December 13, 2018

Cold Creek in December

The northwest edge of the 10,000-foot Spring Mountains provides a contrast to the high desert flora
that is unique to the western states.

I seem to have this unfulfilled fantasy of fishing in the snow. There’s something magical about how snow blankets the trees, shrubs, and rocks, hiding their intimate details from our vision. I especially enjoy how it can muffle sound, especially during a calm snowfall. In late November 2013 I tried to fish the pond during an early season snowfall, but instead I became a participating witness to a coyote who was hunting a jackrabbit, a rabbit that seemed to use my truck as a defensive barrier. Of course, my fantasy conveniently ignores the effects cold snow has on my comfort, particularly toes and fingers… but that’s part of the effort-reward transaction that usually comes with any great outdoor adventure.

The Spring Mountains west of Las Vegas have gotten some decent snow these past few weeks, but other priorities like family, Christmas decorations, and work caused me to postpone my outdoor foray. By now I knew the snow had receded to the 8,000 foot elevation, but this Thursday seemed like a fine afternoon to visit my local pond in serenity even if it was without snow.

The first stocked rainbow of the afternoon, caught on my favorite four-weight fly rod.

Although I was the only one fishing the pond, I did have a couple of odd visitors. There was a woman driving a white Toyota 4Runner who came driving down the pond’s bumpy road. I thought she might stop at the pond, but instead she drove right past it and continued down the jeep trail that attaches to the paved Cold Creek Road a couple miles down. It seemed odd, but then she probably lives up in the town and just wanted a scenic bypass drive through the high desert.

The size 16 beaded nymph was able to get deep to where the trout were congregating.

Speaking of Jeeps, there was a guy who appeared in a brand new Jeep Wrangler with a suspension lift, 32-inch tires, and what appeared to be decorative wheels. It was what my daughter would call “fancy.” The guy barreled down the trail to the pond, cut sharply over to the diversion ditch inlet, and stopped. While the motor was still running he jumped out dressed in black clothing and tennis shoes, but unfortunately he miscalculated where the inlet water was flowing. He had a camera in hand and began snapping photos of his new Jeep with me casting in the background. After 60 seconds he hopped back in and tore up the trail from whence he came. In a minute or two I saw him driving back to Vegas on the Cold Creek Road.

The last trout I caught was slightly larger and stronger than the
first three. I was pleased to release it to the pond. 
The trout were small, as is always the case for the Cold Creek Pond, but it was nice to
spend a few hours in the outdoors. 

I also had a female mallard duck that kept me company. I came up for a non-fishing visit just before Thanksgiving at which time I observed a mated pair of mallard ducks, but on this visit the male was absent. These ducks were accustomed to people; they were not afraid. I suspect the Cold Creek residents might be feeding them. But the solo female seemed odd. I wondered if she was injured in some way. I did note a black fungus on her bill.

When I visited in November there appeared to be a mated pair of mallard ducks. This day I only saw
the female. Maybe a coyote got him, or maybe he abandoned the female. I did note the female had
a dark fungus growing on her beak.

I fished for about an hour. It took me a while to discover the recently stocked trout were on the bottom of the deepest part of this tiny pond. I managed to land four, and returned each to its watery world.

The Fish Taco has logged almost 8,000 miles. I very much enjoy driving this truck, on and off road.
(I couldn't let my Jeep Wrangler buddy "best me" on pics of our "rides.") 

It was a pleasant way to spend three hours, including the round-trip drive in the Tacoma. As usual I was listening to Christian radio while driving. I don’t recall exactly what or who I was listening to, but my wandering thoughts began to examine obedience vs. trust, and how they are related or different. I clearly know when I don't follow God's direction, but I always seem to have excuses. I'm either stressed or tired, or the people I'm supposed to "love" seem unworthy, or maybe I just like my sins more than being "good." Of course, my Christian conscience eventually brings on guilt from which I can only find relief by confessing my sins to God and asking for the Holy Spirit's power to eradicate my deliberate and free acts of commission and omission.

Psalm 119 seems to begin with the sobering recognition that the righteous are to obey God’s commands, to essentially follow His divinely inspired words in the Scripture. But we know very well the numerous mortal sins that King David committed, the worst being murdering the husband of the woman he seduced. In light of those heinous sins, David’s opening verses 1 through 6 amazingly focus on his joyful obedience to God's law (NLT version):

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.
Being raised in the Catholic religion I can relate to the guilt that builds from disobeying the Lord’s commandments. As a youngster I likely misunderstood what I was taught, but I can tell you my sense was the Sacrament of Confession (now known as Reconciliation) was necessary in order to be absolved of sin and be acceptable to God in heaven. The timing of this Sacrament seemed critical, for if you died with unabsolved sin (mortal or venial) on your heart your eternal destiny seemed to be in question. And if you add to that timing God’s providential control over our lives (which doesn’t negate our free will of thought and action), the whole thing seemed like a crap shoot (pardon the Vegas vernacular).

