Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Beatles Go Fishing

That one lyric: Rain, I don't mind

A recent conversation with a local fish had it giddy like a little school-trout...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shasta Soda

An overdue visit to the Shasta/Upper Sac/McCloud area had me marveling at moss, dripping ferns, fall colors and fading indian rhubarb by the side of streams rich in spring water. Last time I was up here was around 1977 or 78 on a fun road trip with my dad which, despite me being just a kid, was memorable and the beauty of the region has stayed with me ever since.

This trip was real treat from a scenic perspective if not from an angler's perspective. Also, I brought back numerous bottles of the water from that region. No wonder Nestle had their sights on this area for a water-bottling facility. This area is oozing yummy water from crags of dark volcanic rock and moss. Frequent light rains punctuated our trip and kept everything slippery as #$%^& but also seemed to keep the fish happy. Fungii abounded.

Day one had a big brown flipping me the fin as it migrated upstream. A long hard day of flogging with a few bows had me sitting streamside when suddenly this beast surfaced in front of me. It was one of those porpoise-like surface visits of a fish that was clearly migrating. It was amazing to see. I could count the spots. It reminded me of seeing salmon move up the Klamath way back when. The fish was just a few feet away and was a few feet long I might add. I later saw huge browns on redds and even had a nice one almost land on my feet as it tried to jump a plunge by which I stood. Oddly, as the trip wore on, the allure of this European invader was quickly replaced by an appreciation for the magnificent native strain of bow for which the region is legendary. Hard fighting, plump and willing to take a massive "Noctober" caddis pattern that Joe and I were developing. Since it gets dark early, we had ample time to sit around and tie each night while still getting a good night's sleep. This may be THE biggest secret of fall fishing: time and energy management is taken care of by the elements themselves. You actually get some rest in! Perhaps one of the best slaps I have ever been dealt was when I shared this "Noctober killer" fly with one of our team ("Nish" as we like to call him) who went on to catch a nice brown on it! Boy, the trout gods were on a roll! My face still stings. I have included the photo below.

In addition to the generosity of Jimmie Morales and the great company of several guides-on-hiatus, we were treated to some streamtime with historian, photographer and "patron-of-the-trouts" Craig Ballenger. Craig is a true man-of-the rivers with an engaging personality that we initially were as much perplexed by as entertained by and a knowledge of the region that was, well, deep as the river. Visit his website: One of my fave moments that can't be forgotten (solid sarcasm about to kick-in) was having some dormant yellow jackets slip into my clothes. As I warmed them up, they got active. Two stung me; one in the armpit and another on the forearm. I shook two or three others out of my clothes as I picked up a discarded aluminum can of Shasta soda. It was all too surreal. At almost the same time, Joe and I were both looking across the water when a large fish jumped for a huge caddis. We both saw it and let out a classic fisherman's "woah!". All this in a 10 minute window. Oh and I fell in a few minutes later. Never a dull moment and definitely huge fun despite the stings.
As the trip ended, my only brown was about 5" long! Oh but who cres when you have "the strain". What can be better than catching a wild native fish? Mr. Trutta, we will meet again someday to square off properly. Bows were the theme for the majority of this trip and we honor you humbly with flies the size of hummingbirds.

I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sierra Critters

The wrap up of the fall Trout Camp was good. Fish emerged from a cold front with a vengeance and reminded me that last year, the best fishing took place a tad later in the season. Too much real world BS here in LA and I had to return. That said, you've seen the fish, now consider the critters!

Horses and Dogs are critters too! Gotta love this shot. The dog had limitless energy and chased squirrels on the trail as we fished one day. My horse had a mind of its own and often took its own path which on one or two occasions, was the safer route.

I love reptiles and this year I found my first rubber boa. What an amazing animal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

They're Heeeeeere!

The ghostly visitation of fall browns is by far one of the greatest parts of the season. Albeit not always large, the early agents of this migration get a lot of my love. A pre-dawn hike and the sun rises on a plunge stacked with fish. The mountains, the critters and the fish .... life is good!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fishing From a Pier

Isn't part of my lifestyle BUT hangin' out by a pier is. After getting my car jump-started; this being after flying in from Montana I stumbled home to find the best fireworks display I have ever seen: The Santa Monica Pier's 100th Year Anniversary Celebration! Then it was off to an Astra Heights rehearsal. Had to have the car jump started again after rehearsal thanks Mr. Irwin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patti Smith on the Santa Monica Pier

The night before leaving for Montana, I had a get-together near the pier. As expected, Patti Smith performed as scheduled and it was wonderful. The lights on the ferris wheel (pre-programmed and very psychedelic), the pleasant temps and the sound of surf. As I was cleaning up my pad to prepare for the gathering, I heard the band soundchecking. Much to my surprise, Patti was doing her own check. I ran and snapped this shot of her, Lenny Kaye and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Later that evening at my apartment, Lenny would grace us with his presence as he popped-in for a sip of Rudi Protrudi's Makers Mark. Good times to say the least!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Rock Hugger

Yes we embrace rock and roll but we also embrace ROCK! This cat really gives me hope that I too can squeeze in a cast to a large fish on the far side of the stream against the cliff wall enshrouded in cactus - NO PROBLEM!
* The embed was disabled click on the image to go to YouTube's page *

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spinal Dan up to 11

Lefsetz's ever-popular missives often include emails from well-known people. This one is in response to a lengthy set of responses to a highly-laudatory Steely Dan 'discussion". It's very hard not to find this 100% classic. Almost as classic as classic rock.

