October 21, 2011

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 brochure: http://ndow.org/about/pubs/pdf/wma/wma_kirch.pdf).  On a previous KWMA excursion I wrote about almost running into a golden eagle that was pursuing a desert cottontail rabbit (http://www.fisherdad.com/2008/04/cold-springs-wayne-kirch-wma.html); 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.
A rare Golden Eagle sighting, with Gap Mountain in background.
I was hoping for cooler weather, or should I say cold weather.  It had been warm for so long that the weed growth in the reservoir was still right up to the water surface.  Rowing the Outlaw Escape was quite easy, skimming over the underwater "obstructionists", but finding openings to fish between the growth proved somewhat difficult, but very doable by paying attention to the surface complexion of the water as I scanned for open spots (Cold Springs is 275 surface acres).  The temperature was forty-five degrees when I arrived at 9:15am, but it rose to a warm seventy degrees by the time I left at 1:00pm.  The water was very calm and there was not a cloud in the sky; I imagined that all the trout were feeding on the bottom in the cool of the shade provided by the tall weed growth.

The weed growth was right up to water surface. Thankfully, the NFO
Outlaw Escape's oar system skimmed over it nicely.
A lone cattail in the bulrushes. 
The waters were calm, but there were lots of weeds.
I only had three hours to fish the reservoir, violating my self-prescribed day trip rule that fishing time is supposed to exceed round-trip travel time.  I got a late start because I dropped Evan off at school around 6:40am, and then I committed to be home by 3:30pm so Denise could tutor her student without interruption from Emily, our foster daughter.  Still, the trip was worthy of the effort.  But I can tell you that I was really tempted to stay on the water until dusk… the fishing started slow and I was just beginning to figure out the weed arrangement in the reservoir when it became time to pack up and go home.  I think I was about two or three weeks too early; by early/mid November the weeds will begin to clear and the trout will become more active. 
The NFO Outlaw Escape sporting unique integrated oar system,
without the need for an aluminum frame.
As I said, the fishing started very slow.  I caught one trout towards the end of the first hour, then managed four more in the next two hours.  All were in the thirteen to fifteen inch range, which likely means holdovers from the spring stocking.  One trout was deformed or injured; it looked as if the cartilage in its lower right jaw had been ripped out or was never fully formed, and part of its gills were dysfunctional and hanging out.  While the herons and pelicans were gone now, an osprey (I think they range this far south) was still searching the reservoir for a meal; it is possible the injury was from an unsuccessful attack.  In any event, the rainbow was a good fourteen inches long.  All, except the first, were caught on Denny Rickard’s callibaetis nymph using my nine-foot rod with a five-weight sinking line.  Later in the day as I was making my way back to the dock I switched to my smaller four-weight rod, which I enjoyed casting with a sink-tip line, but on which I felt no strikes.
A handsome 15-inch rainbow trout.
Another 15-incher.
Rainbow pulled from the weeds.
A trout with injured or deformed gill.
Denise had been sick all of last week, and I was fairly ill from the night before through the morning of this trip. In fact, I almost turned around before I reached Alamo, but I continued on anyway, for which I am glad. It is fascinating how the mind (or your will) can overcome physical discomfort to pursue that which you desire.  I pondered that as I was driving Highway 318.  I wondered if I was pursuing that which was true, pure, and good in my life. Was I trying to be the husband, father, and friend that God planned me to be with the same vigor?  Was my desire for Christ pursued with the same fervor as I had demonstrated to fish Cold Springs today?  David writes in Psalm 84, “My whole being wants to be with the living God.” Sometimes I have to ask myself, am I behaving like a Christian whose whole being wants to be with the living God?  Apostle Paul wrote in Romans that we all fall short.  Thank goodness for God’s loving mercy through Christ.

October 7, 2011

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 106ยบ), 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).

Trout Truck, disguising itself behind the weathered juniper tree
I’ve been pondering a trip to Wayne Kirch or southern Utah for October.  September is usually tough because it marks the return to school for our boys, and this year was impossible what with back-to-back weeks of extended work travel.  And so my sights were recalibrated to October knowing I’d have to maneuver around Denise’s birthday.  But waiting longer still with such crisp weather at hand was torturous. I wanted to cast upon the water of a cold Friday morning even if it was more about the ritual of fumbling with my equipment than of actually catching fish.  There is something soothing, even ceremonial about the stringing up of my fly rod and inspecting the leader, repairing where necessary, and tying on a small, weighted nymph.  There is the therapeutic casting of the rod, feeling it ebb and flow with each thrust of the back and forward casts, and then shooting line to the target.  After watching the line roll out as planned, then starts the anticipation as you start to strip the line in, awaiting the tug of a strike.  I’m sure I’ve saved thousands of dollars that would have gone to a therapist or shrink, so I guess I shouldn’t be too concerned.

If fishing is my vice, I am only thankful it’s not too destructive because I have a hard time resisting it when it starts sweet talking me.

I knew they had not yet stocked the pond, so action would be slow, if any at all.  I have long believed that trout can’t survive the heat of the summer in that pond, not to mention the low oxygen levels from weed growth in the diminutive, shallow pond carved 5,900 feet into the high desert slope of the Spring Mountains.  I have still yet to catch a trout in the fall preceding the October stocking, and this Friday proved no different, although I did see the occasional surface feeding rings that seemed more like a trout than a trash or exotic fish would have made.  Still, nothing conclusive was learned on Friday, especially since I went without catching any trout or feeling any trout-like strikes.
Feral horses arriving for a morning drink
When I arrived at the pond there was a man sleeping in his SUV right next to the pond.  Just after I started fishing he emerged from the vehicle, inspected the irrigation channel inlet, and then drove away.  I became the sole beneficiary of the pond for the next hour, with a sub-forty degree temperature to go with it.  It was breathtaking, even though I have experienced it for over thirty years now.  The "gift" came with feral horses all around, and the stallions seemed especially frisky and energetic (in which season do wild horses mate?).  I could feel their energy, and it felt invigorating.

Even though it was only an hour, it was a wonderful hour. 

McFarland Peak, rising 10,744 feet in the background