The north side of the range behind the town of Cold Creek appears more white than the other nearby
slopes due to a forest fire that removed the conifer trees a few decades ago.
Looking towards the town of Indian Springs from the Cold Creek road. The sun setting behind the
Spring Mountains begins to grow its winter shadows towards the northeast side of the mountains. 

It wasn’t until I began to read and study the Bible myself that I began to understand that God loves me (i.e., all of us). The Creator of all loves me and wants what is best for me (1 John 4:7-21). His plans are perfect for me, after all he created me and knows me better than I know myself (Jeremiah 29:11-13, Psalm 139). He doesn’t want me to obey for obedience’s sake, but because I believe and trust in him (Hebrews 11:6). He wants me to obey because I love Him, and because I trust in his promises. I know he will be there protecting me from evil, always (Isaiah 41:10), and that salvation comes from faith in Him, a faith that trusts in His promises (Romans 10:9-10). In short, I want to be obedient to Him because of who He is and what He has done for me through His death and resurrection. I want to love and obey my loving Father in heaven. In my reading of the Gospels, this is the love and trust that Jesus’ disciples grew into during their three years living with and following Jesus. It was a love and trust that gave birth to a new and revolutionary understanding of God.

Some might joke about the “Catholic guilt” that I alluded to above. Today I find much relief 1 John 3:18-24 (NLT)

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
Returning to David's Psalm 119, after starting it with “obedience” he goes on to explain why he wants to obey God (Psalm 119:137-142):
O LORD, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy. I am overwhelmed with indignation, for my enemies have disregarded your words. Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much. I am insignificant and despised, but I don’t forget your commandments. Your justice is eternal, and your instructions are perfectly true.
As for me, I can’t imagine a world without God. As the creator of it all, how can I deny His existence and His call to me to believe in and love Him? But in my heart, if I don't trust and believe in Him, how can I consistently follow his Word (and of course, Jesus is the Word as so beautifully explained in John 1:1-5)? And that is where I left my thoughts about obedience vs. trust as I drove south on US Highway 95 towards home. Perhaps some day I'll weave my thoughts about God's unmerited grace into those on obedience and trust in Him alone.

May you all feel the love of Jesus this Christmas season!

A FisherDad selfie at Cold Creek Pond.

October 26, 2018

White River Valley's Dacey Reservoir

The flotsam of dead weeds appeared daunting upon launching the Water Master Grizzly, but it skimmed
through fairly easily. The summer and early fall weeds can be quite bothersome on Wayne Kirch reservoirs.  
The cooling temperatures of our early fall season were stirring my angling desires, which is a common malaise for me (somewhat more strident in the early spring, if I were pressed to confess). As is my tendency, I was attempting to balance home, work, and hobby while seeking to remedy my fly fishing affliction. Attempting to be patient, everything eventually seemed to align. The Nevada Day school holiday and a light work load aligned with a practically windless weather forecast for Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) on this Friday. Unfortunately, the accompanying high-pressure weather system also keeps out the clouds and usually brings with it higher temperatures. Nonetheless, the weather would be nice even if it wasn’t perfect for angling success.

A lovely late-season rainbow. Dacey continues to produce nice trout, like this one of about 16 inches.

The mid-length Fishpond Nomad composite landing net makes it much easier to net large or difficult fish,
especially when reaching over the Water Master bladder tubes.

As part of the life-balance compromise, I opted to make this a day-trip. I fired up the Fish Taco (i.e., the Toyota Tacoma) at about 5:30 AM and began floating on the reservoir around 8:30 AM. Although the temperature was in the 50s around then, I knew it was going to warm into the low 70s by noon. I fished straight through until about 2:30 PM when I could feel the strong UV rays begin to burn my ears and the back of my hands. I would like to have fished longer, especially with the frequency of fish-strikes picking up both for trout and bass, but there was that pesky commitment to balance “home, work, and hobby”

While it was a slow start, I was able to bring twelve fish to the net. There were but a handful that never saw the net; they were long-distance-releases (LDRs) as the angling vernacular likes to call it when the once hooked fish successfully throws, rubs off, or otherwise pulls out the hook so that your line, rod, and angling excitement all go slack at the very same moment. LDRs are especially annoying when they occur after 15 seconds or longer of fighting to land a yet unseen fish that is presumed to be of larger proportions based on the struggle. Of course, a LDR coupled with an unseen fish always results in an embellishment.

