Eastern Sierra Exploration
On my continuing quest to chalk all 50 states on the fly, my wife Janice and I took a little trip out west to explore the eastern Sierra Nevadas. Here are the wave tops:
Dates: 9-17 August
Species caught: brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and GOLDEN TROUT!
States Chalked: CA and NV
Water Fished: offshore San Diego, Lower Owens, Bishop Creek, Buckeye Creek, East Walker, Robinson Creek, Truckee River, and San Joaquin River. All chalked!
Road miles covered: 1100
Bottom line: it was an incredible trip. The scenery was breath taking. The water was beautiful. The weather was perfect. All rivers produced and we were able to pick up some Sierra Nevada natives – Golden Trout. They rival our brook trout in their beauty and eagerness to take a fly and were definitely the highlight of the trip.
The details (scroll on by if you have a short attention span and just want to get to the images):
If I could do it all over again, I would’ve went on this trip in the late fall/early winter. From talking to the various guides and shops out there, CA and NV are in the grips of a bad drought. Without any perspective on this, it was hard for me to judge but the catching wasn’t great and we tried everything from dredging to dries – the fish really made us work for it. BUT, hindsight is 20/20 and we still had a great time – no trip is ever perfect. Besides, it seems like the dog days of summer are pretty painful across the country as it relates to fishing so I’m very pleased with what we were able to accomplish.
Although the catching wasn’t great, every creek produced. Some wild, some native, and some stocked. I find both states’ conservation methods interesting. I’ll probably write about this double edged sword in a separate piece but it seems both states stock profusely where the waters don’t require it and much of this stocked water is put and take. All the water is beautiful and could sustain wild populations of trout if managed properly but I’m guessing the states’ position is that stocking brings large numbers of people to the mountains thereby protecting the lands and maintaining a steady flow of revenue.
There are pros and cons to this methodology for conservation. Unfortunately, the avid fly angler is at the brunt of the cons – but I’ll save that for another time. Still, I was a bit stunned to be standing at the headwaters of a pristine creek near Bishop, CA, surrounded by bait dunkers. We broke contact quickly and moved downstream in search of wild fish – and found some.
The budget for the trip was very affordable – we stayed in a hotel in San Diego and Reno (first and last days of the trip) and camped enroute. It’s so dry in this part of the country that you never really feel dirty so 5 days without showering didn’t create a problem (nothing a quick dive in a creek couldn’t solve). We also kept the costs down by cooking our food at the camp site and eating out sporadically if something uniquely local caught our eyes so we didn’t miss out on the regional culture. We weren’t disappointed.
Other costs included the flight (Southwest was super cheap), rental car (I’ll never use Avis again), gas, guide fees, and a small amount of gear purchased from Walmart when we arrived in Cali – mainly a cheap cooler, propane, lighter fluid, and food we could cook along the way. Buying some stuff on the ground saved us from having to pack a lot on the front/back end and incurring baggage fees at the airport. Plus – a trip into a Walmart always provides an interesting look at a small segment of the local population.
As a quick aside: I always hire guides for half day trips on these types of benders – for a few reasons. 1. You get local knowledge from a pro, 2. You save time by getting on the best water right away – which may ultimately save you money as well since the time you spend searching on your own could cost you a day, 3. You get to meet someone new with whom you can, exchange stories, maybe make plans for the future, and most importantly, learn something new. Number 2 is debatable as some might retort that finding the primo water on your own is what makes trips exciting. Sure – if you have a lot of time, that’s true and an important part of a trip. Don’t get me wrong – most of the chalking on this trip came from unguided exploration but points 1 and 3 definitely came true as well.
Instead of the usual plastering of photos, we decided to play with a movie app on the iPhone that we think captures the trip quite well. Maybe some day I’ll invest in some high quality camera equipment but until then….If you’re a photographer or an individual that’s interested in filming some interesting fly fishing adventures, drop us a line – we have pages of potential itineraries waiting for execution.
WARNING: fish porn will not follow. Like I said before, the catching was slow and just didn’t lend itself to taking a lot of fish-in-hand shots. Besides, we have enough big trout shots in our albums – new species and natives are more important these days (yeah – that’s what we’re telling ourselves because no hogs came to hand). Enjoy and please share! Oh – I love planning these types of benders so if you need some assistance, drop me a line.
