Tag Archives: fishing

Fisher couldn’t catch a fish – at least not yet…

After attending the Hat Creek Volunteer Fire Department Deep Pit Barbeque, Linda and I decided to detour a bit on our way home. It was late in the afternoon, so I knew that many of early morning fishermen would have ended their day, but I was curious to see how the fishing was going in Cassel.

We turned off 89 onto Cassel Road. There were lots of cars parked by the property on the right side of the road at Rising River. I expected to see a lot of people down by the water, but the river scene was quiet and beautiful.

Rising River

Rising River

On the other side of the river, Clint Eastwood’s gate was open. Linda and I  had never seen that. It’s usually locked. That side of the river was beautiful too.

Rising River upstream

Rising River upstream

We drove on into Cassel and over the bridge. Two men were fishing on the ramp on the left side of the canal inside the gate. I’d never seen that before either. Where the new fence was by the post office one boy was holding his pole up over the fence fishing.

We turned right toward Cassel Forebay. A few people were fishing up by the campground. We continued toward Baum Lake to Cassel Forebay.

That’s where I met Bill Fisher. He was getting ready to load his fishing equipment into the back of his friend’s bright red pickup truck.

I pulled up and rolled down my window.

“How do you like the enhanced fencing?” I asked.

He said that this was his first time here. He had flown over from Hawaii to meet his friend Larry Thompson from Reno to come up to Cassel to fish. He asked if I fished. I told him that mostly I liked to drive around and take pictures because I write for Pit River Country.

He asked me if I would like to take a picture of the “worst fisherman in the world.” So I obliged him.

Bill Fisher from Hawaii

Bill Fisher from Hawaii

Now, this was where the story gets more interesting. Earlier in the afternoon, Bill and Larry had driven to the bridge in Cassel. It was crowded with fishermen. There was no place to fish. People were lined up and down the stream.

So apparently, people are undaunted by the new fence. Though some may be disgruntled, people adapt in various ways. Fences and regulations are one of the challenges that must be met in order to catch fish.

They came up to Cassel Forebay. Bill said that when they arrived there were 20 people fishing around the pond, both inside and outside of the fence. He and his friend Larry started out fishing on the bank by the parking area because the walkway was crowded.

They were using worms and salmon eggs for bait. They didn’t get any bites but they watched a couple up on the walkway pull out ten really big fish, probably five to seven pounders. Bill said they were pulling out a fish every two minutes.

So when the couple had caught their limit and were ready to leave, Bill and Larry went to take their spot. The man had used Powerbait. After he left, they tried their worms and salmon eggs – no bites.

Bills friend, Larry Thompson from Reno came and joined us. Bill and Larry met 43 years ago at the Marine Corps Drill Instructor School in San Diego. Both of them served as drill instructors in the Marines. Larry retired after 22 years in the Marines. Bill served 10 years in the Marines and then 12 years in the Air Force and retired as a captain. Through the years their friendship has remained intact.

“I’m going to get my picture in the newspaper!” Bill told him.

Larry was a very kind gentleman who said he had come up to Cassel numerous times. He liked to come here with his grandchildren to fish.

He was using a walker with a seat on it. One of the reasons he liked to come to Cassel was because of the easy access. However, he wasn’t disturbed by the new fences. In his opinion, it is a reasonable safety measure.

There is considerable discussion on this amongst people in the community who fish. Many people think that while it may be “reasonable” it doesn’t make sense.

Be that as it may, neither Bill nor Larry were perturbed in the least that they hadn’t caught a fish. They were enjoying the experience and the beauty.

Nor had they given up hope. They were planning on staying in Burney for two more days. The next morning they were going to get out earlier to try again.

So Sunday morning, on my way to the NorCal Road Gypsies car show, I stopped in at Burney Sporting goods. They told me that Bill Fisher and Larry Thompson had just been in to buy some green PowerBait eggs.

Then, on Monday at 11 a.m. I saw Larry parking his red truck in front of Ace Hardware. I pulled over to get an update.

Larry was all smiles. “I caught my limit!” he exclaimed.

They had gotten up at 4 a.m. and were out on the Forebay just after sunrise. Larry caught five fish and Bill caught two. Bill said that that was his personal best! Hooray!

The day before they had caught two fish using the PowerBait.

Bill also said that it was difficult for Larry to make his way through the gravel on the way to walkway and that it would be more accessible if there were a little paved pathway connecting the parking lot to the walkway.

They were planning to get up at 4 a.m. again on Tuesday for one more day of fishing.

