Wednesday, November 21, 2012

F%&$

I had a glorious post ready for you, and somehow unintentionally highlighted the entire thing, typed the letter m thus deleting everything I had been writing for two days....and the bastard blogger saved a copy of the blank draft....so FUCK! is the word of the day.



But, no matter, here is something to make the day a little better.  From the Back Porch Sessions, here is Daniel Driver and Jeff Mac live with The Greatest Catsquirrel.



Friday, August 17, 2012

Golden Trout Wilderness: Part I


The hash marks on I-5 are zipping by almost at the same speed as the caffiene-diluted blood in my veins.  It's 4 in the morning and the olive orchards are sleeping black shadows; by 5 the rice fields are steaming with mist and by dawn, the sunflowers on highway 99 are looking as eagerly to the east as I am.  Quartering to the south, I drain the last few drops of jitter juice and just catch the ever-clarifying mirage of the Sierras.  Soon I will have been awake for 24 hours, unable to sleep partly because I've been working all night, but only partly.  It was going to be another 10 hours before I could sleep, if that was even going to be possible with mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and black bears dancing around my tarp.  But those stars sure are going to look beautiful in that dry open air at 7000 feet with radiant golden trout unveiling their own dance to the wild flowing rythm of the Golden Trout Wilderness.  And I would be inexorably tethered to it, enveloped in the entirety of it all.

Sure we had talked about it plenty, and come up with generalized ideas of what it would take to pull off a trip of this magnitude, typically during alcohol lubricated rants on the porch or on pleather upholstered stools.  Why, we had even gotten a vague idea of what creeks we would have to fish to find the motherloads of geologically induced piscine purity.  But never had we tried to put the plan into action.  It would take months of planning and hours of poring over maps, tying flies, checking leaders, packing gear, preparing food...But we've done all that.  Hell, all we need is the time off. 
Less than three weeks of planning, and we had the loose framework of what had the potential to solidify into one of the most epic troutings to date. Sure, we've ground through day upon day of steelhead hell, making repetitive drift after painfully repetetive drift, but at the end of the day, there are buffalo wings to be had, beers to be quaffed, and firelit tales of elusive glory and the rock that you swear up and down shook its head to free up that fly.  Steelhead fishing has a comfort to it that cannot be explained, only lived.  This trip was going to be a whole different animal, a new kind of suffering that would require an entirely unique approach at losing yourself in the illusion.

37 pounds of food, water, shelter, and zen tools loaded in the back of the grey ghost, and I am getting a shotgun view of the foothills backed by bigger foothills backed by the Western Sierras.  Both Mainerd and I have enough caffiene and sugar in our systems to kill a small herd of elephants, but we're keepin 'er between the white lines, and that's all that matters.  A stop at the local ranger station proved to be less than helpful.  The poor gal had no idea she was about to run into two raging fanatics that had preconceived of actually hunting golden trout in the GOLDEN TROUT Wilderness. "Golden trout?  I didn't know we had those."  My dear Ms. Simpleton, we are only in the GOLDEN TROUT wilderness in the state of California, the flagship fish for which IS the golden trout, Onchorynchus mykiss aguabonita, the purest strains of which are found in Golden Trout Creek and Volcanic Creek, from which it derives the other common name, Volcano Creek Goldent Trout...Oh, and did I mention that we are in the GOLDEN TROUT WILDERNESS!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Aside from that carnival ride, the route we planned to take was completely off the charts for these folks.  The best we could do was get some guess-work at the trailhead location and directions (which actually turned out to be rather easy and accurately assessed, contrary to prior research, due to a relatively new trailhead) to said trailhead.  From there, we were on our own, lost in the vast wilderness.  So naturally, we thank them for their time and recommendation of a $20 map to fill in the gaps and act as a supplement to our other $30 map, and the vividly highlited trail maps distributed for free.  Armed with maps out the wazoo, high-tech toppographical mapping GPS software, and a pocketful of dreams...hearts full of hope...we drive ever onward and alarmingly uphill to the trailhead. 5000 feet we climb beside river and cliff and certain-death preventing guardrails to the babypowderesque sands of Click's Creek Trailhead.

I change socks and clothes, rearrange my 37 pounds of food, water, shelter, zen tools and sh*t tickets, compose the parting shot with the grey ghost, and we're off!, but not before returning to snag the GoPro.  The first bit of the trail eases downhill and across and beside a tiny trickle, probably a tributary to Clicks Creek, but HO, Mainerd spots a trout.  Not only does he spot a trout, but he spots a trout that is rising. Should we stop to fish less than a half mile in? What kind of trout is it? Is it worth the stop? Should we both rig up, or just one of us?  These are the questions that, though most of them had the simple answer 'yes' built into them, belly-crawled me through the grass, enduring the hordes of mosquitoes to the edge of the water.  In a matter of seconds, I was hit with a shockwave as the leviathanic beast broke free of his hydraulic confines into the alien world of my eyes and the winged six-legged appetizer he had just inhaled.  A belly of gold, that's all I saw, and all that I needed to see before Mainerd sets the hook and I thwart his best attempt at pinning a little kern goldent trout to my ear.  Step one: Find trailhead..check.  Step Two: catch little kern golden...double check as I send my wriggling victim skyward and wing my way to a 100% catch rate.  One cast, one fish.

High fives all around, break down the rod, and it's back down the old dusty trail. Until we hit the creek a second time, we're on cruise control.  Already we've knocked out, oooooh, about a mile.  Then we hit a split.  It's midday, the GPS is acting up, and the maps don't show a split.  And where the heck are the signs!?  This trip is getting off great, one mile in and we are disoriented, not to mention we look like a couple of amateurs asking for directions from a passing trail riding group.  We would come to discover that a majority of the folks using these trails are mounted.  Good thing to know.  So we get set in the right direction and we are off again. Down.  Downhill for 2 miles or better, losing all of that precious elevation we had gained so easily in the car. I am quickly finding out that the pack I am carrying is slightly less than trail-worthy, and 4 or 5 miles in, I'm actually feelin' pretty spry.  We roll on through Grey Meadows, right on track and come upon the little pack camp cabin, and two real nice, rugged-lookin' gals.  I had to admit, I was kinda envying the set-up.  Pack in on horseback with 10 or 12 mules and spend a little time in a cabin at the edge of the wilderness, greeting passersby and exploiting some of the small stream fishing (complete with shoreside lunch and a percolating pot of grit-coffee whilst the horses graze hobbled in the trees) damn near every day of it.  Purty romantic, ain't it?  So these gals chat us up, about where we're from, where we're headed, how they used to pack fish in and out of the wilderness area when fisheries management was being born, and we come across some valuable information.  Apparently, Trout Creek Meadows is LOUSY with bears and the rattlesnakes abound by the spring.  So, not really wanting to call it quits at a mere 8 miles, we announce that, "Hell naw, we're headed to Willow Meadows.  We're just gonna walk up all these bunched together skinny lines on this here map and down them other ones, and we'll be there; it's just 6 more miles."

