The Trout Also Rises

"A blog upon my estutcheon" A weblog about fishing, hunting, hiking, cycling, books, beer, and other random musings. Any humor contained in this site is entirely unintentional and has not been tested on animals. e mail aaaaargh at msndotcom

Location: California

A hunter and fisherman, fascinated with books and history.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bishop Creek Fishing Report

I recently stayed four nights at Cardinal Village on Bishop Creek in the mountains above Bishop, California.

Cardinal Village is a resort on the site of an old mining town, and is situated at about 9,000 feet. In August, the weather is mild and cool. Expect afternoon thunderstorms. Our housekeeping cabin was clean and simple. In addition to fishing in the creek and Cardinal Pond, the resort offers guided riding outings for a modest fee. The small store has a fairly complete assortment of fishing tackle and basic groceries. They do not sell alcohol, so bring your own poison.

The trip was an unqualified success. Numerous trout were caught and released by myself, the Troutwife, and the Troutson. We caught mostly rainbows, and a few brown trout, almost all on flies. The Troutson did catch one fish in Cardinal Pond with salmon eggs.

The creek had been stocked the previous week, and the fishing activity slowed after our second day there. The fish in the creek, both wild and stocked trout, seemed to favor yellow flies. The Mormon Girl, an old high country standby of mine, worked well on the upstream retrieve. A No. 10 California Coachman with a big yellow hackle worked even better. Unfortunately, I only had one of the Coachman flies; it was tied on a whimsy one long ago day. I never thought it would work so well on a real stream.

The last day of our stay, we went up the mountain to Sabrina Lake. Fishing was great there on dry flies and lures. We had a lot of fun tossing Z-Ray lures in a cove on the north shore, about a five-minute walk from the café. Unfortunately, the trout in the lake were no larger than their friends in the creek, and I headed home with mixed feelings. I was happy to have caught lots of trout, but frustrated at not having caught A BIG FISH.

It has been a long time since I’ve caught a trout that could be called large, one that gives you palpitations of anxiety while trying to land it. In a desperate attempt to resolve this, I’ve been thinking about heading to Crowley Lake next month. Crowley is famous for big trout in the late summer and early fall, who take tiny nymphs in fairly shallow water.

I’d go sooner, but dove season is approaching fast…

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cheap Beer update - Schwelmer Beer

The local 99 cent store recently had a load of Schwelmer Beer from Germany, two for 99 cents or $3 for a six pack. Not bad stuff at fire sale prices; the Alt was medium dark, unique, and slightly complex, but probably not for everyone's taste. The Troutwife was not impressed, but I like it.

The Schwelmer Pils is a lighter beer, more mainstream, but not as appealing as the Alt. It tastes like any one of a thousand other beers; a competent product but no standout in a crowd.

If you have a chance to try one of these, don't pass it up. They are unlikely to make big inroads in the crowded US beer market.

A note on Budweiser Select: a great product from a company known (to me at least) for bland stuff. Select is crisp, clean tasting, and reasonably priced. Guys, I knew you could do it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rockhouse Basin/Domeland Pack Trip

The trip started by a night drive out to the funky Mayfair Motel in Inyokern after a great meal of last season’s quail and dove, served with paprika sour cream sauce and spätzle. On Friday, Mike, Steve, and myself met at the fire station at the top of Nine Mile Canyon. We drove out the heavily washboarded Chimney Peak Road, turned off towards Long Valley campground,passed the camp and parked about six miles on. Along the way we passed quite a few quail coveys; exciting stuff with the upland bird seasons less than ninety days away.

We hopped onto the Pacific Crest Trail around 9:30, and followed it down to the river, flushing several coveys of mountain quail along the way. The area had burned in the Manter fire of 2000, and the trees were all charred with no life in them. The ground cover had recovered well though, with thick grasses and wildflowers of all colors.

The elevation change was about 1,500 feet, and we arrived at the South Fork of the Kern at Rockhouse Basin around 12:45, footsore but happy to be there. Big fluffy clouds threatened rain and thunder, but the day stayed dry. After setting up our tents, we fished all afternoon and evening. Steve stuck to yellow humpies, and Mike and I switched around from nymphs to dry flies. My first fish was caught on a No. ten bead head hares ear with rubber legs. In the evening, a No. 16 Adams worked pretty well. All the fish we caught on Friday were rainbow trout, of no great size.

The river at Rockhouse Basin is slow with a few riffles and runs. The river here is bordered by a thick growth of willows, making it difficult to cast without wading. During our stay, the water seemed warm and somewhat discolored.

We turned in early, and had a tense time listening to some huge animal splashing around in the river. Steve had come loaded for marauding bears or lions with a lightweight backpackers handgun, but Mike and I were unarmed. The problem was, Steve’s tent was the farthest from the river and he is a heavy sleeper. At some point, exhaustion overwhelmed fear and I slept pretty well. Nighttime temperatures were well within the comfort zone.

Saturday morning saw us on the water again. By lunchtime I’d landed three more fish, all on a black bead head nymph I’d picked up at the fly shop (sorry, I don’t know the name, but I’ll be tying some soon, maybe with rubber legs). Two of the three fish I caught that morning were brown trout. Around midmorning, Steve spooked the bear out of the willows north of camp and reported that it took off for the hills.

Having caught and released twenty trout between us, we packed up after lunch and headed back out. About an hour and a half after starting, we spotted a Mojave Green rattler stretched out on the trail. It took a while to convince him to leave the trail, and he eventually did, slinking down a hole in the path. We skipped through there pretty quickly.

Twenty minutes later, another MG launched itself at Mike, who was last in line. He avoided the strike with some fancy footwork. Mike reported that the snake had popped out of a hole in the shale alongside the trail, gave that shrieking buzz, and went airborne trying to get at him. If it had connected, the strike would have been at hip or thigh level.

We were pretty nervous the rest of the way up, since Mojave Greens carry a potent neurotoxin, and we were a long way from any kind of medical assistance. About two thirds of the way we came to an area of superabundant wildflowers which was overrun by hummingbirds. In a suburban yard, one might see a hummingbird or two, but here were dozens, chasing each other and squeaking away.

After a four-hour trek, we finally arrived back at the vehicles and started the homeward drive.

Fishing notes: dry flies definitely outperformed nymphs (Yellow humpy and Adams in size 16 for preference).

Gear notes: first trip with Gregory G Pack, Merlin Softpack sleeping bag, Eureka Spitfire tent, and CMG Bonfire tent light. All of these items performed well and met my expectations. The lightweight gear kept the weight of the pack under 30 pounds (including 3 pints of water).