I'd been meaning to visit this area for a few years, primarily for the stream fishing in the canyon, and possibly hiking up to some of the high lakes in the area. The canyon is low enough elevation to only make it an attractive destination (for me) later in the season, and with the weather starting to cool down, it seemed like a good time to visit.
I made my usual oh-dark-thirty drive across the central valley, headed up over the pass, and down to the trailhead, getting a mid-morning start. I had a few miles of walking on a ranch road, though occasionally wet meadows, taking in the views.
I wandered down through the low chaparral and took a look at the creek.
This was more of an exploratory trip than anything, and I wanted to see as much as possible. I continued on to the main meadows, where the stream flowed wide, mostly tree-lined.
I'd read that there were a few species here mostly in the undercut banks. I continued on, exploring the creek. I didn't see fish; I think this is one of those areas where if the fish don't want to be seen, you will likely not see them.
After a while I started to see views up the canyon. It was clouding up; the forecast for the next several days was 20% chance of rain, due to monsoon moisture coming in from the southeast.
I came to a spot where it looked like the trail crosses the creek. I took off my boots and used my water shoes.
The water here was flat and clear. I watched and saw distinct rises in shady places. The fish were wary, for sure. I wandered a bit downstream, scrambled down the steep bank and noticed a pool where a pod of fish held at the bottom. I got out my Tenkara USA Sato and tried a few dries. No dice. Next, I tied on a small damsel nymph.
I'd tied a few Blowtorch nymphs a while back; they seemed to work here, too.
I had lunch and continued up the canyon. I get the impression the area gets grazed by cattle heavily during the spring and summer -- lots of old dried cowpies and still-wet / muddy areas, but the scenery mostly made up for it.
In mid-afternoon I came to a spot where the creek was dammed by logs, forming a pool.
I'd brought a BFS rig and gave it a go with some 38mm minnows.
Graywolf glass BFS 5'4" 4-piece / Daiwa Alphas Air TW / Reset Reels spool / Varivas Super Trout Advance x4 PE 0.5 (8.5#)
The Reset Reels spool felt very civilized and controlled for stream work, a nice (and lighter) alternative to Roro's AX22. Perhaps as a response Roro just came out with the AX22-MG.
After about an hour I continued on up the canyon. Shortly the 20% chance became 100% and light rain started. I hastily put on rain gear. The upper part of the canyon passed through low sage / willow areas and was brushy in places. Mmm, wet brush ... my favorite (not).
The trail gained elevation quickly. The rain started to subside.
But the shadows were growing. Around 6pm I realized I had a ways to go, and wasn't too sure where I'd be camping for the night. I hadn't seen much down in the meadow that was attractive -- too many cowpies and wet spots. I continued on. Turns out there was an established camp in a narrow-ish area near the headwaters of the creek, which thundered down into the canyon over various drops. No fish up there, but the camping was good, with plentiful flat ground and water nearby, and I arrived around 7, just in time.
I considered my options over dinner. I could continue on the next day up to some of the nearby passes to the high lakes, but honestly I felt a little beat, and my enthusiasm for thrashing my way back down through some of that brush was flagging, particularly if it was going to be raining. I decided to hike out the next day instead. That's the way it goes sometimes when you go exploring ...
It wasn't all that cold overnight, but chilly enough, and got little to no morning sun. I got started hiking again around 9am-ish, and marveled at the creek in all its fish-less beauty. This is probably the way most of the Sierra was before people came and planted brookies.
The descent back down into the meadows went fairly quickly, and I found myself wandering around the creek again. I stopped at a plunge pool in mid-morning and got out my Orvis Superfine Glass 4wt in an attempt to tempt some fish, first with dries, then nymphs, and finally some small twisted mohair leeches.
It didn't look like there were any fish in this particular pool. Oh, well. I continued downstream.
A few miles later I found my way back down near the creek crossing, and decided to explore a little more.
I deployed the BFS rig, and cast a Smith D-Compact 38 in Akakin into the pool.
I cast the same lure towards one of those undercut banks.
In early afternoon I decided to should be heading back, but only made my way down as far as the next meadow.
I think this guy went for a Smith D-Compact 38 in Yamame.
I explored a bit more, and finally decided I really needed to get moving, and hoofed it back to car around 5pm-ish, where a few good old boys (California style) clad in blaze orange were discussing the local deer population.
Ah yes, autumn is right around the corner. Until next time, my salmonid friends.