Tag Archives: Sierra

Trout Makes Boy Happy, Saves Dad’s Reputation

I’ve never been so happy to see a rainbow trout in my life.

First fish!

It was the first-ever fish for A., caught at the tail end of an excellent camping trip at Silver Lake.

It was also very welcome proof to my 8-year-old son that his old man knows a little about fishing after all.

We were only there for a night, camping just a cast away from the deep, cool water. We fished a little the day we arrived, but caught nothing.

The next morning, I woke the boy up before sunrise, and as mist hugged the lake, we cast big gobs of yellow sparkle and rainbow PowerBait into the water and waited. We sat and sat, but no luck.

It was chilly as the sun rose over nearby Sierra peaks, and I could tell that shivering A. had his doubts about whether I knew what I was doing. I admit that I’ve laid it on pretty thick when it comes to fish stories, going on and on about days near Mammoth where I used to catch so many fish that my arm got tired from reeling them in.

A. was pretty quiet as we made our way back to camp, where we ate cereal bars instead of fresh trout for breakfast around the campfire.

Later that morning, we went kayaking on the lake, which I figured would be a pretty good diversion from fishing. But as we paddled not far from our fishing spot, we watched as a dad helped his daughter reel a fish to the shore. The girl couldn’t have been more than 4.

A. watched the scene unfold from his kayak, and then shot a look at me that could have frozen that fish on the spot.

I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Pretty soon it was time to break camp and head home. I figured we had one last chance. Getting A. back to the lake to go fishing again took a lot of convincing, but he reluctantly toted his gear back to the shore.

I baited his hook and handed him the pole. He splashed his way out to a big granite rock just off shore and cast his line. The waiting began.

In the meantime, I set up my own pole and cast my line. We sat quietly. I knew this was it. As I looked away and tried to think good thoughts, the fishing gods smiled upon us.

A. shouted, “I got a fish!”

At first I thought he was pulling a fast one, but before I could get out to the big rock where he was standing, he had already reeled the beast in. The trout flopped around on the line. Determined not to let this one get away, I grabbed the fish around the middle. It was the most beautiful trout I’d ever seen. We measured it: 10 ½ inches.

A.’s grin was just as wide, and he immediately recounted every detail of the catch. In his eyes, he’d caught a whale.

We made our way back to camp, with me carrying the fishing gear and A. holding up the stringer, proudly showing the fish to folks we met.

He was elated, and I was just plain relieved. He finally caught a trout, and I managed, just barely, to maintain a little bit of dad cred.


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Moving Slowly

Two busted sleds, two seriously bruised rear ends, and two very satisfied sledders.

That pretty much sums up our trip up to Cisco Grove on Saturday, where A. and I basked in the sun, ate lots of Fritos and had one of our best snow-play missions ever.

Today I feel like I was on the losing end of a SmackDown match, with bumps and aches all over. Since I passed 40, it seems like I pay a little more after spending a day riding the chutes behind the Valero gas station. Even A., who is usually pretty resilient, is moving a little slower.

We try to hit the slopes behind the station at least once a year. We, like tons of other visitors who flock there on weekends, tend to ignore the signs that tell us we’re sledding there at out own risk. It is, after all, a sort of unofficial sled spot.

On Saturday, we arrived to find some of the smaller hills near the station pretty bare, with dirt showing in many areas. It’s been sunny and warm up there in recent weeks, and they haven’t had any serious snow for awhile. But a short walk into the woods revealed a motherlode of great sledding tracks, well worn by previous visitors and lined with slick, fast ice.

We attacked the hill shortly before 10 a.m., when the surface was like concrete. A. had his Wham-O Snow Boogie, a soft sled that absorbs the bumps well. I rode our old faithful Torpedo, a red ride made of thin plastic and lacking any cushioning at all. Getting there early paid off, allowing us to have one hill to ourselves for about an hour. We rode again and again, catching what seemed like massive air on bumps built up along the course.

After a cocoa break at the station, we really ramped things up by moving to a nearby ravine that has the best vertical of any of the runs. The top was shaded by tall pines, making it incredibly icy and fast, more like an Olympic bobsled run than a mere sled trail. This is where our sleds met their demise. While other smarter folks were riding from about midway up the hill, we headed close to the top against better judgment.

I stood partway down the hill to help clear the track and issue warnings to others as A. came whizzing down the hill. He hit bumps at full speed, launching him and his sled into the air. The little guy hung on well, whooping it up along the way. I tried it myself, and it felt like I jarred a couple fillings loose in the process.

After a few runs, A. had broken a handle off his sled, and I had snapped the Torpedo in half, turning one big sled into two smaller ones that we attempted to use through the day.

Luckily, the snow softened up as the sun rose higher in the sky. A. and I soon retired to smaller hills, resting more between runs. We met the mountain, and as usual, the mountain won.

Now that we’re back home, we’re resting our sore selves and reliving our rides. Of course, the amount of air we caught increases with each retelling of the tale.

We’re now also in the market for some new sleds. We need models that can take extreme punishment. I’m also thinking about adding some extra padding to my snow pants. We’ll need both for next time.

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