Boys turn 17, Michael fishes Baum Lake while Matthew tries snowboarding.

The boys had a nice birthday dinner at 5th St Steakhouse then back home for a home made Mudpie. The next day the boys went out to Hula’s with 15 friends and they all came over after dinner to hang out and sit in the hot tub…amidst very cold temps!

Matthew tried out snowboarding at Boreal and lucky no injuries came of it. He enjoyed it a lot and wants to do it again. While he was there, Michael and I took the 10 ft. pram to Baum Lake. I had not heard any reports but the lake usually fishes well in the winter.

We arrived at 9:15 am with air temp at 27 degrees. Dressed warm we did not notice the cold. We were fishing by 9:30 and our first casts produced fish. From that point on it was an outstanding fishing day. Most of the fish ate small PT’s and midges but when we saw rising fish, a well cast Griffiths gnat did the trick. At a few points during the day it was a fish a cast for many minutes. The fish were all very healthy and fought well on 9 ft 3 wts with 18 foot leaders and a tiny yarn indicator. I had one trout take me into backing. That had not happened since the The St. Mary’s trout in Southern Alberta 3-4 years ago. Michael also had a fish that almost got him into backing. The rainbows were really fat and strong.

Michael also “slammed” today. Catching all three predominant trout in one day. His brook trout was the only brookie that was landed and the ratio of rainbows to browns were about even. There was a time during the day that I tried many different flies and they ALL worked. I even cast out a beat up fly and lo and behold…fish on! Just like the saying goes… ” When they are NOT biting, it doesn’t matter what you use. When they ARE biting, it doesn’t matter what you use”. We landed over 50 trout each and by 1:30 we were ready to head home.

Baum Lake is still very productive and a wonderful spot for the winter doldrums. If you can stand the cooler temps, you will be rewarded with some great light tackle trout fishing.

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Matthew and Michael at the Tournament

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Lewiston Lake

Since the Camp fire started on November 8th, the kids have been out of school. If all goes well they will return December 3rd. Michael starts back tomorrow because he has a class at Butte College.

To get away from the smoke 2 weeks ago in Chico, Melanie took the kids and some friends to….where else…The Happiest Place on Earth. It was a last minute decision and it was a week that most people don’t have off so it made for a not super crowded park. Yes they did feel guilty about going since 50,000 people were displaced and most of them lost their home in the fire. It was and still is a tragedy that we will feel for years to come.

I have been trying to get the boys out fishing since they have been off but between smoke filled skies and basketball practice and rain and wind, we have not had an opportunity…until today.

We left for Lewiston Lake at 8am and were fishing by 10am. We motored out to a flat north of Pine Cove and saw Pop B there! He did not know we were going. We fished with him for a bit then headed up to a pod of fish near Turtle Rock. We stayed there and the boys sight fished to trout until they had enough. By 1pm Michael had landed 26 and Matthew 6. Yes that is a huge discrepancy but for some reason Matthew could not hook up on those fish. They had more grabs than fish landed so it was not the fly that was the problem….OR WAS IT?…. Well a smart angler would have asked to see his fly a lot sooner but that person was not on the boat:)) To my surprise, we discovered the hook opened up! Unbelievable that fish this size could have done that.

Both boys had a great outing. It was all sight fishing with 18-20 foot 5x leaders and 9ft. 3 weight rods. It was not too cold and it was good to see Pop B there. He is a trophy hunter so he was just casting to the big boys. He landed a 22 incher in the morning and was still hunting when we left at 1:45.

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October Delta stripers

Fished the Delta three days the past 2 weeks. Two times in Wes’ boat and once with Mike Costello (thanks to the gracious invite by Jeff Sasaki).

The first trip with Wes was good.  We had very few dinks and most of them were what we called “fun fish”, 3-5 pounds. Our largest were 6-10 pounds. Wes picked me up at 8am at the launch and I fished until 2:30pm (wanted to head home before the Sac traffic started).