After a little interpretation, just short of breaking out our flawless conglomeration of modern navigational means, we finally all get on the same page with the destination, and they casually toss out the little factoid that grey meadows to willow meadows was 2 or 3 hours on horseback, and that we'd probably wanna look at camping at the Little Kern Bridge.  It was half the distance, and the bears and rattlesnakes were actually rather friendly, aaand we probably weren't going to make it to willow meadows by nightfall.  Like HELL!  Onward we march, stifling our laughter at how the underestimatory remarks and suggestions had bounced off of us like small twigs, splintering in the dry sand!  HA! (and for the record, I'm pretty sure I just invented a word.  Take THAT Webster and the world!  You are welcome.)

Our eyes were first opened by the smooth granite canyon of the Little Kern River.  Breathtaking fall-aways, smooth granite walls, and a wild little mountain river crossed by a picturesque bridge with a seemingly perfect little campsite right off the trail.  Come to find out later, that campsite would have been a nightmare.  Imagine pack train traffic running right upwind of your campsite next to a trail whose sand is, no joking, finer than baby powder.  I mean, you breathe a little too hard and you are gonna be dusted. Anyway, we pressed on.  7 or 8 miles in at this point and I decide to take a look at the old GPS, and..."We are headed entirely in the wrong direction" I says.  'Huh?'  " We're headed towards the meadows that the two ol' gals back at Grey Meadows casually warned against, Mainerd, I think we  missed a trail."

Utter disbelief.  How could we have missed a trail? There WAS no other trail.  So I volunteer to go back and take a look, and sure enough, we had missed it.  Standing right on it, I wouldn't have even known it was there, but for a small duck (or cairn or pile-o-damn-rocks).  Manzanita and some other low shrub had covered all but a sliver of the depression of the old cutoff trail, as we were informed it was by a passing pack train that dusted us thoroughly and left us standing in a mound of horse shit.  I'm sure this is it, and now it's Mainerd's turn to set the pace, because by now, I'm losing that bit of second wind.  WWW,TRD?  What Would Walker, Texas Ranger Do?  He'd hike up this damn trail, that's what!  Then turn around and karate kick it back into a mountain!  Well, we never brought it down from being a mountain spur, but up and over we did go until through the trees, I start seeing hints of an opening.  At this juncture, I am stumbling exhausted, we're not entirely sure there is a decent spring at this meadow, it's getting near dark, and I just noticed a few bear tracks on the trail.  Suddenly, after rolling down the backside of the hill, I get up, dust myself off and my eyes fall upon a quiet meadow hemmed all around by huge pines and firs, and a pretty well set up cow camp.  This is it, I'm locked in on my target and I'm going down.  I hit the log bench like a bag of hammers, too tired and worn out to even talk very loudly, and threw that pack off like it was a rabid wolverine strapped to my back.  I just wanted to be as far away from that accursed thing that had been riding on my back and slowly peeling the skin off my hips and shoulders! 

We slowly reconciled our differences and the bastard conceded to let me dig around for my food bag and water bottles, but I could still feel that evil glare that said, "Round 1, I win."  So I turn up the flame on the stove, boiling right along with my pot of tasty tortilla chicken soup, and silently cursing  and weaving vows of revenge.  And it's off to bed with an aching body, a weary soul, and a small glowing ember of hope for tomorrow's awaiting conquests.


The uprights on that bridge are about 25 feet high and the rock in the bottom center had the remains of the old bridge whose remaining pieces are my size.

My heritage trout #5, The Little Kern Golden Trout.


Mainerd's LK Golden.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Filler


Yeah, that's right...FILLER!  I have all of the footage I need to compose an encapsulating video chronicle of the trip to the Golden Trout Wilderness, but I have yet to make any headway on acquiring the software required to arrange the visual repertoire that I am envisioning.  But fear not, I am in the process of weaving the tale of the adventure, and it will be unleashed in the next post that draweth nigh.

Until then, I cooked up some filler.  Yay! Filler!

Whilst this was by no means a haphazard project, putting together this short did take under 2 hours tops...the first time!  There I am, whipping together a video, furrowed brow, drooping dark sacs filling beneath my eyes, and BING!  Up pops the old "youworkin'onsomethin'?Oh!COOL!" POWERDOWN!!!............................................................................................................................dramatic pause...............................................................................................................imagine these dots are creating a little electric feedback hum.................................................SON OF A B&*%$.   The computer goes FLYIN' across the room, and I'm flyin' after it to catch it.  I was a wee bit steamed!  But I got over it, and now, a week later, I started 'er up again and everything flowed.  I gotta say, for the remaining hour and a half I spent re-making this entire video after a song just CLICKed with me today at work, I don't think it's half bad.  It really paints a decent portrait of what the trip was,  a dang near fishless, cold, wet, dart throwin', punchin' baggin', drunk and hollerin' in the woods, frito chili pie makin', sasquatch trappin', hell-raisin' good time.

For starters, it hadn't been that good of a steelhead year to begin with, we had one fly-fishin' greenhorn, a wanted fish and wildlife outlaw, Mainerd and me, and we figured this trip was gonna be a doosey.  We had one week to get on some steelhead from just out of the valley damn near to Oregon.  One week to get some of the biggest, juiciest, perfectly breaded and sauced hot wings this side of the rockies.  ONE WEEK...to, party, because I hadn't been out there in quite some time, and dangit, I'm on vacation!
But we pulled 'er together and got loaded at Tips, as is the custom, and loaded up to head coastward.  First day on the water and ol' Mainerd (aka Mercury Risin') latches into a steelie.  Then tops it off with a beautiful brown.  Everybody else, ZIP!  No hookups, nada.  But merriment would be had!  We roll on west eventually meeting up with EGGO in Arcata. And so party night began.  We were all fresh on the road, had put in a great fishing effort for the day, doused those delicious buffalo wings with ample amounts of ice-cold SN Pale Ale off the tap, and it was time for vacation...I don't know what it is about that stupid punching machine in the bar, but I look at it now and see that I OBVIOUSLY missed out on a wonderful collegiate investment.  If anybody is reading this and is thinking about going to college, check out a punching machine.  Tell me you can resist cramming all your hard-earned money into one of those suckers after a few pints.  "Hey! Hey! Hey, hey hey, HEY! You GUYS! I'll bet you, the, the next pitcher,  I can score higher than you! *HICK*" 


















Well, you'll see it.
 Have you ever fished for steelhead?  Have you ever fished for steelhead...with a haNGOVER, MAN!?  Not highly advised.  Oh, and garlic cream cheese and lox on an onion bagel...sounds delicious, but don't do it!  Mercury takes us crashing through the quaint streets of downtown Acrata, and then into the roadside jungle down a near vertical hillside that , when you include the washed out traces of the old highway, stirs thoughts of post-apocalyptica.



