The cooling temperatures of our early fall season were stirring my angling desires, which is a common malaise for me (somewhat more strident in the early spring, if I were pressed to confess). As is my tendency, I was attempting to balance home, work, and hobby while seeking to remedy my fly fishing affliction. Attempting to be patient, everything eventually seemed to align. The Nevada Day school holiday and a light work load aligned with a practically windless weather forecast for Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) on this Friday. Unfortunately, the accompanying high-pressure weather system also keeps out the clouds and usually brings with it higher temperatures. Nonetheless, the weather would be nice even if it wasn’t perfect for angling success.
As part of the life-balance compromise, I opted to make this a day-trip. I fired up the Fish Taco (i.e., the Toyota Tacoma) at about 5:30 AM and began floating on the reservoir around 8:30 AM. Although the temperature was in the 50s around then, I knew it was going to warm into the low 70s by noon. I fished straight through until about 2:30 PM when I could feel the strong UV rays begin to burn my ears and the back of my hands. I would like to have fished longer, especially with the frequency of fish-strikes picking up both for trout and bass, but there was that pesky commitment to balance “home, work, and hobby”
While it was a slow start, I was able to bring twelve fish to the net. There were but a handful that never saw the net; they were long-distance-releases (LDRs) as the angling vernacular likes to call it when the once hooked fish successfully throws, rubs off, or otherwise pulls out the hook so that your line, rod, and angling excitement all go slack at the very same moment. LDRs are especially annoying when they occur after 15 seconds or longer of fighting to land a yet unseen fish that is presumed to be of larger proportions based on the struggle. Of course, a LDR coupled with an unseen fish most often results in an embellishment.
While the subsurface weeds as well as those floating on the water were bothersome, there was some good open water. On this day the trout and bass were usually found down deep or along the edges of the weeds. When completing Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Volunteer Angler Survey form at the end of the day, I reported the following results without unreasonable embellishment:
|10” – 11.9”||2||0||2|
|12” – 13.9”||4||0||4|
|14” – 15.9”||3||0||3|
Partly because of the weather forecast and partly because expectations are that advancing cooler fall temperatures help to reduce the weed nuisance, I expected to see other anglers. While getting into the reservoir at 8:30 AM I noted two anglers in one boat (with an outboard motor) and two other anglers in float tubes that looked like Fish Cats. By about 10:00 AM the two anglers in float tubes departed, and they were replaced with another two anglers in a boat (also with an outboard motor). We were then joined by two guys in kayaks around 11:30 AM. The two boats eventually left me with the two anglers in kayaks, who were still fishing when I got out of the water at 2:30 PM. When you’re fishing on big reservoirs it’s darn near impossible to keep track of what everyone else is catching while you’re minding your own business at hand, but my impression was that everyone was catching something, although nothing close to 20-inches due to the lack of obvious “whooping and hollering.” Counting me, there were nine of us who fished Dacey between 8:30 AM and 2:30 PM, but it never felt crowded.
I will mention that one of the kayak anglers paddled over to me and asked, “Are you FisherDad?” I said, “Yes, I am.” He said, “I thought so. I read your blog, in fact I was reading it before we made this trip. I enjoy reading it, keep it up.” It’s a very rare occurrence when another angler recognizes me when I’m fishing. Maybe it’s happened four or five times over the 10 years I’ve been writing this blog. I don’t advertise my blog, although if one searched the Internet for a fishable water I’ve blogged about they will find me. After that, I suppose word-of-mouth is the next most common way anglers find my website. Recently, my daughter told me “You need to get on it!” when I told her I had but 6 followers, 200-thousand page-views, and 200 to 250 comments (excluding my views and commentaries). So, you can see how rare it would be for someone to mention they read my blog… it’s a very exclusive club (…can you hear the laughter?).
For you angler-holics, I fished all day with my 9-foot, 7-weight rod using a full fast-sink line and a 4x tippet (I was prepared to fight anything I hooked right through the weeds with this heavy outfit). I used a variety of flies, from damsel and beaded nymphs to fancy woolly buggers and streamers. No one fly pattern seemed to work much better than the next; it was mostly about finding where the fish were, not the fly they were most interested in.
The angler in the kayak asked me how long I was camping in Kirch (he and his partner arrived Thursday and were staying through Sunday). When I told him it was a day-trip, he looked at me like I was crazy. He joked that when he was my age he used to make those day-trips, but now he’s too old for them (if you saw him as I did you’d peg him to be at least 10 years younger than me… which is why I laughed at his comment).