I caught three small bass; this was the first and
smallest. Even these youngsters tug surprisingly
hard. Late in the day I hooked a nice one that
danced on its tail for me before throwing the
hook. The late afternoon temperature reached
over 70 and that seemed to energize bass
feeding in preparation for the cold winter water.
While the subsurface weeds as well as those floating on the water were bothersome, there was some good open water. On this day the trout and bass were usually found down deep or along the edges of the weeds. When completing Nevada Department of Wildlife's Volunteer Angler Survey form at the end of the day, I reported the following results without unreasonable embellishment:

< 10”
10” - 11.9”
12” - 13.9”
14” - 15.9”

Partly because of the weather forecast and partly because expectations are that advancing cooler fall temperatures help to reduce the weed nuisance, I expected to see other anglers. While getting into the reservoir at 8:30 AM I noted two anglers in one boat (with an outboard motor) and two other anglers in float tubes that looked like Fish Cats. By about 10:00 AM the two anglers in float tubes departed, and they were replaced with another two anglers in a boat (also with an outboard motor). We were then joined by two guys in kayaks around 11:30 AM. The two boats eventually left me with the two anglers in kayaks, who were still fishing when I got out of the water at 2:30 PM. When you’re fishing on big reservoirs it’s darn near impossible to keep track of what everyone else is catching while you’re minding your own business at hand, but my impression was that everyone was catching something, although nothing close to 20-inches due to the lack of obvious “whooping and hollering.” Counting me, there were nine of us who fished Dacey between 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM, but it never felt crowded.

I never grow tired of seeing the herons prowling the shoreline, although I wish they'd leave
more trout for anglers.

I will mention that one of the kayak anglers paddled over to me and asked, “Are you FisherDad?” I said, “Yes, I am.” He said, “I thought so. I read your blog, in fact I was reading it before we made this trip. I enjoy reading it, keep it up.” It’s a very rare occurrence when another angler recognizes me when I’m fishing. Maybe it’s happened four of five times over the 10 years I’ve been writing this blog. I don’t advertise my blog, although if one searched the Internet for a fishable water I’ve blogged about they will find me. After that, I suppose word-of-mouth is the next most common way anglers find my website. Recently, my daughter told me “You need to get on it!” when I told her I had but 6 followers, 200-thousand page-views, and 200 to 250 comments (excluding my views and commentaries). So, you can see how rare it would be for someone to mention they read my blog… it’s a very exclusive club (…can you hear the laughter?).

For you angler-holics, I fished all day with my 9-foot, 7-weight rod using a full fast-sink line and a 4x tippet (I was prepared to fight anything I hooked right through the weeds with this heavy outfit). I used a variety of flies, from damsel and beaded nymphs to fancy wooly-buggers and streamers. No one fly pattern seemed to work much better than the next; it was mostly about finding where the fish were, not the fly they were most interested in
I landed three trout in the 15 to 16 inch range. All of them were very acrobatic, which has always been a
trademark of Kirch's rainbows.

The angler in the kayak asked me how long I was camping in Kirch (he and his partner arrived Thursday and were staying through Sunday). When I told him it was a day-trip, he looked at me like I was crazy. He joked that when he was my age he used to make those day-trips, but now he’s too old for them (if you saw him as I did you’d peg him to be at least 10 years younger than me… which is why I laughed at his comment).

Our exchange made me ponder my expectations when planning outdoor adventures. I tend to romanticize my thoughts of these journeys. My memory selectively remembers the good stuff, suppresses the bad stuff. So much so that when planning a trip my mind creates a mosaic of all my best memories of the place I’m revisiting which can often lead to unrealistic expectations. Today’s Dacey trip illustrates this hopeful defect. In my very first Dacey fishing trips (September and October of 2013), I landed 12 trout in total that ranged from 18 inches to 22 inches. You read that right, none of the 12 trout was shorter than 18 inches. We could argue the 2013 fish count was low, but when their size is factored into the equation the anticipation of a repeat would make anyone crazy with desire… which is likely what my kayak blog reader was thinking. Surely you can imagine how a day like today (9 total trout between 10 and 16 inches) fails to measure up to the excitement and pleasure I recall from those first visits in the fall of 2013

