Travelogue Chapter Twenty-Two
Thursday, 29 August 6:18 p.m.
I guess I'd better finally get this down to paper(?) because tomorrow afternoon I am off on yet another adventure. Sorry this took so long to get down, but I have been really busy at work. Teaching lots of lessons (I have to "successfully" teach each lesson in the course one time) and spending my evenings preparing for the next day's lesson.
So a couple weeks ago I found out that the Department Head decreed that the 23rd of August was going to be a day off. Even though it played hell with the scheduling of our class time I was happy to get an unexpected break. The class is designed with a bit of "pressure" built in intentionally. Given enough time just about anybody that can operate a pencil can do what we teach. The "trick" is to be able to do it quickly enough and still turn out a quality product. The class is designed that way because the techs we teach will be operating under that same kind of pressure when they hit the fleet.
This trip began Thursday afternoon After a short stop at the barracks to change clothes and load up the bike I was on my way. The trip up north was, as usual, very uneventful. I was making really good time until I got a ways north of Bakersfield and ran into road construction. Ended up rolling into Oakdale around 2000 or so.
The next day, after spending a few hours at Mike's work, we were on our way... Headed for the hills... That evening we found ourselves at the campground at Indian Creek Reservoir. The moon was still mostly full and the lake was looking really inviting so I decided to try a little late night fly fishing. All I managed to catch was clumps of moss. Several hours later, after sitting around telling lies all night (no campfire... "Very High" Fire Danger), it was time to turn in for the night... uh... morning...
Bright and early, at the crack of 0900, I finally rolled out of the tent and went back down to the lake with the fly rod. This time I could see the moss mats and avoid them with my fly. Not expecting too much to happen I didn't bother to bring any extra flies down to the lake with me. Boy, was that a mistake. After finally finding an area where I was able to dip the fly without hitting moss it didn't take long to get a strike. It didn't take too long for that fish to snap my leader. He came up out of the water twice at least three feet up and made a couple strong runs. I made the mistake of trying to horse him in and he got away... A bit upset at losing the fish and not having any more hooks with me I trudged back up to the camp.
After a while Mike was ready to roll and we headed off to find the river to catch some dinner. After doing a little scouting we found a nice hole right next to the highway with a bunch of fish sitting there laughing at us. We had passed the hole earlier but there were four folks already there fishing it. I really didn't expect the fish in there to be too active because it was already about noon and there had been folks crawling all over that hole already. For those of you that know me fairly well, though, you'll know I can be quite persistent. I remember going fishing with my dad on the Big Hole river one time. I found a nice little pool that I saw a couple fish rising in and made up my mind to catch them. It took me so long to finally convince them to strike that my dad had worked his way so far down the river that I couldn't see him anymore. This time was no different. I tried the hole for a bit with the usual array of flies (mosquitoes, muddler's, etc...) and moved on a little further upstream. The thought of those fish laying there laughing at me started getting to me. I made up my mind to pull at least one of them out of there. For this job, though, it was going to take a special sort of fly. After looking around to make sure nobody was looking over my shoulder I reached in my bag o' tricks and pulled out the secret weapon. A hand tied Salmon Fly. It wasn't in the water more than a few seconds when one of the bigger fish cruised over to look at it... At that point I knew I had them. Didn't take long before I snagged one out of there. "Okay..." I thought, "The Salmon Fly worked... I wonder what else can pique their interest." So I pulled out a grasshopper and threw that in there. Soon enough I was pulling in another one. By this time Mike had returned and wanted to try his Rooster Tail lure in there. Also about this time some jackass pulls up in an SUV with his $500 worth of the "right" fly fishing gear and stands about fifteen feet upstream from me and starts tossing his line into the hole we were fishing!! I could not believe what this jerk was doing! So I said to the retard, "Hey!! We're fishing here! Do you mind finding some other place?" I *thought* he started packing up to leave. A few moments later I notice he's still there... Still tossing his line into the hole we were fishing... This was just too much! "HEY!! DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID?" This jackass looks at me and says "What's the problem?" After CLEARLY explaining the problem to the idiot he STILL didn't seem to get it and moved to a spot fifteen feet downstream, STILL throwing his line in the hole we were fishing. I couldn't take it anymore. It was either beat the shit out of the stupid jackass or leave. I figured with as many witnesses there were around (and the fact that Mike and I had already caught two fish each, plenty enough for dinner) it would be real hard to plead self-defense to drowning him with his fly rod stuffed up his ass. I think there's still parts of Montana where what that guy did was a mandatory death-by-hanging offense.
