September 27, 2013

Dacey Reservoir, Sunnyside (Wayne Kirch WMA)

Dacey Reservoir from dam, looking north
Egan Range on the right, White Pine Range in distant left
Do you notice how sometimes our initial impression of something, perhaps driven by a comment from someone or a story we may have read, sticks with us and clouds our judgment. It can cause us to avoid the person or thing for a long time until we decide to investigate the reality. I suppose belief in God can be like that for some. 

I often wonder what it is that keeps some of us from knocking on heaven’s door. The Bible says “seek and you shall find” (Matthew 7:7). When I think of my own process of coming to the Lord I see many stumbling blocks along the way. In my youth I was often deceived by my ingrained belief that I could control my destiny, that the world was my oyster, so to speak. Sometimes it takes a lot of living to realize all we really control is the way we react to the “stuff” that happens to and around us. Then there was my resistance to the metamorphosis that is required in the sanctification journey (Romans 12:2), the duplicity of having one foot firmly planted in this world (which I’ve come to see that I am “in” but do not “belong” to) while we test the waters with the other. It’s hard to resist the worldly things that bombard us every moment of the day even though in our heart we know none can bring us peace and life. In fact, once we are reborn the world rejects us, which can be somewhat painful (John 15:19). 

I suppose “testing the waters” has application to my fishing adventures. Some of the early material I read on the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) was that the Adams-McGill and Dacey reservoirs were primarily bass fisheries, and that the trout fishing was best on Cold Springs and Haymeadow reservoirs. Consequently, in the decade or so I've been fishing Kirch I've avoided Dacey. But this summer as I read weekly Kirch fishing reports I began to notice that the larger trout were coming from Dacey. The coup de grâce, as the French say, was overhearing the salesman at the White River Fly shop in Silverton's Bass Pro Shop talking up Dacey with another customer. While I can be impressionable and stubborn, I'm not stupid. So today I decided to check out the truth about Dacey for myself. 

Free ranging cow and calf on Kirch WMA
I was a little concerned about wind; weather forecasts predicted winds to thirteen m.p.h., which turned out to be correct. I was going to be tubing on the Escape so I thought I'd be OK. I've been able to row in winds approaching twenty m.p.h., although it's not fun and really hampers the fishing because you can't cast while rowing. I will say that while I was able to fish quite a bit, I did spend about a quarter to a third or my time rowing, and the rest of the time I was kick paddling (finning) to maintain position while fishing. I know it does seem like work, but what worthwhile things in life don't require a level of effort commensurate with the results?

Artificial lures, 1 trout limit
The first thing I noticed about Dacey was the sign saying that fishermen had to use artificial lures, and the limit was one trout. That seemed very promising as these sorts of limits are associated with catch and release waters that produce larger fish. Why had I not known of those limits before; why did I fail to seek out the truth about Dacey myself?

I launched the Escape from the dirt ramp at the southwest edge of the dam. I came to realize there are two other launch sites among the reeds along the southeastern edge of the reservoir. While they are all dirt ramps, it is safe to launch lighter outboard boats. I was happy to see that the weed growth wasn't too bad, except that some had started to break off and float free on the surface of the water. All in all, but for the wind the conditions were very favorable. 

FisherDad about to launch the Escape,
Egan Range as backdrop 
I decided to fish with my new eight-footer, a custom rod I built this past winter. Usually on large reservoirs I fish with my nine-footer, but since I only cast the eight-footer on Cold Creek without hooking one trout I wanted to give it a more proper workout. I first worked my way into the center of the lower reservoir. After an hour or so I connected with my first fish, a puny 8-inch bass. That auspicious beginning certainly didn't help my pre-conceived notion about Dacey.

I pressed on to the eastern edge of the reservoir to fish along the reeds. The wind was blowing consistently from the north, pushing me towards the dam. I finned constantly trying to slow the pace so that I could cover the edges more thoroughly. A short but strong burst of wind got me near the dam sooner than I hoped. As I was finning hard to get back to where I started I hooked into a large trout. It leaped once and I could see it was one of the better fish I've ever hooked at Kirch. Upon netting it and placing it on the stripping apron I was pleased to see it stretched out to nineteen inches. It was somewhat sleek, maybe 2.5 pounds.

First trout of the day, a 19-inch rainbow
From tail to nose, just over 19 inches
I have written before that in still water fishing when you first hook up it often pays to continue to search the area. Oftentimes trout school in pods while prowling lakes. Within thirty minutes I hooked up with her twin sister, although she was an inch shorter. I circled back around giving the area a rest, and within an hour I hooked into my third trout, this time a portly male of nineteen inches that was easily over three pounds. Within two hours I caught three of the largest trout I've ever caught at Kirch. I had discovered the truth about Dacey for myself.

Last trout of the day, a fat 19-incher

A view of his plumpness...
It was about this time that three trucks arrived with boats in tow. Until that time I had the entire reservoir to myself, which is always a huge bonus. After getting out of the water and stowing away my gear, I watched as the last of the boats departed the launch. All three motored to the upper portion which would be the northeast end of the reservoir. I pondered for a second if they knew something I didn't, but I dismissed the thought as I was extremely happy to finish the day with two nineteen and one eighteen inch rainbows. Novice fisherman can be easily bored with slow fishing, often causing them to pull out and seek faster paced waters. I fished for two and one-half hours before catching my first trout. It could have been easy for me to succumb to my preconceived notions about Dacey and retreat to nearby Cold Springs or Haymeadow, but I chose perseverance. I believe the three large trout were more than ample reward; I would have been pleased to have caught just one of them for the four and one-half hours I fished. 

I'm getting out, they're getting in...
Hot Creek Butte and Grant Range in background
Heading east from Dacey, looking at the village near Sunnyside,
Egan Range in background
First fish, looking like a young largemouth bass
 

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