July 13, 2017

Illipah Reservoir, White Pine County

Launching the Water Master Grizzly on Illipah Reservoir, leaving the Trout Truck
to bask in the shoreline grasses.  It started as a very tranquil day. 
I took a long day-trip to Illipah Reservoir in White Pine County.  It has been four years since I last fished Illipah, and it has always intrigued me as a fishing destination.  I don’t exactly recall how I came to learn about Illipah.  It may have been my brother Neal who first told me about it, or I could have seen it in the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) brochure and website. I do know that former Las Vegas City Manager, Larry Barton, fished it frequently in the late 1990s.  Several times I heard him describe the Illipah fishing with great enthusiasm.  Larry was a fly fisherman as well, so his commentary seemed to have more significance for me.
One of the healthier, more vividly adorned rainbows of the day.  Note the ratty Prince Nymph in the
corner of his mouth. He was maybe 12 inches, recently stocked this past spring.
I first fished Illipah in June of 2000.  My sons Doug and Tom were camping with me at Cave Lake State Park outside Ely.  From that base camp we visited Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park and fished several waters (Silver Creek Pond, Cave Lake, Illipah Reservoir, and the Ruby Lakes Ditch).  On that trip I fished Illipah just an hour or so, catching but one trout.  I don’t know how much the boys recall about that camping trip, but I know they still remember hitting the Silver Creek Pond just after it had been stocked.  We had the farm pond all to ourselves, and Doug and Tom hauled trout out of the reservoir on practically every other cast (everyone’s first fishing experience should be so successful).  My next visit was in May of 2004.  That was my first fishing trip ever with a float tube (Fish Cat), and I described the experience as “unbelievable” in my May 14, 2004 blog post.  (Hopefully, my blogs have become slightly more polished since that post.)
This rainbow fought well, and maybe exceeded 12 inches, but note how thin he was. The Nevada
Department of Wildlife stocked 3,746 rainbow trout in May 26, and he was likely one of them. 
Illipah Reservoir was created in 1953 when Illipah Creek was impounded for irrigation purposes. In an agreement with the rancher to guarantee a minimum pool, NDOW paid for the dam construction.  The reservoir was enlarged in 1981. Although located almost entirely on private land, the adjacent land is managed for recreation by the Bureau of Land Management under a cooperative agreement with NDOW.  The Illipah Reservoir covers 70 surface acres to a maximum depth of 50 feet. Rainbow trout, stocked twice annually, and a self-sustaining population of brown trout currently inhabit the reservoir.  The fishing is good year around, but it peaks in spring and fall.  Illipah is located 34 miles west of Ely on Highway 50, where you turn south (left) at the sign and follow the dirt road 1½ miles to the reservoir. Muddy conditions occur when the road is wet, so use caution.
The view looking south by southwest from where Illipah Creek flows through the valley between the Moorman
Ridge to the east (i.e., left side) and the Mokomoke Mountains to the west. The historic town of Hamilton lies
on the other side of the Mokomoke Mountains. No evidence of the thunderclouds in this late morning photo.
 
One fascination about Illipah, which I’ve never personally satisfied, is the nearby ghost town of Hamilton. Silver was discovered in Treasure Hill in 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, which led to the creation of the town of Hamilton. In 1868 the silver rush resulted in over 10,000 people coming to the area. White Pine County was formed in 1869 with Hamilton as its seat. At that time there were almost 20,000 people living in Hamilton, and the town site grew to about two square miles. As was the case with most all of these mining boom towns, by 1870 the mining had come to a halt. A fire in 1873 signaled the coming end for Hamilton, and a subsequent fire in 1885 was the coup de grĂ¢ce, and the county seat was then moved to Ely where it resides today. For a young family wanting to explore remote places in Nevada, Illipah and Hamilton fill the bill.  Although the Illipah campsites are somewhat primitive, the BLM maintains the campground with picnic tables, fire pits, windscreens, vault toilets, and trash barrels. As the crow flies, Hamilton is about 7.5 miles southwest of Illipah.
Another sleek but darkly colored trout. There were a few that I caught which had mottled discoloring overlaid
on their dark pigmentation, which I assumed was a condition carried with them from the hatchery.
Today’s fishing action was extremely brisk, although no brown trout were landed, and no trout was over thirteen inches. In the six hours I fished, including a 30 minute thunderstorm delay, I hooked 45 rainbow trout, landing 34 and experiencing 11 long-distance-releases. That averages to a hook-up every 8 minutes, and a trout brought to hand every 10.5 minutes. I was pretty busy out there.