  At one point I wormed my way out of the rabbit path and through a slope of hobbling vines, only to plunge headfirst into an 8 foot dropoff cushioned by jurassic-sized pampas grass. That is no estimation, 15'+ clumps of pampas.  RIDICULOUS!  Needless to say, I think next time we'll just take the longer route.  Anyway, Big Lagoon yielded nothing but relentless wind and a few agates. On down the road to the Smith River.  Talk about a big, beautiful, and brutal river.  The water is crystal clear, if you could see through all the white-washing rapids and plunges.  I am really looking forward to giving this river a little more fishing time, as frustrating as she may be.  We did hook up with a few coastal cutthroat trout, racking up heritage trout number 3 (the two prior being Steelhead  and McCloud River Redband). 

A few goose-egg days on the Smith got us all itching to move, so we parted ways with Eggo and headed back south. If you can't catch anything else, you can catch a buzz.  Hard at it five days on the road and we headed down to Six Rivers Brewery and then the Mad River Brewery.  Both are excellent haunts if you find yourself in the area. 


The next day on the river would be the toughest yet.  Hopes were still high on hooking up with a little steel, when Bizzuh takes a dunkin'.  Let me tell ya, taking a full on, wader-fillin' dunking first thing in the morning in 30 some degree weather after a week of torture and frustration will really get to a guy. Add to that a broken rod while slip-sliding out of the river looking like a drowned rat, and well...You're gonna be one sad panda.  And sad panda he looked, but by-golly he kept the ol' chin up and racked out in the car while the die-hards finished out the day with NADA!!

We ran Bizzuh back that night, licked a few wounds at Tips, slept the night indoors, and vowed to make a fresh start of it in the morning for one last over-nighter HOORAH!.  And a great attempt it was, covering more water on foot than I think we've covered on that river.  All for a take or two and a little half-pounder steelhead.  But the night was brought to life when a small pile of scat was drunkenly discovered on the campground picnic table.  After a few failed wobbly attempts, the deadfall was set, and we were ready to catch ourselves a Sasquatch! Well, maybe smash his hand a little bit when he tried to take my Fritos.  I mean, come on, I made a little dead-fall using stripped bark to weave a noose for goodness sake, it was bound to work.  Plus, we baited it with beer-soaked Fritos, how could it NOT work?  Awake in the morning and the deadfall was tripped.  No sasquatch, but we did find a coarse whitish hair, possibly Yeti, but it would only be incidental, as we are a bit west and south of their native range, and we really have no way of knowing for certain until the follicle analyses return from the lab....




Then it happened.  Last day on the water, fishing the last run.  I had worked the same drift over and over and over and over and over again.  Mercury comes waltzin' up and BAM! the indicator takes a sharp upstream jerk and the jerk downstream ripped 'er south!  I can replay the moment in my mind in slow motion.  The water sprays off the line running laser-straight from her jaw and she breaches the surface like a 7-pound pissed off submarine and all in one heartbeat radiates cold, glistening beauty through an elegant dance, levitating before my eyes.  Ay, she was deadly beautiful, and that image of her twisting and turning and throwing me off and sliding gracefully back through the same rippling water she'd leapt from, was enough to make the trip for me.  What a way to top it off! I was just as happy to lose that one fish in less than a second as I would have been catching a hundred fish on any other trip.  Too bad it didn't make it on video...Probably a good thing though.

Wow, I started this out at a one-paragraph post and it quickly got out of control.  Oh well.  I felt like you at least needed an explanation for the lack of fish in the Shiddeo.  Sometimes it's not the fish that we are after.

Steelhead 2011

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

USE THE PATH!



 It's 3:30 a.m. and I can't sleep.  No really, I can't sleep.  Maybe a catnap here or there between tows, but it's a ritualistic answer to the prayer bell that vaguely resembles a small kitchen timer. We plod forth, well really aft, to retrieve our net and survey the spoils of our war against these filthy monsters that plague our river, fornicating and masticating in defecation!

I've been larval sampling.  What is that you say?  Just nothing shy of brainscrambling torture! I have yet to decide if I am in an ever-increasing state of elation at the thought of being rid of this 6:30-3am sleep deprivation experiment, or if I am in fact madly in love with the easily justifiable laziness that is entrained in this nocturnal nonsense. 

July 1, 2012:

Following a night of forcing myself to stay awake in preparation for the shift from a regular old 7:00-15:30 schedule, I managed a solid 6 hours of sleep kicked off by half an episode of Trailer Park Boys.  'Alright, eight o'clock!  I am SO ready to stay up til 3!'
(Cue the robotic tour guide voice) "The Sacramento River is home to a genetically distinct population of Green Sturgeon that journey upriver to spawn. Relatively little is known about the sturgeon's spawning habits. Our dedicated biologists at the US Fish and Wildlife service are working to gather as much information as they can to better understand our magnificent, prehistoric piscine pal."

Everyone presses into the port rail, causing the gunwhale of this gaudily decorated tourist barge to list within a perilous few inches of the river's surface...

Sorry, I got lost there.  So it's Sunday and I am prepping to go into work at 6:30 p.m. in attempts to capture out-migrating juvenile green sturgeon. Lunch is ready by 6:00, or is it dinner?  In either event, it's ready and I am off to work.  Fast forward to tonight.  We make the necessary preparations, check all of the sampling gear, make some "adjustments" to the net frame to make sure all the bolts "fit", no matter that they are splayed at 120 degree angles to one another when they should be parallel and I was off target the first few swings and now the net frame is pocked with persuasion dents that look oddly similar to the head of a hammer, THEY FIT DAMN IT ALL!  One thing I love about my job is that if it don't work, take a hammer to it and see if that fixes it. Nevermind that hammer looks a lot like a crescent wrench and the toolbox is last week's wine box. I believe Mickey Moused is the best way to describe the sled configuration of that sampling net.  Boat's full of gas, Truck's full of gas (although at 8mpg, she won't be for long), Scott's passing gas, and we're off like a herd of turtles. 

At the boat ramp while administering my daily dose of public outreach, reciting this exact anecdote to all the local yokels, I realized I was drunkenly rambling in the face of my colleague who continues to exasperatedly plead with me to just "BACK THE *&%@#  BOAT OFF THE $&#(@^ TRAILER!!!"
Maybe I should have only had 3 beers with breakfast at noon.
So the gist of this operation is to capture juvenile sturgeon by towing a benthic D net.  Rotate that D to 270 degrees and you've got a general idea of what the net looks like. Attached to the boat via one 10 ton hydraulic winch, 50,000 lb test kevlar cable, and half a dozen safety lines should the others fail, we drop our net, heavy as nibbler terds to the bottom of the river.  Heavy duty netting trailing behind the D frame will channel all that enters its mouth through its bowels into a solidly packed mass of river debris, bottom dwelling insects, leeches, leaves, and sticks, and hopefully the occasional sturgeon in a perforated PVC live care (which has it's own safety line by the way).  For 20-30 minutes at a time (dependent upon the amount of debris) we leave the net fishing on the river bottom.  At the end of 30 minutes, we tow the net back to the boat, putting intense strain on the davit arm that has gusseted gussets, record river flow readings, and sort through all the collected debris in hopes of locating outmigrating juvenile sturgeon.  We are attempting to narrow down what time of year and in what locations our sturgeon are spawning, when the juveniles are migrating out, and all the other ambiguities surrounding this species.  It really is interesting subject matter if you happen to be a fish-head, or if you long to leave the world of cubicle decorating behind for a free boat ride on the river five nights a week. Although this particular detail is more reminiscent of tying up to an old stump in the middle of the lake and helping rid the alcoholics of the world of the aluminum cans of demonic temptation.  Well, minus the fishing all day and coming home with nothing but your liver in the cooler.
So we tow the net for 30 minutes, chat it up, read books, play Angry Birds, snack, and pull in the net again. Pretty routine.  And that has been the last two weeks.  Again, I am undecided if I am ready to be rid of this schedule.  I rather enjoy waking up around the crack of noon with the rest of the afternoon to get my affairs in order (i.e. deciding between Cap'n Crunch or Mom's Best Luck Charms knockoff), pack my dinner, tie a few flies, watch some Dennis the Menace and Leave it to Beaver, and go in to work right as it starts to cool down to a balmy 95 degrees. Golly, life sure is swell!

