Tag Archives: drought

How Misery surely Loves company

With the exception of male models in carefully creased fishing vests hawking angling gear in magazines, I’ve been reluctant to piss on fellow members of the angling brotherhood. Ditto for television and radio personalities, as I’ve assumed them to be reasonably honest versus an avaricious SOB, whose focus is to promote their guide service. Most sins of exaggeration or inaccuracy chalked up to the notion that  angling media are akin to weather people; they mean well, but rarely get the forecast correct.

That’s a nicety I’ll no longer observe.

After six or seven weeks scrimmaging with Lake Berryessa in hopes the “top water bite” would materialize, I’m convinced we won’t have one this year – compliments of the California drought.

This being in sharp contrast to the pundits on the Bob Simm’s radio hour, which insists that anything with fins is climbing the bank begging to be hooked – on dry land even.

Personal observation and discussions with fellow fishermen suggests no one can figure out where the fish are – and that extends to the Kokanee Salmon and anything else plying the waters of that drainage.

Us fly fishermen, ever mindful of Science, have always insisted on the plausible explanation and Latin-tinged theorem, rather than relying on the more mystical,  “… use the Big Red Sumbitch – Let God Sort Them Out” approach popular with bass fishermen everywhere.

While much is known about river dynamics and flowing water, lakes have always proven a bit of enigma for fly fisherman. We look for the same things we see on rivers; bugs, differing currents, weather, and cover, but we’re ill at ease given that lake fishing exposes the soft underbelly of fly fishing – how poorly our tackle sinks and how deep water is our absolute undoing.

2015 Drought

I took the above picture of Berryessa’s banks in June of last year, just before the blast furnace of summer hit the area.

The Grass Belt is the historic fill level of the lake. If the lake is full, that water will rise to that region, about 10-30 feet from the tree line. The Brush Belt is the area exposed during the 2014 drought year. It has had seeds drift into that area from both wind and receding waters, and the growth has been buttressed by what little moisture fell during the 2014 Winter and Spring of 2015. The Just Exposed Belt is the area that has receded during the meager 2015 Spring, and will dry further as the 2015 Summer bakes the area.

By the end of Summer 2015, the loss of water had exposed nearly 200 feet of bank on the steeper canyon areas – which translated into half a mile or more of shallows exposed in the wider portions of the lake.

This Spring we had one superb storm that lifted the lake level at least 30 feet from its 2015 low point. On the shallow ends of the lake those flats exposed were reclaimed by the waters, leaving shore anglers the ability to cast only to the recently reclaimed area, now thinly covered with water.

Clue 1: Those ain’t weeds, those are Stems

In the bays formed by the undulating shoreline, the sudden glut of water had covered the exposed soil in wooden debris and  terrestrial plant stems. No leaves or greenery suggesting they were of recent vintage, rather they were sodden and waterlogged, with enough woody material to lift them to the surface, where the wavelets formed by the boat traffic piled them in heaps at water’s edge.

Looking at the above picture, and remembering the sequence of events – suggested this was the remnants of the Brush Belt. Once lush and green during Spring, now dried and dead from Summer, and forced underwater by the rising lake.

The idle currents near the shore break the stems into pieces, and they have enough pithy material to float ashore. These stems represent the only cover remaining underwater, leaving a featureless dirt embankment with no cover for hiding or ambush.

Clue 2: Where’s the forage?

Any self respecting minnow knows immersion in water teeming with hungry and voracious predators, requires both cover  and shade, things that you can hide among or behind, anything that allows the minnow school to pursue insects and forage suitable for their survival

These schools of bait were visible all of last year. Weed beds and plant growth would die once the water receded and exposed them to the harsh daytime temps, but the schools of forage fish would recede with the water – as the weeds blanketed the lake floor.

Add thirty feet of water delivered over a single week of runoff, and you have many hundreds of feet of dead soil now covered with water, but lack weeds, shade, or cover of any kind.

