Why Salmon Eggs And Nightcrawlers Are Simply Manlier Than I Am

Category:
Fly Fishing, hatchery trout, Underground Entertainment
Added Date:
Monday, 10 Jun, 2013
Summary
Fly fishing -- even with the addition of a slashing guitar soundtrack -- is still a fussy sport, and if you don't believe it, I'm inviting you to the next iteration of the Mount Shasta fish hatchery's Kid's Fishing Day.
 
Content
Fly fishing -- even with the addition of a slashing guitar soundtrack -- is still a fussy sport, and if you don't believe it, I'm inviting you to the next iteration of the Mount Shasta fish hatchery's Kid's Fishing Day.

Let me explain.

I snuck out Friday afternoon for a quick, 90-minute trip to a local stream, employing the usual effete practices to catch the usual 7"-8" trout.

You know the drill. The pained pursuit of the perfect drift. Casting from my knees. Reading the water like a Wall Street trader reads the bonus list. A determined focus on nice loops.


All while using whisper-thin tippet and a toy-like fly rod.

If you're like me, you catch tiny, fragile trout before releasing them (oh-so-gently) into the crystal clear mountain stream.

A day later, I realized I might as well fish with my pinkies raised and a pot of Earl Grey brewing in my pack.

That's because I got up early Saturday morning for a Little M-fueled trip to the Mt. Shasta fish hatchery's Free Kids Fishing Day. Which -- trust me here -- is a lot less... effete.

Little M's Fishing Day "Sure Meski, it's perfectly safe. Why do you ask?" 

If you didn't read last year's extensive report on The Troutpocalypse, let me refresh you.

Take a small, tree-lined pond at the hatchery (let's say half the size of a football field). Fill it with catchable-and-better-sized hatchery trout, then add a few trout big enough to drag your average small child into the water (and maybe even maul her).

Onto this pastoral scene project a mob of small children waving fishing rods tipped with razor-sharp fishing hooks.

It goes without saying that being small children, they suffer from a startling lack of situational awareness at the best of times. And in terms of adrenaline, this was clearly not the best of times.

Add to the mix a handful of clearly flummoxed parents, edging-towards-pushy little league parents, would-be poacher parents, a handful of real fishing pros, and at least one effete fly fishing dad.

Dante's Inferno isn't half so frightening.

Minutes Later...

The night before I invested a good 45 minutes finding and rigging a spinning rod. The reel was loaded with wispy 6 pound line, and to that I attached a lead-free split shot manufactured in England, a "trapped air reservoir" indicator that cost enough that I didn't want to to lose it, and a hook sharpened by military-grade lasers.

(In a rare Underground equipment review, let me say that a 6', bright-yellow fiberglass spinning rod [line weight 2-6 pounds] makes a fine tool whenever small children face hatchery trout in a small pond.)

When I bragged a little about the setup to fellow dad and freelancer Marc (who is Dutch and has little use for showboating), he only said "Perhaps simpler would be better for this."

Damn. He was right.

After Little M and I found the perfect spot (the fish were cruising pretty rapidly at this point, so there was no perfect spot), I stuck the nightcrawler on the hook, we co-lobbed it 12 feet from the bank, and in exactly 3.34 seconds, a trout ate the crawler, pulling the trapped air reservoir under the surface.

Assuming it was one of the "catchable" trout, I helped Little raise the rod to set the hook, and then (foolishly) let go so she could experience The Thrill Of The Fight
on her own.

The damn thing almost dragged her in.

The fish was stronger than I expected, and yes -- I hadn't checked until that very moment -- the drag was maybe a bit on the tight side.

Little M offered what amounted to a happy squeal, which ended abruptly.

Being a fisherman long before I was a dad, I looked up briefly to see who noticed we'd hooked up in seconds (I plead megalomania). When I looked back down, Little M was two feet closer to the water than she'd been a second ago.

And heading down the bank to the water.

Erp.

Bad Dad

I got a hand on her before I officially tendered my entry in the "Bad Dad Of The Year Contest," loosened the drag, and then the damned fish basically tore her (and I) up.

Eventually, it tired and a nice older gentlemen netted it for us (I'm glad he did, because I was giving some serious thought to throwing a rock at the thing).

