Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Rich 15, Rob 16, 3-25-17

The story of these Pyramid Lake trout is interesting.

Two stains of Lahontan cutthroat trout inhabit the lake. The most recent reintroduction of trout to Pyramid Lake came from a strain of fish found near Pilot Peak in the Pilot Peak Mountains which are located along the eastern border of Nevada, very close to Idaho.

These trout carry the same DNA as the nearly extinct migratory trout that once spawned in the Truckee River from Pyramid Lake to Lake Tahoe. After DNA analysis, trout from the Pilot Peak Mountains were transplanted into Pyramid Lake where they have thrived and grown at rapid rates into monster fish like the two pictured above. These fish were 15 and16 pounds.

For more information, search for Pilot Peak strain, Lahontan cutthroat, Pyramid Lake. It is an amazing story.

Return to Pyramid Lake

In the late 1970’s my brother Rob and I fished Pyramid Lake. We camped on the beach and fished wooly worms with a slow strip along the bottom. We didn’t have the traditional ladders used by shore fishermen to rise above the water’s surface to stay warm.

The lake was known for big cut-throat trout and we caught some. Rob fished Pyramid again a year or two later, and caught a nine-pound cut-throat.

To this day it is probably the largest trout either of us has caught while fly fishing, although Rob has caught a couple of others in that same size range. My largest life-time trout (until this past weekend) caught fly fishing or otherwise was an eight-pound brown.

Our idea of “big” in the fly-fishing-for-trout category were completely changed on Friday on our return trip to Pyramid Lake.

On this trip we stayed in a comfortable room at the Nugget Casino as we joined other members of the Tri-Valley Fly Fishers Club guided by Rob Anderson of PyramidLakeFlyFishing.com.

We had it easy as Rob brought the ladders, flies and food. He also repaired our tangles and netted our fish.

We fished with midge larvae imitations and strike indicators. Our flies were set at a depth to keep them just off the bottom.

The largest fish of the trip was brother Rob’s 17 pounder.

There were several high-lights during the trip. We didn’t think Saturday could out-due Friday as the Friday windy weather produced many fish including 16 and 17 pounders.

Unfortunately I came away without a photo of Rob’s big one, so I’ve posted his second largest fish of the day (nine pounds) and my largest fish of the trip a 16 pounder.

We coasted into Saturday needing to catch no fish or to prove anything. Ironically, Saturday’s mostly sunny weather didn’t slow the fishing down, especially for Rob who landed 17 fish. And, four of them weighed eight pounds or more.

The surprise was when we hooked two great fish at the same time. The ensuing battle included reel-pealing runs, crossed lines and Rob’s line spool falling from his reel.

He managed to keep it together while I struggled to keep my fish out of the way and others dip-netted to retrieve his spool from three feet of water while Rob played the fish by hand.

Finally Rob Anderson netted my fish, which turned out to be 15 pounds. A few minutes later a helpful bystander netted Rob’s, which was 16.

Another fisherman, Chris Hallmark, landed a third fish at almost the same time and it weighed 18 pounds.

Here’s Rob Anderson’s photo of the result. (left to right, Chris Hallmark, myself, Rob Anderson and Rob Fletcher)

The Triple Lindy

You can hardly imagine how difficult it was to lift those three slippery monsters into the air at the same time. All of the fish were released in good shape as were all the fish we caught over the two days of fishing.

For information about tying the midge flies and guided fishing trips, go to Rob Anderson’s web page at PyramidLakeFlyFishing.com.

Blacktail Bucks

Here are a few I found in the archives. You can see that the predominant antler characteristic is forked horn. A four-point buck is unusual.

These are all California black-tailed deer.

Top left: Cache Creek (My brother, Rob, took this one.). Top Center: Golden Gate Park. Top right: Pebble Beach.

Second row left: Sand trap at Pebble Beach.

Second row up from the bottom on the left is another Golden Gate Park buck.

I believe all the rest were photographed on or near our ranch in Alameda County.

California Red-Legged Frog Egg Mass

California red-legged frogs are listed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened where ever they are found.

california-red-leg-frog-cropped

This is an adult California Red-legged frog.

Around March 1 is the time of year when we see California red-legged frog egg masses in our ponds. Here is an egg mass photographed on February 26.