As fate would have it, I ran into Bill and Larry again at Anna’s Country Kitchen on Tuesday morning. They had gotten out at 5:30 a.m. and were fishing just after sunrise. By 6 a.m. Bill had caught three fish. A new personal record. Before this fishing trip, he had never caught a trout.

After 6, Bill’s luck ran out and Larry’s began. By 8:30 Larry had caught 4 nice trout. This time they had a little trick. They used night crawlers, but injected the worms with a little bit of water using a syringe so that the worms would float.

Larry had found the process of infusing a worm amusing because he is also a nurse. After retiring from the military in the 1990’s, he had gone to the University of Texas to study nursing. Not only has he worked as a nurse in Oklahoma and Hawaii, he also spent fourteen months in the Philippines assisting in a birthing clinic.

I was amazed. I told Bill he should write a book.

The two fishermen finished their breakfast and didn’t want to keep the fish waiting. Since they hadn’t yet caught their limit they were off for one last fishing fling in Bridge Park.

On Wednesday, they will be headed back to Reno. Once there, Bill will get his truck and trailer and head to Oklahoma to visit family. On September 14, this dynamic duo will meet up again in San Diego to attend the 32nd Annual West Coast Drill Instructors Reunion.

It was an honor to meet these two wonderful men. I’m happy that they enjoyed themselves so much in Pit River Country.

 

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Filed under Cassell, Fishing

PG&E installs safety fencing in Cassel

PG&E has installed the first portion of new safety fencing by the Cassel bridge near the post office and at Cassel Forebay.

New fence by the Cassel bridge

New fence by the Cassel bridge

In May, PG&E announced that they would be installing 330 feet of railing and fencing near its Hat Creek hydroelectric canals and powerhouses near Cassel as well as at the McArthur Canal diversion at the Tule River fishing access point along the McArthur Swamp. The first phase of installation was completed in June.

Enhanced fencing at Cassel Forebay

Enhanced fencing at Cassel Forebay

The project is still ongoing and is expected to be completed by the end of July.

New fence across the pond at Cassel Forebay

New fence across the pond at Cassel Forebay

According to Paul Moreno, spokesman for PG&E, “This project is PG&E’s idea.  We are taking a proactive approach across our hydroelectric system in identifying areas of potential risk to operations and to the public. In areas identified, we use a suite of controls to decrease the risk.  In this case we are proactively installing railing and fencing at select points along our canals and diversions where there are steep slopes and embankments without decreasing fishing recreation.”

Fisherwoman from Redding fishing below Cassel Bridge on July 4

Fisherwoman from Redding fishing below Cassel bridge on July 4

The canal by the bridge in Cassel and Cassel Forebay are two of the most popular fishing spots in the Hat Creek area. Many people who come to fish enjoy the easy access. The areas are regularly stocked by Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery.

A hard copy version of this article also appeared in the Mountain Echo 7/19/16

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Filed under Cassell, Fishing, Hat Creek, PG&E

Roy Carver on fishing and old times

Roy asked me over again to talk some about fishing and how things have changed. He fixed a nice peach cobbler to share with Linda and I. After a while sitting in the kitchen, we moved to the living room for our conversation.

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Filed under Burney, Fishing, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Wildlife

Late afternoon fishing at Bridge Park

Driving back from Reno, about 4 p.m. on Saturday August 30, I decided to pull off of Hwy 89 into Bridge Park on Hat Creek for a little break. The park was quiet. There was one truck there but no one was present. I stretched my legs over by the creek and sat down at one of the picnic tables. The water was as clear as glass. As I looked more closely through the stream, I thought I saw a trout flash by.

Bridge Park is serene. If you look below the bridge you see white water. The flow just below the bridge is deep enough to swim in. Further down the logs that have fallen across the stream create a wondrous patchwork of eddies, dips, and swirls dotted by small islands of luscious tall green grass.

There is a nice trail for hikers and fishermen downstream from the park area. As it descends the stream is lined by ponderosa, cedar, and aspen. The changing light gives the scene a magical aspect accented by the music of the water and the wind. A perfect place to pause, before driving on.

As I was about to depart, I heard voices. Across the highway there is a campground. Three young men and one young woman from the campground were walking up the highway and crossing the bridge. They had come up from Reno to camp and fish. One of them, Jason was swinging a nice 13 inch brook trout on a line. He had just caught it and now they were going to try their luck by the bridge.

