Ice Man at Cold Creek

Bright rainbow; first trout of the day on a beaded prince nymph

We had a little cold snap in Las Vegas this week, a precursor of the colder winter to come.  It made me reflect upon the Cold Creek pond, wondering if the freezing overnight temperatures had sealed its fate for the season.  But yesterday was a nice day for late fall standards, and the weekend forecast was good.  Being an impulsive fisherman I decided to see about the ice status for myself this morning.

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Fall Stocking Accomplished at Cold Creek

A resplendent Cold Creek trout and my favorite light rod.

My friend Mitch emailed me that Cold Creek pond was stocked on Monday. Then yesterday I had a post from a reader who said he had a great time fishing in the morning before work, which made me feel relieved to learn that I’m not the only fanatic that fits fishing around odd schedules. So by Thursday you can only imagine that I was unable to resist leaving work early to have some fun before the Christmas season and the inevitable ice-over occur.

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Cold Creek Pond, Clark County

Glass smooth Cold Creek pond reflecting Trout Truck and juniper under a snow dusted mountain

I suppose I should have called the hatchery number to check on the timing of the fall stocking program. But, had I called and been told that it hadn’t been stocked yet I might not have gone to Cold Creek. And although it turned out that it wasn’t stocked, and I’m glad I went “blind” to discover that on my own.

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Cold Springs Reservoir, Wayne Kirch WMA

This is the Cold Springs boat dock. The Grant Range on the left side of the horizon.

I made a quick getaway to Cold Springs Reservoir in the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area. The KWMA is nestled in the high desert of the White River watershed, such as it is.  As barren as it appears from Highway 318 (thirty miles south of Lund, NV), the KWMA does have quite a variety of wildlife (see this KWMA brochure).  On a previous KWMA excursion I wrote about almost running into a golden eagle that was pursuing a desert cottontail rabbit; that was an awesome experience.  On this trip I again flushed another large golden eagle from the left side of the dirt service road.  This time I got a very close look at the large raptor, and it amazed me that such a large bird can actually fly, let alone attack game from the air.  By the time I stopped the truck, lowered the passenger window, and got the camera into zoom mode the eagle had gotten about 100 yards away and was circling back to the south.  Having a close encounter with such a majestic bird is the highlight of any trip.

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Cold Creek Pond

Cold Creek Town 9,950 foot Willow Peak glistening in the background from a very early fall snowfall

After experiencing the hottest August on record (average high temp was just under 106º), and with September not providing much more relief, the sudden thirty degree plunge last week triggered the autumn fishing twitch within me.  Waking to Las Vegas temperatures in the fifties and highs barely reaching sixty, not to mention the clouds with their needed precipitation… well it was all more than I could withstand last week.  So I planned a quick one-hour visit to Cold Creek in between dropping Evan off at high school and feeding Emily breakfast (thank goodness Emily is a late morning riser).

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Southwest Utah’s Color Country

Sandstone columns overlooking Red Canyon

They say these are the dog days of summer, the hot, sultry time of year between early July and early September.  Here in Las Vegas this is our monsoon season.  As funny as that sounds, there are two periods where Las Vegas receives most of its precipitation: December through March and July through September.  Make no mistake; it’s the July through September period when moist air travels up from the Gulf of Mexico that’s the killer when combined with high temperatures well above 100 degrees.  At those temperatures the rain often evaporates before hitting the ground which contributes to humidity… and thus the “dog days of summer.”

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Pine Valley, Utah

This Pine Valley mansion overlooks the cattle pasture and the Santa Clara River that flows just below the white fence in the distance.

Holiday weekends don’t usually entice me to travel. I like to vacation between the weekends so as to keep the crowds to a minimum. It’s not that I’m introverted or antisocial, but truthfully, who likes to struggle in crowds on a vacation. Fishing works the same way, but for different reasons. When I venture outdoors I like to pursue the feeling of wilderness (even when it’s not reality). It’s a throwback to my youthful hiking days; always wanting to trek where no one has gone before, to see things as natural and undisturbed as possible. Currently, fishing on weekdays before or after the holidays is the best I can manage to create the sense of solitude and peace.

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Evolution of a Fly Fisherman in the Mojave Desert

My good friend Bill fighting a Lahontan cutthroat on Martis Creek inlet. Note the trout porpoising under the leverage of Bill’s fly rod.

In prior blogs I’ve written about the allure fly angling has had on me since my early youth. It is rooted in New Hampshire. My earliest memories are of our home on Benton Road in Hooksett, New Hampshire. Benton is a rural-like road, and Hooksett is just north of Manchester. Our backyard was the New England woods all the way to the Merrimack River. The Merrimack is a large, powerful river, and its upper reaches still support Atlantic salmon as part of the Merrimack River’s Anadromous Fish Restoration Program. There is a small brook, Benton Brook, that is north of our old house towards the Londonderry Turnpike. The brook drains into the Merrimack, and on the way it skirts along the backside of commercial property on the west side of the Turnpike. One of those properties has a little man-made reservoir that contained stocked rainbow trout back in the early 1960s. As the crow flies, the Merrimack was less than a half-mile from our house, and the meandering course of the little brook was about a mile long from where it passed under Benton Road. Also behind our house, in the thick of the Merrimack Valley woodlands, were other shallow ponds and swamps. I recall skating on Maureen’s Pond on double-rail skates in the winter, and that was without adult supervision. As a child I never realized how close we lived to the mighty river; the thick woods made it seem so far away and mysterious.  Images of my brothers Neal and Bruce emerging from the woods with water moccasin snakes, cottontail rabbits, grey squirrels, and even a porcupine are still vivid in my memory.  At the edge of our property, abutting the woods, my father had a dog kennel.  Dad raised Weimaraners, training them for bird hunting.  We had a chicken coop where we harvested fresh eggs, and a garden that grew fresh melons and vegetables.  I recall the wonderful cucumber sandwiches mom would slice up, as well as the trouble I got into from secretly dipping wild rhubarb in the sugar bowl, the pink stain being the convicting evidence.  I may be suffering from selective memory or romanticism, but I think that was a wonderful way to start a life, and I’m thankful for those beginnings. 

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Eagle Valley Reservoir, Spring Valley State Park

Here’s the Eagle Valley Reservoir boat dock, looking west towards the Spring Valley State Park campground. 

I had visited Eagle Valley Reservoir just three times over the last three decades.  Eagle Valley is located at the end of state highway 322 in the Spring Valley State Park, next to Ursine, Nevada.  Geographically, it is east of Pioche and northeast of Panaca, about seven miles west of the Utah border.  It is one of southern Nevada’s more picturesque parks.  Although I’ve not camped overnight, it seems to have great facilities (even showers) and plenty of park ambassadors to compensate for any lack of park rangers.  Its proximity to Ursine and even Pioche give it added amenities, but also contribute to its high usage.  The little enclave of Ursine that functions as the park gateway has that rural “commercial” feel to it, which is another detractor for my sensibilities.

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Cold Creek, Spring Mountains, Nevada

Spring Mountains southeast of Cold Creek Pond

Curiosity got the best of me. The warmer weather prompted me to wonder how the Cold Creek trout were faring. So, after dropping off my son at his school, I high-tailed it to Cold Creek to check them out with my favorite fly rod.

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