Wes and I together landed 66. Wes went back out by himself and landed another 30 for a total of 96 for the day. It turned on in the evening he said.

Two weeks later I was invited by Jeff to fish with Mike Costello. Mike is a trophy hunter so we fished large flies all day. Total for the day was 38. Jeff landed the 2 biggest fish , a 7 and a 17 pounder. Everytime I fish with the Sasakis (Jeff, Michael and Dick) in Costello’s boat, they outfish me handily. I’m snake bit in that boat! However, always a fun day with Jeff and Mike. Catching up with Mike makes for all day conversations.

I stayed overnight in Flag City and in the morning I fished with Wes again. I fished until my arms and fingers were sore.  Two days back to back fly fishing for stripers is tough for regular guys like me. Not conditioned enough I guess. Wes dropped me off around 1:30pm and we had tallied 62. However most were dinks. The largest was 5 pounds. Wes fished until the evening and landed another 27 but he said nothing of any size.

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Sapsuk River, AK……Coho Nirvana!


For those of you that prefer the short version, here it is: Incredible fishing for 6 straight days with weather to match. River was loaded with thick, girthy fish that were eager to eat a fly. One of the best trips in memory. Now you can stroll to see pics:))

And now…the rest of the story..

Early this spring I was asked by my Brother from Another Mother, Jerry Wang, to join him on his annual trip to the Sapsuk for silvers. His wife Diana could not make it due to personal reasons. I initially said no because leaving in September is too difficult for a number or reasons. The salmon season is in full swing, I take my wife to the CDA convention for a long weekend in San Francisco and it’s a short month as far as work days go. After some arm twisting and serious re-arranging of my work and fishing schedule I decided I should fish with Jerry again. It has been a decade and a half since we fished together on a trip. PLUS my wife suggested I really should go spend time with Jerry….so if the wife says OK, that is a major green light.

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The trip started off on the wrong foot. When we flew into Nelson Lagoon on the Alaskan Peninsula, it was a minus tide. We needed water in the lagoon to ferry to the mouth of the Sapsuk, then transfer to smaller jet boats and then head up to the camp. The water was so low that we high centered the first boat! Not good. The small boats came into the lagoon to “save” us. However, after loading up in those boats, one of the boats traveling at 30pmh, came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the lagoon! Not good. After some unloading and loading and 6 guys pushing the boat to deeper water, we were afloat again and onward to the camp.

We arrived at dinner time and after our meal there was time to fish the camp runs. Jerry and I went to the downstream run and found no silvers. Not good.

After a 6:30am wake up and 7:00am breakfast, Jerry and I shared the boat with Kirk (another annual Sapsuk angler) and headed to Chen’s Bend (named after Glenn Chen, one of the the most influential people in my life when it comes to all things fishing). I immediately hooked a silver that thrashed on the surface angrily. At that moment I hear Jerry yell BEAR!!
I turned around and saw a very large bear on full charge towards me. NOT GOOD. When it saw my face (apparently a face only a mother could love!) it abruptly stopped, turned around and trotted away. We are pretty sure the bear was after the thrashing fish and not me but it still made for great drama.

The rest of the day was “bearless”. Just constant hooking, losing and landing silvers all day long. The rest of the week was basically rinse and repeat of the first day…minus the bear charge.

By the 3rd day the constant hooking of fish on spey was getting a little stale. Could that even be possible!!?? Not really BUT I decided to change things up a bit by using my single hand rod more. Since distance casting was not as easy as with the spey rod, I concentrated on the fish I could see close in. That worked well AND hook up numbers actually went up, if that’s even possible. I was getting more fish casting closer to fish I could see. To me that was more desirable than casting to other other bank with spey and tungsten tips.