On the down side, the adventures have been at a minimum.  I went a did a little geocaching off Muletown Road, of which 1000+ acres burned a few days ago (Not my doing!).  Had a failed attempt at sampling the wares of the Dunsmuir Brewery, as all those darn tourists drank the brew pub dry over 4th of July weekend. There was some consolation in that I gained a healthy reprieve from the torrid central valley temperatures in the baptismal waters of the Upper River of the Blessed Sacrament. Howeve, Brian was the only one who truly got saved.  Came up looking like a drowned rat, and lost his net to boot.  I myself came close, but I managed to balk at the prospect every time. 
And now I am looking ever forward to the exploits of the encroaching future.  5 days, 4 nights, 50 miles, 8000+ feet of elevation, 15 hours of driving, 4 tanks of gas, 2 guys, alone, in the wilderness...It's a full-blown Man-cation.  Fishing for gold in the Golden Trout Wilderness of the Sierras.  Look for the vid.
Even better than that, I am only 3 weeks from seeing my beloved!  Shauna is coming out the 5th of August for a week of rambling through these California hills.  Add to that a trip to the Deschutes River in Oregon for some dry-fly steelheading, and I've got some good times coming to break up these central valley doldrums and build into a great culmination of fat fall fish and sizzling steelhead action and Christmas in North Carolina!  Hoping to see a great friend of mine, and father to one of my favorite compa├▒eros, Mr. Paul Driver in the near future. 
  Things are starting to look shiddy!

Cache found!

Billie found some cool mud

That is the true grade of the hillside I bushwhacked for some of these caches.

Whiskeytown Reservoir to the north

What a spectacular place for a geocache.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quarter Pounders and half-pints, eh?

Green Sunfish on a San Juan Worm

It's been a busy few weeks.  For those of you that just want the meat of the story, read no further, because I know you've got busy lives too.  In summation, I have had 0 time at the office, staying out in the field all day (which is AWESOME....sorta).  I fished Trinity Lake over the weekend, listened to log trucks' jake brakes all night and caught some very respectable Trinity Lake rainbows.  My buddy Aaron, of  Chronicles of Cod fame (http://chroniclesofcod.com/), rolled through town, and now here I sit....How about that, my week summed up in a 60 second read?  Not very appealing is it?  Here's what really happened....

So after a long week at work, saving salmonids one screw-trap at a time, I decided that Thursday, I'd go out for an after work special (that's fishing after work for all you common folk) and maybe a few beers at Tips to celebrate the day, why not.  So I took Marc out to a little mini-stream chock full of little sunfish and smallmouth, and boy did we get into some hawgs!  I wrestled in one smally that was pushing at least...4, maybe even 5....ounces.  A quarter-pounder with cheese on the fly!  Pretty little fish though, and what a fun way to unwind, plucking tiny fish out of a tiny stream on tiny rods.  Not really much to tell here honestly, that's what it was, fishing to fish, pure and simple.  I DID add two new species to my fly list, so I guess something came of it.  9 o'clock rolls around, and I can hear the faintest call on the wind, ".....tiiiiiiips.......tiiiiiiiiiiiiips."  Who am I to deny the voices of fate?  So, off I roll down the old dusty trail to the waterin' hole.  Greeted at the door by Montana Shane and a cold Coors Original already open on the bar, I knew this was where I was supposed to be.  So I drive a few beers in me, plug some money into the jukebox, and settle down on my barstool to stare down the same wall I've stared at oh so many times before.  When what before my eyes should suddenly appear?  A wee little feller ordering a cold beer!  No red beard, no green jacket and pants, no pot of gold or lucky charms, so I eliminated Leprechaun.  Could it be!?!  Is this the break-dancing "little person" that I had heard tell of.  Ricky (the NOT Leprechaun)...MAN, I hate the whole politically correct thing, but I really don't want to offend anyone....okay, I'm not sure what the cutoff between dwarf and midget is, but this guy was short.  Knee high to a grasshopper!  For the record, he seemed an extremely nice fellow, and I am by no means poking fun.  Next thing I know, tables are being cleared , the floor is opened up, and I am now watching this little fella spin around on his head like a human dreidel and worming his way across the floor.  It was at this point that I requested that my favorite bartender in the world please clarify that I was in fact seeing what I thought I was seeing.  I guess the little pieces of paper and that half a rufee in my beer had actually not taken effect yet.  This cat was tearing the floor up!  He then proceeds to calmly dust himself off, shake hands with a few people, and penguin his way back outside...Holy hell!  It took a hi-lift jack just to get my jaw off the floor.  I looks over at Jess, expressed my disbelief, and ordered another beer to see if the lollipop guild would show up while my BAC was on the rise.  Tips.  Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and break-dancin' midgets just happen occasionally.

Sundy rolls around, and I get the fishin' itch, so Marc and I loaded up the kayaks, made the necessary preparations (stock the cooler with food and beer, buy more beer, pack fishing gear, buy more beer, you get the picture) and it was off to Trinity Lake.  When we first show up, the first thing I hear is, "Oh, no, this doesn't look right."  We're out here chasing down a hot tip Marc got, and suddenly "this doesn't look right comes up...Oh boy.  So this is when I says, "Well, you wanna fish it?"  And fish it we did, but not before we had a meet and greet with some of the fine folks that frequent Trinity Lake, earning us our fair share of momentary fame and glory.  We recieved such pearls of wisdom as: Don't get so faced by noon that you forget your sunglasses in the truck or you'll blister the bottoms of your feet whilst 'Woohoo!'ing yourself hoarse.  She did however compliment me on my stunningly white teeth.
"He ain't from around here." spouts the most redneck voice a Mainer can muster. 

Sorry for that pause that you guys can't tell that just happened; I had to put down my beer because I couldn't stop laughing.

To the frequenters of Trinity Lake, You are wonderful people and damned good entertainers.

Fishing Trinity Lake
Anyway, we caught some very nice fish in very good numbers in a variety of fishing styles, the stillwater dry being the absolute mindblower.
 