No cover means no bait, and that means no fish other than the occasional cruising bass.

Clue 3: Where are the beds?

Bass spawn in shallow water, leaving scarred whitish areas that the female sweeps clean with her tail. Often she stays on the bed, which is part of the allure of the Spring top water bite … big fish, shallow water, and the desire to kill anything approaching the nest.

Bass anglers have always taken advantage of this phenomenon with great glee, as there’s nothing more exciting then the visual element associated with casting at visible fish. The notion of “cradle robbing” apparently is suspended for the duration of the festivities …

This year I have seen only a single bed – covered by a solitary fish. It was in a back bay whose bottom had lots of algae and cover, suggesting bass also look for cover and shade to offer protection from predators.

The clean dirt areas are devoid of life. No beds visible, almost no foliage or weed growth, and few fish prowling for food.

deadZone

The above photo shows a “dead zone” bank. All dirt, no foliage of any kind as it was dried and desiccated by 2015’s summer sun. Note the pithy debris at water’s edge – mostly dried stems and dried thistle clumps (also shown in the water).

This lack of foliage means the dust in the soil leeches into the water as soon as boat wakes bathe the area. This thick band of dirty water provides the only cover for many hundreds of feet, and I always keep a weather eye out for signs of baitfish. So far, nothing.

Conclusion: Boat fishermen are better off

With no cover available to harbor baitfish, and with the water depth denying us that area of the lake that still has cover, my dismal conclusion is that the fish, their beds, and the minnow forage, are all too far from shore for bank fishermen to take part.

Six trips, in as many weeks, has yielded no fish activity of any kind.

I’ve not seen a boat angler catch a fish either – as many are fishing in close to the bank – consistent with a traditional wet year. I’m thinking that deeper water still retaining weeds and cover are where the fish are and the typical mobile bass angler is motoring  past them enroute to joining me in the Dead Zone.

Like Misery I surely loves the company, but I wish they would heed my “wave off.”

We shake off the preseason stiffness

The nature of scouting is like pre-season exhibition games, you’re working out all the kinks from what should become a well oiled machine.

Of late we’ve received a generous amount of moisture – keeping most of us fishermen indoors and pining away, while Mother Nature rights all her drought wrongs. I manage a scout trip each week waiting to see spawning bass in the shallows, but they’re a bit like Punxsutawney Phil, and not budging from deep safety.

Like an exhibition game, I watered the left sock from the dog bit waders I’d forgot about last season. Some strolling innocent failed to leash his aggressive canine, and I got a “through and through” on my left Achilles.  I remember standing there watching him yell ineffectually at the animal, as it attempted more damage – then his stunned look when I butt-stroked his darling quadruped, who disappeared up the trail yelping in a pained frenzy.

The waders were replaced easy enough, but the next trip had a shortened lunch due to the stash of last season’s  “fart bars” being  stale and the sack of dried peach slices being gangrenous . The beauty of Spartan rations is there’s nothing to melt, nothing completely unpalatable or rancid, but if it fails to look prettier once washed in the lake, it’s likely not worth the risk.

Lake water improved the stale protein bars, but I buried the peaches – figuring to do the watershed (and those living in it) a favor.

This weekend we forgot a rod, which always has a silver lining for the forgetful SOB that grabbed the wrong one. I’m winding up my best imitation of Robert DeNiro, “No, you can’t borrow my extra rod” speech from the Deer Hunter, knowing that loaned tackle guarantees the forgetful SOB will be catching everything  while my tackle remains untouched and I protrude lower lip …

…likewise for the dog – as now that he was done crapping on everything, he realized the human that had denied him his customary “shotgun” seat, meant he’d be splitting my beef jerky with two humans, and now the both of us were pouting.

FrankSmallmouth

It’s the only fish of the day – and Life has imitated art,  meaning one of the above is a smallmouth … The other is an dog owning ingrate that denied his loyal pooch precious dried beef-like substance …

… now I have to live down the gleeful pronouncement that I was blanked, and I’d had a can of “whoop-azz” unleashed on me.

