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Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes …

King Solomon’s mines were no different, immense wealth hidden away by inclement terrain, protected by idol worshiping cannibals and unspeakable terrors, whose existence was part fact and part fable.

I’m thinking along these lines as I hear the Yolo County flood control officer tell me of the Central Valley’s “lost trout stream”, whose canyon a narrow scratch through waist-high tick-laden scrub, flanked by impenetrable sheets of rock whose reflective capabilities amplify the stifling heat, whose trail-less slopes offer unsteady footing for deer and the most practiced outdoorsman.

… that being the Good News …

… and while this self-same official confesses they don’t fish, they are adamant they took a family member there who caught trout just prior to being chased from the ravine by hordes of Rattlesnakes unleashed by enraged Buddhists.

Buddhists, why does it always have to be Buddhists

The thought of a splinter cell of camo-clad Buddhists gives me pause -what with Karma being the kissing cousin of an Angler’s Luck, something even the most rational, level-headed, and scientific angler will tell you is something never to trifle with

… and while I might scoff at private property, barbed wire, and enraged land owners packing weaponry, the notion of being luck-less with rod in hand suggests throwing streamers at a balky lawnmower might be as rewarding.

rattlesnake_creekThen there was that bothersome “infested” word she used, “… the canyon is infested with rattlesnakes …”

Which doubled my enthusiasm given that how many and how big the trout were is always proportional to the danger present, and as only headhunting cannibals can rival angry Buddhists, ticks, and snakes snapping at every exposed extremity,  means I’ve stumbled on the Lost Dutchman – the Flying Dutchman, and Noah’s Ark – all captured on the greasy folds of a hastily narrated paper map.

Given that John Muir gave no hint, Audubon was afraid to commit an image to paper, and Father Serra crossed himself and returned to the coast, the trout are likely both wild and lonesome,  especially so given their remote location and inclement surroundings. Quite possibly they’ve given up insects all together – relying on a diet of rock-scalded rabbit and white rice, perhaps even bits of human flesh, as no one that has seen the creek returned alive … except the Yolo County Flood Control employee, and since she don’t fish can’t be considered people

Committing all those directions to a hamburger wrapper and retracing that tortuous path in 4-wheel low, resulted in one long distance glimpse of my quarry from the ridgeline above. I was warned that it was too early to fish as it is still discolored by Spring runoff and three times its traditional flow.

I dubbed it Rattlesnake Creek, and while I can surely make it down without loss of life, getting back up is liable to be hellish – not to mention all those skinned extremities from rock hopping down the narrow canyon, or passing out from the heat while attempting to add waders, vests, and tackle to the mix.

rattlesnake_swim_good… and if to make matters worse, as I stood in mid current framing a potential scenario where I might attempt the outing alone (as my fishing pals are unadventurous and complete pussies ), I had one of the rattlers that infest my Little Stinking swim up and attempt to share my waders. A reminder that they swim just fine – and even perched on a rock in midstream safety would still be an issue.

But only because Rattlesnake Creek is a trout stream, if it was full of Smallmouth, them snakes would fear the water more than my ponderous tread ..

… if it was full of Smallmouth, I’d be scared to go too …

14 Comment(s)

  1. JP2 | Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    Wellllll….On certain streams in the sun-blasted and snake/tick infested barrens of Eastern Washington; locals use a streamer tied to look like a 4″ rattler. Works for smallies…and trout…

  2. threedollarbridge | Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    That’s a pretty sneaky way to make sure that you won’t see me fishing there.
    By the way, I’ve seen rattlers on the Upper Sac, Mcloud, Hat Creek, Pit …

  3. kbarton10 | Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    Wisdom suggests this is a two-man event, given how a twisted ankle or a snakebite could ensure a single adventurer spent a couple of nights outdoors.

    While us aging beauty-queens are hell on finding things, we ain’t twenty anymore – and I’d as soon not have to pay for the air ambulance lift home …

  4. Joe Eberle | Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    kbarton10 wrote: “Wisdom suggests this is a two-man event, given how a twisted ankle or a snakebite could ensure a single adventurer spent a couple of nights outdoors.”

    Wisdom: a sure sign that you’re getting old.

    Hardship makes for a good story. I say go for it.

  5. Mark Kautz | Apr 29, 2013 | Reply

    Looks like one of those California canyons that you need repelling gear to get into. Personally, if it is as infested with rattlers and you must fish there, maybe a pistol with snake shot would be in order. Just for your safety, mind you.

  6. Idaho steel | Apr 30, 2013 | Reply

    Dang! Looks like serious fun, and the kind of place for big trout and streamer action! From the photo, there even appears to be a decent trail into the canyon.

    However, as a fragile northerner, I’m afraid I have to opt out of anything that involves strenuous activity in hot weather. Snakes, ticks, and hellish climbs merely add zest to life, but temps above 75 F? Nope.

    PS… a most excellent photo of Crotalus viridis. Judging by geographic location, that would be C.v. oreganus, the same cuddly variety we have locally in north central Idaho/eastern Washington. I would note that a good walking stick/wading staff is an excellent accessory to have in rattlesnake country, expensive fly rods being somewhat less suited to the duties of probing the tall grass and repelling boarders mid-stream.

  7. Ed | May 1, 2013 | Reply

    Since I don’t see any rhododendrons I say, “When do we leave?”

  8. A. Wannabe Travelwriter | May 1, 2013 | Reply

    I’ve “seen the elephant,” so it was no coincidence that I said, “Take me home, the wife-person is expecting me. How about you come back here on your own.”

    “Unadventurous” – no way.

    “Complete pussy” – probably guilty as charged.

  9. Brick | May 5, 2013 | Reply

    Read your article from 2011 on hat creek restoration and hopeful future efforts. Headed that way in late June. What, in your opinion, is the status of the fishery?

  10. KBarton10 | May 5, 2013 | Reply

    Brick – the fishery exists but remains a remnant of its former glory. I still enjoy fishing the creek, as I spent so many years there, but the large fish are not as prevalent as they once were, the slow water simply doesn’t hold the volume of bugs and fish it once did, and Powerhouse #2 still recieves the benefit of most of the feet.

    If you think like a fish, avoid the press of humanity, and get a bit off the beaten track you can do well still, but you have to work harder.

  11. Rummy Martin | May 9, 2013 | Reply

    You’re back?! You’re back?! Nobody told me. I thought you were through posting. I just checked on a whim, and BAM! Oh, thank God! This was one of the few really fine fishing blogs on the net. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

  12. KBarton10 | May 9, 2013 | Reply

    Rummy – I can’t seem to shake the writing thing, so I am posting on a much reduced frequency. Work has increased demands on my time, yet I’m attempting to squeeze a word in between assignments.

  13. Matt Copeland | May 11, 2013 | Reply

    Ancient history, eastern religion, near biblical plagues and fishing all in one post… what more could a reader ask for? Great stuff

  14. JJP | May 18, 2013 | Reply

    Trust me, Buddhists try not to become enraged, but camo can be good.

    I just returned from the Nashville, TN area were I continued my practice of getting shut out of new fishing by high water, but with a little luck I will have lots more time to explore under better conditions.

    High water, Snakes, and Buddhists, Oh My!

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