Click here for the video: https://youtu.be/p2DfV97QD_U
Everyone should have a “thing.” Some”thing” to look forward to. What’s life without one? – Nate Carr on pursuing his life’s passion.
I’m in my late 30’s now and becoming increasingly prone to making life observations. Maybe it’s because of my recent transition from military service. Maybe it’s because I’m married and have a child as do most of my friends and siblings with whom I talk about these things regularly. Whatever the reason for the uptick in my ramblings, being in your late 30s to early 40s seems about the right age for some intense introspection. You’ve lived long enough to be an expert at a thing or two, you likely have a family, probably made a little money, and there’s a good chance you own a few big things. Unfortunately, you are also likely to find yourself in a rut after a few, “I wish I could have…,” conversations over drinks with friends. I am beginning to see why mid-life crises seem almost inevitable for a huge portion of the population – few people have something to look forward to.
My parents had me when they were young – early 20s – and as I grew up I recognized that they were younger than most of my friends parents by a wide margin (I make this observation because I am trying to build up an excuse for why I never listened to their advice). Once this observation took flight in my head, I may have thought their experiences lacked worldliness and made a conscious effort to do the exact opposite of what they recommended. OK, that’s total bulls*&t, I was just like every other teenager when it comes to taking the advice of your parents. “What’s the worst thing that could happen? They’d be right? So be it then…I’ll come out smarter and better rounded having experienced the flaws in my decision making first hand.” Textbook teenage insanity. BUT, I didn’t disregard everything. One nugget my father passed on was to, “always have something to look forward to.”
For some reason that stuck – literally – he wrote it on a 3×5 card and stuck it to my refrigerator in my first apartment after college. That 3×5 card landed on at least another half-dozen refrigerators over the next decade before it was lost after one of my many moves (well, I thought it was lost until I let my wife proofread this and she pulled it out of a drawer). Losing it wasn’t a problem though, the idea was firmly ingrained in my way of life – one should pursue a passion, passionately. Such a passion will drive plans for the future, make you want to improve, and become somewhat of an advocate that just has to teach others and educate them on all the fun they’re missing.
So, there’s two strands to follow here. What do you do if you don’t have a passion and how can you keep things engaging if you already have a passion? If you’re lucky enough to already have a passion, I hope you can relate to everything written so far and what will follow. However, you’re really not my target audience for this writing so I’ll get this out of the way really quick. Remember, “Always have something to look forward to?” At minimum, I schedule two epic trips per year. By epic, I mean at least 6 days off to somewhere I’ve never been, likely off the grid, to experience something new. These trips usually take place in the late spring and fall. I also plan at least one weekend getaway per month with friends and family. Somewhere close that’s not logistically and financially taxing works best. The next level is getting something one the weekly schedule – I’m thinking bowling or pool. Something casual on the surface but breeds competition you can ultimately laugh at after being humiliated.
What if you don’t have a passion? It’s not too late but I am trying to figure out if a passion chooses you or if you choose it. Either way, if you don’t have one, start experimenting with various activities. Fly fishing is one you should start off with, although I am a bit biased on the subject. Nevertheless, fly fishing is one of those activities that allows for limitless travel, constant learning, and pursuit until senile or immobile. In other words, a lifetime of things to look forward to. Whatever activity grabs you and causes you to obsess about it is something worth pursuing passionately (I’m almost biting my tongue writing this – I AM NOT ADVOCATING FOR ILLICIT ACTIVITIES). Just put yourself into a position to have an experience that could be the one to suck you in and give you a new lease on life.
How can you make that happen? Go back two paragraphs. Start throwing things on a calendar and commit to them. I had a boss a few years ago that I really respected who said, “Things get real when you put them on your schedule – BE BOLD AND PICK A DATE!” Great advice. Fill your schedule up – I guarantee there a few fly fishing guides around that can help you out. Once you hook up, you’re hooked.
Brookdog Fishing Co. Fishing Report
20160717 – 20160724
Overall Situation Update: The Wavetops
There was a glimmer of hope at the beginning of the week when the temperatures were low and there was some rain in the forecast but the end of the week and the weekend changed all that. Hot air temps continued and the rain didn’t come. Temperature readings on the upper and lower river were in the high 70’s as of this writing and the inland creeks are mere trickles. What does this mean? It’s too hot to fish for muskies for risk of killing them. Bass are deeper and harder to find (at least in the river they are). Carp are off the flats. It is too risky to fish for trout in most of the inland creeks for fear of killing the fish.
