On our last visit, I had been telling you about my fishing trip into the backcountry of the Little Yosemite Valley and describing how I had managed to survive the hike and had even managed to catch a few fish the very first afternoon. So after all of the hiking and the fishing it is no surprise that I fell into a deep dreamless sleep content and happy with the world.
I woke to the sound of two of my three tent mates, through hikers who were on a 50 mile circular dash around the Yosemite back country, stirring to get their stuff packed so they could grab a quick breakfast and be off on another 10 or 12 mile stroll. I giggled to myself thinking that I could just roll back over and go back to sleep for a while and that all I had to do for the next two days was fish, rest and maybe fish some more …….. and oh yeah smoke a cigar and have a sip of bourbon while watching the wonderful scenery of Yosemite change color and texture with the various different phases of the day’s light. As I rolled over to go back to sleep, I flexed my legs and was mildly surprised that I wasn’t even all that sore. I dozed and drifted through a couple dreams of rising fish until the breakfast bell stirred me from my warm bed and sent me out to start my day.
We had decided to fish the Tuolumne River today, hoping to hike back to some of the beautiful water we had seen in yesterday’s travels. But during the course of my studying the big map on the wall of the breakfast tent I saw a small blue dot of a lake that looked like it might be close enough for my fat *** to hike into. I asked a couple of the kids who worked there about it and they couldn’t tell me anything about it……… which either meant it was a gold mine waiting to be found ……. or a bust. Well as any avid backcountry blue line angler can tell you …….. That kind of question just has to be answered. So the first order of business for the day was to find the lake. We walked slowly and peacefully, enjoying the feeling of walking without the additional weight of our packs and stretching out slightly stiff and sore legs. We thought we were lost a time or two but suddenly we rounded a bend in the trail and this lovely jewel of a lake was nestled into the curve of the valley before us. I stood for a while just letting the majesty of the scenery seep into my soul.
As you can imagine, I was entranced by the scene for a while but the appearances of numerous small rings dappling the surface of the lake soon broke through to the fisherman in me and I started to get really excited. I moved closer to the water peering deeply down looking for darting shadows and rising fish, I peered and I peered…….. but alas the rise rings were from gas bubbles exploding on the surface of the water which was extremely shallow for a mountain lake and it appeared to be devoid of any fish. We walked about halfway around looking for signs of life but ended up deciding that it was pointless without even rigging our rods. Part of me wanted to be pissed off about a hike into the woods to find a secret lake that was fishless ….. But that is a risk I have taken a lot of times over the years and to be honest I have won way more than I have lost on that same type bet. As we began our hike down the mountain side, I turned around for one last look………….And as I did I realized that the scenery alone was worth the extra hike.
Soon enough we found ourselves back at the main river with rigged rods in hand standing next to a gorgeous looking pool between two waterfalls.
We could clearly see a few fish fining in the current so we knew it was time to start fishing. We fished the pool hard and managed to catch a few little ones. We alternated with the big plunge pools and the connecting pocket water as well, picking up enough fish to feel confident but not enough to feel like we had it “dialed in” completely. The scenery was outstanding and the fishing was good so the morning passed quickly. I was so totally content with the world I couldn’t tell you how much time had passed or even a rough count of how many fish were landed …. How many ever there were………… it was “enough”…. And some days that is plenty to make me happy. The scenery was the ticket and with shots like these it is no wonder.
Some sliced beef stick and salami held the hunger off and the afternoon of fishing proceeded like the morning, catching enough fish to be satisfied and the scenery more than making up for the lack of size and obscene numbers. I was amazed at the many, many different types of terrain we fished, giant plunge pools, riffles and runs to deep long slow still water slicks.
All of which provided fish and scenery. We saw a fair number of hikers but not another fisherman….. “life was good”. Which leads me to the best way for a fisherman to depict the phrase “life was good” …………….
We strolled back into camp just in time for the dinner bell … … which is a pretty nice luxury to fish all day and hit camp in time to be served a hearty hot meal. We had time after dinner for a sip of bourbon and an illegally imported cigar… … not sure how those got in my suitcase after my Argentina trip earlier in the year but they sure hit the spot as Bernard and I sat and talked while darkness fell softly and slowly across the Yosemite valley. It is a true blessing to have friends that will actually let you talk and spill all of your troubles to them, acting like a wall to bounce ideas off without judging you. And it is a double blessing to have those same friends be able to boil and hour or two worth of rants and saga down to few lines of well tuned advice that highlighted what I was saying, called BS where required and most importantly reminding me of what I wasn’t saying. So thanks friend.
Once again I woke rested, content and ready for a long full day of fishing. Today’s plan called for us to fish up the small stream near camp as far as we could and really explore this little jewel. We headed out up a canyon filled with rushing white water falls and clear deep emerald pools. Fishing was great but the star of the morning was the scenic view around us. Scenic would be a gross understatement, gorgeous was still an understatement and the best way I can share it is with these pictures.