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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Hell Portal

The alarm sounded at 3:45 but I was already awake, when it comes to dreaming of fishing at Eagle Lake, sleep takes 2nd place to my memories on her waters.  Suited up in our fishing gear and coffeed up, we left for the lake from the Mancamp on the banks of the Hamilton Branch at O Dark-Thirty.  There was challenging conditions to drive through but we have done this same voyage hundreds of times, and we were prepared.

We arrived at our right turn to the Wildcat Point area, TC drove and I rode shotgun. The Chub King and
JoeBob were behind us in another truck. We chained up and headed in, and there was a good amount of snow, more than I have seen in several years. Chub King had laid down some tracks the day before and things were going well at first, then we could not stay on track due to a lost chain, This was not going to work!  After struggling down the snowy road for what seemed an eternity, we plowed into a turnout to let some other buddies go by to the buckets, they told us a truck had just flipped coming down the A1 summit! Chub King went forward to turn his truck around while JoeBob and I shoveled off a platform to turn the van around.

We had to take pause and check out this stunning sunrise, it lifted our spirits and gave us hope.

Turning around the power steering box pump failed, and our only chain snapped. Chub King came back and he towed us out but it was not easy as we got stuck several more times running with no chains. About halfway back JoeBob found the first missing chain, we put it back on the tire and the next big hill came up - and the last usable chain broke. With a little muscle we got back to the A1 road and headed for the Christie Fingers.  I'm so proud how the entire crew did not blow a fuse and solved the problems at hand.  It could have been really ugly!

At last we were on the water.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous with sunny skies, temps in the high 30's, and not a puff of wind.  The water temp was 37 degrees.  Upon reaching the fingers there were small pods of rainbows and strays rising here and there, but no mega pods.  Sparse midge flies floated on the water.  It was so warm out we were stripping layers, gloves, and the ice in our guides had thawed for good.

Effective flies were Jay Fair Wiggle Tails #12 in Black/Peacock, Floro Orange, and Leach Brown.  The trout were hanging on the first ledge and coming in periodically to feed in the shallows.  Long leaders and slow strips brought results if you were in the right spot.  The wind then came up at 5- 10mph but it was a workable wind.

It was slow today, we touched 12 fish, landing 8.  It took me all day just to get into my only fish.  This is the smallest fish we caught today but it is still a nice hard fighting Eagle Laker.

After getting fuel in Susanville, TC went to start the van and nothing but a small whirl.  He had been through this before as his cam sensor was going out, with a jiggle on the wires it started right up and we were bound for the  Man area at last, and with trout for the smoker I might add.

We were all smiles heading home and talking about today's fishing when we approached the west side of Fredonyer Summit and saw a closed road due to a severe accident.  After a 15 minute wait we were rolling, I hope the drivers and passengers of these "T-Boned" vehicles are all right.  Home at last we laughed at our misfortunes and triumphs during this bizarre day.  I'll be back up for the closure on the 30th and the 31st with my crew - It's payback time....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How Many Rods Does An Angler Need?

Apparently too many when I counted 35 fly rods, 9 trolling rods, 3 classic St. Croix telescoping spin rods (in a Ted Williams/Sears rod case), and all my papa Frank's striper and surf rods.  My most valued and favorite rod is the Walton Powell split bamboo 8' 7" medium action steelhead model pictured above.  It has never had a reel mounted or a line pulled through the guides!  I'm a bit of a collector but I realized out of all these rods I fish about 10 of them through out the year.  Some are custom and fit a certain niche in my quiver, and some have heavy sentimental value to them.. I have seven bamboo rods and I think I'm going to let a few go in these tough times.

Like this  9' Jack B. Schneider split bamboo which is in mint condition.  I do not like the action of most bamboo rods but they are a big part of fly fishing history and every fly angler should own one to hold onto the past.

A 9' Shakespeare "spring brook" split bamboo with an extra tip in mint condition

My quiver.  From Left to right;  7 bamboos, 7 assorted old fly rods both glass and bamboo that were used on a daily basis and papa Frank's rods, 5 glass rods including a Russ Peak steelhead model and a Walton Powell 9ft, the Ted Williams rod case with the St.Croix spinning rods, 3 pack rods, and 16 graphite rods including the late Press Powells last rod - The triple scrimmed 10ft 7wt custom.  I cataloged them today and now have to figure which ones I need to part with.  A fly angler really only needs one rod, and that's the one they have in their hand casting into the great blue yonder in search of prey.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fishing Report - Frenchmans Res.

My friend Mike had an encouraging report from Frenchmans last week, and a trip up there seemed to be a good cure for the shack nasties.  I fished during the warmest part of the day from 12pm to 2:30, warm meaning 32 degrees.  I went to Big Cove and the road was passable, but there was 5 inches of new snow.  I had first tracks on the way in.  Sticky clouds hung on the mountain tops glowing as the sun penetrated their realm.  Water temps in the shallows were a balmy 41 degrees.  I used the same rig I had on a month earlier and that is the Jay Fair trolling fly with a fast strip, the trout liked the rust color version today.  Around 1pm I started to see rising fish right in front of me, the lake was so calm you could see pressure wakes from them as they moved around foraging on tiny midge.  They were really spooky today, I would be casting and I could see them darting to the left and right as my line swept across the water.  I hooked 7 nice trout but I just could not get them to my hand - They all spit the hook.  I had planned on taking some home for the smoker, but I swear they feel my hunter intentions and do everything possible to get of my line!  It was such a beautiful day and so quiet that is was spooky.  Who knows when Frenchmans will lock up with ice for good, it's been a wet and wacky weather pattern for sure.  As I left for the car a Bald Eagle circled above me.  "See you next year my friend" I said, and with that he glided north through the frigid air looking for his next meal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Raining Browns And Rainbows

Wow! We are getting hammered with rain!  So far today we have received almost an inch of rain bringing our total precipitation since Oct. 1st to 9.5 inches.  Our annual amount here is 20", and we are already half way there.  If this keeps up all season the fish gods will have spoken, and the fishing will be off the Richter scale!   I have battened down the hatches, opened the gate on the lower pond, and praying my basement does not flood.  Stay dry and warm my friends.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Trip Of A Lifetime

In 2003 I got the chance to let the wind blow me down to Patagonia Chile, the fishing, the food, the friendly native people, and the awe inspiring land moved me forever. If you ever have the chance to go - Just do it!

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