8 minutes of tiny mends for micro wind-currents to keep your fly from dragging, all the while waiting on a trout to meander into a tiny window on their patrols where your little foam fly, which is no bigger than the word ENTER on this screen, floats nearly perfectly in sync with all the little white bubbles and yellow pollen flecks on the water...thenBOOM!  All hell breaks loose when that fish either sips that fly with barely a ripple or just demolishes it in a silvery, pissed off rolling boil.  That first take was the latter.  A flash of trout and a quick, violent whorl, and I'm ripping the surface with 60 feet of line! 

I may post a real-time video, just for anyone that wants to see the full extent of intensity in the focus.  Heck, I'll even put some music in there.
Hooked up, and keepin' er out of the willows.
Buggers, nymphs, dries, even Ro-Jo bugs were catching fish.  So two days  of spectacular trout fishing and we're wanting to change direction a little bit, so it's up Stuart's Fork we rumble and bushwhack through some of the roughest terrain we've ventured through thus far in the season for a few dinky little trout and one GORgeously coloured California Mountain Kingsnake, a new snake species for me. 
California Mountain Kingsnake

On to the next week of work which goes as work goes, and we see such events as, the bottling of Austington Wit (my first gluten-free belgian-style ale), meeting up with Marv at the casino ( A fantastic guy, a wonderful friend of mine and the family), and a deer cleaning out my bird feeder and subsequently getting ineffectively attacked by the rabid pack of terriers.
Bird feed thief
 My good friend, Aaron, also rolled through town. He guides at Fish Tales Fly Shop in Calgary, Alberta, and is currently wrapping up a phenomenal 4-month fishing hiatus that has spanned from Belize to Houston to Corpus Christi, Baja, Cuba, and Red Bluff, CA.  Check out his blog, http://chroniclesofcod.com .  The guy is a great writer, a bang up fisherman, and probably the most personable guy you can meet. 
I took Aaron out to the home waters and we had as good an after-work special I could have asked for.  Aaron picked up a few quality California rainbows, and I said hello to a new, thicker shouldered fish in one of my favorite runs. 

And now, here I sit, clickity clickin' away on the keys. What will tomorrow bring?  Maybe geocaching around Clear Creek and up Mule Mountain, or maybe jigging for land-locked tschawytscha on Lake Shasta in the kayak.  Who knows....

Stay Shiddy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shasta National Forest; Follies, Fawns, Fish, and Fun

Blacktail fawn




I write to you from the campfire….

DAMN!  Technology is cool.  I mean, really, I am violating one of my cardinal rules here by bringing a computer camping, but I couldn’t resist doing it just once.  Plus, I’m by myself, I’ve been staring at the fire and drinking for a little while, I figure, it’s okay.  The screen is blinding though, so I shall keep this section short.

Made it out to fish for some McCloud river redbands today.  Salmo Shasta  is a one of eleven native  trout species  (heritage trout) found in California.  California is home to eleven distinct and, at one point in time, geographically isolated populations of trout.  Should one catch six of the eleven species, said person will have completed the Heritage Trout Challenge.  My goal this year is to complete the challenge.  Thus far I have caught the redband, Coastal Cutthroat, and Steelhead.  I figure it’s a pretty realistic goal to accomplish, though finding the pure strains of some of these trout in their native waters will prove to be little sagas all their own. 
The McCloud River

Anyway, more on that later.  The sound of the river down below me is pretty entrancing, so I bid you all adieu, good morrow, the clickity clicking of these keys is kinda ruining it for me.

…..

You know, I had the toughest time trying to decide how many periods to put right there.  That is how utterly uninspired I feel to write at this juncture.  And the most obnoxious symbol on the keyboard goes to….I got lost here… Oh yeah!  So there I was:

I spent the rest of my night trying to wedge the dog off the bed and get comfortable in the back of my truck.  Yes, no grand tales of stargazing and getting lost in the night wilderness.  Fitful sleep on a poorly made bed for me!  I guess I’m just a sucker for that exhausted, achy feeling after a good hard overnighter camping trip.  Woke up bright and early and started up my little fire to thaw my skinny, thin blooded butt out, rigged up my boiling pot, ground my coffee, and proceeded to sit and bask in the majesty of the morning.  Having had my coffee and stretched my legs a bit, I proceeded to follow Billie’s example by walking around, sniffing the bushes, and marking my territory.  I tell ya, it was like a scene right outta one of them there fly fishin’ movies with Brad Pitt.  You know, that ONE movie that entirely defines fly fishing, and the very essence of shadow-casting…(insert muffled guffaw here).

So I’m down in the canyon.  I’ve done a little brush-busting to get where I’m at, at least a half river mile downstream from where I had always stopped in previous years.  New water.  I’m casting a pretty clumsy rig consisting of a foam grasshopper fly tied 3 feet above a weighted nymph with another 18 inches of tippet to another nymph.  3 points of weight and wind resistance= clumsy rig.  Then it happens… You know that feeling when you get hit by lightning 2 days after having someone tell you, ”SHYEAH! Call me when that happens.”   BOOM, Brett!  BOOM!  I see a flash on my lower nymph, and at the exact second I go to set the hook, ANOTHER fish slips up and sips that hopper you’ve got on.   Needless to say, I was in shock, because this NEVER HAPPENS!!  Not that I’ve heard of anyway.   Two Trout One Drift.  I only wish I was more diligent with my GoPro, because that might just have been the nastiest bit of fish porn on the web!  I mean, we’re talking 500 hits here! 

Pure strain McCloud River Redband
But, seriously, amazed the Bjeezus out of me!  Sorry to say I did not land them both.  The little guy shook off, as I had no way to keep tension on them both with such light line.  I did land the bigger one that sipped the hopper, though.

The rest of my trip went well.  Got great gas mileage, stopped and fished some new water on the Upper Sacramento River, saw tons of nice fish, and nearly had to take out a deer with a rock…Wait a minute…Deer, rock….Oh yes, I’m getting there!

So I’m teabag deep in the river stalking some rising fish about 20 yards from the bank and I hear Billie barking.  She’s chasing a deer through the brush, no big deal, she had already chased one out a little before, an event that ended in she sees me and comes to a screeching halt.  About face, into the river downstream.