Being as I was acting in the capacity of a guide, I'm happy to suggest the trout was 20 inches easy (meaning maybe 17" tops). It definitely impressed in the cooler (catch and release was strictly disallowed, two fish limit).

Being a 4.5 year old instead of a Real Fly Fisherman, Little M was unimpressed by the magnitude of her catch. In fact, her first question wasn't "Am I cool or what?" Instead, it was "Why is the fish so icky?"

The second was "Can we go to the ice cream store now?"

However warped, you've got to admire a kid with priorities.

rainbow trout Rubber trout in a plastic cooler. 

We stayed long enough to dangle a cured salmon egg under the trapped air reservoir device (fishing a nightcrawler seemed to risk another encounter with a big fish). The egg took 10.28 seconds to score an 11-inch trout, which we landed without any real drama.

At this point, our heroes should simply ride into the ice cream sunset with our cooler of rubber trout, but it's never that simple.

I thought Little M gave our jar of salmon eggs to the kids fishing next to us, but it turns out she simply poured most of them into the effete fishing lanyard pouch I made her wear so everyone would know she was the kid of a real fisherman.

Unfortunately, I didn't learn she'd poured the eggs into the pouch (and left them there over the course of the 90+ degree weekend) until I walked into my office this morning and realized Something Was Very, Very Wrong.

Toxically wrong.

Some people return from these father/daughter fishing trips with little more than the sanitized, sparkling memories.

Little M apparently thought that wasn't enough.

See you in a hazmat suit, Tom Chandler.
 
Reading Time:
5minutes
Featured:
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Author
Destinations
Red Bluff is a city in and the county seat of Tehama County, California, United States. The population was 14,076 at the 2010 census, up from 13,147 at the 2000 census. Red Bluff is ... moreon the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley, and is the third largest city in the Shasta Cascade region. It is about 30 mi south of Redding, 40 mi northwest of Chico, and 125 mi north of Sacramento.
Fishing Waters
 (1)
Nestled in rocky basin along side steep canyon walls, this 40-mile Feather River tributary is known for its great beauty and abundant trout. By car, it a short drive from Sacramento. ... moreThe Yuba River continues through the canyons until it flattens around Parks Bar Bridge then runs parallel to highway.

Species include wild rainbow trout, steelhead in the fall, and striped bass. While rainbows tend to average about 12 inches, there are recent reports of 18-25 inch trout being found.
Game Fish Opportunities:
The Sacramento River is the principal river of Northern California in the United States, and is the largest river in California. Rising in the Klamath Mountains, near Mount Shasta ... more(in Siskiyou county), the river flows south for 445 miles, through the northern section (Sacramento Valley) of the Central Valley, before reaching the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay. It forms a common delta with the San Joaquin River before entering Suisun Bay, the northern arm of San Francisco Bay. The river drains about 27,500 square miles, with an average annual runoff of 22 million acre-feet, in 19 California counties, mostly within a region bounded by the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada known as the Sacramento Valley, but also extending as far as the volcanic plateaus of Northeastern California.
Putah Creek is a major stream in Northern California, a tributary of the Yolo Bypass. The 85-mile-long (137 km) creek has its headwaters in the Mayacamas Mountains, a part of the Coast ... moreRange. The true meaning of "Putah" in Putah Creek has been the subject of discussion and speculation.

The creek originates from springs on the east side of Cobb Mountain south of the town of Cobb in southwestern Lake County. It descends eastward to the town of Whispering Pines, where it turns southeast, parallelling State Route 175. It passes the town of Anderson Springs, where it joins Bear Canyon Creek. North of Middletown, it curves counterclockwise around Harbin Mountain, merging in close succession with Dry Creek, Helena Creek, Crazy Creek, Harbin Creek, and Big Canyon Creek. From Harbin Mountain, it flows east again, joining Bucksnort Creek, then enters Napa County at a confluence with Hunting Creek about 11 mi (18 km) east of Middletown. In Napa County, the creek flows southeast, merging with Butts Creek just before it empties into Lake Berryessa.

