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Monthly Archives: January 2013

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Spinner Fall

Fall River in June

Fall River in June

When I was growing up in the 1960′s I was incredibly lucky to have a father dedicated to teaching his family about outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, hiking, water sports, and the like. Shasta County in northern California was a little known resource to the casual vacationer, considered to near to their metropolitan urban homes to brag about. Far more exotic trips to Alaska, British Columbia, or Florida seemed to be more brag worthy.

My dad knew our area was far more diverse than many of these other “exotic” destinations. Many of the high dollar adventures were known for only one or two featured draws like a certain species of salmonid, big game animal, or saltwater big game fishing. Our northern California resources were enough to whet the appetite of any outdoors’ enthusiast. There was even a spring creek fishery unlike any other. This largest and most famous of spring creeks in California is Fall River.

Before 1971 Fall River was completely private lands with owners giving little or no access to sportsmen. My dad tried and tried to gain an ‘in’ with ranchers to fish this fabulous water to no avail. He even spent an entire winter welding up irrigation pipe for hay ranchers, and they turned him down. They paid him, of course, but would not grant access to the river for an outsider.

In the early 1970′s a notable lawsuit declared Fall River to be navigable if one can get a boat into the water. CalTrout spearheaded this suit, and maintains a launch for small non-gas powered watercraft near the Island Road Bridge. This is the only “public” access on the middle section of Fall River above the confluence with the Tule River.  A current link for what CalTrout is up to right now is http://caltrout.org/regions/mount-shasta-region/the-fall-river/.

I was out of the area during the ensuing years. I didn’t keep up with local northern California politics unless brought to my notice from my mom or dad, and neither of them mentioned this development. Those water’s were still off limits as far as I knew until a presentation about Fall River at the monthly meeting of Shasta Trinity Fly Fishers..

The club president told us there were two three day trips scheduled for the last two weeks of June, and it was first come first serve at the sign up sheet. I said to myself “Oh yeah! Wish dad could go with me.”, and made a reservation for two. My fishing pal James would go too.

SpinnerFall Lodge

SpinnerFall Lodge

Where We Stayed

Nestled in a huge high mountain meadow is the Spinnerfall Lodge, and would be our base of operations for the net few days. This place was great! As expected, the rooms are decorated northwoods rustic, and like other small motel rooms, but that is where the similarity ended. A huge deck spans the entire length of the main lodge in a couple of tiers, and overlooks a giant lawn that leads right down to the river’s edge featuring a little waterwheel pump, and launch. A beautiful bar overlooks all of this in the main room, where tables are set for diners in big parties, or small and intimate. The food was fantastic, and very reasonable, with breakfast, bag lunch, and dinner everyday. We enjoyed their chef’s specialties very much thank you!

Water Wheel Pup

Water Wheel Pump

I am going to break this trip down into a couple of different posts, so come back to check out the actual fishing part in a few days. In the mean time you may like to check out what a trip like this can mean to you by going to The Fly Shop. They are one of the premier outfitters, and offer their help in a very courteous, knowledgeable manner.

The fishing part of the trip will be in a few days, be sure to come back.  Until next time, I hope you are out Ketchinnee!

Mr Hook

 

Shasta in January

It’s middle of January as I launch the boat on a crisp, windless, gray day at Centamudi launching ramp near Shasta Dam. There is about 6 inches of hard crusty snow lining the shore that seems to make the day colder than it really is. I have a vision of sparkly ice crystals blowing from my rod guides as I reel in line. I am thinking this must just be too chilly for any serious effort at hooking a fish. But the fishin bug has struck me, and I must answer.

Psych! The above description is one from memory about a outing years ago. This day’s detail goes as follows. Yes it is the middle of January but the day is as bright and sunny as any spring day could be with a temperature in the low 70′s. Can you imagine? The only snow shows as white patches along the higher ridge lines, and the brightly lit visage of Mt Shasta. The trees and bushes along the shore show heavy budding from the unseasonably warm weather of the past week. We can only hope the winter rains come back to fill the lakes, and ensure our northern California lands can stay as green longer into the hot months.

A fellow January angler is just  pulling out to go home as I prepare my boat to launch, and we talked a little about his successes of the day. We also shared fish pix from our phones in a nostalgic way about warmer weather catches. I found out his best lure of the day was a split tail root beer colored grub. His electronics showed fish suspended in the 45-60 foot depth range. He caught all of his fish right there. Slowly working rock outcroppings in that depth range only produced one small spotted bass this day.

