Guest Blog by Paul Kusnierz
This morning I participated in my first (socially distanced) flyathon. It was a good one and I think I might be hooked.
At about 6:30, I found myself at the trailhead. When planning this outing the previous night I had grand visions of doing a 15 mile run and catching a 6” redband rainbow trout… but it was too late for me to run that far and still be at my work desk at a reasonable time. The creek I chose to fish comes out of the foothills. While the creek starts at an elevation of greater than 5,000’ among fir and ponderosa forest, it quickly descends to the valley floor where sage and rabbitbrush reign, and it gets hot, 100+ hot. This creek is small, dries up in places, and only contains redband rainbows.
I had heard about these fish and though I’ve driven over the creek many times, never even seen it due to the thick riparian vegetation. The trail started out above the creek with some nice rocks to scramble over (at least that’s what the mountain biker ahead of me was trying to do) then quickly found its way next to the creek. For the majority of the 5.5 miles in to where I planned to fish the slope was relatively consistent but with plenty of short steep spots to slow me down and make breathing a bit more difficult. As I ran, I took in everything I could while remaining upright. I saw bluebirds fly up the trail, observed the handiwork of some beavers, watched the vegetation around me change from grasses and shrubs to trees, and noticed that there is a lot of sand in the creek…
This sand is likely the result of the roads and trails that are ubiquitous in the watershed. While I suspect that the much of the sediment is the result of legacy road building and logging, there were multiple locations where the trail was definitely contributing. It was a reminder that even when in a beautiful place with few people, things aren’t always perfect. I’m thinking some volunteer work to shore up the trail and reduce sedimentation is in my future.
When I reached my planned fishing spot there was some bumbling around before I caught a fish. The creek was choked with brush and I had to remove the leader from my 7.5’ tenkara rod so that I could drop the fly into the creek without getting caught on anything... pieces were lost. However, once I got the parachute blue-winged olive in the right spot, I had a fish on. The 5.5” fish was on the bib for a photo and back in the water quickly. With that I turned around and headed back down the trail. I had planned to only catch one fish (if I caught any) and stuck to it. Knowing that I was going to put in a solid trail run, having landed a trout from a new creek, and assisted by the mostly downhill grade, running out was a breeze.
I did drink a tasty local beer after the run, albeit after my workday. It gave me a chance to consider the morning’s activity. I really like creek fishing. The fish are usually plentiful and willing to bite and competition from other anglers isn’t a concern. Running along that creek before and after fishing gave me a different perspective than driving up and hopping out of the truck to fish. I saw what was great about the creek, but also what could be better. This creek is very small and conditions are tough for it’s inhabitants. I wouldn’t fish very often; probably only as icing on the top of a good run. But whether or not I fish it, that creek is a special place, like so many others that are out there to be discovered, explored, and protected.