Which is fair.

All that chalky blown dust that covered the banks last year is now underwater. One or two bass boat wakes later, the lake water is brown as fresh runoff.  Which means the fish can’t see flies nor lures after 10:00AM, so you get your fishing in early.

Dances With SODDEN TENNIS Balls

I keep telling myself that learning a lake in mid drought is akin to building sand castles in the surf; just about the time you mark the downed timber and rock piles – some unseasonable storm erases all traces of beaches and islands, and you’re left poring over photos to see what topography remains within casting distance.

Then again, us fishermen have always kept wisdom and logic at arm’s length, enlisting its aid only when it suits us. Standing in a downpour in icy water doesn’t suggest we’ve engaged our frontal lobe with much sincerity, given our reliance on superstition and the occasional hunch to tell us when fishing is especially good …

… and as my partner in crime was four legged and in need of exercise, meant that the unseasonable temperatures be damned, and 109 was just as fishy as 92, and unless I emptied the pooch in someone else’s backyard, I’d find his IED’s in my grass.

ABoyAndHisDog

In September and October we covered about 55 miles of shoreline – 25 miles of unique shore and the balance retracing our steps back to the vehicle. We found four different colors of tennis balls, three sizes of Frisbee, eight full bottles of beer, six colors of discarded brassieres, sinkers, weights, plugs, and lures, 3 pound iron balls, trolling planes, flashers, dive weights, broken rods, boat parts, folding lawn chairs, shopping carts, and unveiled numerous angling misdeeds … all the while avoiding snakes, quicksand, bog mud, and over zealous Bureau of Reclamation rangers – intent on shackling my pal on the end of a tether.

dawn_oakshore

The trick was to get clear of the pavement before dawn, allowing us unfettered access to all those miles of newly exposed lakebed. Soupy ground and ample mud coupled with the distance to open water kept the casual vacationers close to the car, with the rangers alternating the application of bandages or lectures, depending upon the infraction.

While short-lived, the early bite often produced some nice fish – as it was too early for the boating crowd and the noise and wake action that followed.

BigSpot

The low water conditions exposed a great deal of clandestine terraforming on the part of the bass boat crowd. Long chains of Christmas trees anchored with cinder blocks and rope had been dropped in many of the coves around the Oak Shores area of the lake. Stacked rocks and piles of tree limbs had been sewn into strategic areas only reachable via boat. My assumption was the numerous tournaments hosted by the lake were the root cause of all this carefully constructed structure. Once sank and marked on a GPS, it would make for a nice advantage over visiting anglers less industrious.

Bug activity was minimal and provided only food for the resident Threadfin Shad. While I’ve identified the Hexagenia Limbata on the east side of the lake, and due to its size is likely to be forage for prowling bass, the more accessible west shore shows no traces of the big mayflies, nor was there any surface activity other than leaping carp in either morning or evenings.

smallmouth.oakshores

Only a solitary white caddis fly appeared on the east side, and while it daubed its way across the weed beds ovipositing, only small shad attempted an intercept.

whitecaddis

The lack of winged insect life confirmed that Lake Berryessa is primarily a baitfish style fishery, where anything resembling the silvery threadfin shad is fair game. Outside of midge swarms, I encountered none of the traditional winged lake fare. No damselflies, mayflies, or dragonflies, only the solitary olive bodied white caddis (shown above) that was available in fair numbers, but without any fish keying on them to make their imitation viable .

4" Threadfin Shad washes ashore

Above is a sample threadfin shad that had floated ashore. This sample was about 4” long, and looked like it had been mouthed by something larger. Most of the shad I find are between 2” –4” long, and account for the morning feed – as large bass chase schools of shad into and out of coves and weed beds. It may also explain why the 1/4 and 3/8 ounce silver Kastmaster was the most numerous lure decorating all the exposed tree stumps.