I launched the boat and headed for my favorite coves near the Shasta Dam straight away. I noticed hardly any driftwood  on the forebay, and as a matter of fact, there was very little driftwood to be encountered anywhere. This is always a plus in the months that Lake Shasta is filling. Driftwood deposited on the shore from the previous year migrates out onto the water as the lake level rises, and this can make it dangerous for boaters not paying enough attention. Most of the time the little pieces of wood will only go tick, tick against the hull, but sometimes the thunk of a larger piece will sound and the possibility of getting stuck in the prop, or sucked into a jet pump is real. Just keeping vigilant “eyes forward” should prevent this danger to the excursion!

The water on this day was pretty turbid. I gauged the visibility to be about 16 inches by watching my downrigger weight coming up when I trolled. I have found darker colored offerings to show better in these turbid conditions. Black, dark brown, and purple seem to work really well, but not for me on this day.

I spent some of my time fly casting a black leech pattern in places having running water entering the lake to no avail. When the shadows crept into the cove I was reminded of January winter chill. The air temperature plummeted rapidly, and I left following the sun, and began to troll. There were a lot of fish signatures in the depth range stated by the fellow at the launch, and there were quite a few boats trolling in this area, but I didn’t get one hook up. The guys in the other boats I spoke with said my experience was much the same as theirs. No fish boated.

Fish boated or not, it was a beautiful day to try Ketchinnee on Lake Shasta in Mid January.

Mr Hook

 

Desert Lure

Everyone has their own reasons for liking, or not liking the desert. Enter your happy place and  let imagination take over to discover your own personal desert lure.

Here are some examples for like the desert. The colorful sweeping panorama. The presence of fauna and flora, seemingly so exotic from non-desert geographicals. Maybe the simple scent of dryness.

On the dislike side maybe the lack of moisture at first glance everywhere you look. Too hot seems to be a big one. So little green. You add your own items to these lists.

My best like of the central Oregon high desert was the dryness. Living in the Portland area during the fall, winter, and spring requires your feet to always be wet. You get used to it, and go about your business. However some little niggling thought about getting dry encroaches into your thoughts as spring wanes and summer waxes like the cycle of the moon. Being dry (except when in the river) was my trigger to head over the hill to Maupin and the Deschutes. The local Redside rainbow was a perk after I started hooking them.

Now I am telling you my trigger was being dry, but trying to hook some of the fabled Resides was my desert lure, and the lack of angling success made me focus on the dry angle instead of the catching fish angle.

This photo is with permission from photographer Dylan Rose dylan@flywatertravel.com, and Emerald Water Anglers. This fish looks exactly like my first!

Pretty native

Redside Rainbow

Hooked One!

The section of the Deschutes I was exploring is an “Artificials Only” section of water. Initially I brought my spinning gear, and tried a few lures with no success. I began to just take my fly gear after those first couple of times. What the heck was I supposed to use?

The fly guys I was talking with pretty much all said little bitty flies were the ticket. Heck I had only begun to use nymph patterns, and was far more familiar with dry flies. I couldn’t see the itty bitty things on the water, and had no idea of what the take even looked like on this massive volume of water. I had to find my happy medium.

While examining the fly selection in GI Joes one afternoon, and talking with another shopper about the Deschutes, I saw a crawdad imitation. It was much larger than anything everybody was describing to me but what the heck. I had seen all kinds of crawdads in the river where I had been camping, and knew crawdads were a common food source for most fish. I bought one.

My next trip to Maupin featured the same old swing technique I was familiar with, and the same old results. Fish zero, and angler zero. That evening another angler I was friends with put the bone from his steak in the river right at the shore under some little bankside willow trees. After five minutes, or so, we went over and looked where he had placed the bone. The bone was crawling with crawdads, and fish were dimpling the water only a few feet from shore! I figured now would be a good time to try the crawdad.

