Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Midnight Mayhem.

I took my buddy Tom Page from Reel Anglers Fly Shop up the Yuba today to see if we could find some wild fish.  We actually did fairly well hooking or holding 14-16 healthy fish that were only willing to eat a rusty worm, prince of diamonds or pink micro spawn after very little success with our preferred method today of ripping streamers.  

We shot the breeze about whatever it was we had been tying and whether or not we thought it’d be worth a damn in the water.  In fact we laughed hard at one point at the fact that here was a fly shop owner and one of his local guides talking about all these fancy tying materials, intricate recipes, methods and secrets, all the while most every fish we stuck during those conversations were taken on a stinking strip of chenille or clump of cheap yarn.  But hey, fish gonna eat what fish gonna eat and you either observe, adapt and rope or just have a nice day casting and enjoying the scenery.  Flows were running around 641 cubes with slightly off color water. Fish had been eating streamers on the edges but not as much today. High of 52, low of 44.  At least that’s how part of last years log entry read.  

The day or two before and the days after were spent with my buddy Hogan Brown and a gentlemen by the name of John Lowman who I'm now proud to call a friend.  Similar flows, clarity, etc.  Fair to great fishing.  At least for January in a Northern California river.  Hogan and I had a great day in some super dirty water.  Found strong numbers.  Boated some and missing some laughing, talking bugs, fish, amps, guitars and recording music.  Lowman and I fished hard for a few days and found em throughout but worked pretty hard for them until we cracked the ever changing code and leading us to the epic but short lived battle with Mr. Grapefruit Head.  A diamond in the ruff, rogue steelhead that I believe may still keep Lowman gritting his teeth sometimes and certainly keeps my eyes and ears perked.         

Thumbing through a handful of days from early last year reminds me that it got pretty damn good before she went.    When I say went, I mean to 30K but that’s old news now.  She was off and on at times but for the most part at least fishable up until March.  Tough but fishable.  I find that these cold January days after the fall bank anglers are done beating it up and the fair weather crowds have dispersed, there can be some brilliant days to be had if she holds.  Some of my favorites are the solitude streamer days throwing or swinging meat.  I look through the entries and get taken back to some glorious days on the Yuba finding aggressive opportunistic hunger strikes, no people and avoiding frost bite.  Thankful for making it through another year, thankful for my family and toasting the river gods for the opportunities they give me while receiving funny looks from my dogs while they wonder who the hell it is that I’m actually speaking to.  That is, if the river lets us. 

Today a year later, January is a bit different.  About 80,000 times different.  At around midnight January 9th, 2017 she just peaked at 81,744 cubic feet per second from where I was standing and that’s just what the gauges read.  She may not be done either.  Big step up from fishing a handful of days ago at 1,956 cfs.  To understand the gravity and weight of a situation or natural event like this is to stand on the waters edge from a higher point a couple stories above where we normally launch our boats.  To say it’s powerful and immense is almost an understatement.  The massive volume pushed through the canyons and reservoirs and released into the wide open space of the river bed amongst the tailings of the Yuba Goldfields is hard to truly imagine without seeing it move first hand and photos barely do any justice.  

Two shots, same location, same time of day, month apart.
Above 1,237cfs, below trucking at 76,878.
The amount of rain or even the amount of snow it took to create that raging beast is almost beyond comprehension.  Snow that was melted off from a warm storm front at a high elevation only added a few more arms and legs to the monster.  At that point there isn’t much to do but take care of your own if you're living close to the rising water, spend more time with the family, maintain boats, trucks and trailers, tie up more bugs, house chores, write music and admire and respect the living things that will somehow survive such a torrent.  Imagine the process and how often it’s occurred in our short lifetime and how the fish and bugs are always able to comeback and survive in one way or the other.  May take a minute but they’ll be back.  It gives me a great sense of admiration to witness the undeniable force that mother nature can serve up.  What she can bounce back from and transform into.  How the thought of the different species that wake us up in the morning and keep us up at night find a safe haven in a hostile hell hole is always one worthy to ponder.  I find it significant and valuable, getting to know a stump a while to sit and soak all that up.  At least before I need to head back to the fly shop to spend more dough on that ever so valuable chenille and yarn.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.