June 29, 2012

Pine Valley Reservoir, Southern Utah

This photo looks through the little meadow from which the Santa Clara
River enters the small Pine Valley Reservoir. The "river" nomenclature
is a misnomer; in reality it is a small creek. Note the two bait anglers
settling in near inlet that I had just vacated. 
It seemed to me it had been a long time since I had an out-of-town angling adventure. Excluding a 90-minute visit to the local Cold Creek pond, my last fishing trip was with my son Doug over eight weeks ago. I feel as though I missed the best part of the spring fishing. Maybe I feel that way because I anticipate next year will be difficult for spring fishing due to Nevada's biennium legislative session, but who knows. Regardless, I know the anxiousness I feel about missing the productive early spring season seems directly related to God's timing.  

This spring season was preoccupied with adoption preparations for our foster daughter. She has been with us for over two years, and on July 5 she will permanently join our family. And so it is that all things are swirling around her adoption, which is as it should be. My excuse for feeling like I've been deprived is that fishing calms, focuses, and re-energizes me. But so does my relationship with God and his Word.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that those led by the Holy Spirit shall bear His fruits which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (
read the preceding three verses to learn of those sinful acts contrary to the fruits of the Spirit). I struggle with a few of those fruits as my desire for "angling getaways" can diminish all of them, especially patience.
The first trout of the day before sun rose over the Pine Valley Mountain,
caught on a size 8 green Woolly Bugger with grizzly hackle.
Last Thursday I packed my truck for a Friday Pine Valley day trip. Unfortunately, an alarm clock error prevented me from arising at the designated hour. My intention was to be on the road a few hours before sunrise so I could return mid-afternoon and not significantly disrupt the weekend chores/plans. Since I awoke too late to effectively keep that schedule, I delayed the trip until today and simply kept my stuff in the cab of the Trout Truck during the workweek. 

I chose Pine Valley for this trip because it's relatively close (it's a five hour round trip from Las Vegas). Although its fish are not large, it is usually well stocked with pretty fish. And there's always the chance of hooking an occasional brown trout. Like most western reservoirs, Pine Valley fishes best in early spring because the hold-over trout from the fall stocking are usually thirteen to fifteen inches.
A nice little wild brown trout, one of two for the day. I really enjoyed
examining his golden color and red spots.
Other than the size of the stocked trout, the only real down side to Pine Valley is its popularity as both a camping and vacation home destination, causing it to feel more like going to camp than a quality fishing experience. Then there's the cell service available at the reservoir.  Around 10:00 am, while I was fishing, I had to listen to a one-sided conversation a bait angler fishing next to me was having with someone. I heard another one from the north shore earlier in the morning. Nothing quite like listening to mundane, or worse inane, cell phone chatter to ruin any illusion of solitude while fishing 180 miles from home. Regardless of all that, a mid-week trip to Pine Valley can be a wonderful family experience, and even a day-trip solely to wet a line will be enormously more rewarding than spending all day at Cold Creek in the Spring Mountains northwest of Las Vegas. 

Those of you nimble enough (and note I did not say young enough) to stalk the small Santa Clara River (i.e., creek) below the reservoir and into the volcanic canyon will find good sport for naturally reproducing brown trout (see these prior Pine Valley posts: January 22, 2012,  July 1, 2011, and  November 22, 2006), and that venue will get you away from the larger and noisier crowds. Stream angling has always been my favorite, but gout and circulatory issues make rock scrambling and crouching along small creeks problematic as my legs and joints pay a price afterward. 
This rainbow quickly attacked the foam grasshopper imitation. I had
great sport swinging these hoppers through the inlet and into the
deeper water beyond the fanning sandbar. 
I arrived at the reservoir around 6:00 am PDT, and fished from 6:30 to 10:00. Since I was the second to get on the reservoir I was able to set-up at the inlet, one of my more desired locations to fish on most any trout reservoir. Using my self-made nine-foot rod that casts a five-weight line I started throwing a green woolly bugger with a grizzly hackle, a somewhat different look for a bugger. On my third cast I had a strike from a healthy eleven inch rainbow. I tried other buggers, a series of nymphs (mostly bead heads), as well as casting a floating line with foam bodied terrestrials like grasshoppers and black beetles. The foam terrestrials seamed to induce vicious strikes, and I ended up leaving two hoppers and one beetle in the mouths of three trout. The voracity of their strikes too often incited a similar response from me, causing the terminal end of the tippet to snap off leaving the trout with a $1.50 of foam, feathers, and steel stuck in its mouth. In fact, I left about seven flies in the mouths of trout today. I started with a 6x leader, but it got sufficiently shorter as I lost fly after fly. While I was losing the flies it did occur to me that I may have had a stressed or even faulty leader, but I was too impatient or lazy to tie on a new one. In retrospect I should have started with a 5x or even 4x leader as these stocked rainbows were not leader shy.

Nonetheless, in the course of 200 minutes of fishing I landed eleven trout, but lost or broke off about as many. For whatever reason, I experienced a rather high LDR ratio.

A typical Pine Valley stocked rainbow trout, heavily spotted and running
10 to 12 inches in length.
Pine Valley is small by reservoir standards, so much so that even float tubes are not allowed.  Due to less shoreline and high popularity,  it was beginning to get crowded shortly after 10:00 am. About that time two bait anglers saddled up next to me at the inlet. I was hoping to get home earlier in the afternoon, so the growing crowd was all the inducement I needed to reel in and get on my way. Leaving Pine Valley by 10:30 am meant I'd be home before 1:00 pm, and that would lessen my guilt for the half-day escape that would likely render me exhausted and useless for the rest of the day. 

As much as I enjoy fly angling and writing about it and its related endeavors, I'd still rather be known for my fruits of the Spirit. I want to continue to grow healthier fruit and learn more patience and self-control, to exhibit love, kindness, and gentleness to those around me, while growing in my faithfulness that the Lord will provide all that is necessary, and provide it in His timing, not mine. 
Although it was a rushed trip, this angler was happy...