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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. I learned today that sometimes a fisherman has to give CPR to a trout! OY!
2. With your likeness on the brochure you will be bothered for autographs...
3. Remind me to tell you the cute joke about the little boy wide mouth bass & Mrs. Frog......but being a fisherman you have probably already heard this one....many times!!