October 6, 2016

Dacey Reservoir, Nye County, Nevada

A herd of pronghorn antelope that crossed the southern
access road to the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area.
There’s a good reason, actually several good reasons why I like traveling to fishing destinations on weekdays. First, the fishing is always less crowded on a weekday, which enhances the feeling of solitude as well as the susceptibility of the fish to take the lure (trout don’t like boats constantly traveling overhead and the persistent “plunking” of lures into the water). But there’s another aesthetic benefit, at least if you consider wildlife viewing integral to the overall aesthetic experience. Traveling when there are few “other travelers” always increases the chance of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. Then of course, there’s the guilty pleasure of either being retired or stealing a day off when traveling in the middle of a workweek.
I noted three great herons lurking
around Dacey.
My first wildlife sighting was of three large pronghorn antelope bucks near Highway 318 at about the 38°02’ latitude, just north of the White River Narrows. I believe they were planning to traverse 318 from east to west, but when I pulled over and fumbled around to get my camera they had shot off towards the east. I attempted to get a picture, but at first the early morning sun shining into the lens destroyed whatever I shot. I then pulled the camera back deeper into the shade of the truck’s cabin, but by then those bucks we nothing but three little white butts bouncing way off in the high desert. 

However, I got another opportunity when I slid off 318 onto the southern Wayne Kirch access road.  About 500 yards in a large heard of 30 +/- antelope crossed in front of the Trout Truck. This was unquestionably the largest pronghorn herd I’ve ever seen. And with this sighting at around the 38°20’ latitude, I can’t help but contrast their presence so far south when compared to Elko, NV (40°49’) or Casper, WY (42°50’).  At this latitude each degree is about 69 miles, so from a north/south latitudinal basis Wayne Kirch sighting is about 280 miles south of Casper. 
Last of the antelope herd crossing in front of the Trout Truck. Note
the sliver of Cold Springs Reservoir reflecting the blue sky from behind
the left side of the Kirch WMA directional sign, and the Grant Range
looming 20 miles off in the distance.
My point is I don’t think I would have seen such a wondrous sighting on a weekend or holiday.

