Archive | August, 2011

5 Hours to Paradise

25 Aug

Yes I realize that I still haven’t finished up my wedding blog, nor finish the honeymoon blog nor go thru our wedding pix etc.  But you do realize IDGAF what you think right?  I’d rather write about a fishing trip than look thru pix right now and it’s me who’s slaving away at the keyboard not you foo.  Okay now that we’ve got that covered…

This would be our second trip to Mammoth, or the high sierras as some of you folks know it.  5 hours to a blissful, expensive, escape from the dopuses of the City we live in.  No graffiti and a lack of rude people.  Clean water, clean air, and just plain old fun!  This is a trip we are hoping to make as an annual trip, it started out a few years ago when me and Tom were at work and I was telling him stories (mostly fabricated or wildly exaggerated to make myself look better) about all the trout I’ve caught, the big ones I’ve lost, and the wonders of Mammoth.  Because he and his fiance do not like to drive long distances they hesitated.  I assured them it would be fun and slowly the plan started to come together.  We pulled in another one of our staff members who is really lame at fishing, his name is Mako.  His name is not a really cool nickname after a shark or anything cool like the mighty Oak, it is short for his FOB real name which I will not embarass him by spelling. If you heard it you would bust out laughing because it sounds like Johnny Sokkos robot in that lameo japanese movie of my youth, “Giant Robot” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Robo_(tokusatsu)), I’m sure some of you have seen it dammit.   Wait come to think of it Oak is also short for my own last name.  Ooops.   At any rate Mako likes to fish so last year we all went up and had a blast.  Now I know you are wondering why you weren’t invited on this trip.  More than likely it is because we don’t like you and you can’t fish worth beans.  Pretty much nobody likes you so you should get used to it and you should thank us for bringing that into the open so you can cry about it at home and talk about it in therapy later.

This is last year’s pix.  I have no idea where mako’s kid is while we took this picture but I assure you we did not leave her in mammoth the last time!  Mary is in this pix but we sure missed you on this trip :(.

This year we got the trip going again last minute, thank god Tom and Caroline kept pushing for it because I was pretty beat from getting married and then going on a long honeymoon.  This time we used mako’s man-o-van instead of having his buddy (thanks Dennis you lurker) rent us one and we hastily piled together all our shit in my driveway. You would think we were packing to go away for a year, I had to keep throwing shit into my garage while my friends protested on how they needed their gigantic chairs, suitcases with a hundred tennis shoes etc.  The van looked like a bunch of illegal immigrants were living in it when we were through.  We left at the crack of dawn and I dodged lameo CHP ticket fairies using radar and slowly the beauty of the road melted any stress we had.

 

The drive really is pretty and relaxing, I shit you not.

We got to our first destination:  Bishop, CA.

Bishop is a really cool town, it’s like a small town in the midwest that has been left behind in time.  Really nice people work there and most of them are white, kind of like Orange county which is probably why I like it there so much as well.  We stopped off to eat and gas up before heading to our first lake.  Unfortunately for us, the lakes were packed with AMATEUR fishermen which kept us PROFESSIONALS from fishing ;).  However I had many alternative lakes in mind and we found another less crowded lake where we could do our death march over cliffs to find a vacated shoreline. It would only be a few minutes before my rod was bent with a trout on even before any of my lameo friends had tied on their lures or bait.  This was to be repeated several times until I had my limit of 5 and then I  could relax while they tried to catch some of the dumber ones.  I of course am talking about the fish and not my friends.

It’s a lot of fun to fish the way we normally fish.  I have a super secret lure that I’ll sell you for a billion dollars. You tie this on and cast it out, twitch it a few times and BAM you are onto a trout!

Oak demonstrating how it’s done.  Fish on!!

Lea bundled up on a cold morning

Some of our fish on the first day

Lea nets one of her fish

On the way back to our car we joked about seeing bears, this would prove to be a foreshadowing for adventures ahead.

No Tom, there’s no bears following you, you can pull your pants up now after checking them for fudge factory evidence.

After catching a few trout, we again headed down to Bishop to stop off at the world famous Schats Bakery.

Man if you haven’t had their cheesebread I feel really bad for you!  Take my advice and pick up a loaf of either the chili cheese or the garlic cheese bread just don’t buy too many otherwise they’ll keep raising the prices!

 

We usually pick up a few loafs for dinner and then stop by again on our way home.

