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.

December 1, 2017

Fall Stocking Completed at Cold Creek Pond

On a day with temperatures in the low 50s and just a gentle breeze, I was very happy
that I had but one other angler to share Cold Creek on the first Friday of December 2017.
A few weeks ago I read in the local paper the Nevada Department of Wildlife was scheduled to plant trout in the Cold Creek pond.  Today I confirmed they did.  One other angler was fishing bait, but he was doing it well: small hooks enabling him to catch and release five trout that I noticed.  As for me, in about an hour I landed four, but had hooks pulled out of three others.  Awesome weather there today.  I was surprised but thankful only one other angler was on the pond.  Enjoy the photos. 
Feral horses getting their morning drink from the pond. Several small groups (I hesitate to
label them "herds") came through, including a few mares with young colts from last spring.
Doesn't the ribbon of creek water glistening as it flows into the pond look inviting; often
the horses stop near it to drink, likely because it's cleaner at the inlet.
Little stocked rainbow struggling to free itself from the size 16 nymph.
All four were carbon copies of this one.
One last examination before release back into the pond.

November 22, 2017

Dacey Reservoir in the Late Fall

Trout Truck at Dacey's rustic boat launch site. Sign says, "ARTIFICIAL LURES ONLY,
These regulations help to keep the Dacey trout fishery in top condition.
This is the time of year elementary students are cutting, painting, and creating all sorts of Thanksgiving papers that their moms and dads will affix to various kitchen appliances and cabinetry in celebration of the things the child is thankful for.  You never really know what your youngster might write on these papers, particularly if their teacher doesn’t attempt to influence their selection so as not to embarrass the parents.  You can imagine parents across the country rhetorically asking, “What the hell are they teaching my kid?

My eight-year-old daughter came home at the break with the ubiquitous turkey paper, and on the backside she listed the three things she was grateful for this season: “God, my parents, and my pets.”  I could only smile when I read her paper; mind you, this was a product of a secular school.

As if the Thanksgiving season weren’t reason enough, my daughter’s choices certainly caused me to reflect upon my own thankfulness.  What is the condition of my heart this year?
This was the largest trout I landed. It was probably 9 inches when stocked last spring,
and is now a healthy 12-13 inches. I landed about 10 trout, but two that suffered
hook pull-outs would have adequately filled the Fishpond landing net.
To give perspective to other blog pictures of 19 inch and larger trout in my Fishpond net,
this is what a 12-13 inch trout looks like inside it. 
Apostle Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the many blessings we, the church, receive from Jesus (note the lower case “church” connoting believers and not a specific building or religion).  These are blessings we are freely given, but cannot earn. For Christians, the gift of salvation through the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is at the top of the list.  But even for non-believers, surely they did not pick their parents, the country or nation they were born into.  Although there are environmental factors at play, our personalities and inherent talents seem to grow out of us from nowhere.  We don’t seem to pick them as much as they pick us.

Put another way, could you be as thankful if you were born to abusive parents who were addicted to their sins, inflicting all sorts of physical and emotional pain on your childhood? What if you were born into poverty, or in a nation where human rights didn’t exist?  What if you were born with a disability, or with a progressive condition that prevented you from enjoying good health? What if you dreamed of a life with talent in areas like music, singing, art, or even areas like mathematics or writing? Certainly these skills can be learned and developed to various levels of proficiency, but real talent is usually something we easily recognize and refer to as “a gift” for good reason.  What about our physical attributes?  While diet and exercise, and dare I throw in surgical procedures, can improve things, we really can’t make ourselves taller or shorter, big boned or thin boned.  If you don’t have the gift of strength, quickness or hand-eye coordination you’ll never improve enough to play a sport at the professional level.