The weather was sunny, but cool. The temperature upon arrival was about 40°, but it climbed to 60° by mid-afternoon. Winds were slight; I’d say 5 mph or less. The reservoir was about two feet low as they were dumping water into the Adams-McGill Reservoir, likely for the upcoming duck hunting season. Weeds were somewhat of a problem, but there was sufficient open water. As I was launching the Water Master Grizzly a couple guys appeared on the rip-rap dam bank to fish from shore an hour or so.  One guy caught a 16-inch rainbow. They might have caught a few others, I didn’t notice.
Nice male rainbow trout of about 18 inches in length.
I caught all my trout in the morning, most in front of the two shore anglers. One of the trout I hooked was an acrobatic leaper, and based on experience I’d say it would have gone close to 20 inches. Although I was using a 4x tippet (about 7 lbs. test in fluorocarbon) because I knew the weeds would be problematic and the trout weren’t leader shy, I lost two really nice trout in the weeds when they either rubbed off or dislodged the hook. The lesson I learned was to muscle them harder to avoid their burrowing into the weeds, even if it risked a hook pull-out. After losing the high-jumping rainbow one of the shore angers hollered out, “you’re doing pretty good with that fly rod, what are you using as a lure?”  At the time I was using the Whitlock damsel nymph.  I was fishing my 9 foot, 5 weight fly rod with a full sink line with a 9 foot leader.  I caught all the trout in the morning on the damsel nymph, but in the afternoon I switched to a black leech pattern.
A plump hen trout of 17 to 18 inches based on the Fishpond landing
net dimensions.
Could the scarring on the back and sides be from herons and
other predatory birds?
This Fishpond Nomad mid-length net is very helpful when landing
trout in the Water Master Grizzly.
Another fine fall specimen; note the missing right maxilla.
All in all I landed 7 trout (one about 14 inches, four around 16 inches, and two that where close, if not actually at, 18 inches). I landed a plethora of young black bass, most in the range of 9 inches with one or two pushing 11 inches.  As small as they were, they hit the fly with abandon and for a few seconds they really fought nobly. But alas, they were really a nuisance. Although I didn’t keep a precise count, I landed close to 30 fish in six hours of fishing plus 7 or so long distance releases. I could feel the weariness in my casting arm as I made the long drive south on Highway 318. It was a fulfilling type of weariness that comes from focusing so intently on something you enjoy immensely that you fail to recognize the physicality of the task until it is done. It was a very special day.
One of the 20-plus young large mouth bass that were so often
One of three trout that had deformed or injured mouth parts. Not only
was this one missing his left maxilla, but his lower jaw curved to the
left. Despite these issues, this trout was a healthy 16 inches.
Here was another whose right maxilla was either deformed or injured.
Still, he was healthy. One begins to wonder if catch and release works
well when it includes hardware lures. I don't know, but I do know that a
high percentage of Dacey trout have mouth wounds, maybe as high
as 30 to 40 percent. 
For those not aware, I am retiring from my chief financial officer position effective February 2, 2017. I intend to work part-time for a friend who's firm provides municipal securities advisory services to Nevada and its local governments, which will generate less stress, provide more time with the family, and just might produce an extra blog post or two… we’ll see. My wife and I have been looking forward to this milestone, and it is because of the blessings of the Lord that I can make this next transition in life at the young age of 60. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying belief in Christ results in wealth. I am saying that everything I have, every breath, every day of health, all my gifts and abilities, my wife and children, my job, absolutely everything I have comes from God. But of all his provisions, His gift of everlasting life with the Lord reigns supreme through the sacrifice of Jesus. I know I am a blessed man to be in a relationship with Christ Jesus, and everything else is gravy. For those interested to learn more of God’s provisions read Psalm 84:11, Matthew 7:11, Luke 12:24, Philippians 4:19, James 4:1-2, and 1 John 3:22.
Resting in Water Master Grizzly boat, enjoying the view of the
Grant  Range and Hot Creek Butte in left foreground.
A good view of the expanse of Dacey Reservoir looking over the tops
of the tullies.
The satiated FisherDad with trusty Trout Truck in the background.

May 13, 2016

When Two or Three are Gathered at Wayne Kirch

David casting with Hot Creek Butte and snow capped Grant Range
in the background. 
For about two decades I've been very fortunate to be a part of a Christian Men's Group. My experience has been that men need the fellowship and counsel of other men, men who can hold us accountable to keep our promises to our God, wives, children, neighbors and work associates. Men tend to use the Lone Ranger approach when dealing with hurts, wounds, and sins.  We don't exhibit emotions like our female counterparts, and we believe it's less manly to seek the help of other like-minded men. Instead we prefer to work it out by ourselves.  As if we could abstain from looking at our situation objectively without the bias of our own selfishness and pride. That's why the Bible tells us to seek the council of other followers in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15.

The commonality of our lives has resembled a divine weave. We all experience trials and tribulations throughout our lives. For the men in our group, no matter what troubles one of us might be experiencing at home or work, there is always one or two of us who have been there before and have made it to the other side with our faith, character, and promises intact. It's the fire of suffering and adversity that burns off the impurities in our heart, and having other men around who've been through it is the blessing of fellowship.

One member, David Laman, has been there with me from the beginning. David would admit we are alike in many ways.  The one we jointly attempt to manage in Men's Group is our propensity to talk too much. While we believe we have important insight to share from our Christian journeys, some in our group might think we just like to hear ourselves talk. Other shared interests are fishing and simply being outdoors with nature.
David with a trout on the line. Looking northeast towards Egan Range.
For the last twenty or so years of David's career he ran a division for the Lake Las Vegas owners that was responsible for operations and maintenance of the common shared facilities, not the least of which was the lake itself and the systems that control the flow of water into and beneath the lake, a function whose importance becomes singularly urgent when Mother Nature drops an inch of rain over the Spring Mountains and the Las Vegas Valley and it all rushes into the Las Vegas Wash on its way to Lake Mead.  I remember many meetings over the years when David had to take calls or even leave the meeting to attend to the task of ensuring the system operated properly to prevent flooding and other damage.