On the 4th day after fishing all morning with mainly single hand and some spey, I decided to throw a #5 pink Virbrax on my baitcaster. The Vibrax is as close to a sure thing on every cast as possible. I hooked multiple fish in a very short amount of time and horsed them all in. By doing that I broke the hook off!
Our guide Mike took my rod and showed me if you reel the Vibrax on the surface causing a disturbance or wake, the fish will still jump on it. Sure enough the fish were still boiling and trying to eat the lure. That was so fascinating to me that I took that rod and walked up to the top of the run and did what Mike showed me. For the next 20 minutes I witnessed fish boiling, slashing and mouthing the hookless Vibrax! What a blast! That gave me an idea. I had some 1.5″ Smile Blades with me so I placed one on my leader of my single hand rod with the floating line then a bead then tied my fly on. My fly was too heavy to skim the surface of the water so I tried a weightless fly but that did not have enough weight to submerge the Smile Blade. Jerry had a box of extra flies in my bag so I picked a fly with small dumbell eyes and tried that. That was the ticket! The fly and the Smile Blade rode just under the surface and I got nearly the same results as the hookless Vibrax.
From that event on it changed my fishing preference on the river. I fished just subsurface and saw almost all the grabs. I could see fish come up from the depths to eat the fly. I could see fish accelerate from behind to inhale the fly. I could see fish attack it from the side. Sometimes the fly just disappeared. It was a great way to fish. The bonus was NO SNAGGED FISH! The downside was I had to eventually change out the fly to a non stinger hook because Mike said most of the fish were eating it way too deep and bleeding fish was the result.

 

The last 2 days on the river I spent 80% of the time fishing the Smile Blade set up. It was VERY fulfilling to see almost all the fish grab the fly. I left my remaining Smile Blades with Mike so hopefully someone else can fish that way for some variety.

I have a new respect for silvers. The few silvers I have caught in the past never did fight very hard. These fish have some strength due to their heavier weight and size. Glenn says the Sapsuk fish are bigger because they are in the ocean a few weeks longer than most silver runs. He says they can gain a pound a week feasting in the ocean before going into the river.

The Camp was very clean and maintained. The beds were comfortable and the rooms had diesel heaters. The meals were just OK. Nothing to write home about but the portion size was ginormous. After a long day of fishing, a hot meal was welcomed.

The only real disappointment for me at the camp was the outhouse. I guess I’m getting too urbanized in my old age. Wish I could have shut my sense of smell off during those visits to the loo. I was the only one with that issue at the camp.

Our guides were Trevor Covich and Mike Flynn. Both great guys and guides. I gravitated towards Trevor more because I felt like I knew him from all his YouTube videos I watched before the trip. He is an extremely charismatic, talented and knowledgeable guide. One of the best I’ve had. He can probably do stand up if he ever needed a side job!

So will I go back? Unlikely, due to the timing of the trip. Can’t go back with my boys anytime soon because they are back in school in September. As good as the fishing was, it’s too hard to get away anytime in September. In my retirement years, that will be a different story.

This is a fun fish on a fly rod. I cannot remember when I ever hooked this many good sized fish from start to finish on a trip. It sure helped that the weather was darn near perfect for the entire week. That alone is unheard of half way down the Alaskan Peninsula in mid September.

Glenn told me the Sapsuk River was the best coho fishing on the planet. I don’t have much to compare it to but I believe he speaks the truth.

Footnotes
Our group: Jerry Wang (my mentor and big brother I never had), Mark Won (beach fisherman extraordinaire), Kirk Wolf (great boat buddy on the trip and seemed to be hooked up constantly), Father Mike Coughlin (a true gentleman and good fisherman), Charlie Bunch (told great jokes during meal times).
Booked through Sweetwater Travel
I would have preferred to have my bootfoot waders.
No WiFi service at camp.
Used a Garmin InReach SE for texting home and office.
Bring mosquito netting next time.
Rods used: 9ft 8 weight Winston Jungle, 9ft 10 weight Orvis Helios. Sage One 7126. Sage Deathstar, HMG 2 piece 10-25lb casting rod.
Reels used: Mako 9500, Seamaster Mark III Dual Mode, Waterworks Vanquish V10, Bogdan 150, SA System 3.
Flies that caught fish: Coho Pollos (originated by Glenn Chen) and a generic foam popper

Flies that I experimented with: They all worked.

