An Easter Trip to Wayne Kirch WMA

A view of the Grant Range driving into Kirch from the Sunnyside turn off. On the left, in front of the range, is Hot Creek Butte.

Anglers who live in the southwest desert, like me, understand that fishing adventures take some planning and a lot of driving. While it is true that warmwater fisheries (home to bass, crappie, perch, and other “spiny-ray” fish) can be found closer to our southwest urban cities than coldwater fisheries (home to salmon, trout, and char), it is also true that water in general is very scarce in the arid southwest. We southwest trout anglers will drive hundreds of miles to reach our trout streams and reservoirs. Many of the reservoirs that straddle the 5,000-to-6,000-foot elevation can support both warm and coldwater species, which can be convenient. The reservoirs of Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) are such reservoirs. Spring and fall are great times to pursue rainbow trout, while the summer is best for the black bass. If you would like to know more about Kirch you might select my “Wayne Kirch” blog category, or just take a look at my Dacey Reservoir, Sunnyside (Wayne Kirch WMA).

My last meaningful adventure was with my friend Bill on the California Delta casting to striped bass (or at least to where we thought the stripers might be). Fishing off a boat in a coastal estuary is terrific adventure in the pursuit of large fish, but it is also a social event. It is far easier to hold a conversation with your buddy on a boat than it is floating around in separate tubes or kayaks, or even hop-scotching up and down a trout stream. This trip to Kirch was another solo trip, designed for solitude with nature and the Lord.

While the ice was off most of the reservoirs and the weather was decent, the March winds seemed relentless this year. It was probably my impatience to get some angling time that made it seem unusually windy all month long. Anyone who has floated a high desert reservoir in a tube knows that when the wind reaches more that 15 m.p.h. the kick paddling and rowing (if your tube or pontoon has oars) gets to be a constant effort. Men my age and older typically do not have the strength and stamina of anglers in their 40s or even 50s, so we try to avoid those windy days.

This past Wednesday and Thursday the winds at Kirch were forecast to be below 10 m.p.h., and so that was it. It was time to get out of Dodge, as they say.

My original thought was to fish Kirch on Wednesday, and then lodge overnight in Ely, NV so that I could fish Comins Reservoir on Thursday. But the proximity to the Easter events of Holy (Maundy) Thursday through Easter Sunday caused me to revise the plan into a simple day trip; a round trip of about 365 miles for four-to-five hours of angling. Crazy, huh?!

This is what Dacey Reservoir looked like; impassable floatsum all across the dam. I thought about trying the “unofficial” tube launch site on the eastern edge of the cattails (off the right side of the photo), but the water was high and flooded into the jeep track access. The dirt around the reservoirs can be like clay, and I did not want to get the Tacoma bogged; I was alone and interested in fishing, not practicing off-road recovery.

I was hoping Dacey Reservoir would be clear of floating dead plant matter. The water plants grow thick in the shallow reservoirs, and they die off under the winter ice only to create a flotsam of decaying matter in the early spring. Dacey is closed to motorboats until August 1st, so the reservoir does not receive the benefit of outboard motors pushing aside the weeds to make way for tube fisherman to reach open water. Unfortunately, it was jammed up and impassable on this late-March trip, so I decided to give Adams-McGill a try.

When I arrived at Adams-McGill I found a California guy who was poaching off the impoundment with a worm. He was traveling up to Idaho but had passed by Kirch several times before and got curious about the fishing. He was honest and apologetic about the poaching, which was refreshing. He did say he had seen several trout near the riprap, and when I asked about their size he said one-to-two pounds. That sounded OK to me, so I started to set up my Savage Gear float tube.

Left to right: Val (the Labrador), Christopher (a.k.a. Kit), and Robin at the Adams-McGill boat launch

While doing those chores, a couple and their yellow Labrador drove up. They were from Prescott, AZ, running through the Nevada backcountry. Their names were Kit and Robin, and they seemed to be about my age. Talking with them I learned that Kit was one of several nicknames for Christopher, and that the dog was named Val. Then we joked about why they neglected to name the dog Pooh.

Within 100 yards of the boat launch I hooked and landed a lovely 18-inch rainbow weighing maybe 2.5 pounds. Fifteen minutes later I hooked another trout, likely smaller than the first, but it became a long-distance-release (LDR) statistic. I was throwing my favorite damsel nymph pattern with my 9-foot, 7-weight rod. However, the next hour was a blank… no strikes at all. So, I decided to drive down a couple miles to give Cold Creek Reservoir a good try.

A lovely Adams-McGill rainbow of about 18 inches, caught on a damsel nymph.

When I arrived at Cold Creek there were two fly-anglers on the reservoir. One was just extracting himself from the reservoir and his Fish Cat float tube. His buddy was still fishing the reservoir on a framed pontoon boat. I was able to chat with the Fish Cat angler for a while. His name was Mark as well, and a life-long resident of Las Vegas. I recognized his family name as one I was familiar with. He was a graduate of Las Vegas High School at a time when there were but five or six high schools in all of Las Vegas. He said the fishing had been slow for them and added that it was usually rather good (this I knew).