There were several years that Lake Las Vegas was known for its bass fishing.  David had politely offered to take me out sometime, but we never connected.  On appropriate occasions I would use that unfulfilled offer to make David feel bad, as men are prone to do with a proper infusion of sarcasm (sarcasm, another thing David and I share). Recently David retired, and his new found availability prompted him to offer that he would let me take him fishing (do you see the irony here?).
Typical trout for the day; they were still on the spawn.
In reality David knew I usually fished alone; that I had a tendency to be immersed in my fishing and therefor not always good company on the water. He also knew that since my heart attack last October, my wife was none pleased about my solo fishing adventures. His offer was a way of getting me out without causing her to worry about me.

The other truth was that David and his awesome wife were getting ready for a three-month vacation.  Most of their trip would occur in Colorado where their two children and all their grandchildren live. David was hoping to do some fly fishing while there, and he was hoping I could give him some counsel on the subject of fly fishing for trout.
A fine 15-inch male in his spawning colors, with the lower jaw kype
bulb beginning to show.
We decided on the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area because the fishing was expected to be good and the temperature moderate.  The three hour drive up and back afforded much time for talk (remember, we both have the "gift of gab") which was very enjoyable and made the 350 mile round trip seemed too short for me.

We departed from my house at 4:00 AM, and were floating on the Dacey Reservoir by 8:00 AM.  There was another solo angler who arrived at 9:00 AM, and a pair of anglers showed up an hour or two later. Although Dacey is the smallest of the four fishable reservoirs in Kirch, at 185 surface acres there was plenty of water to share among five anglers.

I set up David with my 9-foot, 5-weight Sage rod and my Galvin reel.  I chose my 9-foot, 7-weight which I hadn't fished for many years. I had forgotten how well it throws out heavier flies.  The Pflueger Triton reel spooled with the 7-weight line was heavier than I like.  I've always intended to purchase an additional Galvin spool for a 7-weight full sink line, but that wouldn't have helped this day as I wanted David to use the Galvin.
Nice 16-inch rainbow.  Good thing I hooked him
on his right side as his left maxilla was missing
from previous excessive hooking pressure.
The boat launch was relatively clear of decaying vegetation, and a few trout were still pooling at the opening while attempting to spawn. The weed growth was still low, but it took an hour to locate the trout (or maybe the warming water by mid-morning activated them).  We began to connect with the rainbows around 9:00 AM, and for three hours we did pretty good, although neither of us caught anything over 16 inches.  For the morning we landed ten fish and suffered six or seven long-distance releases.  About sixteen hookups over four and one-half hours.

David had a couple of observations about me that I knew to be true.  The first was that as a casting instructor I left much to be desired. I cast a decent fly, but my style is filled with imperfections from being self-taught and years of bad habits. I kept making suggestions to David based on my observations of his casting technique, but he didn't observe that I was employing what I was suggesting.  The truth of the matter is that casting a fly line is ruled by the physics of nature, and as long as you learn to (a) time your casting strokes and their related power acceleration based on the rod loading, and to (b) keep the rod tip on a tighter line-of-sight throughout the cast to effect a tighter loop, you'll do just fine.  All the other gyrations of your body, arm, and wrist can vary highly but still produce acceptable results.  His other observation was that I talk out loud to myself while fishing.  This might have disturbed him as he mentioned to me that when he's outdoors he enjoys the quiet solitude, and that was likely a hint that my talking upset his peace.  I am aware that I express my thoughts orally while fishing... I really don't know why.  Even if Dave were to say my "self-talking" didn't bother him, I would be disappointed if he failed to find the perfect opportunity to weave my propensity to chatter while fishing into a sarcastic comment during men's group.
David's first trout of the day. Note angler in red float tube lifting a
large rainbow by the tail.
A blow-up of the solo angler; his trout looks to be at least 4 pounds!
We did note the solo angler caught a rather large rainbow, perhaps four-plus pounds.  Unbeknownst to me, the other angler lifted the brute by the tail just as I snapped a picture of David with his first catch of the day.  Even on days when Dacey under-performs to my expectations, it's always reassuring to see other anglers land trophy trout

