• Prospecting for Gold 10-26-2012

    …Day two was the most adventuresome day planned. It was a 60+- mile drive over the hill which took about 3 ½ hours.

    Along the way, I stopped at the Black Rock Visitor Center to gather any additional information I could about the area, whether it be the weather, directions, road conditions, water levels, etc. After all, if I was going to chase a dream, I wanted to catch it. I spoke with a ranger named Anne. Anne didn’t fish, but she had all the answers to the questions that an out of area fly fisherman could ask. She knew all about Golden Trout and their habitat, what streams held them, stream sizes and water levels. She would say things like “I wouldn’t try that one. The snow pack was low last winter and that stream really suffered. Try the one the next ridge over, it fared a little better,” as I picked her brain. She also knew the terrain. She had hiked most of the forest roads and trails in the area and told me what to expect. Her directions were pretty good too.

    The last eight miles were on a 4 wheel drive road. Aside from one or two tricky spots it wasn’t too bad. One spot involved snaking the Explorer between two boulders at an angle then making a sharp turn back in the other direction. I had to get out of the SUV a couple times to view my clearance as I squeezed my way through. It barely fit, and if I didn’t turn at the correct arc, I would scrape the garbage out of the rent-a-vehicle. Well, apparently the river gods were on my side and wanted me to make to the Promised Land. I made it through the obstacle course without damaging the vehicle. There were a couple of other instances when I had the thing teetering on two wheels – right front, left rear or left front, right rear - as I crawled over some boulders, but up to this point it was nothing major. A short while later I entered the meadow and it was smooth sailing from there to the stream.

    After walking the creek at a couple of locations, I settled on a place to start fishing. As I was rigging up, I saw a bunch of suckers swimming around in a slow run. Maybe it wasn’t the best place to start. Then, I saw a fish with spots dart for cover.

    I caught a couple of browns out of the first few flows when I came upon a shallow run flowing over a gravel and cobbled bottom.

    The water was three inches deep at the most. I cast across an exposed gravel bar and let my flies drift down towards the undercut bank at the bend. Suddenly, the dry went under. I lifted my rod and saw a bright orange flash as I turned a fish but couldn’t set the hook. I missed my first Golden. And it looked to be about 12 inches. It’s my understanding that would be a nice fish for this creek.

    Working upstream, I caught a few more browns. I even caught a small rainbow - as opposed to a rainbow/golden hybrid (no pic.) - but still, no gold.

    A little while later the river gods smiled upon me again and granted what I sought. I landed my first golden. Then, a couple more. I lost another nice one too. I really got to enjoy the fight on that one as it raced up and down the pool several times before throwing the hook right at my feet.

    At this point I decided to head upstream a little further to get to where the more pure goldens lived. I hurried back to the SUV and headed up the road. Unfortunately, the road got a little too rough after the turnoff. I bottomed out twice and had the thing teetering on two wheels pretty good once in the first ¼ mile. From there, the road headed down hill and it looked like it was getting rougher. I wimped out. That night, back at the Kern River Brewery Brandon asked how I made out. Apparently, that was the place I needed to get to and it was probably another two miles from where I turned around.

    I rushed back to the water I fished earlier. It was already 4:15 and I wanted to be on the way out by 5:00 so my time was going to be limited. Those boulders I had to squeeze through on the drive out were in the back of my mind all day and I didn’t want to navigate through them in the dark. I hiked in a little ways and refished some of the water I had visited earlier. I caught a few more browns and one more small, but colorful golden. The day ended with four goldens, a rainbow, 20+ browns, and the opportunity to experience one of the coolest fisheries on the planet. Thank you river gods!

    I rushed back to the Explorer, shed my gear, and got on the road 15 minutes behind schedule. By the time I reached the woods I needed my headlights. I came upon the boulders before I realized it. On top of that, they were on an incline and I didn’t want to slow down or stop and risk getting hung up. I didn’t have the time to overanalyze the situation and I just reacted. It all worked out pretty good as I snaked my way through and kept on going. But, there were a couple of other areas where I bottomed out and had a hard time getting traction on the ascent. The four wheel drive was nice, but the low clearance and street treads just didn’t cut it. When I move here I’m buying a jeep. At least I got out before dark.

    Back in town I got dinner and a couple of Class X Stouts at the Kern River Brewery before heading back to the lodge and going to bed. That night, as I closed my eyes for the last time, I reminisced and said to myself, “Wow! I wonder what tomorrow will bring…
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Prospecting for Gold 10-26-2012 started by Lone Wulff View original post