November 29, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving at Cold Creek

Slushy snow at Cold Creek pond; glass-like water surface
Note snow-capped Sheep Mountains in distant background
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; fishing my favorite rod: 7.5-foot, 4-weight custom fly rod
Playing a small rainbow on the custom fly rod
White ATV caravan parked near the pond;
seems like an unusual way to spend the holiday
Small rainbow displaying color typical of hatchery trout

November 23, 2013

Cold Creek Coyote Gives Chase

Looking north-by-northeast at Indian Ridge from Cold Creek road
Three days of drizzly weather enticed me to try fishing Cold Creek in the snow. I wasn’t sure how low the snow got down, but a look toward Red Rock Canyon and La Madre Mountain indicated that it was about 5,000 feet. Knowing 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.

When I left the house at 6:30 AM the temperature was about 40 degrees. When I got to Cold Creek at 7:15 am my truck thermometer said it was 31 degrees. There was a light but steady rain the whole time, but as expected at 5,000 feet it turned into a light snow.
Another view of Indian Ridge from about 5,100 feet elevation
I stopped near Indian Ridge to take some snow pictures because the ridge made a little 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 and sat for a few seconds. Since my camera was already on I snapped a picture. The jackrabbit then took off up the road, and I followed slowly in the truck.
First sighting of the jackrabbit sitting in middle of road - 5,300 feet elevation
(note that my camera has just a 3x optical zoom, so all these
"chase" pictures are zoomed and cropped digitally, which
when added to the snowfall makes them very fuzzy)

Jackrabbit takes off up the road, and suddenly a coyote appears giving chase
The hood of the Trout Truck on lower right gives
some perspective as to their distance from me
Suddenly a coyote 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.

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), and I thought he was done for. The coyote appeared to catch up, and then he pounced on the jackrabbit only to experience the jackrabbit’s speed and agility.

After the pouncing coyote fails to grab the stationary rabbit,
the coyote-dodging jackrabbit takes off down the road toward the Trout Truck
To my surprise, the jackrabbit reversed direction and ran back down the road toward my truck, eventually passing just on my left. The coyote seemed more wary of the truck and he bounded off to the right passing about 50 yards on that side. I marveled at how he bounded or bounced through the snow. If you didn’t know better you might have thought he was playing… but he wasn’t.
After jackrabbit passes by the left side of the
Trout Truck the coyote detours on the right side
to pick up the chase

The coyote never lost focus of the jackrabbit's whereabouts despite the Trout Truck
I looked out my rear window only to see the coyote again chasing the jackrabbit, this time switching back from the left side into the snow-covered bushes on the right side. I never saw them again, and 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.
Snow begins to get deeper at 5,700 feet elevation - fishing aborted
Obviously, no mention of jackrabbits!
I proceeded up the road, got as far as the large BLM sign, but at 5,700 feet the snow was now about 6-inches deep and I had another 300 feet in elevation to gain, not to mention the rocky dirt road down to the pond that had one or two boulders that I might not miss due to the snow. So, I decided to abort the fishing and return home. After all, it wasn’t the fishing I was after this morning, it was an adventure. The coyote and jackrabbit provided plenty of that for me, and the fishing wasn’t going to add anything to that experience. I was very pleased to have witnessed a tiny part of God’s natural world as he designed it.

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