Despite our truck-cabin conversations, our drive up and back had a couple of eventful wildlife encounters. There was a roadrunner that dashed from the east side of Highway 318 right into the Ford F-150 that was travelling at 75 m.p.h., at least I thought he did.  But when I looked back from the passenger side mirror there was no evidence he was ever there; I could only conclude he did the "Wile E. Coyote" 180 degree maneuver before anything happened.  Then there were the two pronghorn antelope we noticed less than 100 yards away that were traversing the northeast slope of Gap Mountain. This was the farthest south I had ever seen pronghorns. Finally, traveling home we almost collided with two red tailed hawks that were obviously engaged in some aerial maneuvering of their own. One pulled up from the left side of the Ford, and as our eyes fixated on him the other that was flying low to the ground suddenly averted striking the right front of the truck. In order to miss hitting us (I would say he came within 10 to 15 feet, which is frighteningly close when traveling 75 m.p.h.) he extended his full wings while banking sharply up and to the right of the truck. I can only say that The Lord blessed us with His display of wildlife on this trip. 

Regardless of the fishing and wildlife sightings, I really enjoyed David's company.  I always look forward to seeing him every two weeks in Men's Group, and spending a day on the water and in the cab of his truck was just as I expected: a blessed day filled with fishing, fellowship, and fun. Most importantly, as stated by Jesus in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them."  I know David and I felt His presence this day.
David's post-retirement beard gives him a resemblance to
fly fishing author John Gierach.
Pre-launch FisherDad next to the Water Master Grizzly.

April 18, 2016

Dacey Reservoir: A Return to the Scene of the "Incident"

On Dacey Reservoir, looking back toward primitive boat launch with
the Trout Truck, Hot Creek Butte, and snow-capped Grant Range in
the background.  The Water Master Grizzly scooted nicely over the
40-yard long mass of dead bulrush that blocked access to
the open water.
On October 22, 2015, I suffered a heart attack while fishing Dacey Reservoir. Although I've made a few trips to Cold Creek since my heart attack (about 40 miles northwest of my home), this trip to Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch WMA) was my first substantial fishing trip, a 360 mile round trip consisting of six hours of driving.  Truthfully, I was glad to make the trip and I felt no anxiety about returning to the scene of the incident. Putting aside the three stents that opened my blocked heart arteries, I really believe my conversion to a full vegan diet has made a significant improvement in my health, and I'm confident I'm getting a handle on preventing any future incidents.

The fishing was good, although not up to my expectations.  I suspect a contributor to my feeling of underachievement was the rush to get in and out of the reservoir. I promised my wife that I would be home by 3:30 PM, so my itinerary called for leaving the house at 5:00 AM and returning by 3:30 PM. After accounting for six hours of round-trip driving, plus set-up and take-down time, I had less than five hours of fishing time.  The other psychological factor was the knowledge that I was to be back to work the next day; I think you relax more when you have the whole weekend ahead of you upon returning home. These factors contributed to a sense of hurry; I never really got into a rhythm. 

