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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