November 29, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving at Cold Creek

Some slushy snow at Cold Creek pond, and across the glass-like water
surface you see the snow-capped Sheep Mountains in distant
I didn’t fish last Saturday when I visited Cold Creek in a light snowfall, although I was able to enjoy the drama displayed by Mother Nature instead.  So, I decided to fulfill my ceremonial pre-Thanksgiving afternoon fishing trip.  I probably shouldn’t have gone since I was feeling under the weather, but I was curious about the snow remnants.  Enjoy the pictures.
Stocked rainbow of about 10 inches, caught on brown
bead-headed nymph
Another 10 inch trout taken by my favorite rod, a 7.5-foot,
4-weight custom fly rod.
A small rainbow fighting against the fly rod.
A white ATV caravan parked near the
pond; seems like an unusual way to
spend the holiday.
A rainbow displaying color
typical of hatchery trout.

November 23, 2013

Cold Creek Coyote Gives Chase

Indian Ridge runs along the the Cold Creek Road to the west.
This day it was draped in a dusting of light snowfall.
Three days of drizzly weather in late fall was producing snow-capped mountains in the Spring Creek Range. The peaks were enticing me to try fishing Cold Creek in the snow, although I wasn’t sure how low the snow got down. Studying Red Rock Canyon and La Madre Mountain from town indicated the snow level was about 5,000 feet. Since Cold Creek Pond was at 5,900 feet I knew I would be driving in the snow. Still, it was worth an early morning adventure.
Another Indian Ridge photo , which from the position of the truck
appears to the north-by-northwest.
When I left the house at 6:30 AM the temperature was about 40 degrees. By the time I got near Cold Creek, around 7:15 AM, my truck thermometer reported a frosty 31 degrees. There was a light but steady rain on the drive up, but as expected it turned into light snow at 5,000 feet.
This is my first photo of the jackrabbit; he's in the middle of the road at
about 5,000 feet elevation.  Unfortunately my camera has just a 3x
optical zoom, so all these "chase" photos are digitally zoomed and
cropped which when combined with the snowfall makes for very
fuzzy images.
I stopped near Indian Ridge to take some snow pictures. The ridge was providing some contrast in the white of the snowfall. About another half-mile up the road I came upon a jackrabbit that ran into the road and stopped. He just sat in the middle of the road for a few seconds. Since my camera was already on I decided to snap a picture. The jackrabbit then took off up the road, and I followed slowly in the truck.
The jackrabbit took off up the road, and the appearance of the
coyote chasing it explained why it bolted.
As I followed the jackrabbit, a coyote suddenly emerged from the snow on the left side of the road and gave chase. At first they ran straight up the road, then the jackrabbit zigged and zagged back and forth, sometimes jumping into the snow-covered high desert scrub, but the coyote never let up.
The perspective from the hood of my truck to the far-off figures of the
coyote and jackrabbit more accurately reflect the distance
between us.
At times I was 50 to 75 yards away, but even from that distance it seemed the coyote was gaining on the jackrabbit. At one point the jackrabbit stopped on the right side just off what should have been the pavement (it was covered in snow). I thought he was done for as the coyote caught up, but his speed and agility allowed him to dodge the coyote's teeth as it pounced at the jackrabbit. Not sure if I or the coyote was more surprised.
After the  coyote's failed pounce at the stationary jackrabbit, the rabbit
changed directions and started down the road directly toward the truck.
I was surprised it was now running at me, but even more so that it
dodged the coyote's teeth at the last second.
To my surprise, the jackrabbit reversed direction and began to run back down the road toward my truck, eventually passing just to the left of the driver's side. I'm sure the jackrabbit thought he could use my truck to somehow shield him from the coyote, or even perhaps frighten the coyote away. The coyote did seem more wary of the truck as he passed about 50 yards off to the right of the passenger side. I marveled at how he bounded and bounced through the snow. If you didn’t know better you might have thought he was playing… but he wasn’t. And while he stayed farther away from the truck than did the jackrabbit, he wasn't giving up the chase. It was a mesmerizing display of reality in the life of the jackrabbit and coyote.
After the jackrabbit passed by the driver's side of the truck while running
down the road, the coyote passed on the passenger's side with a wider
detour as the chase began to move behind the Trout Truck.
The coyote never lost focus of the jackrabbit's whereabouts despite it's
apprehension about getting near the truck.
As they passed by on opposite sides of the truck I looked out my rear window only to see the coyote again chasing the jackrabbit. The coyote switched back from the passenger side to the driver side where he and the jackrabbit seemed to disappear into the snow-covered bushes on the east side of the road. I never saw them again. I do not know what became of the life-and-death chase. Secretly, I was pulling for the jackrabbit although I understand completely about the laws of nature.
The snow began to get deeper at 5,700 feel elevation, so I aborted the
fishing plans.
After the "nature show" I proceeded up the road, getting as far as the large BLM sign. That elevation was 5,700 feet and the snow was now about 6-inches deep. There was another 300 feet in elevation to gain, not to mention the rocky dirt road down to the pond that harbored one or two small boulders that I might not miss due to the snow. So, I decided to abort the fishing and return home. After all, the fishing plans were but a side bar; it was adventure that I was seeking this morning. The coyote and jackrabbit provided plenty of that for me, and the fishing wasn’t going to add anything to that experience. I felt honored to have witnessed a tiny part of God’s natural world that few have ever seen.
No prohibition of coyotes harassing jackrabbits.
The snow was beautiful, but the muffled quiet was haunting,
especially after witnessing the "chase."

