Cold Creek, My Old Friend

On the road to the high-desert Cold Creek pond, looking north past the pond towards the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (Fish and Wildlife Service) that overlaps with the Nevada Test and Training Range (Dept. of Defense) and the Nevada National Security Site (Dept. of Energy). Per Google Earth, the pond measures 308 feet by 122 feet at its widest points, which calculates to 0.86 of an acre, but the pond resembles a chicken fillet, not a rectangle. My best guess is the pond surface area is closer to two-thirds of an acre, and about a third of that is shallow and not suitable trout habitat. It is a tiny body of water.

My early exploration of the Cold Creek area began when I was in college, around 1977, with my hiking buddy Kevin McGoohan. At that time there was no community development, no town of Cold Creek. It was as pristine as could be in the late 1970s. It is where I caught my first trout on a fly rod, so it has held extreme sentimental value to me these past 44 years (read my Cold Creek, Clark Co., NV post to learn more about my early exploration of Cold Creek).

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Exploring Carpenter Canyon from Pahrump, NV

This is the terminal end of the Carpenter Canyon jeep trail, which is about 300 yards beyond where the U.S. Forrest Service signage suggests you stop. I expected to see travelers today, especially since it was the Veterans Day holiday, but on the way up we only came upon a lone motorbike that was heading down the mountain. This group (an informal Razor Club) arrived at noon, but we did not hear or see them until we returned from our fishing exploration. Good people from Pahrump, several of whom where veterans.

In the 1970s I developed an interest in U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps (i.e., topo maps). Hunting and fishing with my brother Neal often involved these topo maps. While the first satellite global positioning system (GPS) had been created by the US military, civilian use did not materialize until 1993. Civilian access to the Internet also occurred around 1993, but cell phone GPS was not available until 1999. Until civilian GPS became available, topo maps were the best way to explore the outdoors.

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Desert National Wildlife Refuge – Mormon Well Road

From the Yucca Forrest, this view looks southwest back towards the Spring Mountains, with Mt. Potosi (about 8,500 feet elevation) being that faint shadow on the far left in the most distant background, and the Mt. Charleston peaks (over 11,000 feet) visible through the saddle in the center of the photo.

Most every adult in southern Nevada is knowledgeable of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Mount Charleston (i.e., Spring Mountains National Recreation Area), and has likely visited at least one, and probably all of three within their lifetime. As a young adult in the 1970s and 1980s I could find solitude by hiking just a mile or two in all these national treasures, but not today. Today the Red Rock Canyon trails feel crowded no matter which trail you take, and at its southern end the mountain bike trails have all but decimated any semblance of adventure while hiking to the lesser known springs and petroglyphs of Red Rock. The youngsters of today have no knowledge of what it was like 45 years ago when the valley’s population was 300 thousand residents compared to the 2.3 million here today. Back then, if one-percent of the population visited these areas on a weekend that would be 3,000 adventurists scattered in the hills. Today that would be 23,000 people, or almost eight times as many people.

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Early Fall at Wayne Kirch WMA

The Fish Taco getting unloaded at Dacey Reservoir. The Savage Gear float tube is nearing its launch. The Egans Mountain Range in the background hides the Cave Valley that nestles in the Far South Egans Wilderness Area. This summer I had a Slimline Hybrid steel bumper with shackle mounts installed on the Tacoma as well as Bilstein shocks (5100s on the rear and 6112s on the front with coilover springs to raise and beef up the front end). Rogue Offroad did an awesome job; I highly recommend them.

It has been a long, hot summer in southern Nevada. June 9th was my last out-of-town adventure. Although not a fishing trip, it was quite memorable as my grandson’s first camping trip. It sustained me for about four months, but the cooler fall temperatures were beckoning once again. I chose to visit Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area for a day-trip getaway.

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Multi-Generational Camping

Uncle Brian and Pops taking Tom’s son on a short hike into the small aspen forest along Cave Creek, upstream from Cave Lake. It was breezy and the aspen leaves were performing their ceremonial twisting in the wind, which resulted in a rustling sound. My grandson asked, “Pops, what’s that sound?” I explained that aspen trees were referred to as “quaking” aspens because their flat, broad leaves are attached to long, narrow stems such that they twist in the wind making a quaking or cracking sound. Did you know that aspen stands like these are often created by stems arising from long lateral roots? The result is many genetically identical trees, which in aggregate are called a “clone.” There appears to be some disagreement over which state has the largest clone aspen stand, but one such clone in Utah’s Fishlake National Forrest covers 106 acres and contains an estimated 47,000 stems (see The Gazette article on Utah’s claim).