We were so tired we just pooped out and then had dinner at Burgers, man that place had some killer cheeseburgers and we’ll be sure to visit them again!  The portions are HUGE, just right for the huge appetites we had.

The next day I made my friends wake up at 5am (don’t groan, I usually will get up at 4am when I’m fishing with real fishermen) and we hurried to get a spot at another lake.  This particular lake is one of my very favorites, it is in a high elevation area where hardly anyone goes to.  Last year we saw tons of trout swimming around and in the past I’ve caught large trout here.  This time fishing was a bit slow, although Caroline and I both caught some alpers trout (alpers trout are larger ones planted via a private hatchery) (please also note my trout was larger than Carolines 🙂

One of the nicer Alpers trout we caught

and I also finished up my limit there.   The problem with this lake was there were SAVAGE MOSQUITOS EVERYWHERE!!!  Those bastards were so mean they were biting me thru my hoody and sweatpants, by the time we fled home the skin on our bodies looked like some braile bible book!  It was way gross, Mako’s looked like the stud on frankensteins neck, we thought little baby aliens were going to hatch out and crawl out of there.

The mighty Oak rigging up one of his 100 rods he brings for trout fishing

We scurried home and then went to check out the Devils Postpile and Rainbow falls.  The devils postpile is named due to a story about this guy named Chris Oak who made a deal with the devil.  He sold his soul to become the pimpest spearfisherman in the world but he didn’t read the fine print.  The devils fine print said he must make a fence around mammoth every single night.  Therefore every night at midnight Chris is slaving away making the fence and in the morning the Devil knocks it down again so poor Chris has to do it again the next night.  Man that devil can be a real dick sometimes.  What you see during the daytime is the knocked over fenceposts.

In reality I just made that story up on the spot, please tell it exactly like it is, especially using my name so I can be famous later on since there is no story ANYWHERE about the Devils Postpile.  Sheesh you would think someone would be a little more creative.

Rainbow falls was really cool too, but you have to do a 1.5 mile hike to get there and 1.5 mile back again.  It’s not that hard a hike but there’s a lot of spots with horse turds that smell and slow tourists who also smell.  Plus it’s a 6.5 mile round trip hike (math is not one of my strong points but I’m tired from doing the devils work dammit.  Okay in reality its 3 miles but it feels like 6.5).

See why it’s called Rainbow Falls?

This is me standing on the wall in front of the falls. This is really stupid because if you fall it’s pretty much to your death so don’t do it. I have special ninja training so I won’t fall, what my friends also did not know was there was a dirt ledge below me so I really woudn’t fall that far.   I did it because it made my friends squirm and it made their butthole ache because they are afraid of heights and when you do that it really does make your butt ache. Don’t believe me? Look over the edge of a building and tell me how you feel dummy. (Editors note:  Please do not focus on the fact that I wore the exact same shirt and shorts every single day when I go fishing.)

The next day we fished at two other lakes and caught a lot of trout.  Pretty much we limited out every single day using my secret lure.

Some trout from one day

And still more trout from another day.  Yes they were all planters, and yes I’m proud of my stocked trout skills

During one afternoon we even managed to go shoot bb guns in the forest. Don’t worry we didn’t shoot any animals (we could not find any) we shot targets and tin cans.  If you’ve never shot a bb gun you are missing out on a fun and important part of life. Just ask Tom and Caroline, they had a blast and are now looking for their own bb guns.  Mako also brought a full automatic bb machine gun that was really fun to shoot!

Tom demonstrating his vietcong sniper skills (yes I realize this may be a racist statement and of course I know it is ignorant but he is vietnamese and I don’t care what you think, no he is not vietcong nor is he communist although come to think of it he knows an aweful lot about communism…)

A lot of the eating places in mammoth were a bit pricey so we thought about cooking some of the trout we caught.  I scoured the condo we were renting and found some garlic powder, steak seasoning and we picked up some butter.  That’s one of the basics for some of the fish dishes I cook at home.  Instant fried trout!  I was in charge of all the cooking and man were we happy with the result!

Fileted trout, awaiting action!

Alpers trout had really red pigmentation, like salmon.  This was Carolines favorite type.

Fresh Fried Trout!

Only the bones and a pile of fried skins remain, the evidence of a successful meal…

We kept waking up early and fishing at different lakes every day, I cannot tell you how much fun that was.  Every lake was beautiful and most of them were filled with hungry fish.  It was just tons of fun and the air was so clean and cool.

