On Thursday 9/5 I headed out early from Grass Valley to Bridgeport to meet some Sonoma County buddies on the trail for an annual hike into Hoover, which I'd never explored. Given the situation in Yosemite, we were all a bit concerned that our trip would be impacted by the smoke, but were assured by the Rangers in Bridgeport three days prior that the smoke was negligible.
Things were clear all the way up I-80/267 and 395 until Minden when the smoke from what I assume was the Rim Fire choked the entire valley until about ten miles south of Topaz. I stopped at the Ranger station in Bridgeport, obtained a permit from a surly ranger, and headed to the trailhead and was hiking at Green Creek by 10:45. It was nearly a cloudless day, crisp air, with bright blue colors, the kind of day you wish to last forever when hiking.
It took me far longer that I thought to reach the first lake, where I stopped to have some lunch-two slices of pizza from the evening prior- and rest a minute before heading on for another 2.5 miles to the second lake.
After hiking for about another hour and half at a very leisurely pace I reached the outlet of the second lake where we were to stay for the duration. The lake was stunning blue, and there was a considerable amount of chop on the water that this picture doesn't do justice.
Every now and then the wind would blow a mist across the lake and there were plenty of white caps to be found.
I found my merry band of miscreants after searching for about 15 minutes (how can you miss the noise of 9 flatlanders unaccustomed to quiet? ) and set up camp. A pretty uneventful evening followed with some Top Ramen and scotch as a nightcap and plenty of catching up with old and new friends. There was no smoke at all that afternoon/evening, but it was visible to the north of us creeping to the tops of the summit(s)
When the sun went down the wind howled all evening and a conservative guess-timation was that it peaked at 30 MPH. Times like that in the late evening that I am grateful I had the foresight to really anchor my tent with heavy rocks on the stakes. I have to say though, I loved the sound of the wind when it would pick up and you could hear the approach thru the trees right before it violently shook my tent. Kinda cool.
We woke and were on the trail headed south to visit the lakes on the path towards the Yosemite NP boundary. I didn't fish the first two lakes on the path because #1 it looked dead, cloudly with a dirt substrate and green rotting weeds in it, #2 it was in a bowl and I wanted to get to the other lakes first and would hit that one later in the weekend.
The first set of fishable lakes were beautiful, seeming deep, and a great blue color. They were each full of very small brookies (max 10"), and gobbled up the 1/8 oz Kastmaster anytime I let it fall for a ten count after casting.
Here's a picture of my buddy with a less than ave brook he caught on a "rod" that snapped in half three years ago, but one in which he won't replace because he only fishes once a year...
After hanging out there until around 11:00 AM we headed up to the Summit and fished at that lake for a couple hours where the fish were again plentiful (approx 20 landed), but VERY small. I would guess that no trout that day exceeded 10".
When we got there the valley on the horizon of the summit was clear, but within a half hour it smoked up considerably. I'm hoping these two pics show the difference...
After eating lunch we came back down the hill and I fished again for 1/2 an hour at these two lakes
and landed a few more, keeping two for dinner.
Later that evening after we'd all eaten dinner, and had our share of Scotch, Irish whiskey and assorted other intoxicants one of our group recited a WB Keats poem that he'd memorized, and one which was a great addition to the mood of the trip. After several alcohol induced starts/stops here's what he recited:
Ode to Autumn by WB Keats
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
To me, to be able to recite and appreciate such words holds as much worth as someone who can cast a fly 30 yards and land it in a basketball sized hole holding a trout. It's all about one's passion, what makes someone who they are.
Saturday I awoke to fish the lake where we were camped and immediately landed four rainbows (the only time I'd see another species other than brookies all weekend fishing), the largest of which was 17", and the smallest around 14"-15". Here's a bad pic of the the 14" next to my 7' b/c setup:
After catching these four in about 1/2 an hour the bite completely shut down for the rest of the day, coincidentally perhaps with the onset of tons of smoke from the Rim Fire descending into the area we were camped and making it very, very hazy. I haven't been able to find anything conclusive regarding this cause/effect, but did read with interest the the prior message thread re this issue.
The rest of the day was very uneventful, just some bs'ing around the camp, lots of eating, fishing with no results.
Sunday AM the lake looked like this:
but when I got near Brideport it had changed to this:
A great trip with old friends and a couple new ones. Can't wait to visit the area again. Far less crowds than I'm used to, and the fishing was superior to that in Desolation, which is my usual "go to" locale.
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