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4th annual trip to Bandon Oregon


This year the crabbing reports were just getting good right before we left. On the day of our arrival the crabbing was wide open. The dock crabbers and boaters were both getting limits. Plus, we finally got to breathe some air that we could not see! Lucky us!

We decided to break the driving up this year so we left after work Monday and drove to Medford for an overnight. Left early the next morning and was in Bandon by 11am. We launched the boat and headed out to the Lighthouse and dropped 5 pots and 2 quick pulls. After 70 minutes our first full limits of crabs (48) were in the buckets. We went in to have them cooked and cleaned by Tony’s Crab Shack and then to the house to check in and unload.


The following 2 days produced easy limits too but the last day we decided to call it quits at Noon after 24 crabs. The crabbing slowed down and we had lots of things to do that afternoon.



We ate 28-30 crabs the first day (just with drawn butter and cocktail sauce) and about 20 crabs each day after. The second day I made ginger green onion crab and I had the wok as full as possible and we still ran out of crab for dinner. Had to supplement with fresh boiled crab cooked at Tony’s.

It’s not often the ocean is calm enough for us to venture outside the mouth of the estuary to bottom fish. Well the planets must have lined up because we had 4 days in a row of ideal ocean conditions. Thursday morning we dropped our crab pots in our favorite spot and went out to the ocean. On our first drop, our lures were greeted by hungry rockfish, lingcod and cabezon. For an hour’s worth of jigging we landed 18 fish to 10 pounds. Great bonus for our crabbing vacation.



Our last day we woke up early to catch the tail end of the low tide in Charleston. We only clammed for 90 minutes because the tide was coming in. We got 8 gapers and 40 cockles for our efforts.

After clamming we stopped in at Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston on the way back to Bandon and purchased some fresh albacore and salmon to can. The albacore was $6/pound and the salmon was $14/pound. Both really good looking cuts.

When we got to Bandon, we dropped pots and quick pulls near the Lighthouse and noticed how calm the ocean was again so we motored back to the harbor, picked up our ocean rods from the truck and headed out for more bottom fish. Turns out it was a great idea because the crabbing was pretty slow and the bottom fishing was even better than the day before! More rockfish and a cabezon topping the scale at almost 14 pounds.


It is incredibly rare to have the ocean calm and no wind so we had to take advantage of the situation. It was the boys’ favorite part of the vacation.

We did all our usual stops. Face Rock Creamery for their delicious mountain of ice cream for $2, salt water taffy and fudge at the Fudge Factory, Coastal Mist Chocolate Factory for some great chocolates to bring home to the girls.

Our last dinner was a culmination of the fruits of our labor. Fresh crab, beer batter/garlic fried clams, beer batter deep fried cabezon, lingcod and black rockfish, steamed cockles with white wine, butter and herbs and a loaf of garlic bread. The only thing missing was something GREEN! We really needed some veggies but we’ll load up on that when we get home.

The drive home was uneventful which is good. Stopped at the Bonneview boat launch in Redding to run the motor in freshwater. Got home in under 7 hours and then immediately came the washing down of EVERYTHING.

The next day at 8:00am I started processing albacore, salmon and crab for canning. The canning ended at 3:30pm with a grand total of 5 cases of crab, albacore and salmon.


We invited friends and family over that night for a fish, clam and crab feed and then it was bedtime for me at 9pm…. I was running on fumes. Up the next morning at 5:00am and back to the office at 6:20am. I need a vacation after my vacation!

It seemed like I cooked and cleaned and processed fish, crab and clams the whole week…….wait a minute, I did do that!!


Another great Bandon trip in our memories. We hit just about everything right. From the crabbing success to the wonderful 70 degree blue sky weather to the rare flat calm ocean. Lucky us!

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Vancouver, BC

We were scheduled for a boys trip to Loreto this week but a specific gentleman (and I use the term gentleman loosely :)) was going to be at our Loreto hotel for the same week and I had no desire to expose my kids and friends to him. So we canceled that trip and rebooked to Vancouver with the whole family! What a GREAT decision.

