Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Maiden Voyage Of The Freedom Express

Hit the road at 10:00 am with Blue Lake Upper (not to be confused with Upper Blue Lake) as our target. Arrived mid afternoon and set up in our favorite spot.

Favorite space

Note the slide out
It was kind of late by the time we got the trailer up and running so all I could do was soak some Power Bait off the dock in the picture below.

Hasn't been a stellar fishing spot
 As the day progressed, I took a couple more shots around the lake for your enjoyment.

 The final picture of the day is sunset or just a little beyond.

Across the whole lake
Tuesday morning found me in the Float Tube Cumberland with fly rod in hand and a Tungsten Bead Head Thin Mint on the end. When I launched, the water was pretty warm for trout, but I had high hopes.

Second cast and this Bass thought the Thin Mint was a tasty morsel. Got him to the float tube and as I lifted him out of the water, he dropped into the stripping apron or there wouldn't be any picture of the ONLY fish I caught all trip. Note to self: Next year take those Bass flies you bought.

Bass of some sort
By then, the wife was in the Inflate-a-Yak and floundering around just off shore. OK, give her a break, the only other time we used it was at Upper Blue Lake (not to be confused with Blue Lake Upper) over a year ago. I had her follow me around so I could keep her in range while she figured out the logistics of kayaking. I have to admit, didn't take her long and she was bipping around that lake like she owned it.

Since she was doing so well, I took time to take some more shots around the lake.

Later in the day we went tandem all the way around the lake from our end to the other end, in the Inflate-a-Yak of course. By the end of that trip, I was starting to feel it in my shoulders and had minor blisters on my fingers. Hey, I've got weenie hands, OK.

Wednesday morning found me in the Float Tube Cumberland heading toward the near end of the lake. There is some kind of motel or something down there.

This is the swimming beach right around the corner from our spot.
By then, the wife was moving the Inflate-a-Yak like she's been doing it all her life. She was pretty much all over the lake.
The wife. Yakker extraordinaire. 
 I did get one drive by down by the motel, but that was it. I think I got some bumps, but one can't be sure.

Then I tried the fly I tied for last years trip (we didn't go because of the Butte fire) in the CalTrans colors. Hell, by this time I'd try anything.

Green head, orange body, white tail.  The CalTrans fly.
 Didn't do a thing....................

So I'll leave you with the final sunset last night.

Farewell Blue Lake Upper (not to be confused with Upper Blue Lake) until next year (we've already reserved the spot).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Did Your Dad Do In The War

Well, I didn't get out to fish this week, but starting Sunday I've got 4 days at Upper Lake to fish my little heart out.

I'm posting this because I don't have anything to write about and Mike (Troutrageous!) already hit on the new Star Wars movie. 

Most of you either had a dad that was in WWII. Korea, or Nam. Being a Geezer, my dad was in WWII. All my younger life I was under the impression that my dad was at the Normandy invasion. Not sure where I got that from, but it was all I remembered. Not so.

My dad was in the Coast Guard and was a Chief Machinist Mate on a troop transport called the USS William P. Biddle. That's all I really knew.

Image result for uss william p biddle
USS William P. Biddle
As the Internet grew, every so often I would Google the ship's name. All I got was stuff about William P. Biddle, but nothing about the ship. Then I hit gold.

Somewhere in the area of 2002, I found a reunion for the ship late that year. Once I contacted the reunion committee, the rest, they say is history.

Then the information came in, wave after wave. The one item I did discover is that the ship was all over the world. I also found out that the William P. Biddle spent some time at Mare Island Ship Yard in Vallejo, California in 1941 (that's even before Moi). We pass this island every time we cross Highway 37 going to Hendy Woods State Park or any of the other destinations up the North Coast.

One of the stops it made was at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. If you watched the TV show "Black Sheep Squadron" you're familiar with Espiritu Santo. I just watched a show on the Smithsonian Channel (I think) about the F4U Corsair which was the staple of the TV show, the war in the South Pacific,  and about Pappy Boyington who in his later years lived and passed away in Fresno, California just South of where I live.

Another place the ship stopped was Sicily. From there it went to Oran in Algeria where it picked up German and Italian prisoners of war for transportation to the US. You knew that there were prisoner of war camps in the US, didn't you? In fact, there were more than 511 of them all over the United States. At the end of the war in 1945, there were 425,871 POW's held in the United States.    

