June 1, 2018

Wayne Kirch WMA Overnighter in the Fish Taco

The 5:16 AM sunrise over the Egan Range begins to warm Dacey Reservoir.
You know when a strong impulse causes you to do something you've wanted for a while, and so you wedge it into your schedule? Then the truth is discovered that allowing the urgency of desire to squeeze an event into your calendar before all conditions are at least reasonable often produces undesired outcomes. I frequently observe that our childish nature seeks immediate indulgence which in turn causes poor planning and unhappy results. If you maintain a healthy dose of reality you can cope with that; if you're too optimistic you may come away disappointed. I won't say that this trip to Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) was disappointing, because it wasn't. But it did contain a couple preventable mishaps. 

The Fish Taco being unpacked in the early morning light in preparation for the 6:00 AM launch on Dacey.
The small cottonwood stand on the horizon to the left of the truck marks the Dave Deacon Campground. 

The primary purpose of this adventure was to measure the Fish Taco's performance on its first out-of-town trip, and to camp overnight sleeping in the Leer truck bed shell. I always intended to use the shell on my Dodge Dakota as a sleeping quarter, but I never worked that into my fishing trips. Both the Tacoma and the Dakota have short five-foot beds, and although cramped I envisioned sleeping diagonally could work reasonably well. I had given up pitching camping tents on overnight solo trips, preferring to stay in cheap motels instead. Unfortunately, the motels are not usually conveniently located next to the water I'm fishing. Sleeping in the truck shell eliminates unnecessary travel time as well as saves a few dollars. 

But I also wanted to fish Dacey Reservoir this spring before the heat and weed beds took over. Fishing was my secondary purpose, and so I was watching the Kirch area weather. High winds had been the dominant weather pattern for about a month. The forecast for Kirch was five to ten MPH winds on Friday and Saturday, so that became my target window. However, my wife had a medical appointment on Friday at 2:30 PM that she didn't want our young daughter to attend, and I had a noon appointment on Saturday which was also our designated day to babysit our grandson. I reasoned that if I left for Kirch at 6:00 PM Thursday I could sleep overnight in the shell and get myself on the water by 6:00 AM Friday. It would be a fine first run for the Fish Taco. I'd test out the sleeping arrangements in the shell and get at least five hours of fishing time on Dacey Reservoir before the return trip home. It all seemed reasonable to me, and it was.

I can never grow weary of the sage and mountain vistas of Nevada. This one looks south over the 
Adams-McGill Reservoir towards 7,050-foot Gap Mountain on the left. 

The trip was not without a few misfortunes along the way. Planning and packing for an overnight trip, an admittedly simple trip, is different than a day trip. I'm not usually a list maker, but that might have been a useful thing to do. I was more focused on the overnight aspect and less on my fishing accoutrement. In my rush to get on the road I left behind my favorite Galvin reel case. After arriving at the Dave Deacon Campground I ate a light meal and shuttered myself into the Leer shell. I decided to attach a new 4X leader on my reel before going to sleep... which was when I discovered I forgot the Galvin reels. In desperation I searched through my Fishpond bag. In there I found my old Hardy HRH lightweight reel sporting a click-pawl drag system loaded with 5-weight line, and my Orvis Access Mid-Arbor reel with a 4-weight line that used a disc drag system. I opted to use the four-weight Orvis with my eight-foot, five-weight rod reasoning that its drag system would be more useful than the heavier line weight on trout that often approach 20 inches (I brought two fly rods, one nine feet and one eight feet, both being five weights). I felt stupid for having left behind my Galvin case, but I had a backup solution that would be very workable. 

This was my preferred quarry, the rainbow trout. This specimen
was a healthy 16 inches. 
I arose before sunrise to the tweeting of camp birds and what I think was the hooting of an owl. About four years ago I saw what I believe was a Great Horned Owl in the cottonwoods shading the Deacon Campground at twilight, so that's what my brain locked on when I heard the hooting. Shaking off the sleep and stretching old muscles and joints, I extracted myself from the Leer shell. 

As planned I arrived at Dacey Reservoir just as the sun was peeking over the Egan Mountains, and I launched the Water Master Grizzly at about 6:00 PM. Passing by the bulrush that sheltered the launch area from the winds I quickly noticed the wind was stronger than I had hoped. I needed to use the oars to get out on the reservoir, and while casting the fin-kicking was a constant battle.  