Despite the anxiousness over the timing limitation, twelve-plus hookups wasn't bad for less than five hours of angling. Although I wasn't overtly counting, I believe six or seven nice trout were landed, but at least an equal number were hooked but eventually lost, which I often refer to as long-distance releases, or LDRs for short. Over half of the fish landed were 15 - 17 inches, and at least two of the LDRs seemed larger and more experienced, using vicious head shakes to dislodge my size 10 damsel fly. I felt as though they had experienced the steel before and didn't panic, but used a tried and true method to get free, unlike others that run and jump, wearing themselves out before getting off the hook.
First trout of the morning: note the Trout Truck on the far right
of the shoreline.
The larger trout were already in spawning mode, as evidenced by the females depositing their eggs on my stripping apron. What I witnessed upon returning to the boat launch area that I failed to notice when I first arrived was that many trout were pooling around the backed-up bulrush.  Usually in the spring you see trout trying to spawn in the boat launch areas. In this case the stacked up and rotting bulrush screened all that activity from me. When I concluded my fishing and headed for the boat launch area I instinctively cast towards the mass of floating vegetation before I proceeded to skim the Water Master Grizzly over it again. I had several hookups with large trout, but only scooped one of them into my Fishpond landing net. In fact, I felt several nips at my fly that cold have been more like spawning aggression than hungry strikes. It was a mental lesson I will recall next spring if I encounter this bulrush setup again.  
My first trout was a beautiful 16-17 inch male sporting a kyped jaw. 
A close up of the lower jaw kype. 
At first I was the lone angler on the reservoir.  But as soon as I navigated my Water Master Grizzly to the open water another angler drove by over the reservoir dam. I waived a "hello" as he drove over to the eastern side where he launched his Fish Cat pontoon boat. We exchanged more formal "hello's" when we got within talking distance on the water.  He said he was from Hawthorne, CA on a week-long solo fishing trip (two days of travel reduced the his angling days to just five). He had already experienced the harsh weekend winds, the same winds that I was monitoring on weather forecasts. The high wind weekend forecast ultimately led me to take Monday off for a day trip.  Successful day-trips to Kirch WMA require a watchful eye toward the weather, even to the point of viewing hourly forecasts to better predict when the wind will be too powerful for human powered watercraft.  Fishing from the earthen dam can be productive at times, but it is highly limiting because you cannot reach any other part of shoreline on account of the heavy bulrush (great for nesting waterfowl, bad for shore anglers). No one wants to invest six-hours of driving time only to be restricted to fishing from the dam after being blown blown off the water.

Despite the winds, my new friend from Hawthorne had already experienced good success.  I could tell from our conversation we was obviously pleased with the fishing, and that made me happy for him and hopeful for me. I asked him how he discovered the Kirch WMA (my experience with Ron from Santa Barbara on my article photo shoot reminded me to expect surprises from the anglers at Kirch).  He said he came upon it from an article he read several years ago. I asked him if it was an article in Southwest Fly Fishing, and amazingly he said it was. Trying to control my pride from bubbling over and making me look foolish, I told him that was my article that educated him about the Kirch reservoirs. Pride aside, it was cool to learn that someone actually read my article and put it to the test, and even more remarkable to run into them on Dacey Reservoir.     

My sole fishing partner, all the way from Hawthorne, CA, rowing his
Fish Cat pontoon boat (along shoreline on right side of picture). Said
he discovered Kirch WMA by reading my November 2014 article
in Southwest Fly Fishing.
This 17-inch specimen displayed what appeared to be scars from
a heron or osprey attack. 
There were several heron stalking around the reservoir, and I saw two ospreys overhead as well. I mention them because two of the fish I landed exhibited wounds that I believe were delivered by one of these birds. One trout had an open wound that looked pretty fresh. Despite that wound, the fish fought stronger than any other I had landed. It is impressive how nature works that way sometimes, much like how The Lord makes us strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Although this trout had an open wound, likely from a heron or osprey
as well, it was far and away the strongest fighting fish I landed
this day.
Despite failing to land anything close to 20 inches, it was a good trip in my book (who lands such trout every time out anyway?).  Maybe if I had more patience with some of those LDR fish I might have netted larger trout. Who knows... those are the mysteries that drive me to keep going back.

This being my second Water Master Grizzly trip, I should report that it performed just as was advertised to me. I am very pleased to have made the transition from the North Fork Outdoors Escape to the Water Master Grizzly, and I expect to put the Grizzly through more fishing tests in the months and years to come. 

Another fine 16-17 inch female specimen.
Reviving a smaller 15-inch specimen before release.
It was another one-fly day on Dacey; the Whitlock damsel fly
nymph carried the day again.
A happy FisherDad before the long drive home.