Bottom line: please lay off the muskies until the water temps get back into the low 70s, get your deep water game going for smallies, and stay off the trout creeks until we get some rain – a lot more rain. Now’s the time to scout out new water and prepare for the cooler weather and rain that’s bound to come. We’ve managed to scrape up a few smallies on every trip but 3-5 is a banner day at this point. Relief may be on the horizon – we just got a little rain and there is more in the forecast. We’ll be paying a lot of attention to this.
This Past Week’s Events:
In an attempt to network and explore a little bit, Ryan and his family visited the Finger Lakes Museum at Keuka Lake and linked up with Natalie Payne, the museum’s Executive Director. Although development is in its infancy, the Finger Lakes Museum will be an informative tourist attraction in the region that, “inspires, educates, and entertains,” while providing, “a place where centuries of cultural and natural history come to life.” Natalie Payne and her team of dedicated volunteers are off to a strong start toward accomplishing this goal.
As part of their fundraising efforts and public awareness campaign, the museum has been hosting eco tours of Keuka Lake. Ryan took part on one of these tours and walked away eager to learn more and visit the area again. If you are looking for a quick family get away of the non-fishing sort, take the quick 2-hour drive out to Keuka Lake and go on one of these eco tours. The town of Pan Yan is a nice place to stay and you’re sure to have a good time.
Of course, some fishing on occurred on Kauka Lake as well. Surface temps on Keuka Lake were near 80 so it was a bit sluggish. Besides, with the family on board swimming in the bath water aside the boat, focused fishing was an exercise in futility – good times nonetheless. The Finger Lakes region offers immense promise for this upcoming fall. We’re looking forward to scratching the surface in the upcoming months.
We also had the opportunity to participate in the Rushford Lake Conservation Club Youth Fly Fishing Clinic with our friends, Nick Sagnibene (of Adventure Bound on the Fly), Ryan Welch, Chris Lee, Chris Garcea, Steve Wascher, and Peter Zaffram among others. This was a great opportunity to introduce the passion of fly fishing to the next generation of anglers. From tying knots, to casting instruction, to entomology and fishing regulations classes, the kids got a good dose of what our crazy world is all about. It was a great time and we encourage all local anglers to follow Rushford Lake Conservation Club on Facebook to remain abreast of ways to help preserve our fisheries and anglers for years to come.
We spent the remaining days of the week in the upper and lower Niagara River. The lower produce nothing (didn’t even move a fish) and there was still a fair amount of floating moss around – enough to aggravate you every few casts. The upper river didn’t produce much either but we managed to land a couple on every trip. We’ve seen decent numbers of smallies and freshwater drum on every drift but they are trying our patience – hook ups are hard to come by.
Same as last week – please keep away from them until we get some serious rain and cooler temps. We’ve heard some reports of tricos hatches – right on time for those guys but with water levels as low as they are and temperatures as high as they are, we’re going to stay away until conditions improve.
Wind continues to be the challenge by mid-day – as well as high temperatures. This past weekend was chaotic as well. There were MANY pleasure boaters out and the raft “flotilla” from Niawanda Park added to the chaos. If you are going to fish the Upper River or Lake Erie, get out EARLY.
Smallmouth Bass: the smallie bite on the fly continues to be slow but nice fish are coming out of every outing. We continued to use fast sinking lines and flies that imitate goby minnows and crawfish. A slow and deep retrieve over rocky bottom at depths between 8-15ft produced fish. We’ve been seeing numerous smallies close to Lake Erie and in Lake Erie. The trick is getting down deep and staying there.
Muskellunge: The water has been too warm to fish for muskies for fear of killing them once caught. However, there has not been a trip yet where at least two muskies didn’t show themselves. Most of the time, these fish emerge from nowhere and follow the boat for a bit – taunting us. WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE! And when the temps drop, we’re coming for you!
Common Carp: no change from last week. If you want to pursue these guys, go south. Friends of ours have been picking them up on some of the warm water rivers south of Buffalo.