IMG_2877 CRF egg mass

This red-legged frog egg mass stands out because it is covered with silt from the murky pond water. The egg mass was photographed on February 26, 2017.

These eggs will produce larva (tad poles) which will eventually morph into frogs by July or August. We see the juvenile frogs in the ponds into late September. During the fall they will disappear from the ponds and move into underground burrows or other hiding places to endure the winter months.

juvenile red leg frog cropped

Juvenile red-legged frogs live in the ponds until fall when they will depart for underground burrows which provide winter security.

The Big Buck Contest

Next Saturday, is the date of the local big buck contest, an annual event and as usual I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think I’ve missed one in the last 25 years.

All the usual characters will be there and the format will be familiar.There will be three categories of the bucks, local, all California and out of state. For the last few years, the contest has been held on a weekend and it has a family flavor, but that hasn’t always been the case.Winning the contest at least once is on everybody’s bucket list.

This weekend the event will be filled with wives and children and attendance numbers will be higher than ten years ago, when this story took place and probably there will be a little less drinking and the crowd will be more subdued.

Ten years ago this was an all-male event.

A good friend of mine has attended the big buck contest almost every year for longer than I have, but misfortune overtook him about a dozen years ago and he had a stroke. Unfortunately for him, he laid on the floor for quite a while before he received help and the effects of the stroke became permanent, leaving him disabled.

As is still the case, he was able to walk a short ways in those days, but not far and generally traveled by wheel chair. His friends, myself included, made an effort to include him in events whenever possible and the big buck contest was an event that he almost never missed.

My brother, Rob, and I took pleasure in assisting him to the big buck contest where he was popular with the guys, especially those who didn’t have the opportunity to see him but once or twice a year.

Over time, the inability to exercise as well as his propensity to consume food led him to become somewhat overweight, but what the heck, he had to enjoy something. The stroke left him paralyzed on one side and hampered his ability to communicate, but he could carry on a limited conversation and worked hard at it.

The guys could usually figure out what he was trying to say.

On one particular night, the big buck contest shifted to a new venue. The room was upstairs and we had to take my friend to the second floor in a small elevator. It was a tight squeeze and there was no room for a second person in the small space. We were a bit anxious as the door closed and he disappeared upward. Without trouble he made it to the top and the door opened.

As we arrived his many friends moved in to visit and offer him drinks, which he accepted with a smile. Everything seemed to be going well, so Rob and I dispersed into the room to say our own hellos.

The night wore on and all was going well, when I checked in to see how my friend was doing. He indicated that he needed to use the toilet. Now we were entering uncharted waters as I’d never had to accompany him to the toilet on our previous ventures.

I just assumed it would work out fine as I wheeled him to the John. I got the wheelchair in place helped him raise his 300 pound body into the air. So far so good. Standing behind him I helped him move into position, leaving the wheelchair behind. I helped him get his trousers down, clear his underwear and use his good arm to take aim. At that point I offered to leave him on his own to do his thing and he seemed to accept my initiative.

I backed out of the small room and closed the door most of the way, acting like a body guard watching over a crime boss.

All of a sudden a major thud rattled the room and I immediately knew what had happened. When I looked around the corner of the entry to the narrow room, I could see him lying on his left side, face next to the toilet, not moving. Somehow he indicated to me that he was OK.

I told him I’d get some help because I couldn’t lift him by myself. Retreating into the room I grabbed the first two young men I could find -two guys who were not oversized and looked capable. It wasn’t long before they were in the bathroom lifting back onto his feet.

Amazingly, there seemed to be no damage. The two young men who had helped melted back into the crowd and before long my friend was back at his table ready to continue the party. As before, I left him mostly alone with our mutual friends who continued to buy him drinks. Naturally I suggested he hold it down. He was not normally a heavy drinker, but the situation was ripe.

Dinner was served and the awards were presented. All the while my friend was surrounded by buddies having a great time. As the end of the event neared, it became apparent that we needed to get my friend home sooner rather than later and as we approached the elevator, we once again grimaced at the prospect of putting him in the elevator alone, especially in his inebriated state.

We were in a bit of trouble when the elevator stopped at the bottom floor, but the door would not open. After a bit of panic, we finally succeeded in releasing him at ground level and soon we were rolling well and in the parking lot.