Downstream of Monticello Dam, on the southeastern corner of the lake, Putah Creek leaves Napa County and becomes the boundary between Yolo County and Solano County. In this section it offers excellent fishing opportunities year round. California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations require "catch and release" in this section of the stream, as well as the use of artificial lures with barbless hooks. The stream continues east along State Route 128, receiving Pleasants Creek before arriving at Lake Solano where the Putah Diversion Dam diverts flows to the Putah South Canal, carrying water to the residents of Vallejo. Below Lake Solano, Putah Creek receives McCune Creek, then its last tributary, Dry Creek. After the Dry Creek confluence it passes through the town of Winters to reach Interstate 505. From there Putah Creek channel continues eastward, parallelling Putah Creek Road to Stevenson Bridge Road.

Putah Creek used to flow near downtown Davis in what is now the UC Davis Arboretum channel, but early settlers redirected the creek south of Davis in 1871, and in the late 1940s the Army Corps of Engineers added levees to what is now the South Fork Putah Creek. A few miles east of Davis, the county line turns south, but the South Fork Putah Creek continues eastward, passing south of Davis to feed into the Yolo Bypass about a quarter mile (400 m) west of the Sacramento Deep Water Channel.

Steelhead trout (coastal rainbow trout) (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus) and Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) continue to survive in Putah Creek. Although these anadromous salmonids cannot pass the Putah Diversion Dam, stream resident rainbow trout continue to thrive above Monticello Dam in the upper headwaters and grow to large size in the first few miles directly below the dam. In December 2014, the California Fish and Game Commission designated Putah Creek a "Wild Trout Water" and efforts by citizen groups to restore the creek appear to be resulting in increased salmon rearing in the lower watershed.
Game Fish Opportunities:
Trips
$
450
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
1 day
We fish the Lower Sac year-round for trout. We fish the river from drift boats, typically floating from 6 to 15 miles in a day. Although the nymph grab is good all year, the best times ... morefor consistent mid-day dry fly fishing are March-May and September-November. We also do a lot of swinging flies with lightweight spey rods. This is a great way to fish the shallow riffles.
$
375
-
$
500
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 2 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
4 hours - 8 hours
If you have ever driven over the Lower Sacramento River or even fished it, you know that due to its shear size and abundance of water, this makes it extremely intimidating. That's ... morewhy having a knowledgable Lower Sacramento River Fly Fishing Guide is so important. A great guide will not only put you on the fish, but will also show you the fishy spots accessable by land, the put ins and pull outs for boats, as well as the bug life, the flies to use and when you go on your own, how to put all that t ogether to be successful. The Lower Sacramento River is a big tailwater fishery and California's biggest trout river, and its rainbows are just as big and powerful as the river they live in. If you want big fish and year-round fishing, this is the river for you. With more food than your local all you can eat buffets (2,500 insects per square foot of river), the average fish grows to a healthy and hard-fighting 16-18", and pigs pushing two feet are not out of the question, so bring some big guns. The fishing season is year-round, and water temperatures remain fairly constant too, as the river comes out of the bottom of Shasta Lake.

This river consists of long, indescribable, spring creek like stretches that are broken up by islands, deep pools, long riffles, gravel bars and undulating shelf’s, many of which are more pronounced during lower flows.

If having one of the best trout fisheries in the state isn’t enough, the Lower Sac also hosts some great runs of Steelhead and Chinook salmon too. It also hosts a variety of other fish, such as, shad, squawfish, stripers, largemouth and smallmouth bass, these populations of fish become higher the farther you get away from Shasta Lake. The highest flows are during the summer months, when snow melt is at its greatest, so a drift boat is highly recommended.

You can walk and wade during the higher flows if you so desire, but staying near the bank will be your safest bet. The best time to walk and wade the Lower Sac is going to be during fall, winter and early spring, there is very little snow melt, and the rain that falls goes to filling up the lake, so the river is low and great for walk and wading. This is the time to get out there and really learn the river's bottom and fish those slots that only come out in lower flows, either way “PLEASE WADE WITH CAUTION”. But due to the river’s size and the amount of private property along its banks, those that prefer to wade have two options. One is to fish from public parks and access points along the 16 miles or river between Redding and Anderson, or, from your boat, getting out at the riffles and fishy slots to make some casts.

