the porch, but that moved the snow level to  3200'. 

The pond has water running out the drain which is something I haven't seen since early this year. This is good too because it helps replenish the aquifer so we have water in our well.

It's rained and rained hard since yesterday morning. We started about 9:00 am and has rained since. It's got to be good for the reservoirs.

Southern California, that's another story. Lots of wildfires make for lots of open space with nothing to hold the ground. People living in the hills near the burn areas are going to get mudslides. The Forest Service does all they can, they can only do so much.

So when you watch the news and see all the sensationalized weather, figure about half of what they say is what is really happening.     

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Storm Coming, What To Do?

If you've been living in a cave or don't have a TV like Yuki, you know that the "Storm of the Century" as they are calling it, is about to descend on California. I did what any insane fisherman would do and that's go fishing.

OK, it's not here yet, but soon. I threw my gear in the back of the truck and headed out to the Trout Pond. Yuki said he was there last Friday and saw a lot of catching. I was due for a trip over there and today was as good a day as any.

Got to the Pond about 9:00, aired up the Float Tube Cumberland (you didn't think I was going to fish from the shore after that last debacle, do you). I flippered out and started with a Thin Mint.

I kept the Thin Mint on all along the back shore and over to the far side. Without any interest, I changed to a black J Fair Wiggle-tail. In the past it's been good over in that section of the Pond, just not today. I changed to a rust colored Crystal Bugger (it's also been good on that side in the past), but again, not today.    

While I was flippering on the near side of the Pond, I took this shot for your pleasure.

The camping side of the Pond
While on the near side I saw one caught on a Prince Nymph by someone other than me. I had a Prince Nymph with me, it was back in the truck, though, but I did have a nymph looking something in my Bugger box so I tied it on. The guy that caught the fish said he was just drifting with the nymph following so I did the same with my nymph. He was luckier than I was.  

All this time I'm flippering around the Pond, Yuki was yaking around it too. He was having as much luck as I was or wasn't as the case may be. 

Then I saw the other fish caught. 

He was luckier than me also.
Yuki mentioned something about you have to smoke a pipe (like this guy is doing) to catch fish at the Pond. That's not going to happen. Around Noon I started getting hungry. That happens because I normally eat breakfast around 6:00, so I headed for launch and called it a day. I wasn't catching anything anyway. 

I'm not sure why I took this picture.

I'm home now, obviously, and battening down the hatches for the incoming storm. Based on what the weather guessers are saying, there won't be any more fishing this week. If you haven't been watching the tube, Sacramento is expecting 3 to 4 inches of rain (that's a lot) starting Tomorrow night through Friday. They get that much we'll 2 to 3 times that. They are also predicting snow levels at 4000' and you know we're at 3200. Could happen...........

Friday, December 5, 2014

In Search Of The Tree Stump

As I said yesterday morning, I went fishing. Left the house around 8:45 and got to Lake Camanche right about 9:30.

It rained as I left, rained most of the way down the hill. It did stop for a moment so I could take the rainbow shots below.   

Far away

Zoom it into 10x
It was raining when I got to check-in so I drove over to the marina for a cup of coffee in case I had to sit a and wait out the rain. I had driven by Starbucks, but the parking lot was full. That time of the morning all the "let's get together and jam up the parking lot" crowd was there getting together and jamming up the parking lot. Granted it's a small lot, maybe 20 cars, but with two other businesses in the same small strip mall, finding a parking spot (even out on the street) is almost impossible most days.

It was raining when I left the marina, drove out to my usual spot at the Day Use area and low and behold, the rain stopped.

I have, in the back seat of the truck, tackle box #3. It has a plethora (I love that word) of lures I've collected over the years. I dragged it out with my usual tackle box and slid (literally) down to the edge of the lake. The ground at the lake is mostly clay. Need I say more?

Where I placed my red Coleman camping chair last week was now underwater. That's a good sign, yes? So I set up on the next level up. You have to measure the lake side in levels. It's like the sides of the mountains where they plant rice fields on different levels. Got the picture?

OK, one rod out with rainbow Power Bait and a snap swivel on the other rod.

First lure out of tackle box #3 is one called Tasmanian Devil. I had two colors (a brown fish looking color and a bright orange/yellow/chartreuse one.  

Did I mention it was a bit windy?

Nothing on the Tasmanian Devil so I pulled out a handful of Thomas Bouyant Lake Lures and started swinging them. Nothing there either. Now I'm not sure if it was because the lake was "kind of" dirty. I say that because the lake is usually pretty clear or maybe all the rain and run-off pushed them out, away from shore.

Then I tried a handful of different colored lures I got from Howard Hart up in Spokane. No luck with them either. OK, at that point I broke down and put on the pink Kastmaster. 

Earlier in the day I wandered out to one of the local forums and this guy below caught this 7.5 pound Rainbow off the shore (although he didn't say what shore) on a pink Kastmaster. Probably my tree stump. Good for him, bad for me.

7.5 Pounds

I wasn't having any luck with any lures so I PB'd up both rods, one with garlic and the other, I opened a new jar of PB in hopes of saving the day.

The longer I sat, the windier it got and when the clouds started rolling in again, called it a day. We were still expecting more rain yesterday which came just as I was leaving. Talk about sneaking a little fishing in between storms.

It only got worse.
By the time I got home, it was raining hard and continued the rest of the day. We're expecting more starting shortly.

I've got to go fill the wood box. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Drought And The Rain.

Atlas asked about the rain we've been getting in the last few days. I started typing an answer and as my brain wandered, found a lot to write about so I decided to do a quick post instead.

We've gotten a lot of rain since the beginning of the week, but as far as the drought goes, a drop in the bucket. Of course, National Weather shows all the flooding going on down in Sacramento. That happens because of a couple things. One, the drains just can't handle inches of rain in a short period of time. Two, once you get that rain, "junk" clogs said drains and that adds to the flooding problem.

Last night Highway 80 was flooded in both directions at the Watt Ave over-crossing. It also happened at commute time and with both directions down to one lane, BIG NEWS STORY.

Now let me talk about up here. We get a bunch more rain than the valley. We don't have drains to worry about, the creeks handle the water just fine. The pond went from empty to ready to run out the drain, which makes the pond about 2 feet deep. Not bad for a couple days rain.

Folsom Lake rose 2.47 feet. When you consider how big Folsom Lake is, that's a lot of water. The snow level has been hovering around 7000 ft, so all that rain is running down the American River drainage and into Folsom.

The good and the bad of the last storm is that there is water coming into the lakes, but nothing collecting (snow) up top.

So my take on the storms is this. Let it rain and add some water to the lakes. Besides you don't have to shovel rain. Then in January, February, and March, which is when we usually see the snow here at La Casa Kautz, let it fill up the mountains with snow.

It may not get rid of the drought, but it would sure help.

We're between storms this morning, I'm going fishing.

Oh, Atlas, I've caught more trout on the Thin Mint than any other fly.