February 19, 2016

Six Foot Rod for Twelve Inch Trout

A crisp Cold Creek morning, despite all the sunshine.
The pond was somewhat murky.
Okay, I admit to having had such a good time fishing my 7.5 foot, 4 weight rod at Cold Creek last week that I decided to return with my little 6-footer today. I've written before that I've built two 6-foot fly rods in my life primarily because of Cold Creek. Catching wild 7-inch Rainbow and Brook trout in thin water (or the more obscure trout like Golden, Bonneville, or even Redband wherever they are found) is not much fun on an 8-foot rod, but can be blast on a 6-foot rod. In the early 1980s I built my first small-creek fly rod from fiberglass specifically for tiny water like Cold Creek and Beaver Dam Creek, and replaced it with a graphite version in 2009. I've used the new graphite rod to land 16-inch trout and 12-inch bass on Haymeadow Reservoir in the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (it has more backbone than the fiberglass). I was very, very pleased and impressed by the performance of that rod, although as a 3 weight it can't cast well the larger flies that I prefer on the big waters of Kirch... even the 7.5 foot, 4 weight has difficulty with larger weighted nymphs.
Nice trout approaching 12 inches. The picture angle and small
rod and reel make it appear larger.
Unfortunately, recent rains and melting snow ran into the Cold Creek pond creating significant clarity issues. Although I generally favor putting action to subsurface fly fishing (as opposed to suspending a nymph from a buoyant dry fly or strike indicator) and believe the trout's observation of movement triggers their predatory instincts, they can also sense the movement vibrations through the water if it's close enough. The trout's lateral lines help it perform in dark or dirty water as well as locate prey and predators alike, but I believe you have to get the fly closer to the trout when relying on lateral lines rather than eyesight. Anyway, because of the muddy water I was only able to feel two strikes, both of which I landed. One was a plump 11.5-inch rainbow trout.  Despite the dearth of fishing action, catching that Cold Creek Pond specimen on my 6-foot fly rod made the whole trip.
Two wild horses taking a sip from the muddy water.
It was a beautiful morning, an obvious gift from The Lord demonstrating his creative powers. Romans 1:18-23 says, among other things, through "the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made..." Check out the hyperlink if you want to read the quote in context. Or better yet, try reading The Message version if you're not accustomed to reading scripture.
Someone moved this horse carcass to the
pond (wasn't there last week). I took it as
a reminder that we all live in mortal bodies,
but our spirits are eternal. Take heed of 
Romans 1:21-23. 

February 12, 2016

Valentine Trout at Cold Creek Pond

Looking to the east from Cold Creek Pond
I am one of those outdoorsmen who has always enjoyed the solitude of the experience. Whether fishing, hunting, hiking or whatever, going solo with nature creates a certain tranquility that is healing.  It creates a "white space" to clear thoughts, communicate with the Lord, or to simply regain the peace within you. 

As much as I claim I like to fish in solitude, encountering other anglers at Cold Creek can be rewarding in its own way.  Cold Creek is intimate water.  That coupled with its popularity breeds social interaction for even the most staunch introverts.  If there are two fishermen they cannot help but strike up a conversation that can become interesting no matter how benign its beginnings.  Unlike other types of conversations with strangers, at least when you are fishing you can safely assume the other person actually enjoys fishing.  At Cold Creek the commonality can be the pond itself. "So, how did you discover this pond?" "How long have you been fishing it?" "Did you notice the wild horses on the drive up?"  In previous posts I've run across a fellow heart attack survivor, fathers fishing with daughters, including one whose daughter who has battled cancer.  I've run across a fellow CFO and a civil engineer who works for the City of Las Vegas, too.  I've shared the pond with my son Brian, and even a coyote and his jackrabbit prey.

Today's Cold Creek adventure started off the 2016 Valentines Day weekend.  Since Monday was the Presidents Day holiday I actually expected to see some folks at the pond, especially RV campers.  I did come across a large, extended family walking down to the pond on the dirt access road, and several other vehicles containing sightseers passed by the pond, but remarkably there were no other fisherman.  It wasn't until my alarm went off signalling it was time to return home that another small sedan arrived with two passengers.  (For those of you concerned about my propensity to travel and fish alone in my post-heart attack state, take note that I expected lots of company at the pond.  The pond even has cell service... I did not feel at risk at all.  But I did text my wife and make her aware of my scheduled return time.)

As I was concluding my angling with my back towards the new arrivals, I could only hear a smattering of their conversation. One side sounded like an elderly fellow who might be hard of hearing and thus had a tendency to talk louder than normal.  I turned around and I saw an elderly man and a woman who appeared appeared to be 15 - 20 years younger.  I quickly noted the old man had a fly rod in his hand as he gave instructions to the woman who was there to help him down to the pond.