KastMaster is the most numerous found lure

Of late the fishing has died completely. The weather grows a bit cooler and the change in season is likely causing everything to shift around again. I’ve taken to “prospecting” weed beds and drop offs with a big top water plug. It allows me to move briskly along the shoreline while occasionally drumming up large fish.

… more importantly, it leaves one hand free to fling muddy tennis balls down field, keeping the pooch amused between meals of unidentifiable decaying things.

Drought exposed bank is not a nice linear hike.  At distance the bank looks like an unbroken line, but when rounding the edge of an island, immense bays can be hidden that must be circumvented to proceed further down the shoreline. By the same token the return hike is often “as the Crow flies” – which is considerably shorter than the morning walk outbound.

As we got our first light dusting of rain yesterday, I’m keeping the fingers crossed that this Winter might erase much of my earlier work cataloging shoreline and the physical features of the lake. More importantly, if El Nino delivers on its promise, I may have a few other spots to fish next season.

The fire ravaged area at the dam gives pause to my optimism given even dry years result in the slopes above the highway slipping down onto the pavement below. Without vegetation to hold back all that loose rock I may need to find another locale that can be accessed should Winter spill water abundantly.

Imagine what they found when the Red Sea Parted

It’s the consequence of attempting lemonade when handed lemons, no matter how sour. Uncooperative fish, warming water, triple digit daytime temperatures, lingering drought, and a hound that requires exercise, each serving to make an outdoorsy type clamp on his hat and carry his rod if just for the exercise …

Lemonade640

… then again, a nine footer makes a perfect weapon to filch decaying “dollar bills” off the tree stumps,  Considering your average plug is about $8, there’s a pile of “dead presidents” represented here.

As I spent much of my youth “dumpster diving”, this is akin to the wreck of the Atocha. Replace the hooks and buff anything shiny with a bit of steel wool, and you won’t feel the bite of teaching your child to fish – given all the tackle he’s returning to a watery grave was rescued from there earlier.

The volume of worm weights and sinkers, rubber worms (whose colors have long faded) and decaying blades from Kokanee trolling is beyond counting. Large stumps have absorbed so much tackle pulled into them from the shore, that there is a leaden debris field on the lake side of each stump, where the sinkers fall once the hook rusts away.

All you can carry, and all you need is hip boots and a dog looking for a walk.

The problem of the few is how they keep getting fewer

There’s enough latitude in “fishless fishing” to blame lack of success on a plethora of unsavory possibilities. Water too cold, fish too lethargic, too warm, too bright, drunken revelers heaving glassware, boaters heaving breakfast, or simply the flies you knew were going to work don’t … and won’t ever.

With my constant dickering with patterns my fly box differs from one week to the next. Having the right fly at the right time is the hope – but more often it’s having the right fly with the wrong action, poor sink rate, or wrong color.

The lake fish have been giggling at my expense, so I opted to sooth my battered ego on shorter water, where some of my fly tying misdeeds could be observed along with the quarry.

The culprit was easy to spot. The new Flashabou Mirage I’d added to the sides of the pattern were so gawd-awful bright as to make me blush. My minnow imitations looked stiff and the Mirage made them so blindingly apparent that everything scattered away from the flies like they’d been scalded.

The local reception was likely a mirror of what I’d been getting at the lake, but with a Type VI shooting head and extra weight, all that frantic fish scatter had been invisible to me.

There’s nothing wrong with the Flashabou Mirage material, it simply announces itself like a New Orleans harlot, something well suited for salt water or depth, but inappropriate for lake fish not yet on the prod.

Knowing the creek was entirely “thin water” and will dry up this year, I took Meat on a scout trip to see where the Winter scour had left the deep water. The Siphon hole had a new tree laying halfway through the run – and a second tree had dropped into the run below that. This would be welcome in any normal year, but instinct suggests with a drought this intense, it will shade only the occasional rattlesnake.