We said our goodbyes, and I launched the tube and headed up the reservoir’s eastern edge which I have found productive in the past. I was still casting the 7-weight, although I decided to switch from my favorite damsel nymph to a leech pattern. I brought a 5-weight too, but opted for the heavier line for my weighted, early-spring flies. Despite Mark’s experience, I was able to hook into eight trout in a couple hours, landing five of them. The two largest were about 16 and 14 inches, and the other three were around 12 inches. I will take trout in the fourteen-to-sixteen-inch range all day… they fight hard and are quite acrobatic. Although I did not ask Mark, his flyrod looked to be rigged with a floating line which indicates he was probably using a strike indicator or dry fly with a dropper nymph drifted below. Those of you who are familiar with my preference may remember that I usually fish reservoirs with full-sink lines using stripping actions to give my fly movement that often attracts fish. This “action” is helpful when the water is a little murky or discolored from the changing seasons or runoff.

Typical Kirch landscape. That is the Egan Range in the background, and Adams-McGill Reservoir is barely visible over the tall grass in the center of the photo.
I caught this nice 16-inch rainbow on a leech pettern, a male by the looks of his lower jaw.
Releasing the spunky 16-inch rainbow.

It was a fine trip, and I did spend a lot of time in fellowship with the Lord, who always travels with me.

After I returned home, one of the news networks aired a show about the death of Jesus on the cross. For good reason, I am always skeptical of networks airing their version of Christianity during the Christmas and Easter seasons. But I watched the first fifteen minutes anyway.

A pair of nesting gray herons on the eastern edge of Cold Springs Reservoir, upstream from the boat launch. As usual, waterfoul and raptors were abundant at Kirch.

It seems a Christian forensic medical doctor decided to attempt to determine the medical cause of Jesus’ death, even though there is no body after 2000 years. He primarily relied upon Gospel testimony and his feeble attempts to simulate the torture of Jesus using volunteers who agreed to more “humane” torture methods. The whole thing quickly became silly to me, and being analytical the most relevant question was not “how” did Jesus die, but “why” he died. When my young daughter asked me what I thought Jesus died from, I told her it was from love.

Released all trout unharmed. I hope to see this guy again next year when he’s sixteen inches.

The witnesses writing in the Bible tell us that Jesus was God Incarnate; Jesus was both God and man. As God he was able to live the perfect, sinless life as a man. His life was blameless. Jesus himself all but said he was God, and Scripture affirms this. Jesus did, after all, perform many miracles in the three years of his ministry, not the least of which were bringing several dead people back to life. If Jesus wanted to, he could have saved himself from a tortured death on the cross. So why didn’t he?

Man cannot save himself from sin. Despite the Old Testament law, there is no sacrifice man could make to receive God’s forgiveness for his sin. Sin separates us from God, and we can do nothing to fix that fatal flaw. The Lord knew this when he created us. It was not a surprise to Him that we are unable to keep His law, his commands as handed down through Moses. He knew before he ever created us that something supernatural would be needed to reconcile man to God. From the beginning, Scripture tells us the purpose of the law was to show our inability to save ourselves, and thus God’s plan for our salvation through Jesus. God knew Jesus would be placed into this world not only to be punished on the cross as payment for the sins of all humanity (he was the only perfect sacrifice), but that His resurrection would give mankind hope that we too can be reunited with God after our earthly death. The Scriptures speak to this Heavenly Sacrifice, and Jesus himself told his disciples that He alone is the pathway to truth and life. Here are a smattering of verses that describe this so much better than I can:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:31

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews 1:2-3

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:2

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 2:24

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

John 6:38

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

John 10:22-39

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:21-26

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Revelation 1:4-6

My Easter hope is that you know the love of Jesus. Remember that we love because God loved us first.

This was a much needed trip, and it was a blessing to commune with the Lord and His creation this Easter Week.

Chasing Delta Stripers in the Heat

Although the stripers we hooked were all small by Delta standards, they fight so hard from the outset it is difficult to assess their size until they give up after burrowing hard and deep. Maybe they were small, but they were lots of fun!

Although I prefer to angle for the Salmonidae fish family, there is no denying the Morone Saxatilis (a.k.a., Striped Bass, Rockfish, and Linesider of the family Moronidae) is a far stronger fighter, who when he strikes the fly makes an unforgettable impression followed by a deep and sullen tugging. Even stripers as small as twelve inches confuse my “trout” memory into believing the fish might be 20 inches or longer. It is a remarkable gamefish, and anglers are easily hooked by the “tug drug.”