From: Harry Shearer
Subject: Re: More Steely Dan

Only because of you did I realize, after returning from New Orleans, that the Dan tour you wrote up from the Beacon was now at the (ugh) Gibson. So i bought a last-minute ticket, steeled myself for the drive to the (ugh) Valley, and ended up luxuriating in internet request night. My only odd note, in the midst of rejoicing in the music, and the playing: it's the only rock (?) show I've seen in years where I thought (and a friend I met in the lobby afterwards concurred), "should be louder".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Planned Obsolescence

Not at all a thing of consumer culture's past but alive and well. So if your handy-dandy blackberry trackball goes out you can buy a new blackberry or find thousands of replacement parts on ebay.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fire Will Tell

Fire, an annual celebration. In flurries or randomly or man-made or sparked by lightning. I have seen fires devastate a watershed and despite muddy runoff in ensuing years, delightful recoveries of trout populations. There are studies that indicate that many western salmonids have a resilience to the after effects of fires. One stream I know seems to have lost what was a robust brown trout population after severe fires while the bows rebounded. Maybe the bows just rebounded 'cause the browns were gone (nudge nudge wink wink). Anyway, after a mid-day swim today, this plume rose to the east ....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Glassing Trout

On my way back from some days of fishing in Yosemite, I decided to stop at one of my fave low elevation spring-cooled deep ravine watersheds. Using a basic "hunting" trick that has served me well, I glassed the waters for fish. Irony being that the best fish I sighted never took the fly. Later in the day, I nabbed a few medium browns and bows on a variety of techniques. It wasn't great but it was a solid workout in ugly terrain. It's late in the season and I can sense it in the fish's behavior. The challenge keeps it fun but I really should focus on higher and even cooler waters.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This is thoroughly confusing. I only wish I had some of the same Greek blood that made Arostotle Onassis such an insane success but can he do Tehipite in a day? Perhaps there's too much Buddha in me or at least, by genetic default, Lao Tzu. I do know one thing, Ukeleles are fun and although associated with Hawaii, were Portuguese in origin.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Arroyo de Banana

Hello friends!

Here's a really cool little tale of So. Cal. trouting for your listening and dining pleasure. I think we all agree that warm weather, small streams and zero precipitation equals a tough formula for the fish. That said, I still wanted to evaluate the population of an obscure trickle with no name in the local hills. It's Thin Blue Line Fever at its finest (no relation to any 70s trucker movies). I also have been neglecting the locals and miss that sense of discovery. After some careful study with the help of my assistant in Black Diamond Trout crime the plan was set and some sandwiches packed (baguette with kalamata olives). * The relationship between fishing and bananas has its own special taboos (especially in salt water angling) but today, we celebrated the banana and it's value as an angling talisman. *

Our destination was a spot where water is barely known to flow and represented a better location for the search for reptiles than the search for fish. The terrain was not human-friendly. With the odds deliberately stacked against us, observation would be key and fishing secondary. I am not making this up!

The stream was intermittent but due to the shade and altitude, the water was actually quite chilly. Observed were tons of fry which really made me happy. The next best thing however was the occasional "dead pool" (trumpets and drums please). The formula is simple: obscure stream+remote location+robust population+dead pool=home of the hog". No fry in this hole hmmm no fry in this one either. What could be "wrong"? It seems so textbook but this has served me very very well over the years and on this day it was the jackpot formula. Feeling comfortable with fishing, the rod was rigged-up and fishing began.

A lot more crawling with stealthy peering over boulders and brush followed. The fish would sometimes spook at the slightest movement and I knew that the game was serious. These fish have persisted for a reason. They are hyper-wary. Finally, tactics adjusted, I peeked around a corner and saw a dark shadow casually cruising the far end of a small and barely flowing plunge. A poor bow and arrow cast had my fly fall a good 3 feet short of the fish. After briefly readjusting my footing for I was in a precarious crouch, I looked up and saw the fish was now just under the fly. Yes folks, I was fishing a dry (#16 Stimulator). ;) In an unusually slow and deliberate fashion, the fish slurped the fly under.