2ndtree800

I trimmed off most of the gaudiness from my test flies and was rewarded with the occasional fish. “Winter” conditions are always sparse on fish due to the flooding that occurs, and while our last quality rain was a few months ago, what fish remain are few, scattered, and small.

LMouth600

Fine for us fellows intent on testing flies. Hungry visible fish are always the best option to refine experimental patterns for general use – or find out that some brilliant idea is less so, and only fish on the brink of starvation are vulnerable to your latest efforts.

I’ll settle for the Purple Unknown

Managed to sneak out briefly to scout the latest round of unseasonable weather.  Drought has a way of upsetting all the normal timetables, and this year is proving no different. The creek is already dry before it crosses I-5, so like last year, the only fishing that will persist is the nearby lakes, like Berryessa.

Normally the Bass spawn in Spring, but after an 80 degree weekend in March, I’m thinking we’re in Spring already and by May will be perspiring handily.

I scouted my usual haunts by Markley Cove and the dam proper, but made the mistake of being on the shade side of the cove, so the water was impenetrable until noon.

Plenty of large swirls in the coves as Bass chased Shad, but nothing was visible in the shallow edge – and no beds were present.

Saw one fish caught by a boat fishing a Chartreuse swim bait.

berry_Morning

I stomped the bank throwing my usual mix of Large and Gaudy and was ignored by everything underwater – although I created quite the entertainment for the squadrons of bass boats that rumbled past.

Being early is never bad thing as occasionally “early” yields a fishery that’s “just right”, with only you to exploit it, versus the more numerous, “should have been here last week.”

Purple_Flowers

I bagged it early and spent the balance of the day eyeballing the wildflower bloom. Like fishing, tracking the optimal flower show in a drought year is as bad as timing the bass spawn. A few colors were missing but the Poppies and the Purple Unknown were worth the early morning jaunt.

While many complain about the Lack, I shift my attentions to the Plenty

The drought and its unrelenting grip on the weather remind us of the absence of many things; moisture in any form, fishing of every type, and how Fall is being kept at arm’s length, denying us even a brief respite.

… unless you count forest fires as welcome change.

This year we had fires in every significant trout drainage in the state including; Hat Creek and Fall River, Yosemite, the Upper Sacramento, American, and anything else sloped towards the Pacific and sporting an overly warm dribble from the Sierra.

Naturally ebullient and unwilling to dwell on all the things denied us, I’ve busied myself with the Plenty, letting those prone to sourness swear at inclement conditions and hot weather.

olives1The Unexpected Plenty: defined by a big rig negotiating an onramp poorly and leaving 10000 pounds of Jalapeno Peppers on the edge of the road.

The Hoped for Plenty: that Garlic field whose harvester missed enough furrows as to allow me to squirrel away enough garlic to render myself off-putting to a Zombie Apocalypse, an uprising of Vampires, or most anyone ringing my front door.

… and the Unasked for Plenty; the appearance of enough Olives on the trees ringing the fields to allow me to dabble in toxic chemicals, converting the bitter and astringent Olive into something more docile and table worthy.

Fishing has been relegated to observation of the watershed and the realization that the two greatest despoilers of the environment are actually the root of the creek’s continued survival…

Man, for all his shortsightedness and many faults – occasionally preserves a watershed by intent. While that is infrequent in my unclean waters, occasionally we grow tired of crapping on the small and defenseless, and guilt makes us part with a few farthings for restoration work.

That other great despoiler of watersheds is the Beaver. Considered an unwelcome invasive in both South America and Europe, as it has great appetite for bank burrowing and tree felling, neither act endearing the beaver to anything else sharing the watershed.

