A long weekend in Los Angeles is a perfect time to get lost in its mountains. With 17 million people on the move, whether traveling down the street to the grocery store or locations further away, the mass migration was evident on Saturday morning. The few campgrounds on the way up the mountain, which were deserted weeks ago, now looked like base camp at Everest during climbing season. Yet, from the moment my tires left the pavement, until the moment they got back on, I never did see another soul.
The first rattlesnake made its appearance about a quarter mile into my hike downstream. There's a portion of the fisherman's trail that is blocked by an ancient rock slide. It looks like huge dice piled on top of one another, and maneuvering through this area requires a bit of planning, making sure your next step doesn't send you into a chasm below, or send you tumbling on top of the sharp edges of these fallen rocks. The snake was at the base of this structure, and I gave it plenty of space, as I did my best Q*Bert impression, jumping up and over this rock slide made of solid granite cubes, avoiding Coily in the process.
The rattlers will slow down my pace, and unless you're the gambling type and like rolling the dice, you travel with caution. The trail at this point, if you can call it one, is only about a foot wide, and there is overgrown vegetation throughout. There are various portions where it disappears, and you must navigate through a gauntlet of deadfall, rock labyrinths, and chaparral, hoping you made the correct choice on where you decided to step.
Access directly downstream in the river is also an option, but you'll spend half your day covering half a mile. Memorial day weekend traffic had already delayed me, and the need to find out was was further downstream was the reason I was taking the drier, although snakier, route. Good thing the other half dozen snakes I encountered were of the non-venemous variety, including a good 5' specimen that was 'swimming' at the bottom of a deeper run, an activity I had never seen before.
2 hours elapsed from the time I slammed the door shut on my truck. I had traveled about 4 miles downstream, the longest trek I have ever done. The boot prints from other anglers disappeared an hour ago, and the only prints left were those of the animals that inhabit this place. A beautiful waterfall marked the spot where I made my first cast, and began slowly working my way back to my parked truck. It was almost noon.
The residents of this stream are not particular on fly patterns. Although very skittish, if you manage to creep behind them and place a decent cast near them, they have no reservations to swim a few feet to annihilate your dry or your dropper. Even though there were a few mayfly spinners coming off, the high vis elk hair caddis received plenty of looks, although the rubber legged copper john behind it did most of the damage.
We all have "that spot" in our local creek that the larger residents have made home, but an area that is completely unapproachable. For weeks now, I've walked past and yet I have not been able to put a cast on them. But, because I had packed my wading shoes, I was finally able to get across the stream and have an angle to get a few casts on these guys. And I'm glad I packed my shoes.
If anybody can help with nymph identification, it would be most appreciated. I saw these guys crawling on rocks, and even in the water, and I decided to cut off my puny size 20 Copper Johns and pulled out a size 12 Wooly Bugger.
It took 2 strips before one of the residents had made it its lunch.
Biggest fish so far, and it already had been developing a hook jaw. The spotting was very interesting as well.
It was 5 pm before I realized I needed to start making my way back. It took about 2 hours to hike back to my truck, all the while making sure I wasn't stepping on anything that would ruin the rest of my evening. I got back home to downtown LA at 9 pm, exhausted.
It was another good day.