 

Ahh solitude!

Yep that’s snow on the mountainside!

On our very last evening fishing we had a couple of visitors.  Some of our crew were sleeping back at the condo so Tom, Caroline and I went fishing at Lake George in Mammoth in the afternoon after our nap.  We’re casting out our lures and I catch a couple of decent ones and all of a sudden this lady hurrys along and tells us “hey just so you know there’s a bear coming this way”.  At first I thought she was kidding and then I saw how concerned she looked so I asked “where?” because I sure didn’t see any.  She points to the lake edge about five hundred feet away and says “right there”.  All of a sudden I see a sow and two cubs round the corner so we dropped our gear and ran away so we wouldn’t get mauled or have our balls torn off and eaten.  Those bears came pretty darn close, I’ve got video of it and I’ll try posting it, but basically we stood away with all the other fishermen and watched as the bears went RIGHT TO THE SPOT WHERE I WAS FISHING.  I already knew what was going to happen next, I saw the mom bear reach out and snag my stringer.  “Great she’s going to eat my fish” I told my friends.  Sure enough she pulled that stringer up and her and the cubs ate my trout!  When she was done they ambled to the next spot and sat on the picnic benches and riffled through our neighbors food.  Mind you this was at 4pm in the afternoon when the sun was out!  I really didn’t care about them eating my fish, I can always catch fish :). What worried me was that they obviously had done this before and were probably getting more bold and I didn’t want any dopuses trying to get really close to them and get mauled.  If that happens they’ll kill the bear because it will be classified as super agressive and not afraid of humans.  At any rate we were far enough away that I figured we could cover the distance to the van in time and plus I knew that the bear would catch any of the slower kids and eat them first and if they were faster than me I could always trip them.  Being the hero I am, I would definitely run to the van at that point and call 911.  Yes this might be somewhat selfish but someone has to make all the tough decisions in tough times!

Mom bear taking a really good look at me, little did she know I can beat up a bear.  I know this from all the training I had beating up stuffed animals I won at fairs when I was a kid.

Aww look how cute they look…wait a minute, are they eating my trout from my stringer????

So what should you do if you see bears?  How the hell should I know, do I look like that dude from animal planet?  I’m no expert so google it, all I know is from now on I’m packing some bear repellant and probably my .9mm with the two extra 15 round clips!  I’ve seen a lot of gang movies, all you have to do is point your gat sideways and yell “break yourself foo” and the bad guys run away.

All in all we had a fantastic trip and the four days shot by like it was four minutes.  We couldn’t believe it when the trip was all over but we definitely can’t wait to go back again.  We had seen all kinds of animal life, bears, male and female and baby deer, chipmunks, ground squirrels, hawks, coyotes, and rabbits.  It was an amazing trip!

You can’t tell in this pix but Mako has a scratched cornea and his eye was all puffy so I kept refering to him as “the cyclops”.  I know I’m pretty sensitive about hurting other peoples feelings, you can pretty much ask anyone.

It was with heavy hearts that we packed up our gear at the end of the trip and headed home.  We finished up with full limits and had trout to share with loved ones at home.  I don’t know about everyone else but man I can’t wait to go back again!

A freezer full of trout awaiting packing into our coolers for the ride home….

And at last, here’s the savage video of the Black Bears of Mammoth (Lake George to be exact)

Second Chances

1 Aug 2halis

I know you were hoping to read some sappy love story about how Lea dumped me and took me back but too bad suckers, she ain’t going to give up her free fish dinner catcher ;).  This is yet another story about the greatest super hero of the modern times.  Me.  Well actually that’s another lie, it’s a story about a fish.  I know you are surprised to hear that since I almost never talk about fish.  Shit that’s another lie, I guess I’d better get to the story…

I hopped out of my car and shielded my eyes from the sun as I squinted back to 20/20 vision and scanned the reef out in the ocean.  “It’s clear,” I told myself.  I couldn’t believe it so I squinted again.  Yep blue water welcomed my squinting eyes and I hastily ran back to my car and started gearing up.

In less than five minutes I was kicking past the breakers and onward to the reef.  Along the way I passed some beautiful barred surf perch, I watched them dart back and forth in the sand.  I admired their reddish bars and made a mental note to try to catch some later for a display we have.   Small baby white perch flittered by them and I had to smile.