Conclusion: At this point, you might be thinking that it’s pretty rough out there for a fly angler right now – and you’d be right. So be it though, hitting the water is better than staying home and you still have the opportunity to learn something every time you’re out. Banner days are ahead! In the interim, keep grinding away and keep your line wet. If you live in Western New York, you have a penchant for delayed gratification – add these dog days of summer to your list of markers for great things to come.
Here is Natalie Payne’s contact info:
Finger Lakes Museum
PO BOX 96
Keuka Park, NY 14478
“Chances are that when someone is hating on you, it’s not about you at all. It’s about them. It’s their fear, their envy, their boredom, and their insecurity.” – unknown – but I found it on the internet and liked it
Picture this – you’re on a river with a buddy banging banks with streamers and both of you are catching fish at about the same clip. As the day progresses, you both hit the afternoon lull that typically happens when the sun is high and the sky is clear. Your fishing buddy is about a hundred yards downstream from you when suddenly you hear a loud shout, a bent rod, and what you perceive to be intense focus – you know that stance – slightly off balance due to adrenaline and shaky knees, both hands on the rod, eyes fixed. I don’t know about you but when I see this happen I usually sprint over (I fall A LOT so there’s often a trip and some banged up knees or elbows in the process), assist in landing the fish in whatever way I can, and help snap hero shots afterward. I do all of this instinctively but until somewhat recently, there was always a feeling of jealousy that came with it. “Where’s my beast?” “We’re using the same fly and fishing the same water for @u$ks sake!” Sure, I suppose that’s only human nature but I’ve noticed that those jealous feelings don’t pop up nearly as much these days…Why?
We’ve written about haters before (see Fisherman Immortalized) and this isn’t haterish behavior I’m talking about. Every human is inclined to get jealous from time to time, especially when your main hobby or passion is an activity that lends itself very well to bragging, showing off, and in turn, listening to others brag and watching them show off. That little bit of envy can be a good thing if it makes you pay more attention to what the other guy/gal is doing well and helps you sharpen your game. However, when jealousy has the opposite effect – like some bitterness toward the other person or an inability to genuinely compliment the other guy on a job well done – it’s time to check yourself because you’re not having nearly as much fun fishing as you could be. I’m not going to lie– I’ve definitely felt that way to some degree on a number of occasions over the years and somehow checked myself without purposefully setting out to change the way I act. I think this is how it went down…
I believe it all began when I set out to catch a musky on the fly. All of the guys who brought fly fishing for musky into the mainstream (i.e. Brad Bohen from Musky Country Outfitters and Blane Chocklett from Blane Chocklett Fly Fishing) will tell you that it’s a team sport. When it takes thousands of casts to catch one fish, the boat gets stoked to see it caught and to behold its toothy gnarliness. At least, that’s what I was led to believe going into targeting them for the first time. However, that wasn’t really the case – I was jealous of other guys in the boat when they hoisted big fish and was frustrated with many challenges of repetedly casting to no avail. That all changed after I caught a few and it finally sunk in that catching a fish like a musky (permit, bonefish, west coast steelies, and Atlantic salmon to name a few probably fit into this category as well) is so difficult and so improbable, especially compared to other game fish, that it is truly a special thing when an angler brings one to hand. At some point, not all that long ago, I began to appreciate this and it changed the experience of fishing for me.
I became fully conscious of this change last season as I reviewed the numerous pics my buddy Nate sent me of him holding large musky and trout caught on the fly. At the time, I was stranded in North Carolina awaiting my discharge from the USMC and didn’t have the time or ability to fish – the schedule was too tight and my means too limited – so I had to live vicariously through him for a few months. I’ve always admired his ability to catch fish over the years but for the first time I felt truly proud of what he accomplished without a hint of envy. One time, while I was reviewing the latest email of his exploits, my wife looked over my shoulder and said, “Doesn’t it drive you crazy to see him catch all those fish with you stranded down here?” I replied in earnest, “No.” There’s always something to learn while you are on the water about how to catch more and bigger fish and you can learn a lot more when you’re with someone that can teach you a thing or two. If you don’t get too distracted, take a moment to learn something new about yourself too – that knowledge is often more rewarding.