I did catch three largemouth bass of smaller size, and one handsome rainbow that was a plump sixteen inches. I had one other hook-up that I think was a trout based on the way it fought, but that hook pulled out before I could know for sure.  

Over the next few moments the wind seemed to pick up strength. It was coming from the north, the usual direction for the White River Valley that holds the Kirch waters. White caps were becoming visible, and I was letting myself get frustrated with the circumstances. If I had the whole day ahead of me I'd have gotten off the water to wait and see if the wind would subside, but since I had to be on the road home by 11:00 AM that plan was met with impulsive resistance. Then there was the mismatched line (4) and rod (5) weights that when combined with the wind conspired to continually tie my leader into knots. After an hour of fishing I decided to pull the plug early. Landing four fish in about one hour was a reasonable expectation at Dacey, and I knew there were larger trout to catch. But I reminded myself the primary purpose was to test the truck and camping shell; the fishing was secondary.  

The waves on southern end of the reservoir were getting taller, and my rowing direction back to the launch site was parallel to the waves such that the Grizzly was getting rocked side-by-side. In my stinking thinking I was still balancing the idea of leaving the water early against the desire to make those "last casts" on the way out.  But the rowing was relentless to avoid being pushed against the dam riprap stones, and so I never made those final casts.

From the rustic boat launch, through the gap in the bulrush, the wind-whipped water surface is revealing
impending difficulty.
First hand evidence the wind from the north was producing mini-whitecaps that shortened the fishing
and pulled my fly rod to its depths while I was rowing back to the launch area.
As usual for me, I had reeled in the line and laid the rod against me in the Grizzly. The watercraft does have tie-downs to secure your rods, but they aren't all that convenient, especially when thoughts of "one last cast" are playing in your mind. I was rigorously rowing hard forward; that is, I was facing where I was headed as the wind pushed from my right side. The reel was next to my right leg with most of the rod tip extending out the back of the Grizzly. This arrangement was nothing new; it was familiar to me. After a few moments of rowing with splashing waves striking the Water Master’s right side, I looked down and my rod and reel were gone... I believe what happened was a twelve-inch wave grabbed the rod and pulled it over while I was preoccupied with my rowing. The rod meant more to me than the reel only because I built it by hand (most all my rods are custom built by FisherDad). It cost me about $250 in parts and about four days of labor to build. The Orvis reel cost under $200, and the full-sink line about another $60. So, there's about $500 of rod and reel "sleeping with the fishes" in Dacey Reservoir.  

I’ve always found hope in Jeremiah 29:11 since although my plans might be feeble in the eyes of the Lord, knowing that He has plans for me is eternally comforting. My problem, and I suppose most Christians’ problem, is that we still want control. We want to tell God where we are best utilized in His kingdom. Maybe we’re afraid His plans might be overwhelming so we prefer our own, falsely believing that we can pretend our plans are better for us than those of the God of all. Perhaps we don’t truly believe that He can use our weaknesses for His gain; we don’t believe the Holy Spirit can empower us beyond our limited imagination. Maybe we just want what we want, like an unruly child. I do know that except for Jesus, every person in the Bible resisted God’s plans starting with Adam and Eve through Moses all the way up to the disciples of Christ. Knowing I’m in good company doesn't make me feel better; I don’t like being accountable for my mistakes… who would?  

So, why is it when I plan something as insignificant as an overnight trip I still screw it up? Not to trivialize the Bible by comparing its guidance to planning a fishing trip, what does it say about planning? Well, it says a lot in addition to Jeremiah 29:11. Proverbs 16:4 says that no matter what the Lord works everything to its proper end. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust and submit to Him. James 1:5 says that God will provide wisdom generously to all who asks of Him. But perhaps Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) says it best: 

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” 

While “prosperity” and “poverty” have financial definitions, they clearly have spiritual meaning in the context of heaven and hell. And of course, losing $500 worth of equipment every time I go fishing could eventually lead to financial poverty as well (smile).