The one that ran away
Something’s different though.  Both the dog and the deer are headed my way through the wall of blackberries and brush, and the dog is in the lead…Billie comes bursting out of the brush about 5 feet out into the water and hot on her heels is a red-hot pissed off doe.  I mean, this B*&#$ was in STOMP mode, HULK ANGRY, SMAAAAAAAAAAASH mode!  So she’s trying to make Billie a new part of the riverbed and I don’t know whether to laugh, help, take a picture, or piss myself.  I start heading that way and Billie gives her the slip and starts muskratting her wait in a beeline for me.  The doe gives up pursuit for the moment and Billie and my fly line proceed to swim circles all around me.  So I grab the dog and haul her up to the nearest rock, all the while lecturing Billie about the dangers of messin’ with momma and otherwise pissing me off on a perfectly relaxing day of fishing.  Fast forward to 30 minutes and 200 yards of river later and Billie is back on the bank, not willing to venture very far from the water’s edge any more.  I hear scree (a loose accumulation of rocky debris on a slope or cliff) sliding, then blackberry bushes crashing, and the general “HEY! THIS AIN’T GOOD” feeling comes upon me.  Billie must have had that feeling too, because she was already in the water and headed my way, but she only got a foot out when that deer busts out stomping.  I already had a softball sized rock in hand and hucked it right at that screaming mad mother.  I guess a rock that big right behind the shoulder will snap you out of any craze, because she looked up all sorts of apologetic like and hopped right back into that thicket.  I kinda felt bad, but I kinda knew where she was coming from with the whole protectiveness thing.  Thus the reason I did NOT throw the rock as hard as I could and she was able to walk away bewildered, but otherwise unharmed.  Just in case anyone was wondering.

So, now I’m back en la casa, back at work, and awaiting the next ramble.



Stay shiddy kids!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Day in the Life


 


A Day in th Life (of a screwtrapper)
Here it is, the much anticipated video documentation of what a screw-trapper does on a daily basis. Now, I know all you whipper-snappers out there are thinkin' to yerselves, " I wanna play with fish all day and drive boats on the river!" Well, let me tell ya it ain't just all that. There's danger involved. I tell ya, this road is frought with peril! Peril so perilous, it's perilous to mention the perilosity! I've actually seen fellas lose their minds, they just SNAPPED when subjected to these kinds of perils. anyway, enough about the perils.
So 7:00 each a.m. I gets to work, sets me lunch bucket down on me desk, checks me emails, then sets to work readying the boat.
Loaded up with sampling gear we head out of the parking lot 'round 7:30 and head for the diversion dam across town, then it's a short fast ride from the boat ramp to the traps. After about a hundred attempts to gently dock to the trap and finally ramming the hull onto the pontoon, tossing you and your lunch into the river, you hook up, hurry up, and get ready to get ready. Set up debris tubs, the sorting table, check the "cod" end of the cone for sticks and general Debrius, and ya start scoopin'. Imagine if you will, an eight foot wide 800 pound stainless steel sieve with spiraled baffles inside all powered by 10,000 cubic feet of water moving 3 feet every second. Then, my friend, you have yourself a Rotary Screw....add a 4'x4'x2' live box in the back...Trap .
Now, these things catch everything that comes down the river within their radius, sticks, logs, briars, lawn clippings, dead birds, live birds, leafy detritus, ducks, dead deer, stinky beavers..trash, treasure, and other sorts of trappings, syringes, needles, bees, bats, bok choy, you get the picture. Our job is to scoop everything out with a net, sort through it and pick out the fish. Once we get the debris sorted out from the fish, we set the fish up for a little probin'! Take a dip net full of fish, put them in the anesthetic, record their species, sex, disposition, maiden names, places of residence, intended destinations, what they had for breakfast, why their cousin Vinnie doesn't call no more, then put them in the rehab bucket, let 'em get clean, then send them for a ride down El Rio de los Sacramentos.
That's it in a nutty shell. It's good work. Keeping the fleet running, executing field work like a champ, and making sure the stock for Pepperidge Farm Goldfish stays on the ups is my day to day job. Not bad I'd say. It's got it's moments, sure, but what job don't? Enjoy the montage and soon enough, I'll have you wasting another 5 minutes of your time watching me and a wet, sandy chunk-o- furnace filter material have a staring contest.

Apologies for the Youtube link, Blogger is not loading the vids.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Watch for "A Day in the Life"

HAHA! So, to date, I have had 3 views from Russia and one view from Canada!  I am officially an international sensation to a recently thawed Canuck, and one, maybe two dudes who thought my blog had potential for some quality barely legal porn...I joke!  Pretty stoked about that, though I hear that there is an increasing percentage of adult males near my age bracket that get stoked on a regular basis.  News to me, you should check it out on Youtube.  I didn't know I was a victim. 
In other news, I am really really thinking about going fishing on Wednesday. Maybe Thursday too...Yeah, definitely Thursday too.  I'll let ya know how it goes.   Meanwhile, I just felt like posting, you know, keeping the blog fresh.  Gah, I feel like such a poser with this thing.  Anyhow, werkin on that video editing software to produce some better vids, but I got filler in the meantime, and soon, my most unenlightening piece of all, "A Day in the Life".  Yup, I take you on a magical journey, that keeps me in the ranks of the employed.  The wondrous world of fantastic failures and frugal fixtures ( I use these words because I don't wanna mention the other "F" word that comes to mind), a look inside a typical day of work for a "F"isheries Biologist.  Hahaha, and you thought it was gonna be a six-lettered word rhyming with ducked.  For shame!  Ahnjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hogsback Road

You know it's been a long day when your dog's snoring is keeping you awake within 10 minutes of arriving home.  I'm not even kidding, this snoring has to be some of the loudest I have ever heard.  That includes human relatives, friends...hell, she's even out-snoring the great Kelly Rhodes, loudest snorer this side of the Attoyac.  Haha, If you time it just right, you can lift your leg and squint your face just a little bit, and it sounds like you are ripping a monster fart.  I love my dog.  Again, I've begun on a tangent...now, where was I going with this....Oh yeah!
So, there I was...I'm waking up 2 hours before the crack of noon (That's 10 a.m. for all of you who are near panic trying to find the calculator).  No offense to anyone in my audience, but you know who you are!  So here I sat, same as ever, took a dump and pulled the lever.  Then I thought to myself, I really need to get out and take Billie with me.  But where, in all this vast Northern Californian wonderland shall I go.  I had heard that the fishing in Antelope Creek was pretty good, and one could wander around unmolested, so what better place to take the dog and let her run while I fish.  I had also heard that Hogsback road, which more or less parallels Antelope Creek from afar (WAY AFAR, I would come to find out), was a little bumpy and that I would be best advised to go out and around the long way to come into the road from the top.  You know that point at which you begin to ask yourself, "Should I keep going this direction, or just tuck my tail and return the beaten-up, rocky, gully-ridden, don't exceed 5 miles per hour unless you want to rip the rear axle from underneath your truck way that I came"?  I apparently missed that sign somewhere between Red Bluff and HOLY CHRIST, THANK THE LORD I ONLY RAN OVER A 1/2 TON BOULDER AND DIDN'T SLIDE OFF INTO THE 4 FOOT DEEP RAVINE WHERE THE ROAD USED TO BE!  Let me put this into perspective for you.  Any of you that ever saw my driveway back in Nacogdoches, take the worst holes in that and that was the good driving.  This "road" was chock full of soccer-sized rocks, 8-10 inch vertical steps of volcanic bedrock, potholes as big as the truck and twice as wide.  It would be classified as a jeep trail anywhere else, only the jeep trails actually feed off of this road.  Lord knows what those looked like.  I traveled, get this, 12 miles in 2 hours.  Hopefully by now you get the picture, because this next part isn't nearly as dramatic, the video doesn't do the "road" justice, and the photos I took for the day, including my fish pictures, somehow got corrupted.  Damn, SD card gnomes!!