Jason showing his catch

Jason showing his catch

Since they had come up from Reno, I asked them if they had ever gone up Red Rock Road between Hallelujah Junction and Doyle to see the red rocks. The young lady told me they knew the road but there were no red rocks.

Red Rocks by Red Rock Road

Red Rocks by Red Rock Road

Linda and I had just been there and I told her we had seen some gorgeous rock formations there.

Red, green brown and white rocks

Red, green, brown and white rocks

Meanwhile, Jason’s two other friends were busy getting their lines in the water, hoping that they too would land a nice trout.

Fishing below the bridge

Fishing below the bridge

As we were talking, two more cars full of people drove up and began unloading their fishing gear.

Young man from Reno fishing Hat Creek

Young man from Reno fishing Hat Creek

The park was now full of folks who had come to enjoy the late afternoon and evening fishing at Bridge Park on Hat Creek.

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Filed under Fishing, Hat Creek

Fishing McCloud Lower Falls

Driving up to Mt Shasta on August 26, I asked my daughter if she would like to see the Lower Falls of the McCloud River. She said she would, so we turned off of Hwy 89 onto the McCloud River Loop and headed down to the falls, also called Fowler Falls.

Fowler Falls

Fowler Falls

Oftentimes when I visit these falls in the summer I see lots of young people diving or jumping off of the rocks into the pool, but on this day I saw no swimmers. Instead, I witnessed four young men fishing from the rocks by the waterfall.

Fishing the falls

Fishing the falls

The McCloud River is the traditional home territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. History of Lower FallsThe Wintu name for the falls is Nurunwitipum, which means “falls where the salmon turn back.” During the warm summer season, there was a village here and the Winnemem Wintu fished and hunted around the Lower Falls. The McCloud continued to be rich in salmon, steelhead and native wild trout until the closing of the gates of Shasta Dam in 1943.

Since that time, salmon have been unable to migrate into the Upper Sacramento, Pit, McCloud and other tributary streams, eliminating a large portion of the best salmon habitat in the Sacramento basin. Shasta Dam also flooded 90 percent of the traditional territory of the Winnemem Wintu people.

Shasta Dam has provided a lot of electricity, facilitated water management, and provided jobs and recreational opportunities for the people of California, but my heart and tears pour out for the native Wintu people.

Nowadays, the gorgeous area continues to be a popular site for hiking, swimming, camping, and fishing. The river is stocked with rainbow trout for the licensed fishing public. I watched the young boy diligently fishing from above the falls.

Boy fishing by Fowler Falls

Boy fishing by Fowler Falls

As time went by, one of the fishermen assumed a more relaxed posture.

A relaxed fishing style

A relaxed fishing style

Meanwhile above the falls, visitors were enjoying hiking, walking their dogs, taking pictures, meeting one another and conversing.

Humans and dogs above the falls

Humans and dogs meet above the fall

As I was taking pictures a local resident came up to watch, wondering whether or not I might toss him a little treat.

Feed me

Feed me

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Filed under Fishing, McCloud River, Shasta Dam, Waterfalls, Wintu

A delightful day along Hat Creek

On Monday August 25, my wife Linda and I needed to go to the Inter-Mountain Fairgrounds in McArthur to submit our photography, poetry, and art exhibits for the upcoming fair. My daughter HanaLyn and her friend Jamie Barrows are visiting from Maryland, so they came along to see some of the beautiful Pit River Country.

After taking care of the business with the helpful Inter-Mountain fair staff, we stopped at the Frosty in Fall River to pick up some sandwiches and drinks. We then headed to Hat Creek Park on Hwy 299 for a picnic on our way home.

As we were walking to the picnic table, I spied a heron standing in the middle of the creek. HanaLyn headed down to the bank. Linda hastily pulled out her camera.  I raced back to my car to get mine, hoping that the heron wouldn’t fly away before I could get a picture.

Hana Lyn and the Heron

HanaLyn and the Heron

The heron wasn’t even phased by us. He simply dipped his beak into the water and came up with a frog.

Catching the frog

Catching the frog

He got a good grip and then down the gullet it went. Then he strutted a bit in satisfaction.

Satisfied after a meal

Satisfied after a meal

After watching Mr. Heron enjoy his lunch, we decided to sit down and enjoy ours. However, before we could even open the bag, we were swarmed by yellow jackets. Jamie is allergic to bee stings, so we hastily retreated back to the car and headed over to Baum Lake and the Crystal Lake hatchery to enjoy our lunch at the picnic table there.

