A Christmas Message

The east slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Bridgeport, California, June 2010. From this ranch on US-395, Yosemite National Park would be about 45 miles, directly as the crow flies over the Twin Peaks and Tuolumne Meadows and on to Half Dome, on the western side of the Sierras.

Another Christmas Season is upon us. They come so quickly for us sexagenarians, septuagenarians, and a couple octogenarians I know. For young families with children, the anticipation creates high energy and expectations. Older families look forward to reconnecting, especially with those members away at college or who have relocated from their home town. Despite its over-commercialization, it remains a time of celebration with family and friends, a time of generosity, kindness, and charity towards everyone. It can be a time of reconciliation for those whose relationships are strained for one reason or another. For some, it is a time to reflect upon the events of the past year and look forward to a “clean slate” offered by the new year. But underneath it all, the core of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is true that our nation appears to be moving away from its Christian roots, which has caused the holiday to feel more secular as its focus shifted to the giving and getting of gifts. But the underlying truth remains, Christmas is about the most amazing event ever recorded in history: the birth of Jesus the Christ.

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Yankee Meadow Reservoir

I may be incorrect, but I believe the volcanic ridge to the east of Yankee Meadow (seen here) is on the edge of southern Utah’s Markagunt Plateau, a prominent volcanic field with a high point of over 11,000 feet. These meadows were beautiful on this sunny September day, but I bet they are even more awesome in the spring.

I have known of Yankee Reservoir for many decades. It was my brother Neal who told me about it, but I do not recall ever fishing it with him or anyone else. Yankee Meadow offered Brook trout back then (probably Rainbow trout as well). I suspect our New England roots fostered Neal’s sentimentalism for the Salvelinus fontinalis (the genus Salvelinus is sometimes referred to as a Char because their dark bodies are overlaid with unique light-cream, blue, pink, or red spots as contrasted by darker spots on the lighter body of the other trout genera).

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Comins Lake in the Spring

My friend, Luis, is about to launch the Fish Cat-style float tube on Thursday morning. We had a leisurely breakfast at the motel, and this photo was taken around 8:00am. If we look lonely it is because we were the first to arrive at Comins, even at that morning hour. The wind was calm and the clouds had not yet begun to form over the mountain ranges. The snow capped mountains shown here are the middle section of the Egan Range. Egan runs about 108 miles north to south between the Nevada hamlets of Cherry Creek and Sunnyside. Its tallest peaks are Ward (10,936 ft.) and North Ward (10,803 ft.), both of which are in this photo.

This post is a pictorial essay of a wonderful trip to Ely, NV with my good friend Luis. About a year ago, after Luis retired, he told me of his desire to learn how to fly fish. We had frequented Cold Creek Pond as a starting place for him, and as he gained some experience there I began to set my sights on getting him on Comins Lake near Ely, NV. While the fishing was just “OK” for Comins standards, Luis’s delight to see and explore these parts of Nevada’s Great Basin was the best part of the trip. His infectious enthusiasm was punctuated with all sorts of observations and inquiries. I explained and answered everything to the best of my abilities. I enjoyed being a tour guide for Luis. I have great affection for Nevada, for its statuesque mountain ranges, spacious valleys, and folksy frontier towns, so I relished sharing whatever I knew.

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The Purpose of Mending Your Line

The Fish Taco parked in the reflection of Cold Creek’s 9,967 foot Willow Peak, with snow still stuck to its northeast face on this wonderful May 11th of 2023.

I wish everyone had a hobby or passion they could turn to for its healing powers. Something that allows them to disengage from the thorns and thickets of their earthly life and to catch a glimpse of the joy promised by God. Yes, I recognize that many do not believe in the God of the Bible, but many of those non-Christians acknowledge some spiritual connection to nature, the universe, or humanity in general. Knowing that they turn towards their spiritual beliefs gives me hope. One of my recurring prayers is that many of those who are “spiritual” will someday come to know and understand it was the God of all who placed that sense of spirituality within them. Unfortunately, even Christians like me can grow to idolize our hobbies to the extent that we worship the creation rather than the Creator who designed them for our pleasure. With that idolatry caution out of the way, today I wish to concentrate on the healing and meditative powers of fly fishing, a simple and obscure hobby.

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Baker Reservoir Wash Out

Looking southwest towards the Baker Reservoir impoundment. The whole reservoir was murky with extremely low visibility, and lots of flotsam and suspended debris.

