Grandkids

Rhyan and Atlas at the Cold Creek Pond.

About nine months ago I posted a story about taking my grandson Atlas to fish the Cold Creek pond. My son and his family will be relocating out of state, and Atlas and his sister Rhyan were asking to go fishing with “Pops” again before they move. This was to be Rhyan’s first fishing adventure.

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A Christmas Message

The east slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Bridgeport, California, June 2010. From this ranch on US-395, Yosemite National Park would be about 45 miles, directly as the crow flies over the Twin Peaks and Tuolumne Meadows and on to Half Dome, on the western side of the Sierras.

Another Christmas Season is upon us. They come so quickly for us sexagenarians, septuagenarians, and a couple octogenarians I know. For young families with children, the anticipation creates high energy and expectations. Older families look forward to reconnecting, especially with those members away at college or who have relocated from their home town. Despite its over-commercialization, it remains a time of celebration with family and friends, a time of generosity, kindness, and charity towards everyone. It can be a time of reconciliation for those whose relationships are strained for one reason or another. For some, it is a time to reflect upon the events of the past year and look forward to a “clean slate” offered by the new year. But underneath it all, the core of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is true that our nation appears to be moving away from its Christian roots, which has caused the holiday to feel more secular as its focus shifted to the giving and getting of gifts. But the underlying truth remains, Christmas is about the most amazing event ever recorded in history: the birth of Jesus the Christ.

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Comins Lake in November

On the eastern edge of the lower Comins Lake, sort of across from the new boat launch area, is where I hooked and landed my one and only strike of the day. In the distant center of the photo is the western edge of the Schell Creek Range. Camp Success is hidden away on the other side of that ridge.

As autumn strengthened its grip, I perceived there was time for one more angling trip before I laid up the fly gear and prepared for the winter. Yes, even Las Vegas has a winter season, albeit nothing like the northern half of the United States. Regardless of the Vegas winters, for southern Nevada trout anglers the better fishing is farther north at elevations of 6,000 feet and higher. Comins Lake, for example, sits at 6,545 feet just seven miles east of Ely, Nevada. At those elevations farther north the lakes and reservoirs freeze over in the winter, and it does snow in that part of Nevada. By geographical measures, Ely, Nevada is 1,190 feet higher in elevation and just 0° 20´ in lower latitude as compared to Denver, Colorado, so Ely and Denver are comparable geographically but for the massive Rocky Mountains to the west of Denver.

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Yankee Meadow Reservoir

I may be incorrect, but I believe the volcanic ridge to the east of Yankee Meadow (seen here) is on the edge of southern Utah’s Markagunt Plateau, a prominent volcanic field with a high point of over 11,000 feet. These meadows were beautiful on this sunny September day, but I bet they are even more awesome in the spring.

I have known of Yankee Reservoir for many decades. It was my brother Neal who told me about it, but I do not recall ever fishing it with him or anyone else. Yankee Meadow offered Brook trout back then (probably Rainbow trout as well). I suspect our New England roots fostered Neal’s sentimentalism for the Salvelinus fontinalis (the genus Salvelinus is sometimes referred to as a Char because their dark bodies are overlaid with unique light-cream, blue, pink, or red spots as contrasted by darker spots on the lighter body of the other trout genera).

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The First Fish

FisherDad (aka “Pops”) with his eldest grandson at the Cold Creek pond. My seven-year old grandson caught his “First Fish” on this day. Coincidentally, I caught my first trout on a dry fly in 1977 from the Cold Creek headwaters that are now partially diverted to create this pond. My first “dry fly” trout, hooked on a ratty-looking dry fly that I tied on my vise, was caught on a 7 weight, 81/2 foot rod… which is a whole other ridiculous story.

The process of transferring your hobby or interest to another can be a tricky endeavor. It becomes more challenging when the other person is a family member. Some parents hope their children follow in their footsteps. Sometimes those footsteps involve career choices. Other times it could be hobbies and recreational interests. The closeness of family often results in members opting to participate in the hobby of another simply to experience the togetherness rather than any real interest in the activity. I don’t view that as a bad thing, choosing to participate just so you can be with your loved one. I sometimes hear stories of parents and children sharing deep affection for hobbies, and even career interests. My experience indicates those shared interests are rarer than most might think. Nonetheless, I believe family members that compromise on these joint activities tend to develop tighter bonds.

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Comins Lake in the Spring

My friend, Luis, is about to launch the Fish Cat-style float tube on Thursday morning. We had a leisurely breakfast at the motel, and this photo was taken around 8:00am. If we look lonely it is because we were the first to arrive at Comins, even at that morning hour. The wind was calm and the clouds had not yet begun to form over the mountain ranges. The snow capped mountains shown here are the middle section of the Egan Range. Egan runs about 108 miles north to south between the Nevada hamlets of Cherry Creek and Sunnyside. Its tallest peaks are Ward (10,936 ft.) and North Ward (10,803 ft.), both of which are in this photo.

