March 28, 2009

A New Fly Rod on Cold Creek


Cold Creek Pond, March 28, 2009
This past January, in protest of the winter and my new interim job, I built a new six foot fly rod. It was my first rod building project in about twenty-five years. I very much enjoy fishing my old six-footer that I built in the early 1980s, but it is a slow action fiberglass blank and I wanted to replace it with a new, faster action graphite rod. I was hoping I could extend my casting range another five or ten feet with a graphite rod blank.

Those of us that like to build or create things recognize the feeling of satisfaction derived from those activities which instill a rewarding pride from a job well done. It’s not a sinful or boastful pride, but just a sense of the pleasure from being creative, productive, or even constructive. Apparently when God made us he implanted this need or desire to create; I guess that’s a condition of being created in his likeness (Genesis 1:26). When you stop to ponder it, what amazing pleasure God must have felt by creating the universe, the world, and us. Awesome to contemplate, isn’t it?

Rod-wrapping "tools of the trade"
There isn’t much you can customize on a fly rod; it’s a pretty simple tool. The length and line weight of the blank is the driving force (in this case I was targeting a six foot length to cast a three weight line for small trout in small waters). Trout as small as eight inches can put a respectable bend in the rod and imitate the feeling of a twelve to fourteen incher on a five weight, eight footer. I have landed twelve-inch trout, wild trout mind you, on the old six-footer and nothing is more exciting than that.

Reel Seat taped on rotating motor

Nickel silver reel seat fittings
After selecting the rod blank characteristics, the next most “customizable” item will be the reel seat and handle. On a small rod such as this I prefer the “all cork” route; it’s a classic look and very light which compliments a fly rod of this minute size. And finally, there is the color of the rod wrappings and the writing of the owner’s/builder’s name on the butt of the blank.

Thread wrapping technique

Custom touch: owner's/builder's name!

Finished product
I tried out the new rod in early March, but struck out. I know there were still a few trout holding over from November in that Cold Creek pond, but I didn’t perceive getting as much as one little strike. Nonetheless, the casting was fun with the new rod and indeed I could reach a little farther than with the old fiberglass rod.

Last night I noticed that the Nevada Department of Wildlife had recently stocked the little Cold Creek pond with about 500 ten-inch trout. So I arose at 6:45 am and reached Cold Creek by 7:30 am. There was another bait fisherman on the pond with his youngster. Immediately after my arrival another car pulled up, and a gentleman proceeded to extract a wheelchair from the back of his Subaru. I observed that his daughter was soon situated near the water in the wheelchair with a little rod in her hand. The sight touched my heart, and I resumed my fishing.

Over the next thirty or forty minutes numerous other cars arrived, several with small children. I had caught about five or six trout, two of which were in the ten to eleven inch range. My fly casting was consuming more than my share of space on that tiny pond so I decided it was time to depart (I don’t like crowds on the water anyway). Besides, my new little creation had been inaugurated with its first catch of trout.

As I was backing out of the water I drank in the father-daughter duo. I had heard the father remark “Isn’t it a wonderful day to be alive”, or something very similar. I felt compelled to engage them in some small way; to acknowledge God’s grace even in the face of their obvious obstacles. As I watched I realized that the father was John L Smith, the noted Las Vegas Review Journal columnist and author of several books. Suddenly it became clear to me; he was taking his beloved daughter, Amelia, for a Saturday morning fishing trip. As I approached I said, “You are the Smiths, are you not”? John said “Yes, we are”. I squatted next to Amelia’s wheelchair. I told her that I had read all her dad’s columns about her cancer struggle. I told her, “You know you are an inspiration to many people, but you probably hear that a lot”. John said something like, “Yes, but we can never hear it enough”. I chatted with them for a few minutes. The conversation was about nothing significant, but it was enough to feel connected to them and their difficult journey, to know that God’s grace is magnificent, and that it is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). Amelia, who is the same age as my youngest, Evan, was pleased to announce that she is doing very well and her prognosis was very positive. She had not an ounce of remorse, regret, or pity in her voice. She was strong and thankful for being able to spend her morning in the bright, warm sunshine with her loving father. I wished them luck with the trout and left for home.