Most fly anglers I know have some level of passion for the sport. It is not just the act of fishing with a fly, but everything that encompasses the sport. Fly fishing is a historically rich sport, dating all the way back to the 2nd Century Roman Empire as described in many sources (Fly Dreamers/Fly Fishing History and Wikipedia/Fly Fishing to name two). Ironically, there are a few who have specific passions for fly fishing but for whom fishing is not the main thing. Some relish the history, and are collectors of rods, reels, and flies as they survived over the centuries. Others focus all their energy on fly tying, creating works of art that will never be fished. There are conservancies that purchase land on which productive trout streams reside (usually acquired from private farms and ranches) in order to protect and improve both the species and its environment. Many are rod builders whose creations can also be considered works of art. And there are those whose passion is to simply cast a fly line, competing in fly casting contests around the world (see this video of the 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships in San Francisco).

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Spiritual Awareness

A feral Cold Creek horse finds some winter grass with the Spring Mountain’s Wheeler Peak in the background. Not to be confused with Nevada’s second tallest peak in the Great Basin National Park, this Wheeler Peak is just 9,200 feet in elevation. The camera angle is looking due west from the Cold Creek pond.

It is wonderful how a few hours of fishing can provide a special place and time to contemplate things that are important. Today at Cold Creek was one of those moments.

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A Good First Step…

Looking towards the western edge of the small pond at Cold Creek. The obvious pass in the mountains left of center is Wheeler Pass, a four-wheel-drive jeep trail that eventually takes you into Pahrump, NV. Note my Fish Taco hiding behind the willow tree. I was able to hobble along the impoundment dam to where I wanted to cast from, a place that would accommodate my new Walkstool in case my right leg and foot grew tired from standing. I was able to accomplish all this without the aid of a foot brace or cane.

I think of myself as an optimist with a healthy dose of realism. Those who know me might disagree, but being a faith filled Christian makes it difficult to be pessimistic. The Lord is sovereign over everything, and he is good and loving. My belief in, and my love for, the Lord Jesus moves me to conduct my life in a manner that shows my thankfulness for all the conditions of my life. It is that thankful contentedness which allows me to reflect the light of Christ to others. Some might think the greatest inspiration comes from those whose achievements are of the highest honor. Maybe so, but we should receive some inspiration from those who suffer with honor, dignity, and a glowing appreciation for all that the Lord has done for them, from His simple provision of a sunny day at a local pond to His atoning death on the cross for our sins.

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Exploring New Angling Opportunities

My sons, Douglas and Thomas, getting prepared to walk down to angle Cave Lake for trout (Rainbow and Brown) in June 2000.

Some of you know that a medical recovery period can cause you to reflect on your life events. If you were disabled by an accident or medical event, long periods of inactivity bring forward memories of past family events. The good ones can bring a smile to your face, warm your heart, or make you laugh aloud. The bad ones can bring a tear to your eye and make you wish you had handled it better. If you have cherished hobbies, like fly angling, you conjure up your past adventures and wonder how future ones will be achieved. Pondering your ability to fully participate in future events usually fosters self-pity.

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An Easter Season trip to Dacey Reservoir

I struggled with the wind gusts a little bit, but I still held my own at age 65. My oared Savage Gear float tube continues to be my favorite watercraft for trout reservoirs. The Grant Range in the far distance had the least amount of snow that I recall for the end of March.

I recently retired from from the bank where I worked as an SEC registered municipal bond advisor. It was a great job that came along at the perfect time, and it allowed me to retire from my stressful municipal Chief Financial Officer position at age 60, about one year after I suffered a heart attack on this very reservoir (see Maiden Voyage of Water Master Grizzly Interrupted by Heart Attack). While these past five years with the bank have been enjoyable and rewarding, when I reached 65 I was psychologically prepared for full retirement (two COVID years of working from home also helped). This adventure to Dacey Reservoir was my first angling trip under full retirement status. It was a satisfying way to acknowledge never having to work for a paycheck again.

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Exploring Carpenter Canyon from Pahrump, NV

This is the terminal end of the Carpenter Canyon jeep trail, which is about 300 yards beyond where the U.S. Forrest Service signage suggests you stop. I expected to see travelers today, especially since it was the Veterans Day holiday, but on the way up we only came upon a lone motorbike that was heading down the mountain. This group (an informal Razor Club) arrived at noon, but we did not hear or see them until we returned from our fishing exploration. Good people from Pahrump, several of whom where veterans.

In the 1970s I developed an interest in U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps (i.e., topo maps). Hunting and fishing with my brother Neal often involved these topo maps. While the first satellite global positioning system (GPS) had been created by the US military, civilian use did not materialize until 1993. Civilian access to the Internet also occurred around 1993, but cell phone GPS was not available until 1999. Until civilian GPS became available, topo maps were the best way to explore the outdoors.

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