Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Flying into SFO seems like a weekly event for me lately. This time, however, was for fun not work. I caught the Marin Ariporter heading North from San Fran. Chris met me after a couple hops and a change of buses. Jumping into his new FJ we tore up road on our way through Redding.

The sun dipped quick, behind the Horizon. Conversation carried the miles past Shasta and around the area of the McCloud River. Fishing buddies, you can count on, are something worth their weight in gold. Seems warm water friends plague me as of late. I've never been easy to get, so suspect it's just par for the course called: my life and social awkwardness. Back to the trip at hand, Chris pulled his Trail Edition FJ into a dark campground.

Helping me string my Hammock between two trees we laughed at the prospect of seeing our breath when the weather reports called for balmy temps and sunny days.  I have to say for those of you who have tried Sleeping in the Dirt, but not "In the Trees", you should give it a whirl.  This is a pretty nice way to catch some Zzzzs.   Air pocket below you while sleeping is key.  Making sure you add a mat (that stays inflated) helps a ton.  Those  of you who use the Big Agnes setup- make sure you bring your pad insert.  The lack of material at your back would cause a cool night, even in great temps.

I slept in a Marmot Ranger with a Big- A pad, which by the way deflated last night. Not sure how I puncture so many pads, but I seem to go through a half a dozen a year.  Good thing I bough this one at REI.  Will take the pad back this week.

We got up early to do some scouting the next day.  First, we lit up our Jet Boils and brewed a blend I brought back from CR. Chris prefers Tea, so we boiled some water and strained away.
I have to tell you, I'm not much for product reviews, but "Damn" is a Jet boil one badarese way to cook.  I usually travel with a stack of those camping meals in a bag- the just add water type. Even at altitude do they work.  Pretty good shiz.  Dirt approved even after paying full price twice for one.   The airlines let me carry the fuel canister onboard in my backpack, I couldn't believe it.  (US Airways).  Maybe they could tell I didn't match the profile.  LOL.

Profiling is turning into a full time job down here in AZ, our crazy politics have landed us in the National spotlight.  One question: What happened to the Melting Pot concept?  The state I was traveling too had a great quote from the, " I had a speaking engagement in Arizona, but had to decline.  I was afraid they would deport me."

After having our morning pick-me-up, we did a little exploration.  Redband hunt, although we didn't fish, more poked around.

Although we didn't find the famed "Redband", we did speak to a camp keeper who had been fishing the local area since the 1950s. He mentioned that the Red-bands left were so tiny (eight inches or less) they weren't worth chasing.

Interesting I thought for multiple reasons I won't go into, but none the less always good to get info from a source who's ear has been to the ground since before I was able to crawl on it.

The amount of water in California amazes me.  I think I could live in Northern California and never grow tired of looking for new water.  The Chrome opportunity alone is worthy of a lifetime.  We didn't get the chance to stop in at the  Fly Shop, but next time. Those guys are worth checking out. Freely they give info.  Not sure that is the M.O. for most shops I find my way around.  Old-school with young blood.  If in Redding, check them out.   Not sure what happened to helping a brother out concept in fly fishing, but seems that it is fading away more and more these days.

After a quick couple checks and some more miles in the FJ we made our way to the McCloud.  I have to tell you I don't think there is a more beautiful river in North America.  I wrote about my last trip in SID3, but "Damn" this river is easy to get lost in.

I'm going to pitch the picture left to my friends at FR&R for a cover shot. I know it's not the norm, but I think I actually like this picture.  More than I can say for most shots I take.  I usually detest my lack of written ability, combined with so many better photographers out there... well.. self loathing is my natural go to.
Seems like for everything I try, someone does it so, so much better and I end up just embarrassing myself by putting out piss and dribble.

The picture left though feels good.  It was what I saw before I put the camera to my nugget: colors, composition, and mood.  The end result doesn't happen much for me. In this case it did.  Who knows if Fly Rod and Reel will even think it worthy of printing a quarter page, but I like it and so we'll see what they say after submitting it to them.

Chris and I fished all day in the lower sections of the McCloud only raising a tiny rainbow and having a couple bumps to carry us through our otherwise short-of-fish day.

The next morning we got up, and covered for ground looking for water that hopefully held more fish.
Driving onto pavement and then back off again we came across some of California's wildlife.  We saw Coyotes, a pair of Osprey, what I think we're Mule Deer (but maybe Cali has some type of other black tailed dear?), a family of Otters swimming down river, and a rare Golden Bear - the state Animal.  Funny enough, I asked, "Is that a Pitbull", when approaching the smallish bear.  A big square head on a small body resembling a dog more than a bear.  I jumped out of a rolling FJ to snap a picture, but all I caught with the lens was a bear taking a momentary stop to poop before descending the slope stage-right.
We finally found water that was low enough to fish that it appeared approachable(and it had stopped hailing).   We rigged up and pulled our waders back on.    Soon Chris had hooked up.

The fish pulled and an Able imploded.  Despite the technical difficulties Chris was able to land a beautiful rainbow he was later to call, "Dinner."

They have an interesting, and mature, slot limit in California. Fish above eighteen inches can be harvested.  I tend to not eat many fish throughout the season, however, if you are going to take fish California has the right idea. Take the larger fish from the system opening up territory and room for other fish to reproduce and claim ground.   I was surprised to see such a progressive policy in California, wish Arizona would catch on.

Couple more shots from the day. Time to go to bed.


Shoreman said...

Glad you had an enjoyable trip to Nor Cal. Have to love the country up around the Shasta area. There is a lot of Northern California that is like that. Last time I was through there, October 2009, it was 50 mph wind with rain and snow. Didn't get a chance to stop. Next time.


Bjornorama said...

The bear on the CA flag is actually a Grizzly, although there have not been Grizzlies in CA for a loooong time. What you saw was a black bear, which come in all shades.
The McCloud is one of my favorite places in the world. The bows from the McCloud were exported all over the world. If you are in some far off place catching bows, there is a reasonable chance it came from the McCloud. There are few places as beautiful as the Lower McCloud, although I could do without all the poison oak.

The Trout Underground said...

Sadly, the real California Golden Bear is extinct (it was a grizzly subspecies). What you saw was a simple black bear.

As for the Redbands, they are tiny fish, evolving as they have to survive in the tiny (and often seasonal) feeder streams farther up the drainage, most of which aren't really even accessible right now.

The Upper and Lower McCloud rivers have been stocked so much that there really are no pure Redbands left in any sizable water.

Tough year to on the McCloud in spring. Come back in the fall when you've got olives and October Caddis happening...

Stephanie & Dustin said...

I sure hope FR&R gives you some page for that spectacular photo. You are so right when you say everything comes together in that shot. Top notch right there! It also helps when the scenery is that good too :)

I have heard good things about the jetboil. We love our MSR dragonfly, but are tempted by all the good reviews of the jet boil system.

Great post!