I know several grandparents who have experienced camping with their children and grandchildren. All of them expressed the joy of passing on the liberating experience of camping to their descendants, whose opportunities for learning appreciation and reverence for nature continue to diminish over time. Getting out of our urban cities to dwell in nature for a few days seems to free our souls. We leave behind our to-do lists and the technology that drives so much or our waking hours, replacing it with the freedom to soak in a deep, satisfying peace. We are released from our daily routines, free to explore and discover without restrictive agendas governing our daily lives.

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Brotherly Assault on Comins Reservoir & Ruby Marshes

This is a scenic view of the eastern side of the Ruby Mountains, taken from the spring heads of the Ditch that feeds the Ruby Marshes. It is one of my favorite photos of the Ruby Range. (Photo by Bruce Vincent.)

When is enough, enough? How many fish does it take before you lose interest in fishing? Okay, I admit that saturation is unlikely for die hard anglers, but can your most successful day fishing (measured by count, and perhaps quality) wipe the memory of fishless trips off the board? As a long-time trout angler, I can say for me the successful trips are long remembered, and the “skunkings” are quickly forgotten. And I am grateful for that.

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Kingston Canyon, Circleville, UT

This is the middle section of Kingston Canyon on the East Fork of the Sevier River, about halfway between the towns of Kingston and Antimony on Utah Highway 62. It is a handsome canyon, worthy of exploration. The water seemed a little high relative to what I believed was the summer-to-fall level (being this was my first trip I really had nothing to compare it to). Regardless of depth, its opacity was very much like creamed coffee.

The Sevier River has always intrigued me as a brown trout fishery, although I have never made any serious attempts to fish it. I recently decided to take the initial step towards changing that.

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An Easter Trip to Wayne Kirch WMA

A view of the Grant Range driving into Kirch from the Sunnyside turn off. On the left, in front of the range, is Hot Creek Butte.

Anglers who live in the southwest desert, like me, understand that fishing adventures take some planning and a lot of driving. While it is true that warmwater fisheries (home to bass, crappie, perch, and other “spiny-ray” fish) can be found closer to our southwest urban cities than coldwater fisheries (home to salmon, trout, and char), it is also true that water in general is very scarce in the arid southwest. We southwest trout anglers will drive hundreds of miles to reach our trout streams and reservoirs. Many of the reservoirs that straddle the 5,000-to-6,000-foot elevation can support both warm and coldwater species, which can be convenient. The reservoirs of Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) are such reservoirs. Spring and fall are great times to pursue rainbow trout, while the summer is best for the black bass. If you would like to know more about Kirch you might select my “Wayne Kirch” blog category, or just take a look at my Dacey Reservoir, Sunnyside (Wayne Kirch WMA).

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Chasing Delta Stripers in the Heat

Although the stripers we hooked were all small by Delta standards, they fight so hard from the outset it is difficult to assess their size until they give up after burrowing hard and deep. Maybe they were small, but they were lots of fun!

Although I prefer to angle for the Salmonidae fish family, there is no denying the Morone Saxatilis (a.k.a., Striped Bass, Rockfish, and Linesider of the family Moronidae) is a far stronger fighter, who when he strikes the fly makes an unforgettable impression followed by a deep and sullen tugging. Even stripers as small as twelve inches confuse my “trout” memory into believing the fish might be 20 inches or longer. It is a remarkable gamefish, and anglers are easily hooked by the “tug drug.”

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Beaver Dam Creek – Revisited

Looking upstream, this location is about a quarter-mile from the day-use parking area. There is a trail head marker where I parked, but about 20 yards in the trail disappears, a victim of the viscous flash floods that plow through this narrow canyon. What is ankle deep water routinely swells to three feet, occasionally much more. I have personally witnessed this twice.   

Beaver Dam Creek

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know Beaver Dam Creek is where I learned to fly fish a trout stream. I started angling Beaver Dam State Park’s namesake creek in 1977, and I continued through the 1980s and 1990s. Schroeder Reservoir created an interesting tailwater fishery (although by virtue of a spillway as opposed to a tunnel outlet at the bottom of the reservoir) that created wild trout habitat that was accessible only by foot or four-wheel drive. Most anglers fished the reservoir, but exploration of the creek below proved fruitful in many ways. And yes, an occasional larger trout found its way over the dam into the spillway pool where it set up shop. My last visit before the dam was breached and removed was in August 2002, and you can read about those early experiences in that blog post.

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