On Friday we arrived circa 2 o'clock and set up camp at Fence Creek Campground: Campground 8. It was a bit dry, but that's to be expected with the warm-hot weather.
We went out to fish the Clark Fork. Jr. lost a 8-9 incher, and I had 1 or 2 takes that I missed.
I had a really hard time getting into the casting/shooting/stripping/false casting mode, but by the end of the trip I didn't have a problem.
Saturday we went to Kennedy Meadow, and didn't catch anything there, although we did do some reconnaissance, and found some good spots. We found Spot #2, and I found Spot #1 when we split up. I had some pretty harrowing moments getting back to Jr., but finally did, and saw some good spots on the way.
At the end of the day, we decided to eat at the Kennedy Meadows Resort Restaurant. We'd heard good things from Pastor, and were hunnnnnnnngreee! We both decided to have the Family Special for $13.50, which included soup, salad, main course (for our purchase it was SUPER RARE but DELICIOUS Roast Beef) and dessert (ours was an apple crisp). It was goooood, and satisfying after a HARD DAY'S WORK or fishing! ; ] We also had our first taste of Sarsaparilla, and, after contending and showing proof that said beverage was $2.00 and not the $2.50 they had charged us, the waiter kindly gave us the difference!
Sunday was Herring Creek Reservoir. It took a while to get there, plus a dirt, bumpy road down to the (free) campgrounds. We caught zilch, nada, nothing, and I had a harrowing experience with a leech that attached itself to the top of my left foot! That freaked me out!
I had gotten out of the kayak to try to fish in the shallows, a muddy, reedy place in Herring Creek Reservoir, and must not've noticed (or felt!) the leech attach itself to my foot!
A little while later my foot feels itchy, but I figure I'd rather concentrate on fishing than scratch my foot. However, the itch become VERY noticeable, and when I pull my foot up to scratch it, I see this 2-inch-long, 1-inch-wide flat thing sucking my blood! YIKES!
On my first attempt to pull it off, I failed, because it was still intently sucking and attached to my foot! My second attempt was much more spirited, and with no little effort, was able to (with shivers) rip off the leech and throw it into the water! All this time I'm wondering whether or not leech bites are poisonous, or if they carry any toxin. (I later find out that leech bites are harmless, other than the blood lost and scar left. As I edit this on 10.13.2012, I still have the scar and it still itches!)
I believe that we then went up to Dardanelle to see if they had gas (which the did not have), but we bought ice, and then on the way back found a SWEET spot off the 108. I had about 5-6 rises to my flies but couldn't seem to hook any of 'em. Jr. got 2, and those were the first fish we'd ever caught in the Stanislaus.
Here's the setting and catch:
Monday was the Beardsley Afterbay. It felt like a long drive (which it kinda was), but it wasn't, if that makes sense. Jr. caught a 14" German Brown Trout within 10 minutes of fishing. He caught him on a silver Kastmaster thrown right into the white water after the swirlings. He later caught a fat 13" rainbow off the same lure, but we threw him back because he wasn't a keeper.
Meanwhile I was getting severely ticked off because I kept getting snagged. Aside from the very beginning of the afterbay, there is no place to actually walk to the middle of the river, so I was forced to try to cast from the shore. The steepness of the grade and dropoff into the water, the wind, and the brush behind me caused me to get snagged; a LOT. I was especially irked when I snagged into a thorny bush...took a longgggg time to get that one out.
So we left to get gas at Cold Springs, and then went up to find the spots in the Clark Fork. It was a hike reminiscent of the grade on the way up Half Dome. It took a bit, but we found a big rock with swirling water, and I threw my parachute Adams in. I got nothing, so Jr. threw his in, reeled up, and then accidentally threw it short right into the rapid. He started to reel up to recast, when he had a fish on! He reels up and it's a beeeyoooootiful brook trout!