We visited Vancouver 8 years ago for a half a day prior to the start of our Cruise. Did not see much of the city other than Granville Island.

Vancouver had some of the best oysters available. The boys and I devoured 15 dozen oysters in 4 days. Those were just appetizers!

This time we spent 6 wonderful days there and had some incredible food, took a city tour, a food tour and had Afternoon Tea twice. The boys got to fish for sturgeon one day too.

It has been awhile since we’ve eaten food of this quality. Vancouver is a great foodie town. We had some incredible food in Hong Kong but this was different.

 

Granville Island was very enjoyable. We ate a breakfast and lunch there and purchased food items that are delicious. We brought home many items from Granville!

We originally booked a salmon trip out on the sound but the fishing was spotty so I inquired on some fly fishing close by. The guide said we could fish the Pitt River that is only 3o minutes away and he would provide pick up and drop off service from our apartment. They would also provide all the waders and fly gear the 3 of us need. The target fish were 2-4 pound Dolly Vardens on swinging flies. All sounds great right?! Well may be so but then he told me the cost…with tip the total cost would have been over $1700!! Yes for just one day of fishing Dollys to 4 pounds. To me it was not worth it. So we changed gears and decide to fish the Fraser River for Sturgeon for half the cost for a 6 hour day. Still pricey but the guide said there was a near 100% chance of getting into a big fish.

The owner of Silversides Fishing Adventures’ wife Louise picked is up at 6:15am and after a 70 minute drive, we arrived at the boat launch. When we got there for a scheduled 7:30 launch, our guide was not there. Apparently our guide needed his truck fixed and left it with a mechanic. The mechanic left town without saying a word and still had the truck.

So now what??  The owner of  Silversides (Brian) was launched at the dock with his 2 clients. After over an hour of waiting around and waiting to see what they wanted to do with the situation, we were asked if it would be OK to jump onto Brian’s boat and share the day with his 2 clients. Evidently his clients landed 4 bruisers the day before and were very tired and sore so they agreed to let us join them. Turns out they are a Father and son duo from Singapore on a 5 day trip to Vancouver just to catch sturgeon. We had plenty to talk about. They were really nice and great to spend a day with. Eddie is the father and Ben is the son that just graduated from college in Singapore and will start Veterinary School in Australia in the fall. They both have fish worldwide and provided us with some great stories.


 

We only hooked 2 fish that day but one was between 6 and 7 feet. That fish beat the boys up! The guide even told me at the beginning of the trip that there is no way the boys could handle these fish. I replied “These boys have been fishing for a long time and have hooked some pretty good size fish”. Brian was NOT impressed. He stated that he has never met a 16,17, even 18 year old that can handle these fish. He completed his statement with “The fish will tear them up”. I said OK but under my breath I thought he was being a little too “soft”……Boy was I WRONG!! I pulled on the big fish and with the drag set very tight, I had not felt a fish pull that hard…..ever! Perhaps it was because we were still anchored at the time but it felt like the proverbial “freight train”. I handed it off to Matthew and with in a few minutes he was ready to pass it off to Michael. They tag teamed for the rest of the fight. Brian estimated the fish to weigh in at about 180 pounds. After landing and pics, the boys arms were noodles and for the next 4 days they complained of very sore arms.

I have landed sturgeon over 6 feet long on the Sacramento river and none of those pulled like this one. The girth on the Fraser fish is a bit larger than the Sac fish. Maybe that’s the reason why? Or…I’ve become a cream puff!

On our City tour the last stop was the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The lines were very long and there was an hour wait to get to the bridge so we decided to have lunch at the Cliff House restaurant inside the park. It was a good meal but the line was still long when we finished eating. Our guide did not plan to be there that long so we took a few pictures and left. That was a waste of the entrance fee but at least we got to see the bridge. And in hindsight since I’m afraid of heights, I would not have walked on that bridge anyway!