As my creek has been dry since July, and does so each year at that time, the only life left in the watershed is contained in pockets of deep water. After the floods of Winter, the beaver rebuild their dams over the Spring, deepening the creek measurably, and these “islands of water” are all that remain for the fish, flora, and in stream fauna. Without beaver and his incessant engineering, I would have no fish.

beaver_dam

I still patrol the last few islands every couple of weekends. I carry a rod so as not to be considered a “person of interest” by the occasional jogger or landowner intent on my doings.  I note the mink and beaver that occupy the remaining water and realize that predation doesn’t need my help. In this overly warm, stagnant environment it’s likely each fish hook thrust through jawbone could weaken the few brood stock that are left, and imperil next year’s fishing.

Which will be moot if this drought persists.

Slingblade says, “Like Coors .. it’s the water”

I was asked about the pending Turkey season and what was the local outlook, and while I typically hover around fish I do cover a lot of unkempt and out-of-the-way turf, as getting to the water without being shot, bitten, or arrested takes me all over the drainage.

Oak_Turkey_onHoof430

This year the quarry is constrained by water, and the above turkey track still had the edges folding into the depression – meaning the bird was braving the exposed bank at midday.

Turkey being notoriously shy creatures and despite your being surrounded by a flock of 15lb birds, can get by you with nary a bush moving to show their passing.

My allergy with “No Trespassing” signs often has me bursting out into their midst without warning – as the circuitous path necessary to give the angler plausible deniability takes me into inclement areas. Avoiding landowners, ambitious dogs, and the 300 beehives I disturbed accidentally – means I occasionally have to move blindly and without benefit of friendly terrain.

… and scaring hell out of the big-arsed birds means I usually emerge with a couple of extra tail feathers given their hasty departure.

Hunt water. Hunt the path between the roost and water – and it shouldn’t be too terrible surprising if the roost tree is closer to the creek than last year.

The lack of water means the ground remains hard and flinty, so I’m not seeing the usual scrape areas they work with them big clawed feet.

The lakes I hit last week had an abundance of tracks near the water’s edge, and that means they covered 300-400 yards in the open to get there.

A canny fellow would take advantage.

Wherein “reduced dressing” refers to your sudden lust for an Xtra-Strong 12

The local farm journal is bemoaning vines and trees budding earlier than normal. Early nut and vine crops are a bigger issue given the drought and the increased salinity of the Delta, whose waters are tapped when rainfall is absent. What little fresh water currently flowing from the hills isn’t enough to push the salt water back towards San Francisco Bay, and pumping brackish water is not an option.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the drought would advance the calendar of nearly everything; stoneflies gone before Opening Day, most hatches early versus their traditional schedules, and much of the Sierra fishing like August once June arrived. This from past experience of similar trauma in the Seventies, and how painful were the lessons learned.

While most focus on the high country and it’s Pristine, I’m already gearing up for the Other White Meat, Shad, and how the run, such as it is likely to be, will be small and arrive early, and how we’ll be further constrained by river closures, and last minute gear changes none of us seem plan for …

Chatting with the dam operator from last week’s outing, I was curious on how much they were releasing and what were their plans in the event of a windfall of moisture. “Eleven …”, says he, “We’re currently releasing eleven feet per second, and have no plans to release more until we fill the lake behind …”

With the drought-based closures of California’s more prolific fisheries due endangered salmon and steelhead – and with the potential for the Shad run to be smaller, shorter, and sooner, it’s likely that whatever 2014 has in store could be a “hot mess.”

… all fishing will be banned through April 30, 2014 on the American River from Nimbus Dam downstream to the power lines crossing Ancil Hoffman Park.

Excerpt from the Sacramento Bee, March 7th 2014

… late April – early May usually debuts the run, and if water conditions make them arrive sooner, they’ll be moving through the river without us doing more than watching.

Folsom_Dam

Nimbus Dam and Folsom Lake (above), source of the American River.

The above shot of Folsom is prior to the most recent spate of showers, but we’re still absent the multi-day pounding rain that saturates the ground and generates runoff. Current flow in the American is 500 CFS, which is about 10% of what it should be – and about 20% of what it is when the fish are aggressively invading the river.