So, for the most part, we are who we are.  Sometimes we focus too much on what we are not, what we don’t have, and not enough on what we do have.  In his letter to the Philippians Paul also wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).  He wrote this letter while chained to a guard in a Roman prison, confined in a filthy jail, while some “followers” tried to make trouble for him in prison for their own selfish reasons, and although he desired his freedom he was resigned to the fact that he’d likely die at the hands of the Romans. How could he be content in such conditions?
Caught lots of these recently stocked rainbows, all in the 9-10 inch range. You'll notice I
was hoping for much larger quarry based on 
this beaded woolly bugger's hook size.
Contentment, being at peace with yourself and your condition wherever you are in life, is also a gift from God.  It’s a contentment flowing from the certainty that you are saved through Christ, and that you are an eternal being who will live within the peace and glory of The Lord after your earthly death just as surely as Jesus rose from His earthly grave to be reunited with his Father in heaven.  This level of contentment, no matter your status or condition in this worldly life, is truly a gift from God.

So yes, I am thankful for all the gifts God has freely given me, even those that I occasionally wish I could return for another.

This visit to Dacey on the day before Thanksgiving was a reminder of the gift of contentment.  I had hopes of at least a few large trout.  I had hopes of peace and serenity while viewing wildlife in awe inspiring conditions.  And although those hopes and aspirations were achieved on some level, I’d be lying if I didn’t confess some level of disappointment.  But I’ve been fishing enough to know that these adventures are always different than my expectations, and that they always offer their own elements of peace and awe if I’m willing to look for them.

While I did not land anything large, I did land many trout.  While I did suffer the fall waterfowl hunters and the report of their shotguns sporadically for a few hours, I did have the reservoir to myself most of the day.  While the dead weeds had jammed up the boat launch and most of the reservoir, they did create interesting channels weaving through the surface that revealed their own secrets when proper levels of patience and observation were practiced.  The snow geese and a few large grey herons peppered my visit with sightings not usually seen every day.  And because I was able to take an extra day off, and because we made dinner arrangements that enabled me to go fishing the day before Thanksgiving, I was able to spend a day alone with my thoughts, prayers, and my favorite hobby… something many others simply cannot do… how could I not be thankful for that gift, regardless of the number or size of the fish?
Closeup of the signage, boat launch, and the rip-rap dam structure. The reservoir water
level was down about 2 feet, and while there were patches of open water, there was some
heavy matting from the dead water weeds that had risen to the surface and been blown by
the prevailing winds towards the southern end near the dam.
Notice the grey heron peeking at me as I drove over the dam.  Notice
also his size in relation to the white billed coots floating on the dead
weed bed to the left of him.
He took flight after I purposely spooked him. These large predatory birds are
magnificent to watch when they take flight... although they eat their share of the smaller
trout and bass. This photo also gives a perspective of the matted dead weeds floating
on the surface that needed to be navigated by the Water Master fishing craft.
In the mid-afternoon I did hook a couple of large trout that I got to see pretty clearly.  The first one eventually came to the surface and began to tail slap the tippet that held the hook in its jaw.  I’ve seen this action before with large trout, especially in reservoirs.  I could see the length of its body, especially the width of its tail as it slapped at the tippet, and I judged the rainbow trout to be about 16 - 17 inches.  It was about 30 feet away as it thrashed on the surface, and it was successful with the last tail slap.  It became an LDR statistic.  The second big rainbow, not that long after the first, was brought within arm’s reach of the Water Master fishing craft.  I could tell it was large when I felt its head thrashing from the depth of the reservoir, something an angler never forgets from the very first time he experiences the vibrations of a large fish. I immediately spun the slack line onto the Galvin reel with my left hand, hoping the hook wouldn’t pull out.  I got it onto the reel and managed to play it within a net-handle length of the Water Master. I could see its full body, especially its broad, dark green back just a few inches from the surface.  I knew it was at least 20 inches, maybe a lot more.  As I reached back for the handle of the Fishpond landing net… the hook pulled out.  The beast calmly finned its tail and moseyed back into Dacey’s darker depths.  I confess I was angry.

But, it was a magnificent and beautiful fish.  Losing a good fish before you can boat it is one of those things that comes with the territory.  You don’t land every fish you hook, and the odds are worse the larger they get.  You learn to be thankful you could even be on the water, that you actually caught any fish, let alone hook one close enough that you were blessed to witness its awesome beauty and significant size.  Most people never get to experience even a sliver of that angling euphoria.  My disappointment quickly vanished into thankfulness.

It is lessons derived from experiences like today’s Dacey offerings that develop contentment in all things for fly anglers.