Sometimes I’m so dumb I should kick my own ass.  I’ve been working at the aquarium now for what…23  or so years?  All this time and I never knew I had a spot where I could shoot fish on my lunch break during a short drive from work.  Rarely is the visibility even ten feet, usually it’s more like five feet.  But today was epic, I was looking at about 30 feet of visibility.  It’s amazing, most of the time I could barely make out rocks or reef, today I in the clear visibility I could see past the feather boa kelp and it was like being at Catalina Island.  The kelp was loaded with all kinds of life, small bass and small rockfish could be spotted peering under the small blades.  I made a drop and surprised a 3 pound lobster sitting outside of his cave, I glared at the bastard for being out in the open when it’s not lobster season and to show him who was boss I reached down and touched his head to send him scurrying back into his hole.  See you in October sucker!  I made another drop and suddenly was surrounded by thousands of open mouthed sardines, the school parted like moses parting the seas and curved around me, only to join back up as they passed me.  It was amazing.

I worked my way to the deeper part and saw a patch of sand up between the rocks, as I slowly crawled forward I made out a mouth, and then a head and a tail far away.  Holy cow that’s a nice halibut!  My breathhold was almost up and I reached out with my small rabitech 90 cm gun and pulled the trigger.

Pfffftttt, the spring steel shaft shot forward and pegged that fish mid body.  I watched it dart forward and as it sped away taking my floatline all of a sudden the line went slack.  WTF???? I dropped down and followed the line and sure enough the damn slip tip didn’t deploy.  My trophy was gone and I was left dejected as I kicked back up and cursed myself for losing such a nice fish.  I hoped that shot wouldn’t cripple it and sentence it to a slow death.

As I worked my way forward still I made another drop to another reef and once again saw the smiling mouth of a hidden halibut.  I repeated the motions and once again the fish exploded out of the sand, at first I thought it was the same fish.  I saw the slip tip toggle and as I retrieved it noticed it was smaller than the first one and unmarked. I sighed quietly as I dispatched the fish and worked my way up the reef.

The thought of the fish I had lost earlier had never left me and I scanned the whole reef looking for it, but all too soon my time was up and I had to head back to my car.  As I loaded my gear in my car I made myself a promise to go back to the reef after work.

I felt like an excited kid waiting for christmas to come, it seemed forever until that clock swung it’s hands to five oclock!  I stuffed my still wet gear into my car and made the short drive back to where I had been in the afternoon.  As I gathered my still wet gear I noticed the visibility was still great and as I entered the water noticed it was still warm.  Once again I made my way down the reef and thoroughly enjoyed the visibility.  This time two gigantic bat rays flew next to me and then darted away.  I spooked a few short halibut without even seeing them.  Sargo made their short mating croaks and swam in front of me and then back again.  Opaleye boomed away as soon as they caught sight of me out of their kelp canopies.   A couple of big kelp bass swam up to me and then quickly disappeared into their caves.  I saw more fish that day than I’ve seen all year put together on that reef.  A lot of life  but unfortunately I never saw my lost halibut.

As I got to the deepest part of the reef I took a deep breath and silently dropped down.   Way at the bottom of the reef  I noticed a lot of bait schooled up and as my eyes adjusted I noticed a huge electric ray gliding above them.  I’ve only seen a handful of electric rays in my life so I cautiously approached it and then suddenly as it darted forward in an attempt to catch some of the bait I saw the mottled coloration.  That’s no electric ray!! It was a halibut and man a pretty nice one at that.  As I leveled the gun I noticed a hole right in the center of it, it was the halibut that I had lost earlier in the day.

I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger, the shot was true and the next thing I knew I saw that halibut give a mighty shake and spit up a huge piece of bait before it dashed into the deeper water.  I carefully played it on my floatline and knew that the slip tip was holding this time.  Every time I gained a bit of line it would dash out and take out more but eventually I worked it upwards towards me and I grabbed the fish and dispatched it before it could tangle me up and drown me.  As I examined it I could tell it was definitely the fish I had shot earlier and had the hole to prove it!

I didn’t weight the pair but the smaller one was probably around 8-10 pounds and the bigger one close to 15.  Not my biggest halibut but definitely the biggest I’ve shot during my lunchtime :).  I gave some of the fish away and cooked some in my cajun maple syrup marinade, the fish definitely made quite a meal.  I was amazed that I had been lucky enough to find this fish again but I was even more amazed that the shot didn’t seem to bother it and that it had continued to hunt and chase bait!