The Cascade Lakes Basin

Days 8-9: Crane Prairie Lake, OR

Back on the road again Friday after work, it was a late in the day when we finally arrived at the Crane Prairie Lake Campground. No fishing this evening, the sun had already set. We set up camp amid the incandescent twilight and started a quick dinner for the night.

Sun setting over Crane Prairie Lake

Sun setting over Crane Prairie Lake

Realizing we didn’t have water for dishes; I set off to find the water pump in the campground. Not exactly an easy task, since by this time night had settled in and it was quite dark. After wandering around for a few minutes, I decided it would be easier to ask.

As fate would have it, the next camp I stumbled upon was a lively group playing some texas hold ’em. After a brief exchange and coming to the conclusion they have no idea where the water is since they have an RV, I notice some fishing gear. Score! I sit down for a few rounds of poker and inquire about the fishing. After a few rounds of poker and some serious fishing talk, I realize I am slacking on dishes duty.

The 2 Eric’s, Dave and Chris tell me to come back and bring my pop’s for a few more rounds of poker. Dad, ever the social butterfly and card aficionado is more than happy to oblige. An entertaining evening, even if Dad  did give away my poker strategy.

After a late start the next day on account of the beer and whiskey from the previous evening; we paddle out on our float tubes. Man, what a tough day of fishing. Dad breaks one off, and I get skunked. To top it off, Dad gets a flat tube before we’re ready to call it a day. I resign myself to the fact that there will be no fish for me today.

Patchin' up the tube

Patchin’ up the tube

Days 10-11: East Lake, OR

After deliberating, we decide that it is time to try a different lake the next day; we are going to head further up where it is a bit cooler; East Lake. Great decision. We arrive in time for the chronomid hatch that evening and whoa is it on! I land three gorgeous fish and miss out on a really big guy that breaks me off in the weeds.

First fish of the evening. So stoked!

To frozen to smile all the way, but the fishing is worth it!

Too frozen to smile all the way but the fish are worth it! I may or may not have had an altercation accidentally splashing myself with my fins and was thus pretty soaked

We camp right next to the lake, and I awake the next morning (hangover free) to the lovely sound of copious amounts of fish rising. Oh what a morning. I paddle out in my tube and catch another fish on a parachute adams; all before morning coffee. Dad joins me a bit later after the hatch and catches three good sized fish on a nymph set up. Can’t wait for the evening hatch tonight!

Changing flies from dries to a nymphing set up

Changing flies from dries to a nymphing set up

“I can hear the bull frog callin’ me….”

This week I had the opportunity to check off a location on my “wish to fish” list; Putah Creek. This beautiful creek and its feisty trout (browns and bows) are a result of the construction of the Monticello Dam in the 1950’s and stocking by the California Department of Fish and Game in the 1970’s. In the years since then, the trout have reproduced and the creek is now a thriving wild trout fishery. The scenery is abundant with wildlife among green, rolling hills; the water is cold and crisp, staying at a consistent temperature year round as it flows from the bottom of Lake Beryessa. It’s even been the muse for the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Green River.”

A fellow fishing enthusiast, Jordan Romney, who is also a guide for Off the Hook Fly Fishing and Fly Fishing Specialties as well as an active trout conservationist, grew up in Winters and has spent countless days fishing Putah Creek. I’d wanted to fish this area for quite some time, so when he proposed a fishing trip, I jumped at the opportunity to have a local expert show me around. Jordan has an ingenious method to fish the slower moving sections of the river; float tubes. It had been years since I last kicked around in a float tube, and I’d certainly never floated in moving water. It allowed for easier casting: helped reach spots that would normally be out of bounds from the bank: and made it more efficient to cover larger areas quickly. Not to mention it was seriously fun to be out and active on the water. Looks like it’s time to rustle up that old float tube out of storage!

Later, back on land, we waded a couple of other spots on the river. A few large fish were spotted, but before they could be lured in with the small nymphs favored on Putah Creek, a local river otter cruised by and spooked ’em. I was even so lucky as to have a good omen bestowed upon me…. Not a tree in sight overhead and a bird poops on my head. Priceless. It just makes me like the river more.

The fishing that day was slow on account of the fish still acclimating to an increase in flows from the previous day, but it was a great day of fishing (not that I’ve ever had a non-great day of fishing….). I look forward to going back again soon and often. John C. Fogerty’s words have never made more sense. “Well, take me back down where cool water flow…

For more information about Putah Creek visit: http://www.putahcreektrout.org

*Thanks again Jordan for showing me your home waters!