August 25th & 26th 2006 Mystery Creek

Time: 4:30pm - 7:00pm- Saturday and Sunday
Weather: Sunny and warm
Water Temps: ??
Water Level: Slightly high
Water Conditions: Clear and weedy.
Insects Observed: Lots of caddis
Hours fished: 6
# of fish caught:  Hard to say, we creeled 7 fish Saturday and 4 on Sunday but I didn't pay attention to actual fish caught.
Method: Short Line Nymphing
Set Up: 7'1" Fast Action Cane Rod SNP made by yours truly, 7.5ft Orvis 6x leader to first nypmh. 12" Orvis 6x to second nymph. 


ďI love fishingĒ I thought as I made my way from the riffle above the tree pool on Mystery Creek to the inlet pool. Iíve just released a scrappy 12 inch and rainbow and with aid of my brother in law, Chad , landed a beefy 14 incher before that. The fight in both fish belies the fact that they were likely planted by the Department of Fish and Game during the last several weeks. Unlike planters is most other streams, the planters in Mystery Creek donít come to hand without a fight.

My eyes scan the inlet pool as my feet slide over the mossy irregular river rock. I canít think of a better way to spend what is possibly my last fishing trip of the season than by spending it with family. In this case Chad and my nephew J.R.. The low sun of twilight shines on me like a beacon, as I crouch and slowly move into position- not very stealthy. I decide to sacrifice position for cover and move to a closer but shaded casting position. Iíve already picked up a couple of fish from this run earlier and am just killing time fishing my way back up the big fish water until Chad and J.R. are ready to call it a day.  

No big fish today but I manage to pull 3 more fish out of the inlet pool. Looking down stream I can see both Chad and J.R. fishing side by side. J.R. has another fish on. Heís 15, this is his second time fly fishing and his first time casting and setting the hook on fish himself. He seems to be having fun and tells us later that this time was more fun than when he fished 2 years ago. Iím glad; I know Iím having a blast. On Wednesday Iíll have an operation, a small procedure but still considered ďmajor surgeryĒ by my doctor. I canít be ďactiveĒ for at least 6 weeks after the surgery. The most serious complications occur when folks ďover do itĒ, doing too much too soon-the consequences of which could put me out of commission for several months instead of several weeks. For the next 6 weeks Iíll be resting. I canít fish, I canít even make rods.  

Chad ís been fishing Mystery Creek fairly often the last two weeks. His story of landing a 20 inch fish last week had me dreaming of catching large trout on my 7ft 1in SNP 4wt rod. From his reports, I suspected that Fish and Game had been planting extra trout in the steam and our experiences on Saturday and Sunday seem to confirm this. California is suffering from a drought this year and a lot streams at this point in the year are too low to plant. Enter Mystery Creek, a tail water stream that is actually running high in late summer. This makes for fun fishing and an excellent place to bring a beginner like J.R..

 We are family.

Saturday Chad and I fished by ourselves. We put in mid- creek as we normally do and worked our way up to the big fish water. During the past few winters the stream has flowed high and the affects on the stream were evident. Some sections of the creek seemed un-changed while others are completely different than they were two years ago.

The fishing was silly. Not because the fish are gullible and will chase down any fly presented them. Theyíre not and they wonít. No, it was silly because there were so many fish to fish to. Imagine wading Hot Creek in itís heyday when it supported 11,000 fish per mile. Hot Creek can be a tough place to fish but thatís largely because youíre not supposed to wade, this means casting a longer line, which makes it more difficult to catch fish. The folks Iíve seen wading Hot Creek, clean up. Had we started fishing Mystery Creek in the morning instead of late afternoon, Iím sure a 50 fish day would have been possible, it was that ridiculous.

Ridiculous or not, the fish of mystery creek generally require the fly to bump them on the nose with something closely resembling a dead free drift. Itís a great place to cultivate the skills of a beginning fly fisher.

Fast forward to Sunday and Iím helping J.R. to catch his first trout on a fly- solo. The last time we were here I had to carry him across the stream. In retrospect, itís amazing we didnít fall that day. Today, wearing neoprene boots and shorts and holding my hand for balance, he wades across the creek himself. I position him in a run full of trout.

I set him up with the same rig Iím fishing. A size 18 Gold Ribbed Hareís Ear paired with a size 12 bead head, soft hackle Hareís Ear. I donít fish an indicator but he gets one. I show him what to do- cast upstream, mend the line, lift the rod and follow the indicator with the rod tip. Strike when the indicator moves. At first he has trouble casting; I hold his hand to guide him through the stroke. Heís got a death grip on the rod. I still think of my young nephew as a child and as I guide him through the stroke Iím taken aback by how strong he is.

He catches his first two fish with a little aid. I cast and he manages the drift. The worst thing I can do in this situation is become over bearing and when I feel heís got the hang of things, I leave him to his own devices. By now Chad has moved from the big fish run, through the riffle and up to the inlet pool. Either heís fishing quickly or I spent more time with J.R. than I had realized. I move into the big fish pool and quickly land two trout- one a skinny 13 or 14 inches and the other a beefy 11 inches.  

While I was helping J.R., a bait fishing couple moved into position across from us and was fishing the same hole. Not a huge deal but I explained the etiquette to J.R... ďBait fishers do this sort of thing all the timeĒ I told him. ďFly fishers do notĒ- a generalization to be sure but true at this particular stream. I was glad to look down stream and pleased to see J. R. fighting several fish before the bait fishers had landed one.

J.R.  continues to hook and play fish the rest of the evening, eventually landing two additional fish. ďThis time was more fun than last timeĒ he tells me. Iím glad to hear it. My wife tells me he walked through the front door of his house with a big smile on his face. With any luck heíll join Chad and me again.

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