WNY, WNY Charter Fishing, Buffalo, Buffalo NY Charter Fishing, Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing WNY, Cattaraugus creek, Oak Orchard Creek, smallmouth bass, musky, carp, fishing guide
“Sunrise, open my eyes, no surprise.” The Notorious B.I.G. refers to his time in Belize in the track, “Breaking Old Habits”
I’m about 1 week away from my 20 year high school reunion and it has me reflecting a little bit. There are many strands swimming around the old duder’s head these days – what’s next, how have my peers fared over the years, am I a good father and husband, will I ever be satisfied by my quest to capture fish around the country, etc.? One question that recently started nagging me is, “When did I become a creature of habit?” Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve prided myself on avoiding this trend that is so prominent among my fellow adults and found that most times, when I challenged conventional paradigms, I was profoundly rewarded for doing so.
I hope that nobody takes offense to what I’m about to say but I think both men and women can relate to this. When I was a teenager, I had one goal that I’m willing to bet all teenage guys have shared since the dawn of the human race – to hook up with as many girls as possible. Long-term commitments, although convenient, never appealed/worked for me. I had to have as many experiences as possible. Sure, there were some routines back then: I had to wake up for school and go to my classes but when I got home at the end of the school day and especially over the weekends, anything was on the table – adventure and experimentation was the key. More times than not, this quest (some might have perceived it as self-destructive but I believed what didn’t kill me gave me some great stories to tell) yielded some fond memories. I’m not saying this is true for me but I’ve heard many people say that high school was the best time of their life. Damn – that sucks! Worst-case scenario, that period of your life represented only 1/15th of your time on this planet.
I digress – my drive for experimentation and exploration continued throughout college but slowed down a bit my senior year when I committed to joining the Marine Corps. I guess this is when I officially became an adult. Fast forward a little bit – I blinked my eyes and 2 wars, numerous deployments, my marriage, and my daughter appeared when I opened them. How the hell did that happen? ROUTINES! I’m not bashing all habits and routines as they are essential for survival in today’s society but breaking them from time to time will open your eyes a lot earlier, help you realize balance, and lead to personal growth. Whatever you do, please don’t take this as another older guy (hell, I’m only 38) trying to pass on a BIG life lesson. Give me a second; let me tie this in to fishing.
How many of you routinely fish the same beats/float the same water every time you go out? How many of you always go to those holes you know have fish? How many of you do the same fishing trip every year? How many times have you driven past a body of water and asked yourself if it fished well but pushed forward to your planned destination? I’m willing to bet most of you will answer in the affirmative – YOU ALWAYS DO? Why? Because your time is limited and you want to do what you know will work – to have that convenient feeling of escape. What are you missing? Are you really escaping when you trade one set of habits for another?
Breaking habits is a lot harder than it sounds. I received specialized military training for 2 years that taught me to identify habits and understand how they influence decision making in an organization and I still have problems breaking them. Nevertheless, it’s somewhat unsettling to think that at one point in our lives, we were completely comfortable with change – we thrived in the chaos of our youth. Yet, as adults with means and goals, we fear chaos and fall back to our comfort zone. Yeah, many of us have families and we have certain habits and/or routines that we believe will keep drama at bay. However, how many of them ACTUALLY do? Carrying this question forward to our passion for fly fishing: if fly fishing is our escape (or our career – for all the guides out there), should it follow the same patterns we follow in daily life?
I’m not bringing this up to brag, merely to make a point: I just chalked up my 25th state and 180th River. What I’ve realized in all my travels is that every place has its own nuances, patterns, and beauty. All require some sort of adaptation and demand experimentation until you figure it out. You also meet new people and pick up new techniques. In doing so, you try flies you normally wouldn’t try. You tie many knots. You cover a lot of water. You see, hear, and smell new things. You become good at adapting to your surroundings. Moreover, when you get in your car to drive home or you arrive at the airport for your flight back – you are a better angler. Another benefit is that you’d be surprised how easy it is to get away from the indigenous/local anglers as they are typically creatures of habit.
The biggest edge we anglers have over the vast majority of the rest of the world is that we have a passion we dedicate a significant portion of our life to – we have a way to escape our daily routines. Yet, for some reason, so many of us just pick up a new set of routines during these escapes. I’m not proposing you throw all your habits in the trash – just that you become aware of them and how some may be holding you back. Maybe I’ll never be satisfied by my pursuits, my longing to explore, and my desire to experience new things but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take. Are you? Surprise yourself once in awhile!