Category Archives: trout fishing

It might have been an irate Conga soloist with a Ranger in tow, best play it cagey

I’m following in the footsteps of the Trout Underground, which has a winning combination for the extended fishing soiree … first you mention the menu, show a couple of water shots proving you were able to push yourself away from the table, then you mention dessert.

Unfortunately everything in California has sugar on it, so you have to guess which course is first. “Dessert” was the first fish landed, and it’s strangely fitting that a Brownliner’s pilgrimage to blue water starts with a Brown Trout … 

Me and Salmo Trutta renew a longstanding friendship

I’ve fished a lot of “mixed” water in the last decade, populated with both Brown and Rainbow trout – but for whatever reason I’ve haven’t seen that yellow belly and red spots since … forever.  Our first day on the lake  Browns outnumbered Rainbows, and everyone got to see a splash of yellow.

Manzanita Lake is about 5800 feet above sea level, and contains the only fish native to Lassen Park. Due to elevation and ice covering the lake, spawning occurs in late Spring, and the small feeder creek entering the lake provides precious gravel to sustain a natural population.

The above photo, a recently spawned fish that’s much skinnier than normal, almost “snakelike” – freshly spawned, more importantly, hungry as hell. After 14 hours of propelling myself around the lake, I’m not sure whose palette was the more discriminating, but at least one of us got fed. 

J. Fair's biggest fan, and another victim of the WiggleTail nymph

Our small flotilla chugged around the lake and did well; two kinds of mayflies, midges, and the breeze played havoc with all of them; nymph activity was constant and prowling fish were in evidence all day long. Hatches were morning, noon, and evening – the traditional Manzanita schedule, with Calibaetis hatching at noon and again in the evening. It’s too soon for the big noontime spinner fall, but with “two a day” hatches, it shouldn’t be too long before they’ll add to the festivities. 

Trout like Carp flies, a lot

“The Thrill that comes Once in a Lifetime” was how Ed Zern wrote it in “To Hell With Fishing”; the obscene discovery that big trout and Carp have an affinity for algae colored monstrosities. I didn’t complain much, just kept yelling “Pheasant Tail” to anyone that asked.

I was fishing dammit, and a little white lie won’t add much to the flames of Hell … the last thing I needed was some fellow accusing me of intentional invasive species release – knowing that fly had dampened both the blue and the brown.

Besides, it may have been the irate “Conga Drum” soloist with a ranger in tow.

I’ll post some flies and useful methods tomorrow, I had to get the “fish porn” out of the way, buying me enough time to see if I have any left. It’s the unwritten law of the “best friend” fly tier, “Guys, before we get in the car the flies are a buck, but once my waders are damp – dries are $9.50 each and nymphs are $14.00…”

We survived, but the Mormon Tabernacle buys it

Coin operated showers sealed our fate, and if the “Mormon Tabernacle” in the next campsite could’ve held a tune on the Conga Drums, we might not have had to show ourselves and chase their womenfolk away.

Lots of smoke in the background

Paddling around the lake for 12 hours a day doesn’t breed sophistication in dining. Black dark doesn’t assist much, but it’ll hide the worst of the culinary transgressions..

“Did you just put Toothpaste on my steak?”

“Oops, sorry – It looked like the steak sauce bottle.”

“That’s OK, put more on I’m starving .. ”

“Oh my god, you just drank the dish water!”

“I did? Was kind of bland, pass me something colder.”

I can only wonder what the neighbor’s thought – our campsite was peaceful and deserted from dawn till dark, then some land yacht squeals to a stop with 3 tubes on the roof. The unkempt and unshowered wolves emerge, take down a bison, char the edges, rend it to pieces, then start snoring.

The glottal kind, add three different pitches and even the Black Bears left us alone.

Smoke from the Butte Lightning Complex was thick, and that allowed me and the rest of “McHale’s Navy” to doctor our hooks with whatever we squirreled away in float tube pockets. “Skipper” brought some ungodly Peanut Butter protein bar that tasted better after it was run over twice by the vehicle, but despite the embedded gravel made a handsome facsimile for Power Bait.

Who invents this stuff? It's like leaden death.

After finning around the lake all day, I wasn’t about to waste my remaining larder on damn trout, I’ll take the gravel, you eat the bugs.

We’ll cover the fish stories tomorrow, right now sleep and a shower sound better.