Sunday, July 5, 2009

Desolation Wilderness Death March Jun 23rd

The plan for this mission was a a trip up to the trail less lake of Kalmia. Total of about 5 miles one way. The first 2.6 miles sees a vertical gain of about 2200 feet! Somewhere around mile 1.5 I pulled my groin. Last mile and a half is a completely trail less route that involves about 500ft of elevation gain, then the mile and a half of side hilling. Snow fields, wet granite , and big boulders. Some scrambling on all fours.
We basically sidehilled that entire mountain in the back ground. From out of frame to the right, all the way to that big bowl on the left. It was gnarly. Add in a pretty bad groin pull and it was pure Hell. Believe you me, this photo belies the scope and brutality of this part of the trek.

This is after we made our ascent and were beginning the long off trail side hill to the bowl.


We finally arrived to this gorgeous little gem, still surrounded by snow at the end of June.
I was in so much pain that I just laid down to rest while my buddy fished. This lake hasnt been air dropped since 2004 so we were hoping to find few, but large Volcano Creek Golden Trout. After being there an hour, and seeing nothing, we decide to pack back up and drop the 500 trail less feet of elevation down to Azure Lake.
Check out Tahoe in the background, some 2800 feet below! Gorgeous!

As we were tearing down our rods, I watch a 9" and 13" Golden go cruising by. Bastards! We of course re-rigged and tried to catch them, but to no avail. So we tried to get down to Azure. Here is a taste of what ALL of that off trail section looked like up close. Beautiful, but brutal.
Even after my rest, my injury was killing me, and really holding my buddy back. We were unable to drop down to Azure due to cliffs and decided it was not worth the huge amount of detour that would be neccessary, so we opted to fish Eagle Lake that was only about a mile away from the car. As soon as we reached the trail, with about 3 miles to the car, I told him to go ahead to Eagle Lake and leave me behind, to go at my own, miserably slow pace.

After a very very slow and tough hike, I made it out. No fish, no bites, plenty of pain, but nevertheless a good trip. Gorgeous, inhospitable country.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Have a bunch of trip reports coming up. Look for Golden Trout missions in the Desolation, replete with issues.Then some New Mexico river Browns and Rainbows, and Yellow Perch and damsel munching 'Bows from the lake, big stillwater Colorado 'Bows, and MAYBE even some moving water .....well, I wont spoil the suprise with those fish. :D
Im worn out, and need to organize, edit, and gather a couple hundred pictures.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Well, it was rough, but a bunch of fun!

In bed at midnight on Thursday, on the road by 3am. At the trailhead by 7.

I slung my 42lb pack on my back and began the 3 mile hike into the nasty weather ahead. It was pretty cold, near freezing. There was a slight drizzle when we took off, nearly unbroken cloud cover, and the sun was just coming over the ridge to the east.


The hike was fairly uneventful. I did find a pretty nice arrowhead. Which I of course left behind as per the law ;).


After arrival, it took us half an hour to get all of our gear unpacked, assembled, and ready to rock.

I started off nymphing under an indicator with an olive scud on the bottom, and a Chronomid emerger up above it about 18". The wind made casting next to impossible. Within five minutes of being on the water, my buddy Brandon had the first of the day to hand. A nice 14 inch Brookie. Soon thereafter, I had my first, a Brookie of about 16 inches after I switched to an Olive Zonker.


We had fairly consistant action for the whole day. I got a 16inch Brookie that weighed 2lbs 13ozs! What a football!


I then caught the two biggest Brookies of my life, both over 18 inches with this one being a shade longer, and much heavier. Certainly over 3lbs which as far as I am concerned is a big ass Brookie!


It rained and blew on us all day, but the fishing made it all worthwhile. I ended up with about 12-15 fish, all Brookies, and Brandon had similar numbers, with a couple Cutthroats thrown in the mix. At one point the cold water and lack of sleep got to me so I enjoyed a nice nap in the grass. Thank god for Gore-Tex.


It made for a really long, cold, exhausting day. But it was definitely worth it. I am headed back this weekend. Will let you all know how it went.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

About to get our asses kicked.

Leaving for the Eastern Sierra at 2am tomorrow morning. Lots of wind, hiking a few miles with a 42lb pack, camping, freezing, rain both days. Will be back Saturday night hopefully with some fish pics.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Last Years Return to the Fly

Here's the rundown of last season's fly fishing that I promised earlier.