The brown trout are the real attraction of Illipah for me. Landing the 17 inch brownie in 2004 on a small emerger nymph in the shallow shoreline was an awesome experience. I hope to replicate that again someday with a larger specimen.

A view towards the northern end where the earthen dam resides. There are 6 anglers on the shoreline, 
and 3 in kayaks, although the yellow kayak is indistinguishable as it floats right in front of the truck 
parked on the shoreline.
Another handsome rainbow, caught on Denny Rickard's Callibaetis Nymph. There is a self-sustaining 
population of brown trout in the reservoir, but I did not catch one on this trip.
The first sign of the advancing thunderstorms occurred around 3:00 pm. Although I did not see lightening, I
heard the thunder. I opted to beach the Water Master and fish from the shore, which turned out to be great fun.
The weed beds were floating on the surface in the shallow portion of the reservoir toward the inlet.
Trout were rising and splashing next to them, as well as into the ankle-thin water right along the shoreline.
When the mid-afternoon thunderstorm interrupted my tubing I decided to beach the Water Master and fish the western shoreline.  That decision turned out to produce quite a bit of fun.  I switched from my 5-weight to my 7½ foot 4-weight.  Using a floating line with an array of nymphs (frankly, it didn’t seem to matter which ones), I was catching trout just 20 to 30 feet off the bank, and usually nestled up against the weed beds.  It was very similar to dry fly fishing, and the light tackle made playing the smaller stocked trout enjoyable.
Using nymphs (this one is a Rickard's Callibaetis) and a floating line on my  foot, 4-weight, I duped many
trout from the shore along the weeds, often with splashy sub-surface takes of the fly. Almost like fishing a dry fly.
Mystery resides below the surface of the water...
...such as rather large crayfish.
A shore-caught trout of about 11 inches.  I so enjoy fishing the 7½ footer. 
I had noticed what looked to be larger fish jumping on the eastern side of the reservoir, so when there was a lull in the thunderstorm I launched the Water Master again and oared over to check it out. There were larger fish working along the weed beds, and I was still using the light 7½ footer. Based on what I witnessed, I think several of the trout were in the 14 to 16 inch range. They were more wary, and often they’d move down the weed line just beyond my efficient casting range. I did manage to get a few strikes from larger fish, at least they looked like strikes, but I mistimed my reaction. I was enjoying the newly discovered “stalk and shoot” approach to angling when the second thunderstorm arrived (I had been watching the dark clouds approaching). It was then that I decided to get back to the Trout Truck and head home.

Despite the trout being considerably smaller than those in Dacey Reservoir last May, I really enjoyed this trip. Normally the weather at Illipah can be close to 90° by mid-summer, but today's cloudy skies and intermittent thunder showers kept the temperature right about 70°, roughly 40° less than it was in Las Vegas… who wouldn’t appreciate that? And while there were a handful of anglers on this Thursday, I really had my run of the reservoir; for all intents and purposes I was angling in solitude.
FisherDad taking refuge in Trout Truck, waiting for the thunderstorm to subside.
Speaking of solitude, the driving time was a relished respite from a busy couple of weeks.  For most all of the driving I kept the cab quiet except for my conversation with the Lord.  As much as I try to make quiet time to be fully in His presence, there seems to always be a distraction or an interruption.  I truly savor these trips to simply talk with God, and more importantly, to be able to listen to Him.  John 8:47 says “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”  I don’t ever want to be in a place where the Word is not with me, or where Jesus says I don't belong to Him.  I want to be like the young prophet Samuel who replied “Speak, your servant is listening” when he heard God call his name (1 Samuel 3:10).  Many are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”), but the Lord in verse 12 goes on to say “In those days when you pray, I will listen.”  Of course, listening to the Word of God is only part of the battle; being obedient to his instruction is where the rubber meets the road.  We must “give heed” to his word (Proverbs 16:20) and “put them into practice” (Matthew 7:24) because “those who hear the word of God and obey it” are blessed (James 1:25).  

So, my prayer is that you can be still and hear the voice of the Lord in your life, and let it guide your ways into eternity.