November 11, 2013

Cold Creek - Fall Stocking

A view of the town of Cold Creek in the distance
(a little dusting of snow on Willow Peak in the Spring Mountains)
I had received a few inquiries on the stocking of the pond at Cold Creek – my Veterans Day visit confirmed it is so.  An email from my friend Mitch this morning also said it occurred two weeks ago.  Chan will be smiling because I didn’t jump the gun this year.

Speaking of Veterans Day, I want to personally thank all the men and women who have served in the armed forces.  The sacrifices they make to serve our country and keep us safe and free are beyond the imagination of most of us.  I thank God for those who serve, and pray they and their loved ones are blessed by the Lord.
First light of the day on glass-smooth water
First trout of the day
(5 caught in less than 1 hour of fishing)
So, this morning I ventured up there arriving before 7:30 AM; the sun had just begun to crest the Spring Mountains. Although I was the first to fish it this morning, there was a large group of young men and women who were camping below the pond spillway. They were raucous as they were waking up and preparing breakfast. It wasn’t long before a few emerged on the pond and began fishing.

For the record, it was warm, no wind, and I had a blast fishing my 6-foot, 4-weight rod with a Type II full-sink line using a size 14 Prince and a size 16 black, bead-headed nymph.  Both caught several trout, largest being maybe 11 inches.

For the most part the young men were flailing the water. One of them had brought a fly rod, but from the looks of things he had never been instructed as to its use. After about 20 or 30 minutes a white sedan arrived and a father and daughter emerged from the car. The father/daughter duo was fishing small flies on spinning rods equipped with bobbers of sorts. The dad, who told me his name was Brett, caught five that I could see, and his daughter, Brenna, caught at least two. They were having a grand time, despite the vulgarity and crassness swirling between the young men in the group. I found it somewhat amusing that none of those guys ever caught a fish while I was there, and that young Brenna had out-fished all of them!

By about 8:15 AM I was ready to head home before my daughter, Emily, would wake up and blurt out “Daddy!” But I noticed the young man with the fly rod was at it again. I was compelled to offer a little assistance and a very short casting lesson. He accepted the offer and the first thing I noticed was he had his fly (a large size 12 Caddis dry fly) attached to his line via three feet of braided fly line backing using a knot that I couldn't begin to describe. I didn’t have a spare leader, but quickly cut it all off anyway, tying a perfection loop on the end of his fly line. Then I tied a makeshift leader with a 2x butt and a 5x tippet (each 3 feet long) and finished with a perfection loop on the 2x. I showed him how to connect the loop-to-loop, and then I cut off my size 16 black nymph with gold ribbing and a bead head and tied it on the terminal rend of his 5x tippet. I cast his rod a few times demonstrating the benefits of not letting the tip dip low in the forward and backward casts, how to time the power strokes as the line lengthened, and how to use shorter strips of line as he retrieved the small nymph. If it weren’t for my need to get home by 9:00 AM I would have stayed longer to work with the young man. But, I’m such a poor teacher it might not have mattered. 

By the way, for newer readers who have yet to "test the waters" of fly fishing, read this beginners guide blog... it might be helpful and encouraging.  If you need additional help don't be afraid to post a question or two.

It was a fine morning, all in all.  The young campers weren't excessively bothersome, and it is an awfully small public pond after all.  I think what I enjoyed most, though, was talking with Brett; it was the best part of the morning. Watching a loving father spend time with his daughter, teaching her about fishing and nature in general… it warmed my heart. I hope when Emily is old enough to come along with me that I can be as patient and instructive as Brett was with Brenna.
Dad (Brett) and daughter (Brenna) enjoying the fishing and their company
Brett releasing Brenna's trout (she caught 2)

Feral horses coming in for an early morning drink

Wild horses with Trout Truck in background

Young man learning how to fly cast

Feral horses and their excrement - hazards of the road to Cold Creek