One of the smaller rainbow trout of about 13 or 14 inches.
By way of another example, every time I fish Illipah Reservoir, which resides on US Highway 50 between Eureka and Ely, my brain’s Limbic System locates images and feelings from my first earnest angling visit there in the spring of 2004. That trip produced 27 trout in 8 hours over two days, including a 17-inch brown trout… and many of the rainbows were around 14 to 15 inches. The Illipah angling on that day was a Nevada fly-angling pinnacle for me. Since then I’ve had trips to other Nevada destinations that I consider "more successful," but the excitement and pleasure of that day remains, and it conjures up feelings that make me return to Illipah despite its inability to provide a new pinnacle for me. The odd thing is, despite recent Illipah trips that failed to generate the level of feelings I experienced 14 years ago, it remains a very good fishery that routinely gives up trout similar in size caught on the 2004 trip. In fact, I’m not sure I can say that the fishing has deteriorated, but rather my expectations have been elevated.

I suspect that many of you reading this post can relate to what I’m saying. Every year it becomes more obvious to me that my historical experiences continue to build. It should be obvious to everyone that the experiential adulthood memories of a 60-year-old are four-times as many as a 30-year-old (when arbitrarily using age 20 as the adult threshold). The emotions and excitement of those “first experiences” seem hard to top, and we can feel disappointed when the “new pinnacles” are fewer and farther between. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There was only a slight breeze, which is unusual for the waters of the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area.
I saw two sets of anglers on boats with outboard motors. Two guys in kayaks, and two on Fish Cat type float
tubes. That totaled 9 anglers including myself. It did not feel crowded, and I think we all were catching fish
as far as I noticed.
Solomon, son of David, wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is “a time for everything.” In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV) was the inspiration for one of the most popular songs of the 1960s: “Turn, Turn, Turn,” written by Pete Seeger and performed by The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins, and others. The book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon to make us question the meaning of life. King Solomon lacked nothing, and yet he searched for meaning in his life (very much like the richest and most famous of our current day). He proposed that the natural actions of mankind are inherently vain or futile (“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity,” Ecclesiastes 1:2). No matter what Solomon tried or pursued with all his wealth and wisdom, he felt lost and meaningless.

I admit to occasionally feeling the same. Keeping within the angling context, what meaning is there in pursuit of the most and largest fish? What is gained in that endeavor, and is that vanity the reason I feel dissatisfied on occasion? Non-anglers would likely state their belief that fishing is indeed a vain and futile action... but then, they've never tried fly fishing.

You can see Solomon’s point, that continued pursuit of an earthly goal can never satisfy us. Without God in our lives, we become self-centered creatures living to attain our own man-made goals that, much like fishing destinations, grow old and unsatisfying with time. Eventually, time runs out, we die, and the world turns, turns, turns.

But there is hope. What is a worthy pursuit in our lives? I submit being reunited and reconciled with God, through Jesus Christ, is the ultimate purpose in our lives. In Ecclesiastes 3:9-22 (ESV), Solomon goes on to write:

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Our first step must be belief in God the creator. Our lives are destined to remain unsatisfying apart from our recognition of God’s intervention, His divine plan. It only remains to be seen whether we will place our trust in Him, rather than our vain and futile hands. Once we do that, we are freed to enjoy all the pleasures He has created for us to experience in this temporary world. That’s what enables me to enjoy any day in nature, soaking in His creation, regardless of my earthly human perception of the quality of the fishing.
A tired FisherDad at the end of a pleasant angling day on Dacey Reservoir, which is the first in a
series of four fishable reservoirs that total over 1,400 acres.
FisherDad believes that "for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."

August 27, 2018

Comins Reservoir in White Pine County

Not much of a blog for this trip.  Mostly a pictorial essay.
Hope you enjoy the pictures and accompanying notes.

The moon over Ely, NV.  This photo looks west down E. Aultman Street, aka U.S. Highway 50 and Lincoln
Highway. The Silver State Restaurant has been an Ely landmark for me since the 1970s, but is under new
ownership who will be changing the sign to read Nardi's Family Restaurant. The Magnuson Hotel (yes, they
named it a hotel) is down and across the street where you see the red sign sporting a white star. This is where
I rest my body when it desires a bed over a sleeping bag, mostly because it was across the street from the
Silver State Restaurant. 

My first trout of Monday's late afternoon session. It was a handsome specimen of 13+ inches and a great start.

This rainbow was caught four minutes after the first, and was an inch or two longer than the first.

