Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pink Diamond Creek

Originally written September, 2005.

Ever find yourself suddenly – gloriously! -- FREE for a day? I did; very recently in fact.

There’s a modest drainage in a relatively non-descript area of a somewhat overlooked southern California National Forest that has been drawing me back time and time again this year (this was my 3rd trip to the region this year, my 2nd as a fly fisher). It’s a very small stream, the area is loaded with biting blackflies, and, overall, the place is kind of scruffy; however, there’s a certain color -- and spunk -- to the wild fish that inhabit this stream, and I find it delightfully intriguing.

So, on my unexpectedly free day, I found myself driving the 87 miles from my doorstep to this stream, carrying – for the first time – a 6’6” Diamondback Diamondglass 3-wt small-stream rod, one which a very kind soul on this board has let me “try out” for a season, just to see how I like it.

After arriving around 11:00AM and slathering myself in my favorite wilderness cologne – Eau de Deet – I made my way upstream, up good old Pink Diamond Creek:

As usual, it took me a solid, frustratingly fishless hour until I began to “dial in” the stream. I always seem to be a bit impatient when I first hit a stream, and this day was no exception. At first, I tried this, that, and the other fly (stimulators, streamers and nymph-and-indicator, in that order), to no avail. I began to doubt myself and my techniques.

My manhood came into question, frankly.

When I spooked an absolutely gorgeous, red-banded-and-purple-parr-marked wild rainbow from under a log in an otherwise totally exposed location, I began to think that I’d be eating skunk this fine autumn day. Listen: that spooked fish had absolutely beautiful coloration – I saw her every marking in the crystal-clear waters – and she was easily 12”. Damn these eyes!

Then I stumbled onto a larger-than-average pool and proceeded to switch to a classic fly: a tan-and-yellow #16 EHC. Before I knew it, I had caught and released four lovely, wild rainbow trout – all of them dinks (2”-4” range). I KNEW the pool held bigger fish – I saw an 8”-er rise not 5 feet in front of me – but I had been spastically reckless in my approach and, in all likelihood, had spooked the big ‘uns under a big rock near the tail.

From that point on, I took extra pains to be stealthy. I started crawling up to locations, keeping my profile low and my body crouched against the horizon. I tried not to make a noise. I stopped breathing for a moment, then decided to start again.

Guess what? It worked.

The stealthy “I am a predator” Ted Nugent(tm) approach –as I always seem to stupidly forget – paid off. I began catching some of the larger denizens (the largest was nine inches in the Measure Net) of this sweet little babbling brook. This one was taken from a pool that was about head-high, upstream from me as I stood in the spray of a small waterfall, tossing my EHC into the sunny pool at eye-level, the others were found in similar locations (wow, what a challenge!):

And so went my afternoon, spent in a haze of dry-fly drifts and spunky trout fights.

Good times.

By the way, the Diamondglass RULED! What a fantastic small-stream weapon. This thing worked like a dream, casting with distance – such as it was -- when I needed it, and mostly used for “flipping” my dry fly from the end of the drift back to the head of the pool (again, this is TINY water). Nice rod, very nice. I like it. Now, if only it were a four-piece instead of a two-piece.

Later, on the way out, this fine tarantula was spotted:

Nothing like the feeling of another wonderful day alone spent with a fly rod in hand, taking home a head full of wild trout memories. Gee, I think I'll invite about 8 buddies on an overnighter here soon -- spreading the word is what it's all's a shot of the road to help you guess where this is...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fork of a Fork Creek

Originally written July, 2006.

I hit a popular local watershed yesterday with an eye for silver-tinted trout.

While the waters were low and warm in this pretty canyon, I threw caution to the wind and decided to teach the slippery little beasts some necessary life lessons.
Got up there at 7AM in the pull-out on that one particular road. This particular watershed has a lot of downed trees as well as lots of heavy brush lining the banks of the stream, so I took my time exploring various runs, riffles and pools, and eventually settled into a nice, relaxed routine.

Eventually, the clouds began to dissipate, and the warming summer sun enveloped the canyon in a deep amber glow. The ice-blue waters of the small stream danced between boulders, over fallen trees, and through notches in small granite gorges, revealing numerous prime trout lies every dozen yards or so.

I was using a Diamondglass 6’ 3WT this fine day; the conditions were perfect for this excellent small-stream rod. The rod worked like magic and, for the first time since I’ve had it in my possession, I was able to give it true, hard-core work out. It’s a blast to cast this thing on these tiny waters, and, honestly, I fell in love with the it. Yes, I love my rod.

I came upon a particular plunge pool visible from above that I simply had to fish – it looked perfect, a bathtub-sized hole right smack in the middle of the log jam. I made my way over, under, and through the deadfall, and soon found myself drifting a #16 beadhead Prince nymph through the pool. On my third drift, I was the lucky recipient of a vicious strike, and I found myself laughing out loud as I fought a typical Southern California dink in the tumbling waters:

Moments later, in another nice pool below the bathtub, the Prince yet again worked its regal magic:

A couple hundred yards upstream, I came upon a solid granite gorge with a nasty current splashing alongside one of the rock walls, featuring an absolutely delicious-looking eddy below a boulder at the top of the run. I cast my Prince near the eddy and was immediately hammered by a fish, which I had on my line for a brief moment until the trout decided to disconnect the call. “No big deal“, I told myself, and proceeded to work the eddy again. This time, a nice-sized ‘bow took the Prince, and she jumped, revealing a broad swath of red down her ample sides, with absolutely gorgeous, large speckles all over her top and sides. She was shaped like the business end of an oar, a fat, long rectangle with fins. D-a-m-n, I wish I’d have landed that beauty! That image of her in mid-jump will haunt me until the next time I return and successfully nail her.

This was, apparently, one of those locations that gives hapless fly fishermen chance after chance after chance. I hooked into fish over the next dozen or so casts, losing them each and every time, much to my dismay. However, this generous pool provided me with the rare opportunity to fine-tune my approach and, eventually, I managed to bring home my “fish of the day”, a healthy 13”-range beauty:

With that out of the way, I made my way car-ward and soon found myself sipping Horchata in AZuza. And here I’d been told the WF was a waste of time. Guess it’s how one chooses to look at life, right guys?