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.

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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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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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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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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Dacey Reservoir in the Late Fall

Trout Truck at Dacey’s rustic boat launch site. The sign says:
These regulations help to keep the Dacey trout fishery in top condition.

This is the time of year elementary students are cutting, painting, and creating all sorts of Thanksgiving papers that their moms and dads will affix to various kitchen appliances and cabinetry in celebration of the things the child is thankful for.  You never really know what your youngster might write on these papers, particularly if their teacher doesn’t attempt to influence their selection so as not to embarrass the parents.  You can imagine parents across the country rhetorically asking, “What the hell are they teaching my kid?

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Dacey Reservoir, Nye County, NV

A pair of geese protecting their three goslings on Adams-McGill Reservoir. In the wild geese bond and stay together for life.

Ever notice sometimes how those experiences you anticipate often fail to fully come to fruition, particularly if it’s something you’re really looking forward to?  Fueled by your imagination you envision how wonderful the experience will be and the pleasure you’ll derive from it, especially when your brain builds upon prior awesome remembrances.

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Dacey Reservoir, Nye County, Nevada

A herd of pronghorn antelope that crossed the southern access road to the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area.

There’s a good reason, actually several good reasons why I like traveling to fishing destinations on weekdays. First, the fishing is always less crowded on a weekday, which enhances the feeling of solitude as well as the susceptibility of the fish to take the lure (trout don’t like boats constantly traveling overhead and the persistent “plunking” of lures into the water). But there’s another aesthetic benefit, at least if you consider wildlife viewing integral to the overall aesthetic experience. Traveling when there are few “other travelers” always increases the chance of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. Then of course, there’s the guilty pleasure of either being retired or stealing a day off when traveling in the middle of a workweek.

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When Two or Three are Gathered at Wayne Kirch

David casting with Hot Creek Butte and snow capped Grant Range
in the background. 

For about two decades I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of a Christian Men’s Group. My experience has been that men need the fellowship and counsel of other men, men who can hold us accountable to keep our promises to our God, wives, children, neighbors and work associates. Men tend to use the Lone Ranger approach when dealing with hurts, wounds, and sins.  We don’t exhibit emotions like our female counterparts, and we believe it’s less manly to seek the help of other like-minded men. Instead we prefer to work it out by ourselves.  As if we could abstain from looking at our situation objectively without the bias of our own selfishness and pride. That’s why the Bible tells us to seek the council of other followers in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15.

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Dacey Reservoir: A Return to the Scene of the “Incident”

On Dacey Reservoir, looking back toward primitive boat launch with the Trout Truck, Hot Creek Butte, and snow-capped Grant Range in the background.  The Water Master Grizzly scooted nicely over the 40-yard long mass of dead bulrush that blocked access to the open water.

On October 22, 2015, I suffered a heart attack while fishing Dacey Reservoir. Although I’ve made a few trips to Cold Creek since my heart attack (about 40 miles northwest of my home), this trip to Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch WMA) was my first substantial fishing trip, a 360 mile round trip consisting of six hours of driving.  Truthfully, I was glad to make the trip and I felt no anxiety about returning to the scene of the incident. Putting aside the three stents that opened my blocked heart arteries, I really believe my conversion to a full vegan diet has made a significant improvement in my health, and I’m confident I’m getting a handle on preventing any future incidents.

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