It may be time to ditch the Spey rod and grab the one hander. Distance won’t be an issue given the river shrinkage, and a sink tip may be better than a full sinking head in many spots. Don’t be surprised if smaller and “less bright” is the preferred rig, as you’re likely to be pawing through the bins hoping to see #12’s instead of the customary 6’s and 8’s.

As I fished mostly size 8’s last year, I’m looking at reducing the weight and dressing, opting for a dimutitive collection of bugs on 2X Strong, standard shank, 10’s – 12’s.

Bead chain can’t get much purchase on shanks that small, so if you use them be mindful the finished fly will spin with finger pressure and have a tendency to unwind and fall apart. A Model Perfect bend and single smaller bead – or 2AMP wire wrap – may be much better than the classic chain, both in weight and its resultant durability.

I’ll add some tips on reduction in a future post.

Cloudy with a chance of Sunburn

I didn’t think it possible to incur a sunburn in February. The notion that mornings are chill and by midday you’re peeling everything you carefully layered earlier, suggests less of explainable science and more of the looming Zombie Apocalypse.

Winter has a scant 30 days remaining and we’ve seen nothing in the way of water – although the weather pundits are claiming something damp may arrive next week.

Too little too late.

Fishing has been mostly an afterthought of late given how many environmental elements are out of sync. I’ve been out scouting different water each weekend, but nothing is visible, nothing bites, and exercise is the main event, with the promise to return when Nature rights itself.

This weekend was Gunfire Lake and a hunt for leftover tackle.  I amused myself carrying a rod, mostly to reassure the horde of camouflaged militia that I was local talent and not a Taliban sympathizer. My lust for tromping dry lakebed and scooping old fishing tackle being shared by a regiment of the California Militia, complete with badged yellow Humvees, wives that looked really tired of “Meathead” playing soldier, and a dazzling array of AR-15’s carried lovingly in the crook of an arm.

I’d always assumed the constant patter of rifle fire and the whine of ricochet stemmed from dumbasses drinking beer, now I know it to be patriotic dumbasses drinking beer.

GunfireLake_branch430

The lake itself was reduced to a shallow two mile long depression. The boat launch was high above the waterline and some 300 yards distant. Water clarity was good as the morning was airless, and I threw fast sinking things at tree trunks and donated some tackle that I’ll be back for next month …

Scouting the launch area yielded a Wee Wart, a smattering of rubber worms and their sliding sinkers, 8 golf balls (Callaway), three six inch flasher rigs, a couple hundred yards of lead core, and one Indian acorn pestle which was a delight to find.

Gunfire_loot1

Apparently the trolling gear is for Kokanee Salmon, but it was still a surprise to see how much of the found gear it represented. Twenty pound monofilament, flashers, and lead core is a trifle heavy when the quarry is nearer sixteen inches than sixteen pounds.

I’m guessing the volume of timber in the water dictates the overly heavy gear, and donating chrome flashers is likely to hurt, making their preservation a priority.

Fish were visible only when porpoising in deep water. I tossed flies at timber near the bank, noting the absence of any protective algae in the water. The lake itself appears completely sterile of weeds and organic buildup (refer to the topmost picture to see the absence of growth on the submerged timbers). I saw a few Threadfin shad and assumed in the absence of any other life forms this was likely a “minnow” lake, with small fish the main event for all resident life.

I found a single monstrous fish spine and one desiccated turtle. The spine appeared to be carp or pike minnow, much too heavy for Kokanee salmon or bass.

GunfireLake_Target430

A couple miles of bank yielded more flashers and trolling gear, another fistful of Carolina-rigged worms, a Heddon Torpedo, and a bullet riddled electrical panel which saw its final service as a Taliban sympathizer.

There were no hits anywhere on the paper, which isn’t all that surprising given the volume of poorly directed lead that splashes around us each visit.