Here's a photo of the 9 incher:
Anyway, we hike farther, and see a pretty good spot, but think there might be better access farther up, so we hike up the hill, and find there's really not much better ahead, so we go back up the hill, and find a log crossing the river. To our left (upstream) is a sandy flat and calm area, and just above that is the a little cascade. I think to myself, "This is a great place to fish!" And fish I did.
Here's a photo of our spot:
I had many fish rising to my fly, but just couldn't manage to set the hook on them soon enough. I actually had 2 fish on, but I lost one due to him taking flight, and lost the other due to inexperience. I found that my problem was this: I would set the hook (incorrectly) by pulling the line with my left (nonfishing) hand while NOT keeping contact with the line with my two fingers on my right (fishing) hand (my index and middle fingers. Part of this was due to the friction causing an uncomfortable heat on my fingers and making me lift the fingers off the line and rod while stripping, and this caused me to lose contact with the line and the rod when setting the hook. (I later watched a video with a "professional" doing the same that I did, although he had a way to recover: he simply brought the rod high over his head, and reconnected the line with his left his to his right hand, thus keeping tension and not losing the fish.)
After missing and missing, I finally hooked and bagged my first fish ever off a fly rod!
Here's a picture of my little rainbow:
Jr. caught a little brookie that I'd missed 2 or 3 times after my first rainbow.
Here's a closeup of 'im:
Meanwhile Jr. yells, "I got one!" so I rush back and see his fish. It's a 9-inch rainbow. We release it, and I decide to head upstream to the next spot I see. It looks promising, and this look is confirmed when I see 2 rises. I throw my trusty Parachute Adams (PA), and within 10 minutes I got him! It was a 10" 'bow! The take was unbelievable, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life. I made a perfect presentation, just above the lip of the cascade (after false casting my fly dry), and as it floated down the river, the 'bow exploded out of the water! It was ridiculously awesome! I set the hook and had some anxious moments as I had him on some of the dry rocks, but finally netted him.
Here's a picture of 'im:
Anyway, the next day we decided to go back to Kennedy Meadow, and we split directions: Jr. going back to the big logs and I went along the river up to the logs. I missed a couple takes here and there, and then went back to the place where I'd seen a guy hook (and lose) a nice trout. It was a place where the river was split, and the side closest to the shore cascaded down sharply toward the bank at a 45 degree angle. At the base of this was a large log, and the shore was next to the log. (The log was along and parallel to the shoreline.)
I threw my trusty PA, and immediately a fish rose to take it, and I missed him! I threw it there again, and, nothing. I threw it a third time, and WHAMMO! The 11 inch trout took it, I hooked him, brought him to the bank for a not-so-graceful land into my net (he actually was flopping around on my fly and then off my fly on the dry rocks for about 15-20 seconds before I netted him). It was the largest I've caught on a fly rod yet!
Here he is:
After these photos were taken, we released him, and he went right under the big logs where Jr. was. In plain view were large rainbow trout, but we were unable to entice them. Jr. did have one on when he dropped the Corn PowerBait on 'em, but after he came off, they weren't interested in anything else. I cast toward the far shore and hooked up with a 5-6 inch 'bow.
I wasn't feeling too good, so Jr. crossed the river alone where we'd seen guys using Pautzke's Salmon Eggs, and Jr. caught a nice rainbow off the aforementioned PowerBait. By that time I really wasn't feeling good, and we decided to hit the road back home. After a longggg stop at a Porta Potty, we went to the car, and Jr. bought me a nice Root Beer soda, and ice cream for me and him as well. We stopped at the spot for roughly an hour, but Jr. didn't get any hits at all.
The rest of our time was filled with Jr.'s first full dinner made at the campground, and me on the toilet. The following day I still wasn't up to fish, so we (or Jr.) packed up camp and we headed home.
I'm really thankful that God allowed me to catch my first fish(es) and let me get sick only after we had done all that we had wanted to do. 'Tis true that we could've explored so much more of Clark Fork and the Stanislaus, but there will be much more time (God willing) in the coming years for that!