After getting home from Colorado, I pulled out my dusty old Cabelas Boulder Creek rod that I had bought in the original store in Sydney, Nebraska when I was 12. The reel had long since been lost in my series of moves. I went out and picked up an Okuma Sierra 4/5 and some Rio Mainstream WF5F line. I assembled most of my accesories like shot, indicators, leaders, tippets, etc, from what I had lying around a multitude of local stores. For flies, I came across Awesome prices and the flies are of great quality. I have made no less than half a dozen big orders from them and they all showed up quickly and complete. Check them out.

On one of my visits from Wyoming out here to see my dad,sometime in 2004, I brought along a friend who is a guide in Jackson Hole. He brought two Sage 5wts, and we hit the Little Truckee between Stampede and Boca. I learned more from him in those 3 days than I had put together in the 8 or 9 years of occasional fly fishing before that. We even got a pretty good number of fish.

So after gearing back up in the Summer of '08 that was my first destination. Anybody who fishes the LT knows it can be a tough one in the summer, and it was certainly that. After a dawn to dusk day of fishing, I managed one little 5"rainbow on a streamer. I fished this creek 3 or 4 times during the summer and managed to blank every time. I did find a huge bow in one awesome run. She was very hard to see, and easily over 25 inches. She was feeding on something mid water and I tried everything I had but I couldnt get her to go.

I also fished the Truckee River and managed to hook and lose 3 nice 'Bows in the 15inch class on a size 4 Conehead Bugger. I am looking forward to fishing this stretch of river here again soon.

After a stunning defeat on the Yuba soon after my last Truckee experience, I decided to go after some stillwater fish.

One of my bass fishing buddies grew up as a fly fisherman and he turned me onto this little gem in the El Dorado National Forest that is not supported by trout plants. This lake is almost enitrely wild Brown Trout, with an occasional Brookie or Rainbow showing up.

I in the late morning and was excited to see this lake. Since it is less than an hour from my house, I was especially impressed with its beauty. There was no surface activity or cruisers to be seen, so I ended up dragging a bugger on a sinking line for most of the day for one missed strike. But then, as soon as the shade hit the water, the western side of the lake started coming alive with the dimpling of feeding trout. I kicked my way over in my tube and tied on a size 20 Mosquito, hoping to mimick the tiny midges. After receiving no strikes in about 15 minutes, with trout going off all around me, I switched to 2lb tippet. After a long long wait I saw the little Mosquito get sipped under and after a minute or two was finally rewarded with my first California fly fish in quite a long time.


I fished this lake about half a dozen times last year taking many fish that were within the 10-15 inch range. I only had success early in the morning and late in the evening with dry flies, with no fish to hand on nymphs or streamers. I will be back up there soon, just waiting on the snow to clear off the roads.

I also fished Wrights Lake many times, always with a handful of Browns in the morning and evening on dries, and Rainbows during the day on Wooly Buggers. On one our trips to Wright's, I got bored so we opted to do a day hike on our last day to one of the nearby lakes in the Desolation Wilderness. This was my girlfriends introduction to back country hiking and the 1000ft of altitude gain had her wanting to quit, but she stuck in there and was glad she did when the lake finally appeared in front of us. STUNNING!

I managed to get about 15 of these on a size 12 Stimulator. Nothing like reckless little brookies in the high country.

I rounded out my season with a couple trips to the Eastern Sierra in October. Both trips were awesome despite the extreme weather and chilly temps. My first ever Lahontan Cutthroat taped out at 26"

We caught many others, most in the 16-19 inch range, with an awesome range of colors, here are two at the far ends of the spectrum.

We managed a few killer Brookies too.

After that I went back to bass fishing for awhile but lets face it, nothing in bass fishing compares to this photo right here:


Man! I'm looking forward to this season!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A new site for my new focus

Hello all!

You have stumbled across what I hope will become a loosely assembled rambling of my thoughts and experiences fly fishing Northern California.

Before we get started I thought I give little background info for you.