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Beaver Dam Creek – Revisited

Looking upstream, this location is about a quarter-mile from the day-use parking area. There is a trail head marker where I parked, but about 20 yards in the trail disappears, a victim of the viscous flash floods that plow through this narrow canyon. What is ankle deep water routinely swells to three feet, occasionally much more. I have personally witnessed this twice.   

Beaver Dam Creek

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know Beaver Dam Creek is where I learned to fly fish a trout stream. I started angling Beaver Dam State Park’s namesake creek in 1977, and I continued through the 1980s and 1990s. Schroeder Reservoir created an interesting tailwater fishery (although by virtue of a spillway as opposed to a tunnel outlet at the bottom of the reservoir) that created wild trout habitat that was accessible only by foot or four-wheel drive. Most anglers fished the reservoir, but exploration of the creek below proved fruitful in many ways. And yes, an occasional larger trout found its way over the dam into the spillway pool where it set up shop. My last visit before the dam was breached and removed was in August 2002, and you can read about those early experiences in that blog post.

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Southern Utah’s Pine Valley Recreation Area

The Pine Valley Recreation Area was not yet open, likely due to CV19, but you could hike through the area. Dave was ready to stretch his legs for the walk. The reservoir is not quite a mile up the road from the gate. 

I enjoyed developing my angling skills on the waters around Pine Valley in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. A youthful mid-twenties body stimulated my rustic romanticism for pursuing trout in streams and creeks. Now, as a sexagenarian, I no longer bushwhack and boulder-hop up and down streambeds alone, or at least not for far. Nonetheless, I am still nostalgic about fly angling small streams. There likely were several factors driving my interest in stream fishing. I was certainly influenced by the trout angling literature of the day that was predominantly focused on moving water. That was compounded by the first books I read on the subject that I borrowed from my brother Neal’s outdoorsman library. His books had an old-school New England approach to fishing for trout with a fly (think classic dry fly angling). That was a conundrum for me because Neal favored wet flies, nymphs, and streamers.

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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.

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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.  

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Baker Reservoir – Baker Dam Recreation Area

The view of snow-dusted Pine Valley Mountains from the access road to the Baker Dam Recreation Area. If you could peek over their crest you would see the unincorporated town of Pine Valley. 

Over the course of three decades I would pass by Baker Reservoir on my way to Pine Valley Reservoir. I had never read anything about the reservoir, but its existence eventually caused me to research it on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) website. This blog’s March 2007 post describes my first Baker fishing experience as a revelation of sorts. Including the 15 mph wind chill, the temperature was in the low thirties that early spring day. Landing a couple rainbow trout in the sixteen to eighteen inch range made the cold seem like a worthy sacrifice (check out that blog post here: Baker Reservoir – Veyo, UT).

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California Delta Stripers and Other Stories

California Delta at sunset: this view looks west towards Mount Diablo, rising 3,849 feet, peaking over one of the San Joaquin levees.

Men who have had “good” mentors in their lives are very fortunate, blessed you might say. Even more so for men like me who grew up without their dads (mine died when I was three years old). Some men might have been fatherless like me, or they might have had fathers who were rough, angry, unloving, or even abusive, and some of those might think they would have been better off without them. Maybe so. I believe that boys and men benefit significantly from the presence of older, wiser, and “good” men in their lives. By “good” I mean men with loving hearts who are willing to pass on their knowledge, experience, and sound judgment. Men willing to share their wisdom without a stifling layer of self-righteous judgment.

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Elko County – Wild Horse and Billy Shaw Reservoirs plus Marys, Jarbidge, and Bruneau Rivers

Our first look into the Copper Basin. Copper Mountain (9,911-ft) is off the page to the left, and the 9,500-ft mountains center-left in the photo include Coon Creek Peak. I assure you the photo does not due it justice.

Prologue

Having raised six children I’m keenly aware they do not retain most childhood memories. I also have my own childhood experience to support that conclusion. My father died when I was three, and that’s the exact number of memories I have of him (one of them was being left in the waiting room at the hospital where he died). Our family moved out west five years later, and I have maybe 30-plus distinct memories from those years preceding our relocation to Nevada (about 5 of which relate to the removal of my right kidney at age 6 due to the discovery of a Wilm’s Tumor). Of course I have many more memories from my teenage years, but I find it remarkable what I cannot recall from my early youth.

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White Pine’s Comins and Illipah Reservoirs

Chan fishing Comins in the sunlight while rain storms threaten over the Egan Range on the western edge of Steptoe Valley.

My son Nick got me started on this blogging journey in June 2007. He created the blog from Adobe PDF files I emailed to family and a couple fishing buddies. The original PDF essays were almost completely about my fishing experience at select destinations with pretty pictures. The blog was created as a Father’s Day gift, and Nick aptly named it FisherDad by securing the website URL www.fisherdad.com. To make up for lost time, I started posting blogs recreated from fishing, climbing, and skiing adventures reaching way back to the late 1970s.  

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