May 3, 2017

Dacey Reservoir, Nye County, NV

A pair of geese protecting their three goslings on Adams-McGill Reservoir.
In the wild geese bond and stay together for life.  
Ever notice sometimes what you anticipate can fail to fully come into fruition, particularly if it’s something you look forward to participating in?  Fueled by your imagination you envision how wonderful the experience will be and the pleasure you’ll derive from the it, especially when your brain builds upon prior awesome remembrances.
The one smallish bass caught this day, although I noted several
larger black bass preparing for their spawn in the shallows.
I don’t typically recall details of unpleasant experiences.  When it comes to outdoor adventures I am especially optimistic about what I might observe, what I might witness.  Nature always amazes and inspires me, and when I make my treks to old and new destinations I just expect to be awed.  After all, it is God’s creation that man has never been able to match.
A remarkably radiant crimson spawning stripe on this 18 inch rainbow.
My very first trip to Dacey Reservoir was on September 27, 2013.  I was mildly stunned by the size of the trout in this high-desert wildlife management area that for weeks my mind would daydream about them.  I immediately followed that with another trip on October 23, 2013 and two trips in April (April 4, 2014 and April 23, 2014).  Those early Dacey angling experiences so influenced me that I wrote my first published article on Wayne Kirch which resulted in yet a fifth trip in eight months for the magazine photo shoot on May 31, 2014.  Although the May trip was a little late into the spring for Kirch trout angling, that string of five fishing adventures still rattles around my hippocampus, believed to be the brain’s sorting center where new sensations are compared with previously recorded ones.  I like visiting new water just because it's a new exploration, but memories from those five trips keep overriding my natural quest for new adventures.

And so here I was, planning my first “real” fishing trip since last October.  I was leaning toward Utah's  Kolob Reservoir again.  But, Kolob is a slightly longer drive than Kirch, and there were those Dacey Reservoir re-runs playing through my hippocampus.  The two days spent on Dacey with Bruce and Doug in late April of 2013 were some of my best fishing days ever, including the family bonding.  It can be difficult to override memories like those.  As you already know from the title of this post, Dacey won out again.
Largest trout of the day. This male was just under 20 inches, and he was plump, healthy, and beautiful.
The large rainbow attempting to avoid the Fishpond net, but the fly held fast.
I can say that all the trout Dacey gave this day were comparable in size and coloring to those I experienced in 2013/2014.  I can also report that I was the only one on the reservoir all day, which always enhances the sensation of a wilderness experience, even though Kirch isn’t really that remote or isolated.  Yet somehow I came away mildly dissatisfied with the fishing.  Perhaps in part due to the low fish count (five hooked, four brought to the net), or maybe it was the unseasonably warm weather (by the afternoon it was about 80°).  But now that I’m home contemplating the whole of the trip I can honestly say it was in fact awesome.  It was every bit as breathtaking as the first time in September 2013.  How can anyone be disappointed with an outing that produced a fat rainbow just under 20 inches long?  How could I feel slighted after examining an 18-inch male rainbow displaying the most radiant scarlet spawning wardrobe I’ve seen since fishing the Ruby Lake with Bill Bergan in 2015?  Sure, I would have been more pleased with faster action, but more trout would have statistically resulted in most being 12 to 14 inch trout that were stocked just last fall.  I’ve written many times that I’d rather land one old, large, naturally radiant trout than a boatload of recently planted trout. 
A fine looking female of just under 17 inches. I was pleased to introduce her to the Fishpond net.
So what is it in me, maybe in you as well, that always expects the next adventure will be better than the last?  What is it in our soul that occasionally produces the belief that our experiences are never good enough?  Why do we think we deserve more than what we’ve been given?  Can it be as simple as our sinful nature?

When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi he thanked them for sending gifts while he was in prison (Philippians 4:10-13).  He was there because officials had levied false charges against him; in a way they were “hating” on Jesus through Paul.  Paul already knew that the grace of Jesus was sufficient for him; because of Jesus he lacked nothing.  He needed to thank the Philippi Church for their generosity, but he also needed to teach a lesson in contentment while doing so.  Paul did not mean contentment in the pagan sense of self-sufficiency, but that his sufficiency was in Jesus.  Without Jesus we are nothing, for He created it all and only through Him do we find grace and redemption (John 1:1-18).

