Monday, November 19, 2012

Final Fishing Frenzy

Thursday November 15th was the last day of fishing season in the Eastern Sierra. Wednesday the 14th, Winford and I spent the day driving from fishing hole to fishing hole, catching not much. I hooked and landed the first trout from a grassy bank at Warm Springs Road bridge over the Owens River, then no more bites. We drove on to the Missing Harmonica site, where I always score, but we zilched this time. Winford getting pouty. We then took the canal road north from Warm Springs, he's looking for a "pool," he says. Well, there's only one "pool" I know of, at a small weir, or dam, where I stop, get out and spy fish, but "NO!" he says, vehemently, "that's not the pool I mean!"  I shrug and we trundle on down the dirt road until he stops us at a small bridge where we cross the canal and get out to fish. Immediately I cast my hook into the opposite bank's bushes and snag. I re-cross the bridge, intent on salvaging my tackle instead of just breaking the line. I think I can do it, I'm sure I can do it, I creep down the bank, and landslide into the water. "Help! Help!" I cry to Winford, who comes to my aid, chuckling because I have just fallen into the water again. He tries to pull me out, but the bank crumbles under my feet. Finally I crawl up the bank on my knees, hanging onto his hands. My jeans, soaked to my thighs, get coated with mud. He's giggling, which erases some of his grouch over not catching a fish yet. Because I am so smart, I had dry jeans and flip flops in my truck and changed my clothes, and fortunately, it is midday by now, warm and sunny. Up and down the bank I chase a school of fish that darts forever away from the thumping of my feet and the "plock" of my bait. I see a very large carp, bright orange, obviously someone's previous pet goldfish, replacing the old idiom: "sticks out like a sore thumb" with the new phrase "sticks out like a goldfish in an Eastern Sierra canal." But no bites. We drive on and stop where a ditch/creek pours into the canal from a marshy pasture. It's a "secret site," Winford says, "you can get Browns here in Spring!  Don't ever tell anyone!" .He casts into the turbulence and gets a nice big rainbow. I cast into the turbulence and get myself a nice big rainbow. Then for another forty-five minutes we cast into the pool -- and get nothing -- we can see them but they ain't  bitin'. He's grumpy again, sits on the bank and smokes a cigarette. He wants to go park by the East Line Street canal bridge and have an easy debauch at the site of The Fish Truck plant there the day before. We arrive, see about 75 trout schooling in the water below and shout yippee. But they just fondle our baits, spit everything out, ignore Winford's lures, and then Fish and Game drives up. First time I have ever had my license checked -- I was about to dig it out of my tackle box when the warden said, "you've got a bite!" My pole in its holder was jerking so I pulled in a fish and forgot about showing my license. Winford had to remind me "he's waiting to see your license, dear."  I felt foolish. And that was the only fish I caught in that pool. I'd been asking Winford: "aren't you hungry? don't you want some lunch?" but he is dead set on getting his limit, he is looking grim. So we give up on that pool and roll over to the Wye Street Bridge, another plant site, where we find an old bearded coot quietly pulling one big trout after another out of a very murky stream. Winford casts into the same place by the bridge and gets -- nothing. Downstream I get a bite, but no fish. The coot has sympathy and offers a couple fish to Winford, who takes 'em. Then the coot stops catching 'em, says "oh, they've stopped biting" wishes us luck, collects his little doggies and drives off. The murky stream clears, and we can see lots of fish, some very large. I manage to hook one, and finally Winford catches his limit!  It is after 3 o'clock, we started at 8 am. I caught one fish each in 4 of the 6 places we fished. I had a great day, but tired Winford went home feeling chagrined and humiliated by all those finicky fish. The day's experience confirms my growing awareness that even a good fisherman catches fish only when the fish are biting.

Not eating all day had a consequence, I woke up a 4 am with a migraine starting up, took some ibuprofen, ate some crackers, and went back to sleep. Mercifully, woke up without the pain, dizziness and nausea that can, if not nipped in the bud, destroy my entire day. I mustn't let Winford's even-worse-than-mine fishing addiction upset my equilibrium -- usually I take snacks, but forgot this time.

So that was the end of my summer of fishing the lakes, creeks and canals in the Eastern Sierra until next May. I am already missing being outdoors by the water most of the day. Of course, we can fish the River and the Reservoir all winter -- whenever the wind isn't howling freezing cold down the gorge. Now it is time for painting, reading, and a trip to Pomona for Thanksgiving -- next blog.