The name is James, more commonly known as Jay to those unfortunate few who I consider my friends. At the time of this writing I am 24, living in the foothills of Northern California near Sacramento. I have fished all my life, hell, it is even rumored that I was conceived on a back country Cutthroat trip in Colorado where my parents caught and released two Rio Grande Cutts over 6lbs. So perhaps my undying condition of fish on the brain was something programmed into me from the start. At 18 I moved to Wyoming for a year, where unfortunately I fished very little. I did however make a few trips to the Snowy Range catching some great Brookies in a stunning setting. After my short stint there, I relocated to my current home in Northern California.

When I arrived here, I thought my high country days were over, so I looked at what kind of fishing my area had to offer. As it turns out, I'm smack dab in the middle of trophy Largemouth country. After buying myself a "sweet" baitcasting combo from Longs Drugs, I headed to some ponds in a local state recreation area. I spent 64 consecutive days fishing those ponds after work and all day on the weekends. An addiction was born. On a rainy day in April of 2005 I headed down to Folsom Lake to do a little shore fishing and was rewarded with a 7.5lb Largemouth. Now I not only wanted bass, but big ones! I spent the next 4 years of my life completely consumed by trophy Largemouth. I had my successes, with 5 fish over 10lbs including my standing personal best of 13lbs 1ozs. My records indicate that I have caught and released 104 bass over 5 lbs since I started throwing the big swimbaits that commonly weigh over 6 ounces and are 8-12 inches long.


A clear pattern has developed in my life of becoming completely obsessed with something, hoarding the neccesary gear and getting pretty good at it, just to eventually burn out because I drove myself so hard. First it was dirt jumping BMX bikes, then the same with motorcycles, then paintball, then partying and girls of questionable values, then the trophy Largemouth bug grabbed hold like no other.

In July of 2008 I had finally gotten really burnt out on it. The trophy Largemouth game is shockingly political, the more connected you become in this small and elitist circle, the drama that gets dragged into your "fun" can really ruin it for you. Especially in this electronic age. The internet in my opinion CAN be really bad when you associate it with your passion for the outdoors.

Upon returning to Colorado for a family reunion, I was faced with 8 days in a luxury rental home in Keystone. I certainly enjoy the company of my family, and looked forward to the nightly card games, beer drinking, and BSing with the people I care about the most. However, during the day I was to have some me time. I am a solitary being. As it turns out, our rental was a mere 100 yards from a fork of the Snake river. I went down to the local big box sporting goods store and bought a $30 6 piece 5wt a few Green Drakes, Prince Nymphs, and Olive Wooly Buggers.

I took this fine piece of Chinese craftsmanship back to the rental and got it all together. I strolled on down to the water and within an hour was rewarded with my first Colorado trout in at least 5 years.


I caught and released no less than 25 of these in the week I was there, and the flybug had officially taken hold. I managed to get a beautiful 14" Cutthroat that left me completely speechless. It was more rewarding to me than any of my trophy Largemouth conquests. Unfortunately my camera girl ( who you will no doubt be introduced to in the future) was not with me that morning. Since I was wet wading I had decided it best not to bring my digital camera with me. Too bad. But I have the most vivid mental snapshot you could imagine to hold me over.

Upon returning from my family reunion, I continued to fly fish, feeling out my surrounding area. I will make a seperate post summarizing my summer and fall trips a little later.

When the fall of 2008 slowly turned to winter, I returned to my pursuit of big bass, thinking that my nice hiatus would let me return to it refreshed and ready to go. Sadly, that was not the case. I found myself mechanically going out, making what should be my passion and fun in life, feel more like work.

After a dismal winter and early spring in 2008-2009, I found myself completely uninterested in chasing the big green ones. So here we sit, I have packed my bass fishing stuff away, and sold some to be able to upgrade and flesh out my fly fishing arsenal. In a few precious days, the high sierra trout opener will be upon us.

I am incredibly excited about this season. I intend to make many many trips to a wide range of destinations. Everything from the low altitdue Yuba and American rivers, all the way to the far flung, high country pack in destinations.

My hopes for this blog is to post pictures and reports, talk gear, fish, and flies, and hopefully do a bit of entertaining in the process.

It should be said now, that I will rarely cite a specific fishing location in plain words. I have learned in my bass fishing that the worst thing you can do to a body of water is sing it's praises somewhere that anyone who knows how to Google can find it.

I am excited to share my experiences with those of you who have the same burning desire to introduce fish to steel that I do.