A pretty rainbow trout of almost 17 inches. I caught many juvenile largemouth bass, the largest being maybe
10 or 11 inches. In fact, I suspect I caught nearly as many bass as trout over the two days of fishing.

This perspective is from the northern end of Comins looking towards the Schell Creek mountain range.
The highest peaks are 7 to 10 miles away.  Starting from the left, the humpback-looking mountain ridge

is unnamed in Google Earth, but its highest point is about 10,190 feet as it separates the Steptoe Valley from
Duck Creek basin. The obvious peak in the middle is Camel Peak slightly lower at 10,078 feet (it's actually
closer to the camera than the humpback ridge). It's hard to tell from this distance and angle, but I
believe the highest point on the right side of the horizon is Cave Peak at 10,744 feel.  

Another rainbow close to 17 inches. I noted its darker coloring, which
always makes me wonder about the brood stock used in northern
Nevada reservoirs. I've written many times before that Nevada
seems to favor brood stock from Tasmania in the southern
hemisphere, which seems to produce rainbows that still want to
spawn in the fall rather than their indigenous springtime in the
northern hemisphere. Note the very dark trout below as additional

evidence of fall-spawning attire.  

Around 6:15 PM on Monday a noticeable hatch of mayflies occurred. The larger trout, in slightly deeper
water than I was presently fishing, began rolling with the hatch in what I describe as pods. I had been
casting larger versions of woolly buggers with my new 5-weight using a sinking line. I didn't want to change
lines, so I snipped off my fly and tied on a size 14 gray/yellow nymph that had some mottled grizzly hackle.
That did the trick; keeping up with the pod movement I caught 4 large trout in the span of 15 minutes.
I would cast the fly into the pod and was getting strikes before it sank but a few inches.  That was as close
to dry fly fishing as I've come for several years.     

Here's a fine "pod" trout with the grizzly-hackled fly in the corner of his jaw. I can attest to the sharp set
of teeth in his mouth. Note the thick 4x tippet (i.e., 6 lbs. test) I was using. This time of late summer the
aquatic weeds can be thick. These fish know how to use them to rub off flies and break tippets. I can't do
much about the thrown flies because with catch & release comes barbless hooks, but I'll be damned if I
was going to lose a fish in the weeds with a 6x tippet  (i.e., 3 lbs. test). Seems most of the trout weren't
spooked by the 4x size.

Another good trout that was rolling on the hatching mayflies.  He had a dark golden-green color that in
my mind somewhat resembled pictures that I had seen of 
South America's golden dorado. 

My June 1st blog told about how I lost my 8-foot, 5-weight rod at Wayne Kirch.  Earlier this month I built its
replacement, and I used it exclusively on this trip. I enjoyed its moderate-fast action. It had a little trouble
with the larger flies, but I believe it cast slightly better than its predecessor... or maybe that's just
what I want to believe. 

Getting prepared for Tuesday morning's session.  I do like the Water Master Grizzly. I suppose many would say
it's overdoing it for stillwater fishing.  But at age 62 I feel very comfortable with the water craft, maybe even
safer than the small and nimbler Fish Cats, but it's not that bulky that I have any trouble handling it in
or out of the water. My only complaint is that netting 20-inch or larger trout over the side of the bladders with
5-foot, 5-inch frame is a little cumbersome for me verses the open design of a Fish Cat or NFO Escape
(... nothing is ever perfect). The folding stool with my name embroidered on it was a gift from my previous
executive assistant. It works well for me when getting in/out of waders and boots. I take it everywhere I fish.

A sleek rainbow of 15 inches, perhaps longer.

I didn't fish-count, but there was plenty of action both on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. It would
not be an exaggeration to say I landed close to 40 fish (plus/minus 5 fish for memory nuances).  As
mentioned above, it seemed like half of the fish caught were young largemouth bass.  As I was packing up
to head home later Tuesday morning, I spoke with a man from Oregon who was visiting his brother who
lives in Ely.  He said they had caught many larger trout in the upper, marshier end of the reservoir, and that
one measured 23 inches. I also chatted with another angler who mentioned that someone recently caught and
killed two small pike, which means that it might be a matter of time before the Comins trout fishery is ruined
once again. Maybe the Nevada Wildlife folks will continue killing the pike discovered during routine

electrofishing. Time will tell. 

Yet another slender rainbow trout.  This one was at least 17 inches. It was a good looking fish.

This was my last fish of the trip. It may have been 14 inches. I was happy to let it go so that l could get
back on the road home. Truthfully, my arm was getting a little tired.