A Boo Rod

My Sweetgrass fly rod – serial no. 2450, 7′ 9″, 4/5 weight – accompanied by my Hardy L.R.H. Lightweight reel spooled with a #5 sink-tip line. I am old enough to pre-date graphite rods, and I admit that I have longed to own a quality bamboo fly rod since the age of 21. I can finally check that off my list.

Most every serious trout angler has heard or read about the history of bamboo fly rods. Split cane rods replaced wooden poles or bamboo poles for fishing in the early 1800s. Apparently there is some confusion about where split cane rods were invented (France, England, China, or USA), but as for America it is said that Samuel Phillipe of Easton, Pennsylvania, was the first American to experiment with making multisided rods with strips of bamboo glued together. No doubt the industrial age advanced the craft of rod making in the late 1800s.

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Spring Mountains Getaway

Looking south from Cold Creek Road toward the northern edge of the Spring Mountains Range. On the far left is Mummy Mountain at about 11,500 feet in elevation. The next peak(s) is actually the Sisters Peaks (South at 10,000 feet and North at 9,800 feet). The Sisters block out the view of Mount Charleston which tops out at 11,918 feet about 4 miles behind them in this camera lens line of sight. The next peak is Macks Peak at about 9,800 feet, followed by McFarland Peak to its right at about 10,700 feet. The next subtle peak, preceding the snow-covered burned slopes to the right of the photo, is Bonanza Peak at about 10,400 feet. Finally, the highest peak on the snow-covered ridge is Willow Peak (just under 10,000 feet). Each of these peaks are at different distances from the camera, explaining why their outline along the horizon does not match perfectly with their true elevations.

As a way of saying “Goodbye” to our southern Nevada winter, this morning I took a leisurely drive to the less traveled portion of the Spring Mountains west of the Las Vegas Valley, a trip that also moderated my adjustment to a valley temperature of just under 80 degrees. The Spring Mountains Range is about 60 miles long, and most of it angles off in a northwest direction from Las Vegas. Its most obvious view from the city is that of the prominent red rock bluffs on the west edge of the valley. Of course I took along a fly rod and a few flies just in case I decided to fish the pond at Cold Creek (I doubt you are holding your breath on that one).

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Cold Creek, My Old Friend

On the road to the high-desert Cold Creek pond, looking north past the pond towards the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (Fish and Wildlife Service) that overlaps with the Nevada Test and Training Range (Dept. of Defense) and the Nevada National Security Site (Dept. of Energy). Per Google Earth, the pond measures 308 feet by 122 feet at its widest points, which calculates to 0.86 of an acre, but the pond resembles a chicken fillet, not a rectangle. My best guess is the pond surface area is closer to two-thirds of an acre, and about a third of that is shallow and not suitable trout habitat. It is a tiny body of water.

My early exploration of the Cold Creek area began when I was in college, around 1977, with my hiking buddy Kevin McGoohan. At that time there was no community development, no town of Cold Creek. It was as pristine as could be in the late 1970s. It is where I caught my first trout on a fly rod, so it has held extreme sentimental value to me these past 44 years (read my Cold Creek, Clark Co., NV post to learn more about my early exploration of Cold Creek).

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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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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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Fish Taco on the loose in Cold Creek

My new Toyota Tacoma SR5 4×4 (a.k.a., the Fish Taco) visiting the Cold Creek Pond for the first time.

Those of you familiar with my blog might recall I affectionately referred to my 2007 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4×4 as the “Trout Truck.” Although it was my daily driver, its underlying purpose was to get me in and out of the destinations where the trout angling was better than average and where inclement weather, which is often good for fishing, can make passage difficult. I had gotten stuck a few times in my previous 4×2 Dakota, but the 4.7L V8 4×4 never got stuck which was a great comfort to me and certainly increased my angling time. 

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Fall Stocking Completed at Cold Creek Pond

On a day with temperatures in the low 50s and just a gentle breeze, I was very happy that I had but one other angler to share Cold Creek on the first Friday of December 2017.

A few weeks ago I read in the local paper the Nevada Department of Wildlife was scheduled to plant trout in the Cold Creek pond.  Today I confirmed they did.  One other angler was fishing bait, but he was doing it well: small hooks enabling him to catch and release five trout that I noticed.  As for me, in about an hour I landed four, but had hooks pulled out of three others.  Awesome weather there today.  I was surprised but thankful only one other angler was on the pond.  Enjoy the photos. 

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Fishin’ in the Rain… at Cold Creek

A healthy 9-inch rainbow trout landed on a custom 8-foot, 5-weight fly rod built by FisherDad.

Due to warm conditions late into the fall of 2016, the stocking of Cold Creek pond was delayed until the last day of November.  Adding insult to injury, early December turned very cold, freezing over the pond sooner than expected.  My last fishing day of 2016 was the 6th of October, so I’ve been patiently waiting for warmer weather to melt off the ice, on Cold Creek and all my other favorite reservoirs. 

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Six Foot Rod for Twelve Inch Trout

A crisp Cold Creek morning, despite all the sunshine. The pond was somewhat murky.

Okay, I admit to having had such a good time fishing my 7.5 foot, 4 weight rod at Cold Creek last week that I decided to return with my little 6-footer today. I’ve written before that I’ve built two 6-foot fly rods in my life primarily because of Cold Creek. Catching wild 7-inch Rainbow and Brook trout in thin water (or the more obscure trout like Golden, Bonneville, or even Redband wherever they are found) is not much fun on an 8-foot rod, but can be blast on a 6-foot rod. In the early 1980s I built my first small-creek fly rod from fiberglass specifically for tiny water like Cold Creek and Beaver Dam Creek, and replaced it with a graphite version in 2009. I’ve used the new graphite rod to land 16-inch trout and 12-inch bass on Haymeadow Reservoir in the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (it has more backbone than the fiberglass). I was very, very pleased and impressed by the performance of that rod, although as a 3 weight it can’t cast well the larger flies that I prefer on the big waters of Kirch… even the 7.5 foot, 4 weight has difficulty with larger weighted nymphs.

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Valentine Trout at Cold Creek Pond

Looking to the east from Cold Creek Pond

I am one of those outdoorsmen who has always enjoyed the solitude of the experience. Whether fishing, hunting, hiking or whatever, going solo with nature creates a certain tranquility that is healing.  It creates a “white space” to clear thoughts, communicate with the Lord, or to simply regain the peace within you.

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