On the drive home I felt a tinge of regret for not mentioning the gift of Jesus. Sometimes these opportunities present themselves and we wastefully let them pass by. But then I felt the warmth of God surrounding me with the sense that He is walking with the Smith family, especially with Amelia. I cannot imagine the burdens of their long brain cancer fight without the presence of God in their lives.

Meeting John and Amelia has enriched my life even if only from a few moments of conversation. We need to be reminded, always, of the gifts that God has bestowed upon us, and to be thankful in all things.

7 comments:

David said...

Mark,

It is indeed the little treasures that make life worth living. The continual rediscovering of the wonder in ordinary events.

Thank you for sharing. Your encounter with Amelia brought me to tears.
David

Karen said...

I so enjoyed reading your latest blog and was especially touched to read about your encounter with John Smith and his daughter, Amelia as well as enjoy the pictures of your latest creation.

God has worked wonders in your life! Keep doing His work through your testimonies and this site!

I am touched...Karen

Brandon said...

Mark,
Great blog! Your post as related to fishing and the Smiths was great. It is nice to know that there are people with a fresh perspective out there. On a seperate note, I am looking at building a rod. Cabelas sells kits with everything you need to make a rod. My question is, is that something that is worthwhile? Is rod building so technical that a kit like that is not worth the time and effort? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Good luck on the water.

FisherDad said...

Brandon --

Thanks for the kind comments.

I don't think rod building is too technical. I get more frustrated tying flies than building rods (maybe it's my aging eyes). A Cabela's kit is a good place to start. They're relatively cheep and come complete with everything you need except for the rod wrapping jig. A turning motor is nice to have, but you can manually turn the rod while drying the varnish (use a timer to make quarter turns every 10-15 minutes). You might find that as you wrap the guides on you get better with each one, and that’s ok. Even if the varnish isn’t smooth and level or the guides perfectly straight along the rod spine, it will still fish fine and you’ll still feel a sense of pride when you land your first fish. Once you get the hang of it you can step up to more expensive blanks, guides, and other hardware. At that level you’ll find $150 can build a rod every bit as elegant and functional as the $400 to $600 models. Good luck, and let me know if you have other specific questions as you embark on the task.

And remember, patience is a good thing.

-- Mark

Brandon said...

Thanks for the tips Mark. I am going to venture out into the rod building world. I guess if I can tie a fly I can give rod building a whirl. Thank you for the pointers, and I am sure I will be contacting you along the way for some help/reassurance. Thanks again!

-Brandon

trout tutu said...

I have lived in lv 4 almost 4 yrs and just found Cold Creek today I am so excited.I moved here from Hawaii and never dreamed such a sweet little creek was this close.I only got to explore a few hundred feet( i left my nonfishing husband looking at watercress.) We were maybe 1/4 from the paved road.Do you know if there are any trout upstream?I am in love with the place.any info would be greatly appreciated

FisherDad said...

Trout Tutu --

There is only one other creek I know of in the Spring Mountains that contains trout, and that's Carpenter Creek on the Pahrump side of Mount Charleston. There have been programs to introduce Lahontan Cutthroat trout in that creek, but it's very small like Cold Creek. You'll need four wheel drive for that excursion, and the drive time from Las Vegas (including the jeep trail) is about one and one half hours, one way. For me, I'd rather dive to other places where the water and fish are larger. Places like Wayne Kirch, Pine Valley, Eagle Valley, even Cave Lake are more worthy of that kind of driving time (see previous blogs), but it is comforting to know that places like Cold Creek and Carpenter Creek exist and are great places to explore and enjoy.


-- Mark