The fish was safely released with a lot of spring still in its step and we left the arroyo with a sense of wonder. The successful adaptation of a European fish species in So. Cal. will forever amaze me (carp notwithstanding).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Angling Addiction and Internet Addiction

Really random here BUT I refuse to use Twitter to stand on a seemingly useless soapbox about my "discoveries". For you west slope Sierra anglers I think it's fun to point out that some of those Cal Trans rest stops along the 99 have impressively clean and fast WiFi signals. You can be minutes off of the stream and catch up on emails. After all, you are at the office!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is There Anything Sexier Than Trout Fishing?

Last night I was treated to the finalists competing at the Conga Room's Latin Dance competition. It was full-on inspiring and throughout the night the crowd also took over the dance floor and had their fun. Everyone smiling and ... dammit ... I'm gonna cry! I fell to the floor (after a drink or two) and admitted to the world at the top of my lungs that YES there's something sexier than trout fishing!

Brad Gluckstein and Shelia E. with Jose Chavarria and Stephanie Stevenson, winners of The Conga Room Latin Dance Competition
Photo courtesy of Go to:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Volume Versus Temperature

Visited a sierra stream/river that was flowing high BUT was VERY warm. Although I follow water levels online a ton, this was a reminder that big water doesn't always relate with temps. Season and source can be a factor. Snowmelt is colder than a summer storm's water and, of course, weather plays a critical role in affecting the temps as the trickles find their way to the larger tribs. As a result the prime window for feeding fish was small despite wonderfully generous hatches. Sorry if this is too technical but it might save you a tank of gas.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hee Haw Creek or Ships & Salsa

There's that ridiculous saying: "It's the journey not the destination" or something to that effect. Well I just had to revisit that creek from my previous "After the Walnuts" post. This time I made time to visit to Buck Owens' Crystal Palace. Between great company, west slope browns, the museum at the venue, some of the central valley's nutty radio stations, a few drinks and some city-slicker two-stepping a good time was had by all.

Buck and Roy for lunch. Let me guess. Grits, greens and hopefully some venison?

Ok Ok Ok - Before I get ahead of myself with the title of this blog entry it all starts with water!

Ever heard the song by Seals and Crofts called "Black Diamond Girl"? I found one! Rebecca scales a gnarly grade after a morning on the stream.

A reasonably good reward for a speeding ticket. Pizza with Canadian bacon and jalapeƱos.

A photo gallery to die for.

Country royalty in the highest order.

Mosrite; a Bakersfield specialty of yore.

Read this and swoon you guitar lovers.

Buck jams with Ray. Gawd what a picture! I wish I was there to hear the music.

Music brings people together in ways we can never imagine. Here's Buck Owens with the Geishas

It all ends in Frazier Park at Los Pinos where they have a very special dish known as Ships & Salsa

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wild Angels - Fuzz Guitar by Davie Allan

I had the good fortune of jumping into a phonebooth a couple of weekends back and finding myself onstage with the legendary Davie Allan. He gets the majority of the credit especially in North America for really setting the "tone" and laying the foundation of "fuzz" guitar. Numerous cool films including some of those great Peter Fonda biker movies utilized his music. If you look at the shaggy headed guy on stage right (to the left of the viewer), you might see someone daydreaming about big browns. Oh and YES, that is the Queen Mary in the background. The band got THE Queen Mary suite for the night. Remember, what happens on the Queen Mary, stays on the Queen Mary!

Monday, June 1, 2009

After the Walnuts

The 99 brings with it some great radio and I channel surfed between Johnny Paycheck and Keith Urban. Scary eh? It's growing on me. I was returning from Nor Cal where I helped with some family stuff and snuck in a crappie session at the old duck pond. It was nostalgia to the nth! I posted about it at The Spot's site ( ). Anyway, WHO would take the 99 to return to LA from Walnut Creek? Well, them thar alterior motives kick-in and as the weekend partyers leave and the snowmelt continues to fade, the fish come out to frolic. Optimal is between 80cfs and the low hundreds. This gauge is located below some tribs too so one must learn to lean higher than lower when checking it out for optimal flows. It took me a good two or three years to get a grip on that math.

I was floored by the friskyness of the fish and all osrts of techniques worked. Timing was truly perfect. Had the flows been higher access would have been tough and had they been lower, the temps would have been higher. It was already swimmable warm which was scary. Large yellow stones, large black stones, caddisflies and ants a plenty.The best part of my trip was finding a yard sale as I left Walnut Creek that had some stove parts that I needed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ain't that America?

... with a suspicious length of PVC.

After the endorphin rush of Mothra Creek faded the jones for more adventure hit hard. A few days later and it was off to an equally remote locale with cougar prints and vestiges of a pot farming operation. Weird world we live in isn't it? Add to the mix a delightful population of very healthy salmonids of the European variety.

Ain't that America?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mothra Creek

The wilds of So. Cal. continue to cough up all sorts of strange critters.

After a proper black diamond workout of road clearing.
A small team of fish-obsessed cats made it to shangrila. Sometimes stealthy and other times casual approaches brought us a wealth of RBTs.

Ironically, the fist spot we passed also coughed-up the best specimen upon our return.