So we head back to camp in time to make the NorCal meeting and have ourselves a nice dinner of fried trout. I can't really remember exactly which point it was... Whether before the meeting or after... I got the urge to try the lake again. This time I went down there with a grasshopper tied on. I was determined not to lose a fish by trying to horse him in again... I didn't... I never got the chance. Some monster of a fish came up and took the fly so hard that he broke it off before I had a chance to react. Never even saw it more than the splash of water when he sucked the fly off the surface. DAMN!
After the meeting we (some of the remaining club members) sat around a *gasp* campfire for a while swapping stories and telling lies... Pretty much solving the world's problems. I think if more of the world's politicians rode motorcycles and attended Rally's and camp meetings there would be a lot more peace in the world... Anyhow... Pretty soon my eyes got too heavy and it was time for me to go to sleep.
The next morning I awoke with even more determination to catch a fish in that lake (there's that persistence thing again). I wanted to try Mike's fly rod to see how well it handled so I strapped my reel onto his pole and headed back to the spot where I lost the last two hooks. *NOTHING* was happening on the water. No activity (fish type) at all. It really wasn't looking good but I decided to go for it anyway. Standing about waist deep in the water I was thrashing about with the fly and getting no hits at all. Eventually I saw a spot *WAAAAAAYYYY* out there on the other side of a moss matt where a fish was doing a bit of rising. Nothing spectacular, but very much like the action the fish made when it took my last hook. Wading on out just as far as I could and still be able to work the fly rod (did I mention the water was about 50°?) I managed to get the fly out where the fish was feeding. In no time at all I had him hooked!! After a few minutes of fighting (not much oxygen in the water at 7500') he finally gave up and let me carry him to shore. By the time I made it back to shore I notice the fly had fallen out of his mouth. Such is the life of a barbless fly fisherman... We didn't have a tape measure or a scale, but laying him out on my forearm with his tail tucked into the crook of my elbow the tip of his nose extended about 2" past my finger tips. That woulda made him about 17" long. We guess him to be about 2½-3 lbs. (There's a picture of him at my web site).
There really wasn't time to cook him up and it would have never made the 8 hour trip back down to Sandy Eggo so I offered it to Mike. I think it took him about 0.3 seconds to decide that he wanted to take it home. After cleaning it up I realized it was starting to get a bit late and I needed to get on the road. We broke camp, loaded up the bikes and headed out. Riding down Highway 395 Mike went along with me as far as Lee Vining where he turned west for home and I continued on south. Sooner than I could have imagined I started seeing familiar sights. I was back in my old stomping grounds. The same area I ended up in on my first bike camping trip this time Stateside. A few short hours later I was back in San Diego. Trip complete.
All in all a very good weekend. It was the first time in years that Mike and I had some "guy time" out in the hills by our selves. It really was a lot of fun. I hope we get another chance to do it again before I leave to head back to Hawaii. The chances aren't looking too good, really. Besides this weekend (The Range of Light Gypsy Tour) and the weekend of Sep 14th (The CCBR Autumn Beemer Bash) I only have three more weekends "in country"... Where has the time gone, really? I've been in California since the 21st of May and the time has really gone by quick the last couple months. It seems like only last week I was in Butte visiting my dad. As much as I am looking forward to retiring in June 2006 I have a sneaking suspicion the time between then and now is going to go real quick. I will be doing something I like (teaching) in a place that I like (Hawaii) and think it is going to flash on by... Just as well. I have lots of things to do that do not involve getting "time off" to do them and I am really looking forward to having time to do them.
Jeeze... I sure rambled on this time, eh? I guess it's about time to close for now. I'll report back in again after I return from the Range of Light.
On to next chapter