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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.