Some of the island landings she was part of were well known places like Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, Guadalcanal, Guam, and Leyte in the Philippines.

I don't know what time period my dad spent on the ship and the paperwork I have doesn't list any, only that he was a member of the crew at some time during the life of the ship.

So here is a little piece of my history.Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Just Not That Good Of A Day

Since I picked Upper Blue Lake the last time Yuki and I fished, I let him pick the place today. They were stocking Upper and Lower Blue Lakes, Caples Lake, and Silver Lake.

Yuki got to the house at 8:00 and on the way uphill to Cooks for coffee, Yuki decided Silver Lake was the place to fish today.

We were undecided whether to fish the dam area that he usually does well at or the Day Use area that we've done so well at in the past. Once again Yuki's decision was the dam.

He fished over by the pylons and I fished, well on the near side of the rocks in the picture below.  

Yuki's spot
I got two rods in the water, one with rainbow Power Bait and the other with a half a crawler and a couple white floaty things to keep it off the bottom. I don't do well with the "blow up the worm" thing. The worm always seems to be lunch for a crawdad instead of a trout.

Almost immediately I took first blood on the Power Bait.

First fish
Then the dissing started. "It will probably be your only fish of the day". Remember, last time I only caught one. "You might as well quit now because that's all you'll be catching today". It continued until I threatened him with walking home.

Then this guy showed up.

Department of Fish and Wildlife
While I had a spare minute, I took some shots (even though you've seen Silver Lake before) to capture the lake and the beautiful day we had.
To the left toward the dam
Then the catching started. The next one I caught was big enough (about 10") to put on the stringer. Yuki was going to smoke them so we decided to keep anything of any size.

Most of what came next were those little bitty stockers. Most were about 8 inches, maybe 9 inches if you stretched them out. We kept catching and throwing back fish after fish.

About 1ish we both had 3 on the stringer so we decided that we'd grab two more each and call it a day. I have to admit I was getting tired of pulling in all those small fish. One could barely get the second line in the water when the first one started that "fish on" bouncing.

I put one small one the stringer and then put my line out one more time.

Since I only had one rod out, I decided to just hold the rod and await the bite, and bite it did. It hit so fast, all I can relate it to is a freight train going by. I'm sure you've experienced one like that.

Turned out to be about a pound and certainly not one from the stock truck. It also turned out to be the biggest fish of the day.

Biggest fish of the day
Yuki went home with 10 for the smoker. 

Total for the day, 27. Yuki caught 14 and I caught 13 although, with Yuki keeping count I think I caught more, maybe 25 or so. Just kidding.

Just not a good day?  Who am I kidding, it was an awesome day.

I might be able to get out once more before heading out for our maiden voyage in the Freedom Express. Target - Upper Lake with that cool camping spot RIGHT ON THE LAKE.

Stay tuned...............

Monday, September 12, 2016

Oh, That Nasty Copepod

Back on January 12, 2012 I had my first encounter with copepods. Out at Lake Camanche I kept catching Rainbow Trout with those slimy spots on their sides. I didn’t know what they were until Aaron at check-in told me that was from where copepods had hung on the trout and dropped off when the water got colder.

Image result for copepod

On the last post Pat Konoske made a comment regarding copepods in the Moccasin Creek hatchery.
Rather than having you go back to that post, here is the information. “It used to be that every few years the hatchery would use brook trout as a sort of bio-filter. Apparently, for an unknown reason, placing brook trout in the raceways helps control/clear out a parasitic copepod to which rainbow trout (and other trouts) are susceptible to, something more common to West Coast trout (and brook trout is native to the east…). From what a hatchery biologist told me, when these copepods attach themselves to brook trout they don’t produce eggs, as they do when attached to rainbow trout.”

So I thought I’d go directly to our resident Biologist (and super flyfisher girl), Marisa and see what she knows about copepods. She sent me a couple articles which I’ve gleaned some interesting information from. 

Rainbow trout, along with several other west-coast fish species, are susceptible to a parasitic copepod called Salmincola californiensis. The tiny, shrimplike parasites, which are about the size of a pencil eraser, attach to fishes’ gills, where they leave eggs and complete their life cycle. Apparently from my experience in 2012, they also attach to the side of trout.