Public access is fairly easy though on the Lower Sac, there are 6 boat launches, and many public parks and access points along the river that flows almost parallel with interstate 5.

-Brian
Outfitters
Steel Bridge Guides is located near Douglas City on the Trinity River in northern California. We specialize in fly fishing with spey rods and single-hand rods for steelhead. Our primary ... morevenue is the Trinity River. Our other destinations include the Klamath River, coastal steelhead rivers, the Lower Sac, and Lewiston Lake. We offer year-round trout fishing and steelhead fishing from August through March. Come up to the beautiful Trinity River Region and enjoy some quality steelheading on the fly!
Guides:
21 comments
You have to come Tom! Check out our site and take a look at some of our pictures. It's beautiful and the salmon are amazing.
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No, haven't made it any farther north than Montana.
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Hey Tom, Mt Shasta isn't far from us in Victoria. You ever been salmon fishing in BC?
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[…] The 6? fiberglass spinning rod incarnation of these rods has proven the ideal fishing rod for the Kid’s Fishing Day trips to the hatchery. […]
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What a great read this was! I took my 3.5 year old daughter out to...gasp...bass fish this morning. As soon as I hooked the first fish (and let her reel it in) she quickly got back to her dolls and asked for a snack. Interestingly, when I took her to the upper McCloud and she used a caddis dry to land a rainbow, she wanted to do it again!
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Great!
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Hilarious . now go back to your office and write us some more !
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best thing on the web this month ..
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Dave: That story was so incredibly awesome! I figure "incredibly awesome" also describes me as a dad. I guess we'll know in about 20 years.
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Punahele: Took my wife sin casting today on the Hat Creek. Had forgot the feel of a large trout on my line and the obnoxious job of cleaning trout. (plural) Sadly, the rules strictly prohibit catch and release, but I successfully avoided cleaning the fish by giving them to Marc, who has a killer fish soup recipe.
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Mike M: Sometime in the mid to late 50?s, my dad and I were fishing at Spring Creek, in Oregon. I caught a small trout, stuffed it in my jacket pocket, when we left it was warmer, so I put the jacket in the trunk of dad’s ’48 Buick. We opened the trunk several days later…… Nice post. I did something similar once while working as a photographer in Los Angeles, only I left a Tommy Burger (chile ... more and cheese) under the driver's seat of someone else's car before he went on a weeklong cruise vacation in the middle of summer. I still think about what happened with regret.
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I think they forbid the use of lures, probably to avoid the nightmare of people casting over each other's lines (when beadheads are outlawed, only outlaws will have beadheads). Probably could get away with a fly under the bobber, but I'm just not that much of a rebel.
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No such thing as a bad day or way for a little one to go fishin with dad. Good on ya' Tom !!!!! Next thing you know she'll be nudging you to try the fly. A good friend's daughter is a teen now and even starting to enjoy bamboo and tying.
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When my son was around that age he worried a lot about how the fish felt when they were caught. I assured him that they were probably really upset that a mean bug had yanked them all over the stream, but they no doubt felt better when a very kind man removed that nasty bug and gently put them back into the water. This explanation seemed to ease his anxieties. And, best of all, as we were fly fishing, ... more I didn't have to explain how the worm must have felt.
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Great story, Tom. So many of us can relate to it.
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That story was so incredibly awesome!
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Took my wife sin casting today on the Hat Creek. Had forgot the feel of a large trout on my line and the obnoxious job of cleaning trout. (plural)
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Sometime in the mid to late 50's, my dad and I were fishing at Spring Creek, in Oregon. I caught a small trout, stuffed it in my jacket pocket, when we left it was warmer, so I put the jacket in the trunk of dad's '48 Buick. We opened the trunk several days later...... Nice post.
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You know, if you fished with beads, you could catch two in the morning, do crafts in the afternoon, and altogether avoid the stink. Just an idea.
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Damnit, think about what you're saying. A nightcrawler almost got my kid killed. A trout pellet fly could have been fatal...
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Tom, you haven't mastered the Purina Trout food fly yet?
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