I had to go out on at least one early morning fishing trip before the year is done. Yesterday morning met that need. It takes 23 minutes to reach the entrance of the lake property and another 20 minutes to navigate the terrain and make it to my parking spot. I’ve reached the conclusion that if we stay in the area I’m going to need a 4×4. For now I’ll get by with my little car or rent a 4×4 if needed.
According to the signs the lake is on an open range but it does not say what kind of livestock. Yesterday morning I figured that part out. I came around a bend and about had a heart attack as my headlights splashed across this hulking beast crossing the road: a bison! I almost hit the darn thing and that would have not been good for the bison or the Toyota!
Mr. Bison ambled away and I was back on my way. Another thing about the Wild Wild West in general, and the lake in particular, is that there is not much artificial light. This means that when you get far from a town it is as black as my heart. Given the amount of wild animals around here one has to be careful when driving.
Because of the darkness I missed my turn and ended up driving at least four miles down a pitch black mountainous lake road. After I saw the coyote and tumbleweeds–no joke!–I decided to turn back. Eventually I found where I needed to go and made it to the peninsula parking lot. In Native American lore the coyote is a trickster: sometimes benevolent and other times mischievous. I guess seeing the coyote splash across my headlights was a foretelling of things to come.
So I navigate my way through the terrain and have only the approaching dawn light to help. In retrospect I should have grabbed my mini-mag light but figured the rising dawn light would be enough. I navigated to the top of this cliff photo that I showed in an earlier post. The problem is twofold: I am no longer 18 and the face is loose rock, gravel, and sand. You guessed it! The second I stepped off I started to slide in the dark. Worse still, my right hand held two rods whereas my left was carrying a large net. I reached the point where I was about to fall and at least had the foresight to not land on my fishing rods. However, the adjustment meant that I dropped hard on my right knee. Did I mention all those rocks? Ouch! That was a third of the way down.
The rest of the way was a very undignified slide as I uttered words that would have made Master Wong proud. At this point I started to hear coyotes howling (we are too far east for wolves so it had to be coyotes). Coincidence or were they laughing at me? I’ll let you decide.
I finally make it down and limped to the spot I had planned to start fishing. Here’s the first of the day’s photos:
This was the same spot I was at over Labor Day weekend. About 20 minutes in I caught a small 12″ rainbow.
Taking the trout as a sign I decided to head farther north. I wanted to get closer to where the peninsula got narrow and rocky. These next photos are of that area:
The difference between Saturday and Labor Day was the lack of wind. In fact it was crystal calm. This seemed to impact how the trout where hitting. I was getting bites every 15 minutes but they were not hitting hard. While I did catch several fish, I must have missed setting the hook on at least six. I part blame my rust and part the calm conditions.
Total aside but I did upgrade to a heavier Shakespeare rod and reel. The rod is a medium-heavy 7′ rod and reel can hold line that’s rated 12 – 17lb test. The new rod is the white one and Old Faithful is pictured to the right.
Knowing that I will one day take it to the river for brown trout I outfitted the new rod with 14lb line. Oddly enough, I caught all the fish on this rod. Weird.
One more aside: Thanks to having watched one too many episodes of River Monsters, when I catch a fish I now mutter “fish on!” EVERY damn time. Thank-you Jeremy Wade!
The trout? Besides the 12″ trout here’s the rest:
I caught these with hooks that had the barbs bent down. For sure it made it easier to catch and release if I wanted to.
Since walleye are supposed to be running I did plunk around with jigs and crankbaits, however, I had no luck on artificials. I again blame the fact that I do not know what is being used for walleye. Also, I am confined to the shore.
Other factors? Note the blueish green ring? This is an algae stain from where the water was a week ago. Apparently they are opening up the dams which is dropping the reservoir. Also note the shrub on the top right? Past that is the rocky shore where I spent most of the morning. In retrospect I should have been on this side of the shrub. The shore drops off steeply with a pebble bottom. Where I was fishing is deep but the drop was not as pronounced.
Anyhow, at about 11 a.m. the fish just stopped biting. That is, except for catching one lunker walleye!
I wonder if the coyote conspired with the fish?
On the drive out the nature gods smiled upon me one last time:
That’s the north end of an antelope headed south. He was on the road until my car approached. That stretch of river is before the dam. Downstream of the dam is supposed to be “blue ribbon” river trout fishing. Along this stretch I did see about six guys in waders fishing for trout. I’m not sure if they caught anything but there must be fish in this part, too.
I hope this!
My good friend has a coworker who fishes the “blue ribbon” part of river yearly. Above is a photo of a brown trout that he caught last year. Given I do not know this guy I took the liberty of blurring out his face.
Between now and spring I plan to do some research. The above chap had a professional guide. Most likely we will get a guide for one day and then try it on our own the other. While spring is supposed to be excellent there’s also good brown trout fishing in the fall. So, between now I spring I need to determine when “M” will come and visit.
Am I done for the year? Perhaps. If I do go out one more time it’s going to be to the middle of town where the river runs through a park. There are some small white water spots and my barber tells me you can catch trout here too. I have commitments next weekend so if I do get out it will be the last weekend of September. The upside is that this trip would be a short drive.
If the weather holds, maybe.