The Taco achieved 22.1 MPG (computer calculated efficiency) over the
370-mile round trip, including about 14 miles in four-wheel, high-range
inside the Kirch Wildlife Management Area. This beat the best
mileage I ever achieved in the Dodge Dakota 4x4 by 3.5 MPG (also
computer calculated).
The Taco did the 370-mile round-trip on a single tank of gas, with 50 miles
to spare. I'm going to enjoy my adventures in this truck.
So, as to my primary purpose, I can say the Tacoma was a pleasure to drive, especially compared to the Dakota. I had it on cruise control most of the trip, and it did downshift as expected on the longer, steeper hill climbs slightly more than the Dakota. While the 3.5L Tacoma has more horsepower than the 4.7L Dakota, the Dakota has more torque. But the Tacoma is a much smoother ride, and I was really pleased to see it achieved 22.1 MPG fuel efficiency compared to the Dakota's usual 18 to 19 MPG. When I reached the dirt roads of Kirch I put the transmission into four-wheel high range just for the heck of it. What I noticed was a much more balanced suspension and less drifting on the corners as compared to the Dakota. The Tacoma feels like the right truck for me.

Getting comfy in my Leer shell for a night's sleep. 
My body does fit in the 5-foot bed if I lay corner to corner.
As for the camping, I was a lot more comfortable in the shell than I imagined. I did have to lay diagonally in the bed, but the combination of the bed liner, foam pad, and decent sleeping bag made for a reasonably good sleep. I was warm at first, but awoke to a cold face around 3:00 AM due to the overnight low of 41 degrees. I simply tucked my head a little deeper into the bag and went back to sleep. My little MSR propane stove can handle my needs on solo trips quite well, and the 12V sockets in the Leer shell are very useful for electric float tube inflation and recharging phones, cameras, and other devices.  

I can see me using this arrangement for overnight trips, but also more extended trips into northern Nevada. I have a childhood connection to the northeastern Nevada Jarbidge Mountains from a bow hunting adventure with my brother Neal in the early 1970s. The Jarbidge River, which feeds into the Snake River – Columbia River drainage, still holds native bull trout. And the Mary’s River has a population of Lahontan cutthroat trout. Although not large fish by some reservoir standards, catching and releasing these threatened trout species in wild settings would be a “bucket list” item for me. 

All in all, this was a successful adventure in the Fish Taco. Looking forward to more in the future. Although I'm not really happy about the rod and reel... all lessons learned are good. I'll certainly not forget how I lost one of my favorite fly rods, but in the bigger scheme of things it was fortuitous I left behind my Galvin reels as they would be costly to replace at today's prices. See, forever a silver lining in the dark clouds of life, or as Romans 8:28 says: 

"And we know that God causes everything to work together
for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Just the Lord, me, and my Fish Taco. 
(The overnight low was 41 degrees, thus the early morning jacket was useful
until the 
sun rose over the mountains.) 

Like many of you, I can't resist the gratuitous livestock pictures when traveling rural areas... I just don't see much of it in the urban and suburban neighborhoods of my metropolitan area.

Three cows and a yearling munching on the sweet grass next to the bulrush while sporting
fancy bovine earrings.

Cow number 448.

May 4, 2018

Cold Creek Getaway in Fish Taco

The Tacoma with its new Lear 100R shell, including head liner, drop out cab-side window, and a three outlet,
12V power block near the rear lift window.   
Okay, I admit that I'm having a man-crush on my Tacoma.  I feel like a little boy who got the Christmas present he had been harassing his parents for since Halloween. I could easily succumb to the temptation to run away to distant places every weekend.  Maybe that's what happens to a truck owner after driving Dodge Dakotas for 18 years.

But, I can't give in to those childish impulses, at least not completely.  There remain certain relational responsibilities to Jesus, my wife, my daughter, and my employer (even if it is a part-time arrangement). And besides, the infatuation with road trip adventures would eventually wane and I'd emerge from the delusional fog one day to discover my wife and daughter have left me due to my abandonment of them.

I find the shell very convenient, and not only when transporting gear to my destinations, but also using
it with a lowered tailgate really facilitates staging equipment as well as post-angling tear down.
Of course it's more complicated than that.  I love my wife deeply, but I've learned over these past 38 years it takes a consistent effort to stay actively present in her life and my children's lives.  If you don't pay attention, you can easily take your spouse for granted.  That can lead to miscommunication, or no communication, which results in drifting apart.  It can be a marriage death march.