So after a few stops and a few jaunts over barbed wire fences and rock-ridden fields, I come upon the gate to Ishi Road.  Well, according to the trusty GPS, this road crosses Antelope Creek, but as luck would have it, the gate had been locked just one month prior, so only foot traffic was allowed.  So I says to myself, "Self, let's get down there and do some fishing."  Did you know that when you walk a -25% grade over a mile, at some point, you eventually have to walk a +25% grade for that same mile.  Let me tell you kids, Shiddy B was feeling pretty....well, you know.  This road was closed for good reason.  +12" drops, gullies cut across the road, switchbacks that would have put your front tire within mere inches of a near vertical drop-off.  It was NASTY.  I was on the verge of kicking in my 4WD on multiple occasions.  The fishing was decent.  Caught a few small fishkas on dries and nymphs, the biggest probably barely breaking the 10" mark.  Sure was wishing I had brought the 3 weight.  So it's back up the road I goes.  Thank goodness I brought plenty of water.

After that lovely stroll, I hop back in the truck and continue on up the road.  It was at this point I reached a bit of a "point of no return".  I hit a point in the road that gave me three options.  Showcase number one is a lovely slab of volcanic bedrock with a nice vertical downhill edge that only a rock-crawling jeep could traverse.  Showcase number two is a real winner with beachball sized rocks on the left, an exactly truck width patch of smoother ground with another 8" bedrock wall, bordered on the right by a 2 foot deep gully.  Aaaand showcase number three....we're not even going to consider that one.  Let's just call it impossible, so NUMBER TWO IT IS!  I start creeping up this thing, not sliding off on the right, so I'm good.  Then BAM! I rolled my front left tire over one of the beach balls, only thought in my head is "Holy NUMBER TWO!!!!"....Luckily I rolled on past that little barrier with only a little minor dentage under the driver's door, and escaped the next two barriers unscathed.  Long story short, I made it out of the Tehama Wildlife Refuge relatively unharmed, and no worse for the wear.  On to Tips for a few medically prescribed brews. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cat Skwurl brew and Fishies too

Howdy everybody!

So, the posts are few and far between. Apologies, but I am still getting used to being here.  Lots of people to see and things to do, but I am finally settling in. 

I started a new batch of brew today.  Within the next month, I will have another 5 gallons of Cat Skwurl IPA to sample! 

I also recently discovered Skype!  What a wonderful tool that is.  Really makes a world of difference being able to share a little "face time" with Shauna.  We chatted it up the other night while I made dinner and again tonight while I was brewing.  I gotta admit, when I heard the squeak of that old screen door across the computer, I felt a strong tinge of "homesickness".   But all is well on that front.  Shauna just got her new violin, that she should be mastering over the next few months.  Now, if I could only force myself to sit down and actually learn the guitar, we can start a travelling duo!

Had a STELLAR day down at my favorite creek the other day.  Marc, ever the mastermind of manipulating me into going fishing, suggested an after work special on one of the local creeks.  All week, the reports were that the water was high and that it likely wouldn't fish well....oh contraire!
As far as numbers go, maybe it wasn't your typical excursion along this particular stretch, but the quality...magnifique! 

Starting out at the first little run, my thoughts were on the downswing.  Perfect drift after perfect drift and not even so much as an imaginary fish!  I'm thinkin' "This is NOT how I want to start this place out!"  This creek has a very special place in my soul, because time after time, I never cease to be amazed at the quality of the fishing and of course, the fish's eager cooperation.  Not to say that it's easy, but the fishing is rarely less that good, and to go home skunked, you've really gotta try hard to be a hopeless mess. 
That's where I started out.  I was getting takes and breaking off flies.  It then occurs to me that instead of using 5X tippet (4lb test) I would probably fare a lot better with 3X (8.4 lb test) in these higher than normal flows.  Suddenly, it's all clicking into place.  I start landing fish, and it becomes a game again.  I reach my point of zen in which I totally relax, my drifts become sewn to the rippling seams in the current, and the headshaking of the fish is rocking my arm.  Marc and I traded off, each wise-cracking and heckling the other about the monster bassmaster sets when a rockfish takes the fly, and whatever aspect of life seems funniest at the time.  In between the jokes, the circus has begun and the trout perform their acrobatics, and we laugh at their expense. 
But as soon as the jumps are over, and the headshaking that is so characteristic of these wild fish subsides, each fish is adored, admired, and praised for the beauty that keeps us casting, and released somewhat wiser and completely unharmed.  It truly is a grand feeling to be totally at peace and in a deep state of meditation while poised atop a bowling ball shaped rock covered in snot and freezing your cahones off because it's not quite warm enough to wet-wade.  I'm sure I'll be coming back to haunt these runs again soon.  I really hope to be able to fish the entire length of the stream (within the bounds of the law of course) by the end of the trout season.  Thanks to my good friend, Aaron Caldwell (chroniclesofcod.com) I have begun to compile a "Year List" of fish species I want to catch and bodies of water I want to mark off the list.  I met Aaron on his quest for Redfish down in Corpus shortly before I left, and hope to fish with him again on his return to Calgary from Baja where he is currently on the hunt for Roosterfish.  Helluva guy!

Well, we are far too deep into the night, and I've still gotta catch up on my Weeds.  Hope you've enjoyed the photos, and stay tuned for more videos (as soon as my broke behind can afford some better movie editing software).
Until then, after-work special highlights: 2 'bows at 18", an instant set and tippet break on yet another bruiser, good laughs with a good friend, and my first taste of Bud Light Platinum.....GAHBAGE!!!

Stay Shiddy, my friends.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trout Opener, opened up a can on me.


Trout Opener was today!  Since most everything on the east side of the valley is going to be blown out, I decided to try a new stretch of creek I haven't fished before...While I didn't run into a whole lot of people fishing, I failed to avoid the hordes of briars and blackberry bushes effectively blockading the creek.  I did manage to leave my wading sandals at home, so I had to dig around the back of my truck for a substitute.  Lo and behold I find a pair of sketchers moccasins and some bright yellow converse look alikes...Sketchers it is! Of course, now the half-dozen blisters around my swollen ankles are making me rethink my earlier decision. 

Let's talk about cold water. Now, I left my old pair of wading boots for dead on the last Steelhead trip I made out here in January of 2011.  Who needs wading boots in Texas, right?  I then proceeded to procrastinate on securing that pair of korkers I've been eyeballing, so I says, "okay, I'll just wet-wade the summer and get a new pair before the fall.  I won't need waders!"   Wwwwwwwwwwwrong!!!!!
This water was so cold, my feet are still tingling. No joke, and I have been out of the water for at least 4 hours.  Numbing, bone-aching cold! Bottom of a snow melt filled lake cold! So cold, that....well, you get the idea.  If it ain't 70 degrees or better, I ain't used to it.  It's a good thing it numbed my feet and legs down, though because I'm sure it would have been a lot more painful crashing through that brush.