When I begin to feel disappointment in this world, I pinch myself and remember that God’s grace is sufficient for me, too.  Every breath, moment, day, and experience on earth is a gift from Him, and I just simply need to snap out of it” just like Loretta Castorini told Ronny Cammareri in the movie Moonstruck.
The Water Master Grizzly angling craft contributed towards another awesome Wayne Kirch angling adventure.
The four fishable Kirch reservoirs are large, and an oared watercraft is the best choice to cover them.
This trout harbored a deep wound, perhaps from a heron, but I can attest that it didn't dampen its ability to fight
strong. Kirch attracts all sorts of wildlife, and fishing birds do abound. Wading birds common to the area include
white-faced ibis, great blue herons, black crowned night herons, great egrets, snowy egrets and bitterns.
Of those species, black-crowned night herons and great blue herons nest in the area.
I never tire of this view of the Grant Mountain Range from Dacey.  Could you?
The Grant Range is a mountain chain in east-central Nevada that runs for about 30 miles
north-south in northeastern Nye County. It is west of the White River Valley, home of 
Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area. The White River Valley drains the eastern
slopes of the range, and used to make its way into the Colorado River.

February 17, 2017

Fishin' in the Rain... at Cold Creek

A healthy 9-inch rainbow trout landed on a custom 8-foot, 5-weight fly rod built by FisherDad.
Due to warm conditions late into the fall of 2016, the stocking of Cold Creek pond was delayed until the last day of November.  Adding insult to injury, early December turned very cold, freezing over the pond sooner than expected.  My last fishing day of 2016 was the 6th of October, so I’ve been patiently waiting for warmer weather to melt off the ice, on Cold Creek and all my other favorite reservoirs. 
Evidence of the wet and cold as seen on my ears and nose.
Temperatures in Vegas these last two weeks were in the 60s, and pushed 70° a few days.  Then yesterday’s weekly fishing report from the Nevada Department of Wildlife stated that the Wayne Kirch waters were fairly clear of ice.  I decided to give Cold Creek a try even though the Spring Mountains were forecast to have rain and even snow at higher elevations.   
A wet Cold Creek before the wind and rain enhanced their presence.
I don’t mind fishing in a light rain, and I’ve written before that inclement weather can produce good results if you’re properly dressed for it.  So after I dropped off my daughter at school I drove the 50 miles to the Cold Creek pond.  The entire mountain range, starting at 6,000 feet, was engulfed in low rain clouds.  The light rain picked up a little as I neared the pond, and it was breezy with the occasional 15-to-20 mph gust.  The temperature at Cold Creek was 38° according to the Trout Truck thermometer, so I knew the combination of rain and wind would make it feel like 25°, especially on my exposed face and fingertips (thank goodness for fingerless mittens).  
Another healthy 9-incher with the beaded nymph secured in its lower lip.
The wind was coming from the west, so casting with my back to the wind seemed like a good idea to avoid the cold, wet wind in my face and eyeglasses.  I was wearing new 18-inch rubber boots from LaCrosse combined with my Cabela’s rain resistant jacket and gray Stillwater wool outfitter hat to protect me.  All that got wet was the back of my jeans from my knees to my butt.  I must say, I got wetter than I thought I would. 
I can already tell that this rod is going to be a workhorse in the future.
I took along my 8-foot, 5-weight fly rod.  I thought I’d need the extra push through the wind and the rain, and it turned out I was right.  I tied on a small bead-headed nymph with a wire body and white wings, thinking the white would increase visibility in the murky water due to run-off entering the pond.  Not sure if that was the best choice, but I did hook four trout in 45 minutes, three of which I landed.  All were small, but healthy. 
Just the foothills were visible under the low clouds.
At about that 45-minute mark the wind gusts became more frequent and my fingertips were numb.  I felt like I had accomplished what I set out to do, and despite the rain it was very satisfying to fish in perfect peace and solitude.  Maybe my next trip will be to the Wayne Kirch reservoirs, or maybe Cumins Reservoir. 
Trout released to return to his safe environment...
to be caught again perhaps.
This was also the maiden voyage of the Trout Truck’s new Lear bed cap.  It was very convenient to be able to protect and access my fishing accoutrement under the cap, not to mention using the lifted rear window to protect me from the drizzling rain.  And don’t those new FisherDad decals look nice?
Trout Unlimited combined with FisherDad.com...
and I was compelled to include Matthew 4:19.
Okay, so I was somewhat thankful to get out from the cold wind and rain.