My first couple of cast and retrieves featured swarms of smolt pecking at the crawdad imitation. It was too far for me to cast to the seam of faster water from where I was, so I moved upriver a little to present into the area where the smolt were active. A couple of casts here taught me how to make the presentation, and how to duck from casting my first weighted fly! Bap, right in the back of the head. (Dirty word, dirty word)

I can keep going here, but I am remembering this as if it were yesterday instead of 30+ years ago, and this post is getting a little long. So to sum this up, I did learn to cast, swing, and steer a weighted fly. The learning curve for this was pretty easy, and the reward was a voracious strike on the crawdad imitation. I brought to hand my first Deschutes River Redside trout. The way it batted, and stripped line, I thought the fish may have been a whopper. In reality the fish was about 15 inches long, and as pretty a trout as I had ever seen. The moniker Redside was evidenced by the blood red stripe from nose to tail nearly as wide as the fish itself. Spectacular! Yay, I finally had a story to tell about Ketchinnee, and a new Desert Lure.

Mr Hook

2013 California Fishing License

 

I just went and bought my 2013 California Department of Fish and Wildlife license yesterday. In case you have not seen what is being given as a license yet. Here is a picture of mine. There will be additional documents with report cards, and validation cards. Fills the pouch big time.2013-01-16_15-37-42_523

The fee for a California Sport Fishing license has a base of $45.93. This is the basic license for sport fishing in the state’s open waters. There are two report cards I get every year. The first is for steelhead at $7.05, and Northcoast Salmon fishing report card at $6.22. I also add a second rod validation at $14.04.

To see all the combinations, and fees for California go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/fishdescrip.html.

How about that? I must spend nearly $75.00 to go fishing the way I like. Phew! I couldn’t come up with the correct search parameters, but I think my first license in 1967 cost $3.50. What a difference half a century can make.

Every year there are two Free Fishing Days for California, and they are July 6th and September 7th for 2013. These two days every year provide an opportunity for folks to experience the fun of sport fishing on California open waters. There are some stipulations though and more information about this program and rules can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/freefishdays.html.

I hope this information was valuable for you, and you can do the same as me Ketchinnee.

Mr Hook

California Elves

cdfw-heading

This is the new logo for, well you get the picture. I feel the change is appropriate, and would like feed back from you.

Before just setting the stage I would like to mention a few of my reasons for why I feel the appropriateness of this change for the California Elves.

In 1870, think about it as only a few years following the Civil War, California established the Board of Fish Commissioners, and expanded the inclusion of game to the board’s responsibilities in 1878. Obviously there was felt a need to protect from the wholesale slaughter of this state’s enormous abundance of fish and game. The population was growing like crazy. Food sources were needed. Habitat for game, and waters for fish were being compromised daily by not only the farmers and ranchers, but also mining and industrialization of the state in general.

The next name change was in 1909 when the Commission of Fish and Game was established, then again in 1927 as the Division of Fish and Game. In 1951 the Division of Fish and Game was elevated to the Department of Fish and Game, and has remained so until January 1, 2013. It has been over 60 years since the responsibilities of these elves was addressed for their impact on the resources in this huge state. Go here for a nice timeline, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/about/.

The scope of responsibility for these California Elves has been far more than the moniker Fish and Game denotes. Their mission statement posted in the above link plainly addresses much of what is involved, but falls short of the entirety.

I would like to tell of this small example to illustrate my point

Much of the responsibility for a volunteer fire department along the Trinity River in northern California is responding to vehicle mishaps along highway 299. I was a responding member at the site of a pickup that completely overturned on the road near a little creek that entered the Trinity River a few hundred feet from the accident, and the overturned vehicle spilled all manner of fuel and oil on the road near this creek. Our local warden showed up as we began clean up protocol, and coached us about how to control the mess from further endangering the water. Without his guidance we may have just kitty littered the mess and swept it off the asphalt, but he explained why this was a irresponsible solution, and helped us sweep up the kitty litter for depositing in the hazmat bin at the landfill. We could have unwittingly polluted a whole section of river habitat if not for his guidance, and teaching efforts.

The behavior, and perception of a warden’s responsibility is probably slewed towards the law enforcement side, because where is it you read about other things they do for the public? If anyone is silly enough to defy the rules set by our California Elves, let them experience the law enforcement side.

I am off to get my 2013 fishing license in a little while. The cost to obtain my license is quite daunting. How much of the fee is going to the logo change? And herein lies my misgivings about the whole change over thing. Why is the brunt of the cost placed upon the licensees instead of budgeted from the state. The entire public draws benefit from the endeavors of the department, not only the licensee.

If any readers know enough about the budget line for this change to post thoughts about it, we would appreciate it. For now I am off to purchase said license so I can go be Ketchinnee.

Mr Hook

As an aside, I have had some health issues preventing my blogging. I believe I am back. Stay Tuned!

 

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