We met a friendly couple from Redding at the picnic table. They were enjoying a cool ride on their motorcycle through the beautiful country making a loop up 299 through Burney, heading down Baum Lake Road to Cassel, then continuing  down Hwy 89 to Lassen Park, and finally riding back down through Shingletown to Redding.

After lunch, HanaLyn and Jamie had fun photographing some of the albino Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout. Each year, out of the millions of eggs hatched at Crystal Lake Hatchery a few albino mutations occur. The hatchery does their best to nurture and raise these albinos. Some of them are now also on display at the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding.

Pointing out the albinos

Pointing out the albinos

Linda had some photos to give to the staff at the fish hatchery so we stopped in for a brief visit to drop them off and then crossed over to Baum Lake. White pelicans were swimming in the lake. Ospreys were flying overhead.

American Pelicans on Baum Lake

American Pelicans on Baum Lake

Also, a fisherman, Michael Hurdle from Richmond, Texas had just arrived. Hurdle was traveling from Sacramento to Likely, California, a town of 99 people south of Alturas to visit his sister. He saw a sign for a fishing lake on the highway so he detoured to enjoy a brief respite fishing.

“Well, you’ve just come to one of the best fishing lakes in the country.” I said. The pelicans patiently feeding from the lake and the ospreys overhead testified to the veracity of my statement.

Michael Hurdle from Houston

Michael Hurdle from Texas

While in Sacramento, Hurdle had spent some time fishing the American River. He said that the water was low and mentioned that a portion of the Merced River had been closed due to the drought.

I told him that the waters here were fairly normal because Hat Creek and Fall River were fed from a giant aquifer, a honeycomb of underground lava tubes that gave rise to many springs in the area. I also told him that the hatchery across the road regularly stocked the lake, though I wasn’t sure when they had stocked it last.

Hurdle did another cast with his fly rod, taking measure of the wind and current in the lake. He smiled and said he wasn’t overly concerned whether he caught a fish or not.

“What better way is there to enjoy an hour break before I continue on my way?” he asked with a blissful smile.

I wished him luck and went down to the boat launch area to rejoin Linda and our guests. I heard a truck pull up and looked to see Kristen Idema, a friend of Linda and mine from Redding. We hadn’t seen her for several months and hooped with joy at our surprise meeting.

After hugs, I introduced her to my daughter and Jamie and she introduce us to her friend from Michigan, Deborah, that she had known since she was in the fourth grade. Deborah and her husband had come for a week of camping at one of the campgrounds on Hat Creek. Kristen had driven up from Redding to spend the day with them. They had just visited Burney Falls.

Relaxing by the lake

Rendezvous by the lake

Deborah let her two beautiful labs out of the truck to enjoy a swim, while Kristen and I caught up on the past few months.

 Labs going for the ball

Deborah and her dogs

Finally, we drove back to Burney via Cassel Road so we could show Hana Lyn and Jamie the Rising River. As we sat around the pool enjoying salsa and guacamole and discussing the pros and cons of cilantro, I thought,

“There are so many delightful things to see and do in this area. It just blows my mind!”

 

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Filed under Baum Lake, Burney, Crystal Lake, Fall River Mills, Fishing, Hat Creek, Intermountain Fair, MacArthur, Wildlife

Fishing good on Hat Creek

Linda Colvin in her booth waving

Linda Colvin in her booth waving

At 9 a.m. on Saturday July 25th, my wife Linda and I set up our vendor booth at Rim Rock Ranch for the annual Old Station Volunteer Fire Department Barbecue. It was still early and the barbecue didn’t start until noon, so I decided to mosey around and check out the fishing on Hat Creek.

Stopping in at the Rim Rock Ranch Store to buy a candy bar and get change for a twenty, I asked the clerk how the fishing was. She told me it was good.  I asked if people were saying that any spots were particularly good.

“No,” she said. “Just fish away from other people. Find your own place and fish by yourself and you’ll do well.”

Hat Creek at Old Station Picnic Area

Hat Creek at Old Station Picnic Area

I headed up the road toward Lassen Park to explore the picnic areas and camp grounds that had access to Hat Creek. A little ways up the road I entered Old Station Picnic Area. No one was there, so I decided just to sit for awhile, reflect, and commune with the natural beauty.

Shortly, I heard a flutter and saw an osprey flying down the creek. It landed a short ways downstream on the branch of a ponderosa pine. I got my camera out and approached it shooting pictures from various locations as I went.

Eventually I was standing right across the creek from it with a clear view, hoping to get a good shot when it took off.

