First of all, I'd like to thank our soldiers, past and present, for their service. If you see someone in uniform, please shake their hand and offer a "Thank You" for the sacrifice they've made. My report may be a day after the official holiday, but it's never too late for gratitude.
Now for the fishing!
Yesterday I grabbed the kids and took to the road with intentions of piercing some lips. The destination was somewhat unknown, but I let my son James decide while at a gas station in Scipio. The options I gave were to fish the nearby Yuba Reservoir for species other than trout, or to head to the Fish Lake Plateau for some hike-in fun.
Road fatigue probably had something to do with his response, opting for Yuba, which has recently started bouncing back from a bust cycle, where carp have been the main catch for the past few years. Recent reports of people catching actual sport fish had my hopes high and we made great time getting to the lake.
Not wanting to pay the day use fee at the state park, we pulled over near the spillway and fished near the bridge. Most of the people that had been fishing reported slow catching, but one person I recognized from a local forum had caught some pike and carp, throwing spoons.
Getting busy, I threw a Krocodile lure in a fire tiger pattern in all directions while soaking a minnow. James threw a Gulp! minnow, since he's had some luck with it, plus it won't snag too easily on the bottom.
Time ticked by without anything to show for it, but I noticed some line slowly getting pulled from my minnow rod. Bingo, I thought, but somehow missed the hook set. I was really hoping for a walleye, but I'll never know what might have been.
Some people left from a spot that I was eyeballing and that allowed me to cast from under the bridge, out into the lake, bringing it back into the bottleneck of the spillway. Experimenting with different retrievals, I finally got a good hit from allowing the lure to sink down to the sandy bottom, then reeling in slowly, pausing occasionally to let it sink again.
A juvenile northern pike was the reward for my patience, my second ever.
A short while later, using the same retrieval, my spoon somehow snagged a carp in the side. The resulting fight had me pretty sure that I had something nice on the other end, so seeing a foul-hooked carp come to the surface was kind of a bummer.
Shortly after that, a nicer pike grabbed the spoon, but its sharp teeth snipped the line before I even had a chance to fight it.
Switching to the closest thing in my tackle box, a chrome/orange Kastmaster would have to do. It actually outperformed the Krocodile and had quite a few hits and a couple of similar pike wiggled their way off the hook before I could get any photos, some before I could even get my hand around them.
Finally, I got this little guy right at my feet, noticing a flash behind my lure, then dancing it around until I watched the snakey little guy take another swipe.
James had since given up on working his Gulp! and it was clear that our time at Yuba was soon to be over. Not wanting to let the bait dry out and harden (they're really hard to get off the hook when they dry out), I tossed that out as far as I could and let it soak for a few minutes.
Right before leaving, I slowly brought in the Gulp! and got another small pike.
It was pretty fun to catch pike again and it's great to see Yuba bouncing back. Though we were done with Yuba, there was still another spot that I wanted to try, just outside the route home.
A few miles to the east of the town of Levan, a small lake lies on Chicken Creek and it's been on my hit list for a few years. Someone had told me about a pond near Levan a long time ago and I've just never gotten around to looking into it. Thanks to some pre-trip planning on Google Maps, I knew where to go.
Pulling up to the lake, we were all alone on Memorial Day, something I didn't think would be possible.
The water was a bit discolored, but showed promise with plenty of cover at the water's edge, a lot of dead trees, and a couple of visible brown trout cruising about.
What a neat little find!
Try as I might though, the little browns in the pond were only feeding on tiny surface bugs that I didn't have any good imitations for. No action on the trusty Blue Fox, Gulp!, redside shiner, marabou jig, or even a night crawler!
It's no wonder we were alone, as the lake wasn't giving up its tiny treasures for us.
Moving downstream a little, I came to a great little waterfall with a nice hole below it.
My first toss resulted in a hard hit from something a bit bigger than I'd been seeing at the lake, but somehow it didn't stay on. Eventually, I had to settle for a small one, but at least it was a trout in my hand.
We left the lake, but stopped at a few spots along the creek's path down the canyon. The canyon itself was pretty neat with a lot of exposed rock faces and nicely shaded primitive camping and picnic areas by the creek.
The creek is very technical and it was difficult to sneak up on the fish before they would dart off, leaving tiny wakes in the shallow waters. It wasn't until I found some backed up areas where I got into a mess of tiny browns and a couple of rainbows.
The rainbows flipped off the hook before their photo shoot, but they appeared a bit fatter than the browns of equal length. Some of the younger browns appeared to have a decent chance of growing to good size, but the majority were skinny little snakes.
It was still fun to hit a wild fishery and get some action though.
Here's one that didn't look stunted...yet.
It was a great day! Catching pike again was a blast, exploring new areas is always excellent, and finding solitude on a big time recreation holiday can't be beat!
Happy Fishing, Humans.
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