Being a Christian, I am so thankful for the Word, the Scriptures.  Those who are unfamiliar with the Bible may not realize the depth of wisdom it contains regarding relationships, especially the marriage commitment.  It teaches that in marriage, "two become one" (Mark 10:5-9).  The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus on the issue of divorce.  While He explained to them that divorce decrees were allowed under Moses’ leadership as a concession for “hardened hearts,” the truth is that marriage creates a new unity, a "we" if you will.  This is not to mean that the two parties cease to remain individuals, but that they are to become a sacred unit. 

Angling action was a little slow, but it's to be expected in this little pond the farther away from the late-winter
stocking and with the arrival of the mid-spring heat. This trout was hooked deep in the pond, and it
fought well despite it's somewhat lean condition.
Note the brown nymph located in the corner of this rainbow's mouth. He was in reasonable shape compared
to the other two I landed, but his pale coloring denotes to me insufficient aquatic insects in the pond. 
So how is it possible to remain "we" for half a century or longer?  Isn't it a reasonable expectation that couples drift apart over time?  Isn’t divorce a reasonable option for couples with irreconcilable differences?  For a Christian based perspective on this worldly viewpoint, read this article by Steven Kalas, a locally noted Nevada author, therapist and Episcopal priest, “Don’t kid yourself: divorce is forever.”

It’s helpful to first recognize that we are all sinners by virtue of our selfish, prideful focus on our personal happiness based on the world’s standards, not God’s (Romans 3:12-18).  The cure for that deadly self-centered attraction is to pursue and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and to allow Him to change our perception of values, to reject the world’s carnal values in favor of His. Apostle Paul says this will renew our minds. (Romans 12:2).  This spiritual relationship is further described in Ephesians 5:15-20 and other similar verses.

A couple of wild mares and a colt feeding along the pond ditch.  The older
mare actually walked over to my truck with the shell window and tailgate
wide open.  She stuck her nose into the shell looking for food, but I was
worried she would take off with my real case in her mouth.
These feral horses are pretty tame, but still unpredictably dangerous.  They always come right down to
the pond to drink, and they don't respond to hooting, hollering, and whistling because I tried that
when the older one stuck her nose into my camper shell.
Waterfowl are common around the pond, especially during seasonal migrations.  This pair of male mallard
ducks was odd; a couple of bachelors, or...
When we allow ourselves to be in the presence of the Holt Spirit, scripture takes on new relevance and truth in our lives.  When I am centered on my relationship with Jesus. I am able to re-align with my family relationships, especially with my wife. For example, Ephesians 5:21-33 describes how I am to love my wife.  When I find myself straying from my commitment to be “radically present” in my marital and familial relationships I remind myself what the Lord’s, not the world’s, version of love is supposed to look like by reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, likely the most often read verses at weddings of all sorts.

For an expanded version of marriage fidelity and its various infidelity entrapments, read this short article also by Steven Kalas, “True fidelity isn’t only about sex.”

It is a handsome truck... but I'm prejudiced.
Added my fishing stickers, the Canyon Ridge "God First" sticker, and my
American flag magnet. I believe I'm good to go now.

All that said, I admit that my three-hour trip to Cold Creek as the sun peeked over Frenchman Mountain was very satisfying, but certainly can never replace the importance and satisfaction of my marriage fidelity and all that relates to it.

April 21, 2018

Fish Taco on the loose in Cold Creek

My new Toyota Tacoma SR5 4x4 (a.k.a., the Fish Taco) visiting the Cold Creek Pond for the first time.
Those of you familiar with my blog might recall I affectionately referred to my 2007 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4x4 as the "Trout Truck." Although it was my daily driver, its underlying purpose was to get me in and out of the destinations where the trout angling was better than average and where inclement weather, which is often good for fishing, can make passage difficult. I had gotten stuck a few times in my previous 4x2 Dakota, but the 4.7L V8 4x4 never got stuck which was a great comfort to me and certainly increased my angling time. 