Copepods in Gills
Gross, huh?

When copepods are in a hatchery, they attach to trout gills in so many numbers that they weaken the fish, making them more prone to disease, and even causing the fish to suffocate. A study at a California hatchery (could have been Moccasin Creek) concluded that placing brook trout upstream from rainbow trout somehow filters copepod larvae from the water supply, reducing infestation. 

Another reason is that in a stream a copepod has little chance of coming into contact with a host that is needed to complete its life cycle. More space for the trout to move and more distance between the fish and the parasite. A free swimming copepod has a very short lifetime, about 48 hours. In a hatchery, a copepod gets loose, many fish to choose from. You get the idea. 

One theory is that copepod larvae are specific to certain west-coast fishes (of course, look at the name Salmincola californiensis) and cannot complete their life cycle on other species, such as east-coast-native Brook Trout.

One article that Marisa sent me has to do with trying to kill the copepods in a hatchery with a variety of chemicals. Without going into a lot of detail (it’s about 5 pages long), it’s next to impossible without draining the pond, scrubbing it clean, leaving it dry for several months and then restocking.

So here is my conclusion. 

  • They are ugly little buggers. 
  •  They are trout murderers.
  •  They are a menace to society. 
  •  They are next to impossible to kill once they are on a trout. 
  •  They are ugly. Wait, I already said that.
  •  They ruin a good two pound trout by putting little slimy spots all over it. I’m not going to eat   one even though they don’t affect the fish. 
  •  We need to find a good copepod assassin.

·      I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into the realm of copepods. 

Fishing Thursday.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Moccasin Creek Fish Hatchery Part 2

OK, no comments on part 1. Must not have been very interesting even with that little cliffhanger at the end.

So here is part 2. I'm sure you'll find something interesting.

I continued down the "cement ponds" and took another photo of planters.

Big enough to plant
At the far end, this is actually the beginning if you come in that way, The sign below is where and what they stock.
You've got to remember that the hatchery at Nimbus Dam has had numerous problems in the last three years so to see this many fish ready to stock makes one feel good.

Then at the very end I found this little pool. Look closely, there are some mongo Rainbows and Browns. Some I would guess upwards of 23"-24". Makes one want to fish right there, but they don't see the humor of fishing in the hatchery.

Really big Rainbows and Browns. 

I noticed one of the rangers taking some pictures over by a gate near the egg hatchery building. Nosy me, I walked over and found one of the places they stock, when they stock.

The first thing I noticed was a LOT of fishing line hanging from the surrounding trees. Some of the trees even had bobbers like the one below.

Can't catch any fish way up there.
The pipe in the next picture is an inlet of sorts, but the greatest amount of water running into this creek (by the way this is Moccasin Creek) is coming from what looks like a drain from the hatchery.

The water runs down the creek and eventually into Don Pedro Reservoir which is just downstream.

The way to Don Pedro
So, back to the first picture where I said I scared the hell out of that ranger. As I was walking back from the creek, the door to the egg hatching room was open and I walked in. He was standing with his back to me and when I said Hi, that was the time.

The first tank had these fish. Anyone want to take a guess what they are? Tell you later.

Not the same two.
To the end of the last post. "Rainbows and I'm sure that they also plant, in those High Sierra lakes, those beautiful______________________.

I'm only guessing because there are many High Sierra lakes that have absolutely no access by anything other than air (or maybe horseback) that have fish in them. Some are Rainbows and some are the beautiful Golden Trout.

Image result for golden trout
Golden Trout
In the picture below are Golden Trout Fry. One would assume that these are destine for High Sierra Lakes. 
Baby Golden Trout

Here are a couple bullet points.

  • They are doing some really good stuff at this hatchery.
  • They mentioned that the problems at Nimbus Hatchery are not limited to the last couple years. 
  • They stock the area in the pictures above and along the rest of Moccasin Creek to Don Pedro. 
  • If you're out this way (it's near Yosemite) stop in and check it out. 
  • Fishing that spot in the pictures above is next to impossible with a 9' fly rod. Note to self: take "3" the next time. 
And finally, you guess what the fish are? They are Albino Rainbow Trout. Nope, didn't know such a thing existed either.

Hope this peaked your interest.