The Fish Sniffer - Braving the Cold at Del Valle and Shadow Cliffs
Braving the Cold at Del Valle and Shadow Cliffs

Written By: Forum Member: KidFishRelease, December 30, 2013
Species: Trout Bass
Location: Del Valle Reservoir, Shadow Cliffs Lake,

My dad and I have accompanied Chang throughout his entire fishing career. I was there when he caught his first fish, I netted his first bass, and instructed him on how to catch his first trout. Now the man has grown into a fine fisherman, and accompanies us on a few trout hunts every year.  As the sun climbed shakily over the surrounding grass covered hills three fisherman began hiking into the Narrows of Del Valle Reservoir. The air was a biting 28 degrees without wind chill and heavy frost covered the ground. Those three fisherman freezing on the wet banks of Del Valle Reservoir were me, my father, and our friend Chang. We were fishing a traditional sliding egg sinker rig with powerbait on the end. My dad had a bubble bobber rig and Kastmaster rigged up on a different pole. We were ready to catch three full limits of chunky rainbow trout.

However, the fish and the weather had other thoughts. After two hours not one of us had a single bite. Trout fisherman know that this can be a typical day, so I settled into my chair, pulled up my hood and began to wait. Suddenly Chang made the day saving condition and demanded that we instead fish at Shadow Cliffs. Through consistent pressure my dad and I reluctantly packed up our gear and headed for the car fishless.

The first thing I noticed when I got out of the car at Shadow Cliffs was the numbing temperature. Shivering I set up my rig and laid out my chair. Everyone around me was hunched inside their coats and talking about the one fish that had been caught over an hour ago. And then the wind began to pick up, with 20-30 mph gusts whipping through the canyon. The anglers around me began to shiver a little harder and their teeth began to chatter. Then the clouds came over the sun, plunging the temperature back down to the depressing temperature of 28 degrees. I began to lose feeling in my hands and feet even though I was wearing gloves and heavy boots. Hypothermia was causing my body to centralize blood around my core. Gritting my teeth I sunk deeper into my ski jacket. I still had no trout to show for my suffering. Six hours later people were leaving the lake with blue faces and no fish. Chang had long ago disappeared and my dad and I were the only ones left standing on the metal dock. Dead birds lined the shoreline and my stringer lay sadly in my bag. And then Chang sprinted onto the dock screaming about two trout that he had caught. My dad and I looked at each other.

Thirty seconds later we had conquered an adjacent dock by pushing the other people to the side and setting up our poles in the middle. We cast six pre-rigged poles into the water and nodded to the stunned anglers around us. In the meantime Chang was displaying his limit of five trout and dancing on the dock singing, "There is a new Troutmaster!" Nine hours after we had started fishing the bite had begun to pick up. With six rods I began to rapidly gain on Chang. With every fish that either of us caught we held it up to the other, smirked, and placed it on the stringer. Finally the sun began to plummet from the horizon and the temperature plunged. Smiling we placed our fourteen trout onto the dock and began to pack up our gear. While many other anglers would have left hours before, Chang's instinct and our persistence led us to the fish.

When I was a kid, the first fish that I understood were the rainbow trout. I would spend hours pouring over books and visualizing in my head how the trout would interact with the changing conditions of the lake. And yet as well as I think I understand these fish they continue to surprise and challenge me. Trout have taught me patience and self discipline. This trip tested my control and revealed to me that persistence can be the path to success. As the chirp of the crickets called out and the honks of migrating geese echoed around the reservoir, the falling sun illuminated the silhouettes of three fishermen jumping on the dock and singing, "WE ARE THE NEW TROUTMASTERS!"

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