I was just reeling my line in and was about to engage the couple in conversation when I heard the man instruct his wife to ask if he could fish ahead of me at the pond.  At first this struck me as funny because there is no "ahead" or "behind" at Cold Creek.  These polite fishing terms are usually reserved for stream fishing, and Cold Creek is so small practically any position on the pond is either behind or ahead.  What struck me next, of course, was the politeness belying the man who was raised in a different era, a man old enough to be my own father.  I also observed the lady with him was not a fishing person but rather was present to help this older, more frail man fish the pond.

I told him to take my spot on the tiny jetty because it's the most strategic position from which to reach the best and deepest portions of the pond.  I asked him what he was fishing, and he said "I tie all my own flies, and I'm fishing a nymph."  I asked him if I could see the fly and he obliged as he simultaneously instructed the woman to retrieve his fly boxes from the car. The fly was not a nymph but rather a Caddis dry fly.  I also saw that he was using a floating line.  His best chance this day was to attach a bead headed nymph on the end of his leader.

While the woman returned to the car to grab the boxes, I asked him if I could tie on one of my beaded nymphs, and he was thankful.  After assessing his skill level, as we tend to do in situations like this, he asked me "So, they're down deeper.  How long should I count to let the nymph sink?"  This was a question from a reasonably experienced fly fisherman, to which I relied "I would count to at least 10 and then retrieve slowly with a small jerking action.
Ken fishing with assistance from his wife Wendy
He said his name was Ken, and that he was battling cancer.  He could not recall the name of his cancer, but he said the meds were causing all sorts of side effects including dizziness.  I asked him if the woman retrieving his fly boxes was his daughter, and he said Wendy was his wife.  I told him he married well which made him giggle a little.

He said his father taught him to fly fish when he was 13, and since Ken had told me he was 84 that means he'd been fishing for 71 years (almost double my 39 years).  I asked him how he found Cold Creek, and Wendy answered for him that they just learned about it and attempted to fish it for the first time last month, but the pond was still frozen over so he couldn't fish.  Wendy added that it's the only place they have found that he can fly fish.  Ken announced he was going to Mammoth Lake in California to fish this spring, and without saying it I assumed he was using Cold Creek to sharpen his skills before the big adventure.  Because of his cancer, I also kept to myself that this could be the 84-year-old cancer patient's last hurrah with his fly rod.

I watched him cast a little bit and he had good mechanics, although his body was frail and weak.  He was fishing a Fenwick rod with a Pflueger reel... exactly how I started almost 40 years ago.  I couldn't help but see myself in his image.  I discovered that they have lived in Las Vegas for 20 years, and being slightly proficient in math I assumed he moved to Las Vegas for retirement, as many Californians do to escape the higher taxes and cost of living. He asked where in Las Vegas I lived and with that exchange we discovered we are near each other in the northwest end of town.  Wendy remarked, "Maybe we'll see each other at the Albertson's some day."  I said it would be nice if we did.
Wendy steadying Ken for his next cast
For those who read my blog to learn about angling action in the southern Nevada region, I did better than I thought I would. In about 90 minutes of fishing I hooked 11 and landed 8 small stocked rainbow trout. I was too heavy handed with the first few trout which resulted in the three hook pull-outs. The fish were very silvery given this time of year and the pond's limited food source. There was hardly any surface action, and all my takes were down near the bottom of the pond.  I was using my favorite 7.5 foot 4 weight rod with a full sink line, fishing a size 16 brown nymph.  The trout were small, but my light rod bent over quite nicely with every battle. It was a lovely day, especially meeting Ken and Wendy. I may have to shop Albertson's more frequently to see how Ken and Wendy are getting along.

Here's a smattering of Cold Creek fishing photos from today's visit:
Typical 10-inch stocked rainbow
Small hatchery mouths require small flies
I really enjoy fishing my 7.5 foot fly rod 
Looking to the south-west with Wheeler Pass to left of center
Looking south towards Cold Creek Town from north bank of pond
Crude directions for those interested in fishing Cold Creek Pond