April 28, 2020

Running from COVID-19

I post this scene often. The snow-capped Grant Range is a dramatic backdrop for Dacey
Reservoir. Grant's tallest peaks, Stairstep,Troy, and Timber, range from 10,000 to 11,000
feet. Hot Creek Butte, on far left of the photo, conceals hot springs that attract visitors on
its other side.

I must confess to selfishly abandoning my family for a short day-trip to Dacey reservoir in the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch). It was actually a mission of mercy for them as I was getting stir crazy over the shutdown, and who knows what damage I could bring upon my familial relationships had I not taken a dose of this medicine.

Kidding aside, it was but a day-trip that brought me home by 5:oo PM, and no wildlife was harmed in the adventure. Not much to say, other than narrate the pictorial essay. I know my fellow pescadores will understand. 

I recall catching about 12 black bass, a.k.a. largemouth bass. Strangely, they seemed much
more active in the cool of the morning than the rainbow trout, despite trout being a cold-water
fish and bass a warm-water fish. The trout began getting active around 11:00 AM, when I started
hooking up with them. I lost about 5 trout, including one male of about 16 or 17 inches as I was
fighting him toward the Fish Pond net. I did land 6 trout, including two around 19 inches. It's been
a couple of seasons since I landed a 19 inch trout from Dacey.

The rainbow in this photo was about 15 inches.

My new European-made Savage Gear oared float tube has a metric scale on its stripping apron.
It goes to 50cm, which is about 19.7 inches. This female rainbow trout was carrying eggs, but
from the few that spilled from her I don't think she was "ripe."  On the apron she measured 49cm,
about 19.3 inches.

You'll notice her left upper mandible is missing. Dacey regulations limit fishing to "artificial" lures
(no bait that could be swallowed into stomach), but it includes spinner hardware. The regulations
also allow that one trout can be kept. Generally, artificial lures are not swallowed, and thus facilitate
releasing the fish unharmed, which is significant for sport fishermen like me who release everything
they hook.

These special Dacey regulations seem to produce larger trout, but they are often difficult to land
even in the early season when aquatic weeds have just started to grow. I believe this is because
many hardware slingers, especially along the riprap dam, are fishing for meat. Their larger spinners
and heavy tackle are designed to get the fish on the table. My educated suspicion is that a fisherman,
or a succession of fisherman, hooked this one on larger, barbed spinners, and either it ripped
off the mandible or it was damaged by the barbed hook removal. Or, maybe catch and release
simply manifests weaker trout jaws over time.

Maybe its "all of the above." 

Here I am reviving the big hen-fish. She was a stout trout...

Here's one of two black bass that were 14 to 15 inches long. I think these were the most "good
sized" largemouth bass I've ever caught from Kirch's reservoirs. Usually I'm not hooking
bass over 12 inches on a fly rod. 

This was my most satisfying catch of the day. Partly because it was my last one of the day, partly
because it was 47.5cm (18.7 inches), but mostly because I caught it right in front of two hardware
fishermen from Las Vegas (Lord, forgive me for my sin of pride). I was making my way back to
the rustic boat launch area when two guys parked on the dam and proceeded to cast their spinners
to the edge of the tules, right across where the watercraft gain ingress/egress to the reservoir.

They saw me paddling toward them, but I guess they didn't think I was leaving the reservoir
so early in the afternoon. And based on that presumption, I didn't want to bust up their fishing,
so I kept 150 feet away, but was continuing to cast in their general direction. To my delight I hooked

this female rainbow, who did one of those signature Dacey trout leaps right in front of them
(these larger trout will leap 2 to 3 feet in the air... extremely acrobatic). It was as if she
wanted to show off for everyone to see. I was close enough to hear their commentary, which
included some astonishment that I would release such a trout. After her release I made 5 or 6
more casts, but I really needed to get out if I was to get home at the promised time. So I told
the men I was getting out and needed through passage to the launch, which they politely obliged.

It took me about 45 minutes to get everything stowed away in the Fish Taco before I could
get on my way. While packing I noted a 20 inch trout carcass near the truck. I pegged it as a male

rainbow. My guess is it was a day old. It was intact head-to-tail except for the fillets sliced off its
sides; the remaining flesh was dried but still pinkish. All this time the two spinner fisherman
worked that corner and beyond to where I hooked this pretty trout. 

When I started my truck I decided to return to Highway 318 via the Sunnyside road so that I had
to cross the dam and see what luck the two fishermen where having. I could tell they both were
still fishing but when I got closer I saw a 17-inch trout on a stringer. 

The Game Wardens frequent this dam often, and in fact I saw them drive-off two other dam
fishermen, who I presume were fishing without a license and/or with bait. I said a quick prayer
that one would drive by and catch these guys both fishing wile one of them already had his
one-trout limit.  

I want to share a chuckle I had while searching for the Wane Kirch Wildlife Management Brochure online a few days ago.  While the original brochure was detailed, it appears they have another new Kirch brochure which, if you look closely at the photo on the bottom of page 1, you'll recognize FisherDad on Dacey Reservoir from my October 23, 2013 blog post.

There it is again, that darn prideful ego rising up! 

Stay well and stay safe as we climb out of this pandemic episode and return to some semblance of normality.