Anyway, I will most likely not willingly make a trip back to this particular section if I have other options.  I did however, NOT get skunked on the opener, thanks to Marc's suggestion to keep fishing the water we were on.  Picked up a little 10 incher under the bridge.  I also lost a bruiser.  A fairly gentle deep riffle gave way to a deep side pocket of still water behind a submerged tree.  On about my third drift over the tree, my mend got away from me and my fly skated, RIGHT out of the way of a porpoising trout!  Whew, thank GOD he didn't get my fly, that was too close for comfort! the bastard!  So one more drift to the inside, one more a little closer....and he's not there.  I was just dinking around with the dry flies, I hadn't seen anything rising, Marc and I did see some yellow sallys sputtering up.  I figured one more drift and this spot is toast.  I'm just gonna move upstream and *GOLP* HOLY*&%$ raise and set! She ripped across into the still water, realized how bad of an idea that was and came back to me.  I knew she had a little size, but she was coming in across the riffle easy.  One sight of my legs about 20 feet away, I see her roll (she's at least 18) and she is into "OH F&*% NO" mode. Before I could even react, she is bolting for a stump across the stream, and I'm running down and hauling her back. She had been caught before for sure.  She successfully hung me on the stump! I waded over, mumbling over and over "please still be there", and sure enough, I reach down and free the line and downstream she goes, right into the trees. So now, I'm bulldogging these trees in waist deep water, trying desperately to knock my fly line and leader out of the submeged branches, and I feel the *tick* of my tippet breaking. Lost a good fly, and a Great fish. No hard feelings sweetheart, I tried to get that hook out of your lip.

On second thought, I might head back that way sometime in the future.  That was a damn fine Stimulator, and I kinda want my fly back.

Here's the original California Trip. Full of entertainment. I apologize for the filler vids, but I need to get some better editing software.





Friday, April 27, 2012

Californy Bound

Here it is, the much anticipated road trip video.  I apologize for the lack of excitement, but well...it was the smoothest roadtrip I've ever had with the most amazing road warrior I know.  Thanks Shauna!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goin' to California with an achin' in my heart.


I know you’ve all been waiting for it.  Well, here it is. I have finally fallen victim to the blogging world.  For those of you who are interested in reading a good blog…I apologize.  For those of you who take offense to anything that might be conjured up in these ramblings…You can talk to my attorney, Mr. Gonzo.

Capn’s log. Day……..one:  ‘Twas a morning like any other.  Only, I knew that 2100 miles lay between me and a restful night’s sleep in a strange bed in a familiar place.  We were nowhere going somewhere.  Ready to hit the road, but still packing. We were ready….mostly.  Billie and Shauna and their trusty companion, me, awoke at the crack of 7:30 a.m.  I’d had my tearful goodbyes, bid my adieus, so-longs, farewells, and aufwiedersehens.  The freight train was runnin’ and I knew it was time to go. Bags packed, trailer hitched up tight, tires full and spirits fuller, we prepped the last prep and the backup preps, shook hands with the always delightful, the great, Don Alcala and started the old ford north on I-37.  We gassed up and gassed down and made pretty good time through the Hill Country and the West Texas plains.  Never again on this trip would time seem to melt away as it did through such beautiful country as that northwest of San Antone.  It kinda wore on my homesick side a bit. 
I really had one helluva time in the last weeks I was in Texas.  I really felt the love, guys, thanks. I hope you all know how terribly I am going to miss ya.  Ted, had a great time geocaching, and doing what we do best. Just being good ol’ boys.  CK, Blake and Chris, awesome shiddy night of bowfishing.  Grand way to stretch those East Texas roots. Dandy  D and Mr. Jeff Mac…having you guys put on such a great show for us and enjoying that good ol’ down home brisket was a real treat.  The only thing to top off that Greatest Catsquirrel performance at the Old Quarter would have been if Jeff’s guitar had caught on fire and Mr. Townes Van Zandt had stepped right out of the wall and applauded with tears in his eyes.  Phenomenal, dudes. Dad, helluva party.  Mom, Love ya, come and see me.  What an honor and a privilege to have you all as my rock; my head to stand on….But, I digest.

On into Las Cruces I pushed, no thanks to the BBC Wildlife channel on NPR.  Christ, half the time, the only thing keeping me awake was trying to translate the gibberish on the Ipod via Rosetta Stone and figure out when we went from talking about butterflies to friggen Pine Martens. With the help of Daniel Driver’s poetic voice and Jeff Mac’s seduction of the strings, we did arrive safe and sleepy.  Seriously, anybody who hasn’t gotten a copy of their music, let me know.  ‘Round  2:30 in the a.m., we roll into the Fina ( after getting 19 MPG in the ford, mind you) and instantly hit it off with Las Cruces’ finest and most dedicated.  At 2:30 in the morning in that Fina, 5 hours into the shift knowing I STILL had 3 to go…I don’t think I could still be coherent, and all of the little airplane bottles of liquor and 5-hour energy would be dead, and Witchy Woman would be rocking over the P.A.

4 hours of snoozing, fitfully I might add, and we were On The Road Again.  A few hillbilly wrong turns, cutting across the wal mart parking lot, and we were out.  Aside from a little traffic north of Tucson, we maintained a steady pace, arriving in Phoenix to meet Shauna’s mom.   Delightful company, and a lovely host. After our brief stay, we cruised on north to I-40 via some long and winding back highways.  What a LOOOOOOOOng night.  We kept rolling all the way up the mountains, down the mountains, and through Needles.  First sketchy looking gas station in the middle of the hilly open desert we see, and it’s time for a luxurious nap in the back of the truck.  Man, that platform sleeps nice.  Awoke the next morning to gas at $5.39 a gallon…Me thinks I’d rather push the damn truck to Barstow.  Kinda funny how if you own a gas station in the middle of nowhere and you are right on the California side of the Arizona border, you can unwillingly sodomize anyone who stops by.  We pressed onward, braving the prospect of running out of gas in the middle of the Mojave, to Barstow, where, after a few moments of consideration and a quick 2 mile turn around detour, we replenished our fuel supply.  Friends, I wish I could say it was a more enthralling ride from there to Red Bluff, but it wasn’t.  We did make a stop in Tehachapi (home of one of the largest wind power producers) to sample the wares of the Apple Shed.  Not a drop of apple wine in the place.  Our next point of interest would be the HORRIFIC Sacramento rush hour traffic.  Lots of fun when you are dragging a uhaul.  Finally, around 8 p.m. we wearily arrived at our destination, Camp Sasquatch.    It was a great ride, to say the least.  Very glad to see that the third time across country really is a charm.  Still settling in, so the posts might be coming a little slowly, but they will pick up.  For now, I bid you all a fond farewell and I extend an invitation to any of you who are so bold as to break the mold of your confining drudgery to come out and see me.  I guarantee you will not leave un-awed and enamored with the beauty that is Northern California, my new home. 
I'll post the video of the trip soon.

Stay Shiddy!