I was driving a new Hummer at the time and I really enjoyed that vehicle, but it wasn’t the perfect car for transporting a 300 pound partially paralyzed former deer hunter who was very inebriated. We muscled him out of the wheel chair and got him to step onto the running board and eventually into the passenger seat.

Once again we were relieved and thinking we were out of trouble. I walked around the car, opened the driver-side door, stepped in, pushed my key into the ignition switch and started the vehicle.

For some reason, which I do not remember, I decided it was necessary for me to exit the vehicle and go back to my friend’s door. As I stood next to the door, my friend wobbled back and forth and then with a fairly powerful motion he leaned out with his right elbow and hit the lock switch. Clunk, all the doors locked in unison.

The key,  the only key, was in the ignition. All the windows were up. My paralyzed and inebriated 300 pound friend sat in the passenger side of the vehicle nearly motionless.

Yelling and beating on the door produced no positive sign. He could not unlock the door. Now I was wondering how bad this might get. I did not have my cell phone in my possession, so I borrow a cell phone from a friend and called the phone number for ONSTAR a GM service that boasted an ability to open the door of cars which carried the ONSTAR package, particularly valuable if the owner’s key was lost or locked inside.

This would be our savior. Like magic, a voice came on the line. “Hello, this is ONSTAR.” I provided the necessary security information and the voice on the line said something like, “OK we’re ready to open the doors, make sure you don’t interfere because we have only one chance of making the happen.”

I replied OK and turned towards the passenger door just in time to see Rob yanking on the door handle exactly at the same moment that the attempt was made to use the ONSTAR door-unlocking method.

Oh no! What option was left? We had blown our remaining chance to  release my paralyzed and passed- out friend. Time to find a lock smith.

As I stewed and paced while looking for a lead to a midnight lock smith on the borrowed cell phone, I noticed movement in the Hummer. It was my friend who was now swaying back and forth in the passenger seat. All at once he leaned to right, much like he had at the beginning of this issue. His elbow once again came down on the door lock and clunk, like magic the door was unlocked.

We were saved. And, that should be the end of the story.

But not quite.

As the three of us drove towards my friend’s house, he once again rocked in his seat. This time rather than sideways, he rocked forward and back. With a tremendous belch, vomit shot from his belly. It was a mammoth shot from deep within his large body. As is typically the case it was not just one belch, but two or three.

It was quite a sight when his wife came out the back door to get a report on the results of the contest. You might think that she would be upset, but she took it in stride like an angel, she accepted the fact that this was just another of life’s trials.

Why We Love our Firearms

missed-a-couple

While hanging around the clubhouse with four or five club members as a guest at a Grasslands duck club last season, firearms seemed to be the lowest common denominator of our discussion.

Thinking about my firearms in the general sense led me to introspectively consider which firearms were my favorite and then I began to wonder why I have such affection for my shotguns and rifles – nearly all firearms with which I hunt.

I decided to propose a question to the group. The question was this: “Why do we have strong emotions about our firearms? Is it that they are beautiful? Or precise? Or is it something else, less obvious?”

Having sipped down several glasses of red wine each, the discussion was earnest and thoughtful, but not fulfilling and by the time we moved on, nobody had come up with the  answer.

For a day or two, I continued to think about my favorite firearms. My emotions about them were very positive, but they are inanimate objects, unlike most of the things we love. But I had to admit, love was not too strong of a description for the emotion I have for my favorite rifles and shotguns.

I wondered about my best archery equipment and my favorite fly rods. I appreciate their value and practice with them to improve my hunting or fishing effectiveness. For many years I only hunted with bow and arrow. I have spent at least as much time in the woods with my archery equipment as with my rifle. Yet, I do not have the same kind of emotion for the former.

This comparison helped me understand that my love for the firearms I own has nothing to do with their physical makeup, their beauty or their performance. Finally I had discovered where I was going wrong.

The reason I love my firearms has everything to do with self-pride. I am proud that I am permitted to own such a powerful tool. I am humbled by the fact that I am trusted to be the custodian of something that has the ability to do tremendous damage if mishandled.

I use the utmost caution when handling my firearms and I do my best to set a standard for safety that others can follow. I never take safety for granted and I recognize the responsibility and power granted to me, an individual, by our constitution.

My firearms are a symbol of what is great about being an American.