April 17, 2020

Life Within a Pandemic

The view of Red Rock's bluffs from the trail to the Ash Grove in 
Spring Mountain State Park.
Hopefully I got your attention with some scenic photos of places visited during this awful time of pandemic horror. For my daughter and I, these were necessary diversions designed to help us remember that life, given to us by the Lord, is meant to be lived. Lived in joyful hope, not in fear and worry. By design, our lives are to be relational, both with the Lord and with each other. It is unnatural for us to be shut away from our loved ones, regulated to phone calls and FaceTime. I can tell you that my wife and I long to touch, smell, and cuddle with our grandchildren. While the separation is said to be temporary, it is not what any parent or grandparent would want.  
The Arizona Ash Grove of Spring Mountain State Park, in late winter.  
These past four weeks have been tough on all of us, but especially for health care and public safety workers. They have been asked to go above and beyond what most of us could ever rise to. Granted I'm not that old (according to standards set by people my age...), but this social and economic shutdown is unprecedented in my lifetime.
My daughter strikes a pose at Cold Creek.
I'll await the medical and scientific postmortems on the CV-19 (i.e., “SARS-CoV-2”) response impacts, but my current leaning is that they are generally exaggerated. My initial hunch was that this novo coronavirus wouldn't be much more deadly than a very bad influenza year, and current data as of this blog post seems to support that hunch (although I admit the jury is still out on that). Take for example this John Hopkins article dated April 17, 2020: "Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu." If you pay particular attention to the comparative volume of cases and deaths you'll see that CV-19 isn't likely to be any worse than a very bad flu year. Of course, the real concern is the lack of a vaccine for this new virus, which is a whole other story.   
The Fish Taco descending into the Willow Creek drainage.
Part of the problem stems from the apparent misinformation from China, worsened by their delay in sharing their real data with the rest of the world. Mix into that a severe dislike for incumbent President Trump by about half of the country, a roaring economy, and an election year in which the Democrats have yet to put forth a credible candidate, it’s not hard to imagine that a prolonged shutdown might be helpful to their removal plans. As some have said, "Never waste a good crisis" (supposedly attributed to folks like Winston Churchill and Rahm Emanuel, but likely goes all the way back to God).

Human beings can only tolerate this shutdown for so long, especially as data is collected that appears contrary to the fears that CV-19 will be the worst Pandemic since 1918's H1N1 pandemic (which was ironically worsened by the use of aspirin mega-doses as it was the “go-to” pharmaceutical of that day). Although a century ago, the current estimates are that 1918 H1N1 pandemic infected about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population at that time. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States whose population was 104 million at that time. Forget case infections, that was a US death rate of 646 per 100,000 residents. The current US CV-19 deaths per 100,000 residents is 11, or said another way the 1918 death rate was 60 times greater. By the way, the Center for Disease Control estimates that the 2018–2019 influenza season was attributed to more than 35.5 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths. As of April 17, 2020, 
the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation models are projecting US deaths could reach 60,308 (estimate range of 34,063 to 140,381) during the epidemic’s first wave. We don’t know if or when there’ll be a second wave. 
Willow Creek is not much to look at, but still
remarkable to find in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Here in Nevada there are currently 2,836 cases and 112 deaths, which theoretically is a 4% death rate (similar to the US average), except that we likely don't know how many cases really exist because there's been no testing of that specific antibody in Nevada as of today (experts suggest there are 5-10 people with undetected infections for every confirmed case, which would put case mortality rates at less than 1%). More importantly, we should look at the projected CV-19 death rates compared to other causes, many of which can be prevented or reduced based on changes in behavior. According to the Reno Gazette, here were the top 10 causes of Nevada deaths in 2019:

  1. Heart disease (203.7 deaths per 100,000)
  2. Cancer (165.3 deaths per 100,000)
  3. Lower Respiratory Diseases, usually tobacco related (53.0 deaths per 100,000)
  4. Stroke (37.7 deaths per 100,000)
  5. Non-Vehicular Accidents (36.6 deaths per 100,000)
  6. Alzheimer’s (22.6 deaths per 100,000)
  7. Diabetes (21.5 deaths per 100,000)
  8. Suicide (20.5 deaths per 100,000)
  9. Influenza and Pneumonia (16.6 deaths per 100,000)
  10. Liver disease (15.3 deaths per 100,000)
Note that based on Nevada’s 3.08 million population for 2019, even if the current Nevada CV-19 deaths quadrupled to 448, the resulting 14.6 deaths per 100,000 would not crack into this top-ten list. And that’s a list that excludes Nevada’s abortion rate of 286.3 deaths per 100,000 (most recent stats were for 2018), which would be the number 1 cause of death by a long-shot… if one assumes fetuses are living human beings.

OK, my sincere apologies for all this morbid talk. I agree, it can be earth-shaking to think about death as a statistic. No one wants to become a “bad” statistic. But I’m a numbers guy, and data and logic tend to influence my opinions. All I’m attempting to suggest is, it might not have been worth decimating the economy and artificially creating the historic unemployment jump when you compare it to other causes of death like tobacco related disease, accidents, diabetes, and suicide.

The grove of willows and scrub oak reveal Willow Creek in the foreground,
while the mountain-range notch above it denotes Wheeler Pass into the
Pahrump-side of the Spring Mountains.
Despite all this negativity, for which I’ve already apologized, I don’t live in fear or worry. I place my hope in the Lord. The Bible, the very Word of God, has promised hope through the millennia. Here are but a few verses to reflect upon if you are feeling anxious or worried about anything, including this pandemic:
  • I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18)
  • Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
  • But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. (Psalm 33:18)
  • Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
  • I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:18-28)
  • For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
  • For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
  • Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. (Psalm 39:4-5)
  • Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)
  • There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
Our lives should be filled with hope, not worry and fear. We cannot add a single hour to our lives, and although God knows, we do not know the time we are appointed to return to Him.
Be safe, be strong, believe in the Lord.

An unknown wildflower growing in the Willow Creek drainage. In my
feeble Internet search I couldn't match it to any known wild iris flowers.
If you know what it is, post it under comments.