Monday, October 5, 2015

A buck a suck(er) and a new place to park my truck

Its not the punch line to a joke, but more or less a sum of the summer.  With the Truckee river being so low, I had a hard time even looking over the bridge on east McCarran every morning on my way to work let alone bringing myself to fish it.  On top of that, most of us got an itch to improve our dwelling situations and moved to new houses, work was busy and there were too many chores to keep on top of.  Save for a couple outings in early summer, we kept our noses to the grindstone all summer long.  One such outing, I took the fam up to Lake Davis in July.  Family camping was my cover for experiencing the hex hatch that I've heard a lot about but never fished.  If you've never fished the hex hatch at Davis, keep your eyes on the reports around the June/July timeframe because that 30 minute happening is well worth the 45 minute drive from Reno. 
The fish surface so often they leave a trail of rise forms on the surface and you feverishly try to put your fly in line to be the next one they take.  I failed to make the cut that night but it was a blast none the less.

Next, as we indicated in our last post back in April, we were going to try fly fishing for carp this summer.  We are fortunate enough to know a local gent and a fella I am proud to call a friend who took us out to learn carp on the fly.  If you're a fan of spot and stalk hunting like I am, fly fishing for carp is a fantastic way to spend an entire summer day. Beyond that, there are probably carp in just about every body of water meandering through the Truckee Meadows.  It's less about a flawless presentation with the right pattern and more about stealth, aim, sight and strong leader. 
We met our buddy at one of the many ponds around the area along the Steam Boat watershed, if that's a thing, and got a little how-to on fly fishing for carp.  Great thing about carp fishing (as I have mentioned about other favored activities) is a lack of early rise requirements.  We started fishing at about 9:30am and things didn't start to pick up until about 10:30 or so.  Once it did it was action for the rest of the day.  Carp are big, and they like to feed in slow shallow water.  They are obvious animals, you can tell when they are feeding and you know when you've blown your chance because they vanish behind a plume of silt.  Carp have a reputation for being ugly dumb fish, and while there is little benefit to arguing for their good looks they are extremely far from dumb.  As I understand it, they have one of the longest "negative stimulus retention" characteristics in the fish world which in layman terms means a carp never forgets which.. in real world terms means they have a serious case of PTSD and its triggered by just about anything.  They are spooky, they see you when you think you're being sneaky, and they smell't it before you dealt it.  If you get the spot right and keep a low profile your next task is to place your fly in their feeding path.  Its a blast when you put your fly in the right spot and watch them slowly feed toward it, then they stop, angle down with tail breaking the surface.  He's gumming your rig and now's the time to set it and hold on.  With the popularity of fly fishing for carp has come many new clich├ęs like "golden bones" and "poor man's bone fish".  While I cannot personally vouch for the experience of bone fishing I have the intertubes and a TV and it certainly seems to measure up.  Carp seem to have an affinity for your backing and they will gladly expose it on the regular.  They've got shoulders and can probably bench more than me.  The tug is the drug and its a high that's hard to come off of.

Next came August and a period of more chores, paper work, interest rates and preparation than I care to live through again, but not before the big game archery hunt.  This year (my 8th consecutive archery hunt wherein I was determined to notch my first archery kill) my buddy Tom and I headed back to the Santa Rosa Mountains north of Winnemucca.  We've got to know the Santa Rosas pretty well over the past decade and headed to an area we knew held animals, was rugged enough to keep the road hunters at bay (which aren't much of an issue during archery season) and has given us opportunities in the past.  Long story short, we won that day and I put a stick through a Nevada Mule Deer that I will never forget.  Be that as it may, I will never remember the 10 seconds that followed after I watched my arrow disappear into that buck.  After a 50 yard blood trail we found our harvest expired in a bitter brush grave 8,300 feet above the mean elevation of the sea.  I remember thinking that I've not put eight years of unsuccessful trying into anything else, put a check in that box.

Now the move is complete, and half of our shit is unpacked - the important shit like rods, reels, pontoon mounted to the ceiling, hobby garage set up, fly tying desk no longer relegated to a heap of disarray in the garage.  Time to focus because October one is just two days away and if this year is anything like last year, Pyramid lake has a few chapters ready for us to jot down in our own personal history books.  Come last Thursday, Brandon and Steve headed out for the opener.  The weather favored our efforts and gave way to some much appreciated precipitation and cooler temps.  The gents put up with the Indian Head beach club scene and had a decent day on Friday from shore.  Friday night I tied up some chub patterns and went to bed late, unable to sleep and half tempted to hop in my truck and drive out there at midnight.  Instead I settled into bed and searched for any possible early reports from the local guys but as I figured, they were probably still busy at the lake gaining more material for the mid-week post.  If you've spent anytime looking up Pyramid Lake fishing reports you've probably noticed that there aren't many official web sites with any information newer than 2011.  Most of the valuable info comes from our local guides who do a terrific job but one day into the season that's probably a bit much to ask for. I happened across the Crosby's House of Class (lodge) web site which had actually posted some good info in their big fish log.  From the data, it appeared that the stretch between Spider and Pelican was of particularly high production.  That did it for me, phone off, time for sleep because tomorrow I'm going to give Pelican point a try. And I am glad I did.  While I was only met with three fish to hand, their average size was big.  I'm calling the three I caught 5, 6 and 10 lbs.  My own success was far outshined by the success of boaters jigging.  I sat in my pontoon in a sea of opening weekend boaters continually pulling 10+ lb fish up.  An hour into the morning, 10 lb cutts didn't even warrant a picture.  I must have seen 50 fish get caught between 10 and 12 lbs and the best part of it is just about everyone of them didn't leave the water for more than a few seconds before they went back to their deep-water hangout.  It was remarkable.  I have never had such a good time watching complete strangers work into aching shoulders while I was unable to hook up.  Even fishing at the right depth ( 60ft down in 100ft of water as I over heard a few boats say) I couldn't mimic the presentation on my fly rod that the fish wanted.  After a couple hours of trying, I decided to go find some chub clouds and try the strategy that has worked in the past.  No sooner than I found the first cloud I brought the first one in.  All told, chasing chub was the most reliable way to get bit on a fly rig for me that day.  Shoot your chub pattern past the school, let it sink below them then fast strips back to the boat.  Half-way to the back of Windless I found a cloud of chub that was getting terrorized by a big Summit slashing his way through the middle of the school with his maw gaping wide enough that I could see the white of his throat.  It felt like what I imagine chasing <insert salt water species here> in the flats would be like.  A fair cast beyond the school sent my 8wt double over for a 5 minute trout ride that ended with that same gaping maw in my net.  For now I'm calling him a 10 but some of that mass has probably been shit out by now because his gut was full.  It's amazing how much those pigs love to eat.  Lucky us!  Here's to a long summer, a new season and hopefully, el nino!





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