Friday, June 3, 2016

Dazed and Confused- Desert Trout Part 2

When the alarm went off I couldn't find it. The nightstand had been moved and the sound of the alarm wasn't right. Nothing was right not the bed, the walls, the curtains.......nothing! I started to panic just as it all came back to me.

I was in a small mobile home at the Crosby Lodge on Pyramid Lake. My first coherent thought was "How did they come up with lodge?"

Okay it wasn't much but the group of mobile homes they call a lodge saved my ass from sleeping in my truck in freezing February weather somewhere around Reno after the long drive out. To top it all off I had been able to get the last available one for the night "and only for one night because a party is coming in there tomorrow." is what I was told when I checked in and paid at the bar.

My next thought was how could my stomach make that much noise? I had pulled in after the grill closed and had a pair of beers for nourishment before turning in. Maybe that on a completely empty stomach had contributed to my confused state. It was early enough that the sun was still well behind the hills on the east side of the lake but the sky had started to glow.

By the time I showered and packed back into the truck the grill had opened up. Finally solid food. I found a pay phone at the general store and called Sharon collect to let her know I had made it safely. It was a really crappy connection which made for an unsatisfying conversation. Conversations under these circumstances are okay at best but this one left me feeling empty. The closing thought was I would give her a call when I went to town later and checked into my hotel. A hotel that had been arranged by the man I would be working for the next two weeks.

With the better part of a day to kill it was time to fish. That was my ulterior motive for making this trip after all. There was a possibility that it could turn into a full-time job but the voice in my head told me the only reason I would take it is if the fishing panned out.

The lake and surrounding area is part of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. Like most reservations at first glance it doesn't look like much but when you take the time to get a deep look it's quite beautiful in a unique way. The hills around the lake are all but barren with minimal scrub brush. In full daylight the colors and nuance are a complete wash with little interest. What I came to find later is that sunrise and sunset hours are the best time to visually take in the reservation. The bright green lichen on the exposed rock faces glow in the morning sunlight. If you catch it just right the hills facing east just south of Sutcliffe turn a brilliant aquamarine just for a moment as the sun peaks over the eastern hills at first light.

I got a permit, a few flies and some direction on where to go at the general store. "North Nets Beach" the lady behind the counter told me, "that's where they been getting them lately". Following here directions I made my way out onto the hard sand beach along with several other vehicles. There were fishermen standing a ways out from the water's edge on ladders. What the hell? I pulled up and just watched for a while. They all used the same method. They would cast out as far as possible then wait a long time, counting down then start stripping the line in slowly on short strips. Presently one of them hooked up. He backed down off the ladder and fought the fish into his net standing in waist deep water next to his ladder. I couldn't see how big it was from my vantage point but I could see he released it, got back on his ladder and went to casting. Man was I confused about the ladder.

I rigged up the only decent fly rod I owned at the time with a floating line and a 3 foot sink-tip. From what I had been able to gather on the fishing here fly anglers would cast out sinking lines with a pair of wooly bugger style flies and strip, cast and strip, cast and strip. It didn't take too long to get the use of the ladder. Trying to make booming distance casts and keeping 60 feet of line in the air to wind up for the final shoot was tiring. The backcast tends to tail off and smack the water behind the caster drastically slowing the line speed. Stepping up two or three rungs on an aluminum ladder gives the caster the added height to keep the backcast out of the water and achieve a little more distance by getting more line in the air on the false casts.

I fished hard for around four hours with not a single strike. Others around me had landed multiple trout. While I was loading up to head into town a local stopped by to ask how I did. With no good news to report he asked to see my rig. After examining it he explained the rig that everyone else was using. What I really needed was a fast sinking shooting head and running line to go with the brilliant purple flies I had purchased that morning. he said he wasn't sure what the setup would cost. He had purchased his several years prior and the cost would surely have gone up. He directed me to the Reno Fly Shop where they would have everything I need including a spare spool for my Orvis Battenkill reel.

This came as disheartening news given that I had driven all the way from Texas to didn't even have the right fishing equipment. This was not turning out like it did in my head weeks before when I had cooked up this little plan. The best I could hope for is that things would get better once I got to town.

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