This post is a pictorial essay of a wonderful trip to Ely, NV with my good friend Luis. About a year ago, after Luis retired, he told me of his desire to learn how to fly fish. We had frequented Cold Creek Pond as a starting place for him, and as he gained some experience there I began to set my sights on getting him on Comins Lake near Ely, NV. While the fishing was just “OK” for Comins standards, Luis’s delight to see and explore these parts of Nevada’s Great Basin was the best part of the trip. His infectious enthusiasm was punctuated with all sorts of observations and inquiries. I explained and answered everything to the best of my abilities. I enjoyed being a tour guide for Luis. I have great affection for Nevada, for its statuesque mountain ranges, spacious valleys, and folksy frontier towns, so I relished sharing whatever I knew.

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The Purpose of Mending Your Line

The Fish Taco parked in the reflection of Cold Creek’s 9,967 foot Willow Peak, with snow still stuck to its northeast face on this wonderful May 11th of 2023.

I wish everyone had a hobby or passion they could turn to for its healing powers. Something that allows them to disengage from the thorns and thickets of their earthly life and to catch a glimpse of the joy promised by God. Yes, I recognize that many do not believe in the God of the Bible, but many of those non-Christians acknowledge some spiritual connection to nature, the universe, or humanity in general. Knowing that they turn towards their spiritual beliefs gives me hope. One of my recurring prayers is that many of those who are “spiritual” will someday come to know and understand it was the God of all who placed that sense of spirituality within them. Unfortunately, even Christians like me can grow to idolize our hobbies to the extent that we worship the creation rather than the Creator who designed them for our pleasure. With that idolatry caution out of the way, today I wish to concentrate on the healing and meditative powers of fly fishing, a simple and obscure hobby.

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Baker Reservoir Wash Out

Looking southwest towards the Baker Reservoir impoundment. The whole reservoir was murky with extremely low visibility, and lots of flotsam and suspended debris.

Most fly anglers I know have some level of passion for the sport. It is not just the act of fishing with a fly, but everything that encompasses the sport. Fly fishing is a historically rich sport, dating all the way back to the 2nd Century Roman Empire as described in many sources (Fly Dreamers/Fly Fishing History and Wikipedia/Fly Fishing to name two). Ironically, there are a few who have specific passions for fly fishing but for whom fishing is not the main thing. Some relish the history, and are collectors of rods, reels, and flies as they survived over the centuries. Others focus all their energy on fly tying, creating works of art that will never be fished. There are conservancies that purchase land on which productive trout streams reside (usually acquired from private farms and ranches) in order to protect and improve both the species and its environment. Many are rod builders whose creations can also be considered works of art. And there are those whose passion is to simply cast a fly line, competing in fly casting contests around the world (see this video of the 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships in San Francisco).

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Spiritual Awareness

A feral Cold Creek horse finds some winter grass with the Spring Mountain’s Wheeler Peak in the background. Not to be confused with Nevada’s second tallest peak in the Great Basin National Park, this Wheeler Peak is just 9,200 feet in elevation. The camera angle is looking due west from the Cold Creek pond.

It is wonderful how a few hours of fishing can provide a special place and time to contemplate things that are important. Today at Cold Creek was one of those moments.

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A Good First Step…

Looking towards the western edge of the small pond at Cold Creek. The obvious pass in the mountains left of center is Wheeler Pass, a four-wheel-drive jeep trail that eventually takes you into Pahrump, NV. Note my Fish Taco hiding behind the willow tree. I was able to hobble along the impoundment dam to where I wanted to cast from, a place that would accommodate my new Walkstool in case my right leg and foot grew tired from standing. I was able to accomplish all this without the aid of a foot brace or cane.

I think of myself as an optimist with a healthy dose of realism. Those who know me might disagree, but being a faith filled Christian makes it difficult to be pessimistic. The Lord is sovereign over everything, and he is good and loving. My belief in, and my love for, the Lord Jesus moves me to conduct my life in a manner that shows my thankfulness for all the conditions of my life. It is that thankful contentedness which allows me to reflect the light of Christ to others. Some might think the greatest inspiration comes from those whose achievements are of the highest honor. Maybe so, but we should receive some inspiration from those who suffer with honor, dignity, and a glowing appreciation for all that the Lord has done for them, from His simple provision of a sunny day at a local pond to His atoning death on the cross for our sins.

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