1 Osprey watching for a fish

Osprey watching for a fish

Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes of waiting, I became impatient and zoomed in to get a closer shot of the head. Just as I did, I saw that the osprey was preparing to launch.

2 Osprey just before diving

Osprey just before diving

I fumbled with my camera as the bird rose into the air and dove straight down into the creek below. Wings flapping and talons extended he snatched a fish and flew downstream. I hastily shot a picture, but all I could get was a blurred picture of him flying off with the fish in clutch.

3 Osprey with fish

Osprey with fish

It was an awesome sight, and I only regretted that I had not waited a minute more and gotten a clear shot of the catch.

Hat Creek at Hat Creek Campground

Hat Creek at Hat Creek Campground

I got back in my Jeep, left the picnic area and drove a little farther down to Hat Creek Campground. After parking, I headed down a trail to the creek. Here the creek was deep and narrow with parts of the channel as deep as five feet, I thought it looked like a great place to swim.

As I neared the bank, I heard a voice from behind a tree.

“Hello!”

It was a young fisherman who had caught a nice rainbow trout using salmon eggs. His name was Devin Gaumont. He lives in Campbell in Santa Clara County and had come north to share a fishing trip with his father.

I introduced myself, and he cheerfully consented to let me take some picture of him fishing.

4 Devin Gaumont Fishing Hat Creek

Devin Gaumont Fishing Hat Creek

Gaumont from Campbell displaying his rainbow trout

Gaumont from Campbell displaying his rainbow trout

Wishing Gaumont continued success, I headed back to the Rim Rock Ranch to see how Linda was doing at the barbecue. I showed my pictures of the raptor to several people. I actually had thought it was some kind of hawk. One woman told me that it was a young bald eagle. However, several agents of the US Forest Service at their booth informed me that it was an osprey because of the brown band across it’s head and the short dark beak. The eagle’s beak is longer and yellow and hawks have a brown head.

Forest Service Persnonnel advise me about raptors

Forest Service Persnonnel advise me about raptors

That mystery solved, I enjoyed a humongous and delicious barbecued chicken lunch. Then I gave some Pacific Trail Hikers a ride to the Old Station Post Office two miles up the road. I spent some time at the booth with Linda, talking with visitors. I met locals from Burney, folks from Sacramento and the Bay Area who owned vacation homes in the area, quite a few day trippers from Redding, and even some Filipino Texans and tourists from as far away as Germany.

As the afternoon wore on however, I grew restless again and decided to drive down Hwy 89 to Bridge Park. Bridge Park is lovely. There’s a nice little cascade under the bridge, a little sandy spot where you can wade into the creek, and a pleasant trail that goes about a quarter mile down creek to a small falls. Fortunately, the park has been spared the forest fires that have ravaged Hat Creek Valley in recent years. Due to timber falls and varying temperatures, the stream and landscape are different each season of every year.

Hat Creek at Bridge Park

Hat Creek at Bridge Park February 2015

The afternoon had warmed up and I was beginning to feel a bit bushed. I took off my shoes and socks and waded into the creek, getting my pant legs wet. The water was shockingly cold and my submerged feet and ankles began to sting.

I walked back up the bank and sat down on one of the picnic benches. Cooling off my hot feet had refreshed my entire body. Downstream I saw a couple sitting silently by the stream in canvas chairs just looking over the water.

“That’s the way to do it,” I thought, “Just sit by the stream and enjoy the wonder.”

The man rose and reached behind a tree, from which he pulled a fishing pole. As he approached me, I greeted him and said, “Ah! you’ve been fishing. How was it?”

“Good!” he replied, “I got three nice trout.”

Harry from Sacramento caught three rainbow trout

Harry from Sacramento caught three rainbow trout

The fortunate fisherman’s name was Harry. He and his wife live in Sacramento. Bridge Park is one of his wife’s favorite places, and he loves to come up here and fish. On this occasion, he had caught his three rainbows using a Rooster Tail lure.

I had a nice chat with Harry and his wife and headed back to Old Station. The barbecue was winding up. Linda made a few closing sales. We packed up, said our farewells to new friends, and drove back to Burney. When we got home, I immediately took off my clothes and dove in my deliciously refreshing unheated swimming pool. After cooling off, I sat down at the patio table. My little furry golden cat jumped on the chair next to me demanding to be petted.

Just another day in paradise.

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Filed under Burney, Fishing, Hat Creek, Pacific Crest Trail, Pit River Country Events, Wildlife