Our exchange made me ponder my expectations when planning outdoor adventures. I tend to romanticize my thoughts of these journeys. My memory selectively recalls the good stuff, suppresses the bad stuff. So much so that when planning a trip my mind creates a mosaic of all my best memories of the place I’m revisiting which can often lead to unrealistic expectations. Today’s Dacey trip illustrates this hopeful defect. In my very first Dacey fishing trips (September and October of 2013), I landed 12 trout in total that ranged from 18 inches to 22 inches. You read that right, none of the 12 trout was shorter than 18 inches. We could argue the 2013 fish count was low, but when their size is factored into the equation the anticipation of a repeat would make anyone crazy with desire… which is likely what my kayak blog reader was thinking. Surely you can imagine how a day like today (9 total trout between 10 and 16 inches) fails to measure up to the excitement and pleasure I recall from those first visits in the fall of 2013.
By way of another example, every time I fish Illipah Reservoir, which resides on US Highway 50 between Eureka and Ely, my brain’s Limbic System locates images and feelings from my first earnest angling visit there in the spring of 2004. That trip produced 27 trout in 8 hours over two days, including a 17-inch brown trout… and many of the rainbows were around 14 to 15 inches. The Illipah angling on that day was a Nevada fly-angling pinnacle for me. Since then I’ve had trips to other Nevada destinations that I consider “more successful,” but the excitement and pleasure of that day remains, and it conjures up feelings that make me return to Illipah despite its inability to provide a new pinnacle for me. The odd thing is, despite recent Illipah trips that failed to generate the level of feelings I experienced 14 years ago, it remains a very good fishery that routinely gives up trout similar in size caught on the 2004 trip. In fact, I’m not sure I can say that the fishing has deteriorated, but rather my expectations have been elevated.
I suspect that many of you reading this post can relate to what I’m saying. Every year it becomes more obvious to me that my historical experiences continue to build. It should be obvious to everyone that the experiential adulthood memories of a 60-year-old are four-times as many as a 30-year-old (when arbitrarily using age 20 as the adult threshold). The emotions and excitement of those “first experiences” seem hard to top, and we can feel disappointed when the “new pinnacles” are fewer and farther between. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Solomon, son of David, wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is “a time for everything.” In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV) was the inspiration for one of the most popular songs of the 1960s: “Turn, Turn, Turn,” written by Pete Seeger and performed by The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins, and others. The book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon to make us question the meaning of life. King Solomon lacked nothing, and yet he searched for meaning in his life (very much like the richest and most famous of our current day). He proposed that the natural actions of mankind are inherently vain or futile (“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity,” Ecclesiastes 1:2). No matter what Solomon tried or pursued with all his wealth and wisdom, he felt lost and meaningless.
I admit to occasionally feeling the same. Keeping within the angling context, what meaning is there in pursuit of the most and largest fish? What is gained in that endeavor, and is that vanity the reason I feel dissatisfied on occasion? Non-anglers would likely state their belief that fishing is indeed a vain and futile action… but then, they’ve never tried fly fishing.
You can see Solomon’s point that continued pursuit of an earthly goal can never satisfy us. Without God in our lives, we become self-centered creatures living to attain our own man-made goals that, much like fishing destinations, grow old and unsatisfying with time. Eventually, time runs out, we die, and the world turns, turns, turns.
But there is hope. If not the worldly stuff “under the sun,” what is a worthy pursuit in our lives? I submit being reunited and reconciled with God, through Jesus Christ, is the ultimate purpose in our lives. In Ecclesiastes 3:9-22, Solomon goes on to tell us that God controls His world, not us. Everything we experience He designed to direct us toward Him. He is the answer to our desires, not the earthly stuff “under the sun,” for it is all temporal. Then, in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Solomon delivers his final advice for an eternally happy life:
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Our first step must be belief in God the creator. Our lives are destined to remain unsatisfying apart from our recognition of God’s intervention, His divine plan. It only remains to be seen whether we will place our trust in Him, rather than our vain and futile hands. Once we do that, we are freed to enjoy all the pleasures He has created for us to experience in this temporary world. That’s what enables me to enjoy any day in nature, soaking in His creation, regardless of my earthly human perception of the quality of the fishing.