As the Trout Truck approached 10 years old I began to contemplate its replacement. Dodge stopped making the Dakota after the 2011 production, and Toyota's Tacoma increased its market share of the mid-sized 4x4 trucks. Recently GM introduced a new mid-size 4x4 (Chevrolet Colorado and GM Canyon) to better compete with the Tacoma. About 17 months ago my son Brian purchased a 2017 Tacoma TRD Off Road. His Tacoma started my juices flowing again until I finally made the decision to swap my 2007 Dakota for a 2018 Tacoma SR5 4x4. I'm so pleased with it I honestly don't know why I waited so long. 

The SR5 has some really nice safety features that are new for 2018, but it does not have the versatility of the TRD Off Road's electric locking differentials and its state-of-the-art Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. But I couldn't justify an extra $2000 for features that I might use once or twice in the truck's lifetime. The SR5's basic 4x4 with rear end limited slip differential and traction control should be enough to avoid getting stuck. It is already clear to me the new Toyota Safety Sense features like Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Alert, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control will get plenty of use while traveling Nevada's two-lane highways enroute to the dirt roads that lead to the best angling locations. I will install a Lear bed cap much like I had on the 2007 Dakota; I found the cap to be highly practical for my fishing trips, especially transporting my angling watercraft. 

An added bonus of purchasing the Tacoma is its slang name "Taco." Die hard Tacoma owners often refer to their trucks as "Tacos," which gave me the idea to christen the new angling truck the "Fish Taco" (I highly doubt I'm the first to use this moniker).

The Fish Taco's maiden off-road voyage was an early morning run to the Cold Creek Pond. Frankly, passenger cars can make it down to the pond if they have reasonable clearance, but this trip provided the excuse to put the truck in four-wheel drive for the first time as well as to cast a fly line for 45 minutes. 
The first trout of the day. 
I arrived at the pond about 7:15 AM and was very pleased to be completely alone. I was also surprised to catch two small stocked rainbow trout within the first 15 minutes. It was then I noticed a passenger car carefully finding its way to the pond. A man and small child exited the car with fishing rods in hand. When they got within conversation distance we exchanged pleasantries. The father, Tim, was taking his four year old son Aiden fishing. They had fished Cold Creek a few weeks before and did very well. Tim mentioned fishing Eagle Valley Reservoir, and asked if I had as well. I told him I was a long time southern Nevadan who fished throughout most all of the state. I told him I wrote a fishing blog. He mentioned discovering Cold Creek through a blog, and then after hesitating a few seconds he said it might have been my blog. He asked me what my blog's name was and I replied "FisherDad." He recognized the name, and then politely said he thought the blogger in the website photos looked older than I did in person. That made me smile. 
The second trout of the day.
Tim asked how long I had been writing the blog since some of the posts were dated over 30 years ago. I told him the story of my son Nick creating the FisherDad blog as a Father’s Day gift 11 years ago. Because I had older adventures I wanted to post I decided to backdate them to their original time frames. I mentioned Nick was a web designer at the time, and that he now works at Square in San Francisco as a Front-End Engineer. Tim laughed and said that coincidentally he was a Systems Analyst for Optum Health in Las Vegas. 

I discovered that Tim is married and a father of three: Aiden and his two younger sisters. He explained that Aiden had a congenital eye disease that impairs his vision which will eventually lead to blindness. He spoke of some frustration with the Clark County School District's inability to provide his son services until he loses more of his vision, and it reminded me of friends with autistic children who also seem to fall in cracks. Despite Aiden's disability, Tim was very upbeat and happy to be spending time with his son. The visit was reminiscent of the time I met Amelia Smith fishing the pond with her father John.
The final rainbow trout of the day, maybe over 10 inches, but definitely the strongest of the three.
I was fortunate to land one more trout, slightly larger than the first two, and decided to leave the pond to Tim and Aiden. I was content with three trout in 45 minutes, and after all it was all about the Fish Taco's maiden off-road angling adventure anyway

(Tim, if I’ve misspelled names or misrepresented any facts please post a correction in the Comments.)
The ubiquitous feral horses that haunt the Cold Creek area. We're instructed not to feed them,
but visitors obviously disobey that command.  When I stopped to snap a photo this mare and colt
started toward the Fish Taco, likely looking for a carrot or apple.
A close-up photo of my Fish Taco.