With the change, last weekend, back to Pacific Standard Time, with "Old Man Winter" sneaking around the corner and with our beautiful, warm weather months now a thing of the past, this is a good time to reflect on the wide variety of fishing, I have experienced this year, to date.
From late February through last week, I fished at the following locations in the States of Nevada and California:
East Walker River
Convict Lake (located two miles west of U.S. 395, just south of the Mammoth Lakes Junction)
Davis Lake (just north of Portola)
Frog Lake (about a one mile hike from the U.S.F.S. parking lot at the top of Kit Carson Pass on S.R. 88).
Kinney Reservoir (near the top of Ebbetts Pass on S.R. 4)
Lower Kinney Lake (about a one-half mile hike from Kinney Reservoir)
Roosevelt Lake (about a three mile hike from the U.S.F.S. Leavitt Meadows Campground on S.R. 108 (The Sonora Pass Highway)
Silver Lake (about 50 miles south of Carson City on S.R. 88)
North Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe
Upper and Lower Twin Lakes (just west of Bridgeport)
Winnemucca Lake (a two mile hike (one-way) from the U.S.F.S. parking lot at the top of Kit Carson Pass on S.R. 88).
Here are some of the more interesting highlights (and low lights) of some of those various 2002 fishing trips:
Wildhorse Reservoir: On Feb. 21-22, Norm Budden, Marty Martinez, Bob "Slick: McCulloch (all of Carson City) and I, ice-fished at that reservoir, located 64 miles north of Elko.
On the first day, we fished through about three feet of ice and caught and kept 109 perch and three rainbow trout.
On the second day, we were more selective and only kept the 50 largest.
The trick was to use either No. 6 or No. 8 hooks with a small, white, plastic jig on each hook. The hook tip was covered with a small piece of mealworm. A dynamite combination.
South Lake Tahoe: On March 29, I was the photographer with Josh Hancock (my grandson) of Hemet, Calif., Tim (my brother-in-law) and Brandi Bottoms of Denver Colorado, who spent a fabulous morning, fishing for Mackinaw trout with sport fishing guide and my longtime friend Mickey Daniels on his boat, "Big Mack II." They were trolling in front of King's Beach. Tim caught the biggest of the day, 10 pounds and 27 inches long. Brandi caught a very nice 25-incher.
Annual John Riordan Derby: On April 22 and 23, John Riordan, the bar manager for the Pinion Plaza Hotel and Casino and the Carson Station Hotel and Casino held his annual and highly popular, Invitational Fishing Derby.
The "Four Amigos" (Norm Budden, Don Hettrick, Bob McCulloch and I) were entered as usual. When the smoke and dust cleared, the four of us had won:
German brown trout:
Second Place: Norm Budden (8 1/4 ounces from the East Walker River).
Third Place: Don Hettrick (4 ounces from the East Walker River).
Lahontan cutthroat trout:
First Place: Don Quilici (2 pounds, 3 ounces at Walker Lake).
Second Place: Don Quilici (1 pound, 2 1/2 ounces at Walker Lake).
Third Place: Bob "Slick" McCulloch (1 pound 1 1/2 ounces at Walker Lake).
Second Place: Don Hettrick (2 pounds, 1 ounce from the East Walker River).
Not too shabby!
Roosevelt Lake: On April 28, Elaine and I hiked three miles into the lake.
We got there at 7:30 a.m.
In just a few casts from shore, BAM! Elaine had caught her first fish of the 2002 California fishing season, a very nice, Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Shortly afterwards, I nailed a nice Eastern brook trout.
Between 9:30 a.m. and noon, Elaine and I caught and very carefully released 19 cutthroat trout, up to 18 inches in length and another 2 Eastern brook trout (13-14 inches).
The fishing was so spectacular that I never took my inflatable raft out of my backpack. I carried that darn thing a total of 6 miles (roundtrip) and never used it. But, heck who cares!
It was a great start to the California fishing season.
North Lake Tahoe: Elaine and I spent an enjoyable, summer day in early May, fishing with sport fishing guide and our good friend, Gene St. Denis of South Lake Tahoe.
We trolled for Mackinaw (lake) trout in the deep water in front of Camp Richardson on the southwest side of the lake. We both limited out with Macks, up to about 10 pounds.
However, the "highlight" of the day was the windy, white-capped water conditions on the long, slow trip back to the dock at Cave Rock. It was spooky!
Pyramid Lake: Elaine and I fished it in early October, in our chest waders, right after the lake had "turned over."
It was like trying to fish in a green, slimy, smelly salad bowl. Yuk! Our waders, boots, fishing reels, line and lures were covered with that green gunk.
And, most amazing, we caught and released a number of very nice cutthroat trout, up to 17.5 inches!
When we got home, we had to spread everything on the front lawn and hose that stinky gunk off of them.
Frog Lake: A real, late season sleeper for the serious fisherman.
Almost to a person, fishermen hike right on past Frog Lake to reach the bigger and deeper Winnemucca Lake.
Little do they realize that Frog Lake contains a nice population of very nice sized rainbow trout, which are bigger than the trout found in Winnemucca.
Our three biggest rainbows this year were 16, 16.5 and 17.5 inches!
Those nice-sized trout were all chunky-bodied, with small heads, an indicator of the excellent feeding conditions found in that small lake.
Winnemucca Lake: Elaine and I hiked into this backcountry lake with heavy backpacks, a total of five different times during the summer and fall.
We also had the "pleasure" of carrying a three-person inflatable raft, two life preservers, two oars, fishing net, fishing rods and reels, fishing equipment, bait, lunches, drinks, extra clothing, cameras, etc. on each trip.
On every one of those five trips, it was so windy that we could not use the raft.
So, for the year, I carried that dumb raft, life preservers and oars a total of 20 miles in and out of Winnemucca Lake and never used them! 20 miles!
Finally: my most enjoyable fishing trip, so far this year, has to be the opening weekend trip into Roosevelt Lake.
That is because of the unbeatable combination of being with my wife, great weather, spectacular scenery, awesome fishing and most importantly, because we had the entire lake all to ourselves for the entire day.
-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you where I had my worst luck, trout fishing, during this year.
If he grins and says, "Heck, that's easy! Don has a hard time, anytime, catching a fish at Caples Lake on California S.R. 88," he wins.