• Striking the Mother Lode 10-27-2012 (Part III)

    Warning: For your safety, you should be in good health before consuming this thread. If you have high blood pressure, back or neck problems, heart conditions, are susceptible to motion sickness, have a medical sensitivity to vibrant colors, or any other conditions that might be aggravated by such an adventure it is recommended that you exit now. Lone Wulff shall not be held liable for any insatiable desire that may develop, or for blindness, that may result from viewing the following photos.

    …The next morning I headed back up the hill.

    I stopped by the Black Rock Visitor Center again and had another engaging discussion with Anne about productive slivers of water that might hold Goldens. After telling her what I was looking for, she discouraged my line of thinking and pointed me in the same direction that Brandon had recommended the night before. I’m glad I listened to them. It was exactly what I was looking for - a tiny creek that meandered through a high mountain meadow. It wasn’t exactly a secret location, but it couldn’t have been more perfect. Shwiiiiing!

    The sun was high and the sky clear when I started the hike in. Every time I approached the bank of the stream I saw a fish or two dash for cover. It looked like the fishing was going to be tough. I figured I would hike downstream into the woods where there would be shade, cover for me to hide, and the fishing might be easier. I also thought I might find some pocket water where some larger fish could lie. I hiked for awhile and the meadow narrowed, but it never really became wooded, nor did the grade steepen. The stream ran against clusters of trees, but that was about it.

    I was not going to be able to fish all the water I passed, so I stopped walking and started fishing. I rarely fish a dry fly exclusively, but the water was less than six inches deep in most places, and the fish were already skittish, so I forewent the dropper and just fished a dry.

    A short while later I was into beautiful golden trout. I caught about 20 in the first three hours – each one uniquely colorful.

    Late in the afternoon I stopped for a casual shore lunch – a gourmet sandwich, compliments of the Riverkern General Store & Deli, and an endless supply of creek water.

    I was having the time of my life. I had always wanted to chase goldens and I was finally doing it. I love little creeks too – the smaller the better. It is my favorite kind of fishing. Put the two together and I must admit I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. As I studied a section of water I found myself pondering: “Why must this end?”

    I had a lot of water ahead of me and I wasn’t going to be able to fish it all. I decided to head up to the open meadow area, if only for the setting itself. The sun had dropped below the hills which would help conceal my presence. It was still hunting season in California. With dusk approaching, and not wanting to end my trip by being mistaken for a bear, I donned my blaze orange hat. I thought that I would stick out like a sore thumb standing on the bank in the wide open meadow, but the fish didn’t seem to mind. I think they’re kind of partial to orange anyways.

    Well, the fishing really took off at this point. I ended up catching about 30 fish over the next hour and an half. The water narrowed as it snaked its way through the meadow, but the fish became more plentiful and were a little larger.

    Putting it into perspective – the rod is 7’9”.

    This bend pool gave up five or six gems.

    Virtually every run, pool and flat held fish.

    As the evening light was waning and my euphoria was about to abruptly end, a long sliver of water gave up the nicest fish of the day.

    I could have fished for a few more minutes and caught a few more fish, when I heard a voice say “Why?” I looked around but didn’t see anyone. Then, I realized it was just me thinking out loud. I clipped off the #16 green humpy, stuck it on my fly patch, packed my rod, and hoofed it back to the SUV. I got changed in the dark.

    Back at the Kern River Brewery, as I consumed my last bourbon barrel aged Class X Stout of the trip, I ran into Brandon again. He asked how I did. I thanked him for sending me in the right direction. He was concerned that the water would be too small and I would be disappointed. “No” I responded. “It was exactly what I was looking for.” It was a great way to end the fishing part of my Great Escape.

    The next day I made the 350 mile drive to Escondido and the Stone Brewery. That may sound like a long way to go for a beer, but coming from the east coast, I was almost already there anyways. What’s another six hours of driving? I was hoping to try something new that might only be available at the brewery. Stone was getting ready to re-release the Lucky Bastard. It’s a combination of double dry hopped versions of Arrogant Bastard, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and the Double Bastard. The double dry hopped Arrogant Bastard takes 30 days to brew. The other two take 60 and 90 days. They make more of the ones that brew quicker and sell the extra exclusively at the brewery while awaiting the completion of the other steps. It was pretty darn good. I also tried a strong ale called Punishment. It’s brewed with some type of chili pepper. You can definitely taste the pepper and feel the heat. Before leaving the brewery I went into the gift shop and bought myself a souvenir – something that is only available at the brewery. Being a long time fan of Stone’s Bastard series, combined with my newfound love for barrel aged beers, I was ecstatic.

    I got up early the next morning and made the dreaded journey back to LA. Luckily, I gave myself the extra time because MapQuest got me off the highway at the wrong exit. As I was aimlessly wandering around the city, I received a call from some coworkers who were also lost. Well, an hour and a half later I found the hotel and convention center and made it to the conference just in time.

    At the same time the conference was occurring super storm Sandy was hitting the east coast and wreaking havoc with air travel nationwide. Conference leaders were advising attendees to check with their airlines and keep them apprized if their flight was cancelled. They were preparing to make accommodations for anyone who might get stranded in LA. There was the possibility that we could be stuck there for several days. “Hmmmm…”

    On every break, folks were on their cell phones, or running to use the hotel computers, to check their flights. There were a lot of concerned individuals that didn’t want to be stuck in LA for a couple extra days. On one break I called my wife and asked her to check on my flight for me. Then, I ruffled through my back pack and found the real important information. I still had the phone numbers for the rent-a-car company and the lodge in Kernville. Just in case of course. When no one was looking I slipped around the corner, dropped to my knees, and prayed to the river gods. “Please, please, please let my flight be delayed – not for long – just a week or so.”

    “Sorry Lone Wulff,” was the existential reply. “You had your fun. We will not delay your departure.”

    “You don’t need to delay the entire flight, just my seat.”

    “You need to stop being selfish. You just had the time of your life. You will go home tomorrow and check back into reality – whether you like it or not. Sorry.”

    The river gods were right. I couldn’t argue with them on any account. “You don’t need to apologize,” I responded. “This was better than expected - more than I deserved. Thank you.” I wiped a tear from my cheek as I stood up and headed back towards reality.

    As I walked down the hall the river gods spoke to me one last time. “Hey! You know those bead head caddis pupae that you do so well with?”

    I turned towards the voice. “Yeah…?”

    “Can we have some?”

    “I have to catch a flight and my bags are packed. I can’t get to them right now. Come find me on Generous Creek.” As I walked back into the conference a co-worker asked, “What the f%$k are you smiling about?” I didn’t try to explain.

    In hindsight, I didn’t need to stay in LA that last night. I spent the last boring afternoon and evening in a hotel near the airport watching the news and getting caught up on all the events that I had been oblivious to for the past several days. I had that Barrel Aged Double Bastard packed in my bag and had visions of cooling it down in a bucket of ice and drinking it out of a plastic hotel cup as I watched TV. “Nah!” How anticlimactic (and disrespectful to Stone) would that have been? I doubt the river gods would have approved.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Striking the Mother Lode 10-27-2012 started by Lone Wulff View original post