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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Early Spring on Dacey Reservoir

Here’s a typically handsome Dacey spring rainbow trout of about 16 inches.

Early spring always brings hope.  For those of us with a keen eye for the outdoors, it can be overwhelming when it floods our senses with new growth.  Maybe it’s the contrast to the gloomy drabness of winter that gives spring all the attention; it seems everyone welcomes its emergence from the fingers of winter.  The flowering and budding of trees give promise of things to come.  Even the floor of the Mojave Desert turns remarkably green in the early spring, followed by its own unique color bouquet.  Songbirds, found even in our most urban environs, start whistling and tweeting before the sunrise, and sometimes throughout the night, perhaps as part of their intense mating and nesting ritual.  All sorts of new life begins to pop.  I have even noticed a bumper crop of baby fence lizards sunning themselves on my backyard stone planter, while butterflies and bees flit about overhead.  And of course, there are those spring-spawning rainbow trout, hungry from the cold of winter and in need of beefing up for their own mating ceremonies.  There’s an energy in springtime, a natural force that can’t be denied and is the fuel that feeds our belief that all things old, or even seemingly dead, can be renewed again.

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Cold Creek in December

The northwest edge of the 10,000-foot Spring Mountains provides a contrast to the high desert flora that is unique to the western states.

I seem to have this unfulfilled fantasy of fishing in the snow. There’s something magical about how snow blankets the trees, shrubs, and rocks, hiding their intimate details from our vision. I especially enjoy how it can muffle sound, especially during a calm snowfall. In late November 2013 I tried to fish the pond during an early season snowfall, but instead I became a participating witness to a coyote who was hunting a jackrabbit, a rabbit that seemed to use my truck as a defensive barrier. Of course, my fantasy conveniently ignores the effects cold snow has on my comfort, particularly toes and fingers… but that’s part of the effort-reward transaction that usually comes with any great outdoor adventure.

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White River Valley’s Dacey Reservoir

The flotsam of dead weeds appeared daunting upon launching the Water Master Grizzly, but it skimmed through fairly easily. The summer and early fall weeds can be quite bothersome on Wayne Kirch reservoirs.

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.

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Comins Reservoir in White Pine County

Not much of a blog for this trip.  Mostly a pictorial essay.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and accompanying notes.

The moon over Ely, NV.  This photo looks west down E. Aultman Street, aka U.S. Highway 50 and Lincoln Highway. The Silver State Restaurant has been an Ely landmark for me since the 1970s, but is under new ownership who will be changing the sign to read Nardi’s Family Restaurant. The Magnuson Hotel (yes, they named it a hotel) is down and across the street where you see the red sign sporting a white star. This is where I rest my body when it desires a bed over a sleeping bag, mostly because it was across the street from the Silver State Restaurant. 
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Cave Lake State Park, outside the City of Ely, White Pine County, Nevada

A hawk (I believe a Harris’ hawk) perches on rabbitbrush to survey his domain. This picture was taken near Cave Creek, the southeastern inlet of Cave Lake that gives Cave Lake State Park its name.

My daughter was promised a camping trip before she returned for her school’s fall semester. As the Dog Days of summer began to sap everyone’s energy, I was reminded that “back to school” was but two weeks away. I quickly began planning a short, overnight camping trip.

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Wayne Kirch WMA Overnighter in the Fish Taco

The 5:16 AM sunrise over the Egan Range begins to warm Dacey Reservoir.

You know when a strong impulse causes you to do something you’ve wanted for a while, and so you wedge it into your schedule? Then the truth is discovered that allowing the urgency of desire to squeeze an event into your calendar before all conditions are at least reasonable often produces undesired outcomes. I frequently observe that our childish nature seeks immediate indulgence which in turn causes poor planning and unhappy results. If you maintain a healthy dose of reality you can cope with that; if you’re too optimistic you may come away disappointed. I won’t say that this trip to Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) was disappointing, because it wasn’t. But it did contain a couple preventable mishaps. 

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Cold Creek Getaway in Fish Taco

The Tacoma with its new Lear 100R shell, including head liner, drop out cab-side window, and a three outlet, 12V power block near the rear lift window.

Okay, I admit that I’m having a man-crush on my Tacoma.  I feel like a little boy who got the Christmas present he had been harassing his parents for since Halloween. I could easily succumb to the temptation to run away to distant places every weekend.  Maybe that’s what happens to a truck owner after driving Dodge Dakotas for 18 years.

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