January 27, 2012

The Pond at Cold Creek

This was Cold Creek pond at 7:30 AM: 35 degrees and no ice.
The Sheep Mountain Range is in the background.
Chan’s winter fishing of Utah's Santa Clara River inspired me, and I was seriously contemplating tubing Baker Reservoir this Friday. Chan was kind enough to verify the Utah Department of Wildlife reports that Baker had not yet frozen over, and I was watching the weather patterns thinking Friday would be a fine time to hit it mid-winter.

However, events at home took precedence. Our foster daughter is entering the toddler stage characteristic of assertiveness and obstinacy, and her insistence on giving up her daytime naps makes her cranky by the end of the day. When my “Friday Off” rolls around Denise is worn out and in need a respite to recharge her batteries.

This is my custom 9 foot rod for a 5 weight
line that I built in the summer of 2009
Yesterday we received our adoption package, which was a long awaited happy moment, but the end-of-the-week exhaustion took the edge off any elation. On top of that, we hosted our bi-weekly church group last night, and while we do indeed fellowship and study scripture, we do a lot of visiting and catching up on personal events. In the course of the chitchat, our good friends Aaron and Lilli mentioned that they fished Cold Creek for the very first time a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, they found the pond mostly frozen over. Aaron and Lilli love to fish for trout, especially on small mountain streams, and they are very successful anglers. Their report on Cold Creek made me wonder if it had thawed again with the recent warmer weather (it was not frozen when I visited three weeks ago in my January 6, 2012 blog). 

Photo looks south toward the town of Cold Creek from the pond.
I didn’t want Denise to have to get up with Emily this morning; she deserved to sleep in (after all, my days off meld with her days off, so to speak). Admittedly, I was disappointed about passing on Baker. I decided that Cold Creek was worth a quick trip if for no other reason than it compensated for the aborted Baker Reservoir plan. This time, though, I was determined to return home by 8:30 AM before Emily woke up.

The usual Cold Creek suspect.
When I arrived at the pond is was thirty-five degrees and the time was around 7:30 AM. I fished thirty minutes and left the pond at about 8:00 AM, which caused me to run past my targeted return time by about fifteen minutes. I brought my nine-foot, five-weight custom rod this time, and managed to land two trout in a half-hour. I noted the pond was once again devoid of any ice, and the winds were relatively calm compared to the Las Vegas valley. On the way home I encountered one of the wild horse herds; it included a young colt sporting a wooly winter coat.

Wild colt in a woolly coat.
The herd walking the road, likely making their way to the pond for
a drink.
When I arrived home at 8:45 AM, I noted our foster caseworker was already at the house. She visits monthly, and we expected her this week but I thought she usually comes around mid-morning; she had already been at the house for about an hour. She loves to visit with Emily because she’s such a happy child you can’t help but have your spirits lifted when you are around her, especially when compared to many of the other foster cases that can be difficult and challenging for so many reasons. The caseworker wanted to be sure we received our adoption packet and to prepare us for the months ahead as we forge into the process, hopefully with the desired conclusion by the summer.

A potential FisherGirl wearing my hat
Last night our church group studied the book of Job, chapters 1 and 2. For me, the gist of Job is that we live in an evil world where good and innocent people seem to suffer unjustly, but we need to take note that the suffering is caused by Satan, although it is permitted by God as an expression of his confidence that our faith will triumph over the Accuser. I smile at the thought of teaching Emily the narrow path.

January 22, 2012

Santa Clara River, Pine Valley, UT - Chan's Way

Baker Reservoir, just off Utah Highway 18 between Veyo and Central - no ice!
Many folks take up fly fishing but quit after a while.  I suppose we get attracted to hobbies for one reason or another, and once we learn more about them our interest wanes for who knows why.  Perhaps it's not as fun as we imagined, or the hobby is too costly, or maybe it's harder than it looks.  For fly fishing, the most common beginner complaints are the cost and the difficulty as compared to other fishing techniques.  I attempted to address those two fly fishing complaints in my beginners blog, but I know that fly fishing still requires a certain adventuresome spirit to fully embrace it.

Chan's classic wild brown of about 11 inches
My friend, Chan, took up fly fishing less than two years ago.  Without much instruction, but with an inquisitive mind and a desire to explore on his own, he's finding the sport suits him just fine.  He recently let me know he had visited Santa Clara in December in the same vicinity that I wrote about in my July 1, 2011 blog.  The fishing encountered some snow, but Chan had enough success that he decided to return today for another shot at those wild brown trout, in the middle of a surprisingly dry and slightly warm winter.  I asked if he could visit Baker Reservoir along the way to verify reports of no ice, and he obliged.  

Another sleek 12+ inch brown caught by Chan
As you see, Chan did very well today.  Although he did not say, based on previous comments from him and the condition of the fish in his pictures I know the trout were released to grow another inch or two, or perhaps three.  And to think Chan started fly fishing less than two years ago.  Let this inspire those of you who still wonder if the sport is too difficult to produce any real enjoyment. 

Very healthy 11 inch wild brown - well done Chan!
(note yellow strike indicator)
Well done, my fly fishing friend. Maybe you've inspired some of us to strike out in the cold of winter and emulate your effort... and may we also reap similar rewards.

January 6, 2012

Cold Creek Ice Gone

Cold Creek in January with no ice!
A large high-pressure weather system has settled into the Great Basin and beyond, keeping temperatures around Nevada near record highs for this time of year. For about two weeks the Las Vegas valley temperatures have been between the high fifties and the high sixties. I began to wonder if the Cold Creek ice had melted off.

Yesterday my foster daughter bypassed her afternoon nap. Due to an active Thursday with no nap I could assume that she would sleep in Friday until 9:00 am. And, since I had to get up at 6:15 am anyway to take Evan to school I decided to check out Cold Creek for the fun of it. I would be home by 9:00 am, in time for the toddler “wake-up” call, and that would enable my wife to sleep in.

It had been a busy work week, especially since it was short and included a Council meeting. It just seemed it would be a fun way to finish the week if I could get in maybe forty-five minutes of fishing, if indeed the ice was off.

First trout of the morning;
nice spotting and color for January
This time of year the sun rises about 7:00 am, and the temperature was in the low forties when I arrived at the pond around 7:30 am.  There was a slight breeze from the southwest. Being that it was so early on a cold January morning I had the pond to myself.  I was able to fish for forty-five minutes, hooking four trout (landing three) and mistiming four additional strikes. All seven takes were very deep, and my retrieves were slow.

Bead head hares ear nymph, size 16
There are some nice sized trout (for Cold Creek) in that pond right now. I noted a dead trout of about twelve inches, and on a few occasions I noticed other Cold Creek lunkers rising to the surface. I suppose the larger trout actively forage throughout the pond being that the food source is pretty limited and they are the largest trout in the pond. I started to wonder about bringing a longer rod, like my nine-foot, five-weight, just to see if I could cover the reach to one of those larger trout. But then again, it might not be as fun as it was today double-hauling a weight-forward line through the guides of my little six-foot rod. I’ll bet I got that fly out close to fifty feet with that little rod. That was more fun than landing a twelve-incher on a nine-foot rod would have been.

Last trout of the day, right at 45-minute mark 
(note blurring from water drop on lens...)
Obviously, I had fun. In my book, the eighty-minute round trip traded for forty-five minutes of tranquil solitude, with seven trout takes on my little six foot rod, was a great trade off. Besides, even the drive itself is relaxing and peaceful. Blessings to you all for a great New Year in 2012, and may it be filled with many fun days of your own!