We rented an apartment just outside Yaletown and it was walking distance to just about everything. The city traffic was light compared to other metropolitan cities. The weather was a comfortable 67-75 most of the time we were there. Uber is not available there so we relied on taxis and Limo service a couple times for airport transport. With the 5 of us it was always more difficult to find taxis so we would have to travel in 2 taxis sometimes.

This was a great substitute for Loreto. Good to have the family together on a trip and the weather was much cooler than in the valley (and Loreto!). Vancouver is on the repeat list!

Restaurants visited:
Fanny Bay Oyster Bar
Le Crocodile
Boulevard
Homer St Cafe
TUC Craft Kitchen
Wedgewood Hotel (Afternoon Tea)

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Nor Cal Ducks Win AAU Boys Basketball Championship

Matthew’s (#0) and Michael’s (#23) AAU 10th grade AAU Basketball team recently qualified and competed in the AAU’s National Championship Event in Austin Texas July 18th through July 22.  Their team -The Ducks-won 4 straight games and were victorious in the finals after a double overtime win.

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Fabulous trip to the Fragrant Harbor……Hong Kong!

 

Last year when we were deciding where to go for spring break 2018, Matthew said “I’d like to go to Hong Kong”. I had never been out of the airport there and have always heard it is a good place to visit and how great the food is. I would say the trip exceeded all our expectations!

We arrived after a 14 hour and 55 minute non stop red eye flight from SFO to HKG and when we left the airport, it was non stop action for 7 full days.

We stayed in a flat on Nathan Rd in Yau Ma Tei. We could not have picked a better location for our needs. There was a McDonalds steps away from our front door so Melanie and the kids could get an American breakfast daily. There were dozens of small food stalls with in our block for me to get my Hong Kong breakfast daily. Up the road from us was the  Ladies Market and down the road was Tsim Tsa Tsui,

We went on a 4 hour Food Tour in the Tin Hau area of Hong Kong Island with our guide Michael. We sampled an amazing brisket noodle, soup filled dumplings, roast goose, egg tarts and dim sum. I have eaten most of that before but have never eaten a goose. Very delicious! Our guide Michael was great and it was a well spent 4 hours.

The next day we went on a 5 hour tour of the city. I made the mistake of telling our guide we wanted to see as much as possible so we went all over the place and did not get to see Victoria Peak or the Giant Buddha. We will have to do that next time. Over all good tour with our guide Nicole (Australian gal) but would have liked to see different areas than where she brought us.

Melanie and the kids love Din Tai Fung! We ate there when we were in Singapore a few years back and have not been there since. So, our FIRST meal in Hong Kong was Din Tai Fung. We ate there again a few days later AND it was out LAST meal in Hong Kong! The family loves the soup dumplings and fresh made noodles.

I wanted to visit the fishing village of Tai O so on the second to last day so we took the MTR (public transit) to Lantau Island. We went right by Hong Kong Disneyland and Melanie and Emma’s eyes grew wide. I told them to go and I would take the boys to Tai O. This was about 11am in the morning. On a whim, the girls decided to take the Disneyland Express and off they went. The boys and I took a taxi to Tai O to see the quaint little fishing village.

We were done sight seeing there around 1:30 so we decided to take a taxi to Disneyland to meet up with the girls. What a full day it was. Disneyland was very small and not very crowded which was nice.

During our time not sight seeing or eating, there was plenty of shopping done. This place is a shoppers fantasy for sure. We did squeeze in 2 days of Afternoon Tea. One at the Peninsula Hotel and the other at the Ritz-Carlton.

The food there brought me back to my childhood growing up in Malaysia and Singapore. There were foods I ate that I had not eaten for many years. For me it was culinary heaven. I don’t think I ate anything that was not delicious.

There are so many other places to see and visit so I know it will be awhile before we see Hong Kong again. That saddens me because it was such a wonderful trip. Melanie and the kids thought it was spectacular too.

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Short trip to Bailey Creek Lodge

A couple weeks ago were able to find a day to spend at Bailey Creek Lodge. The boys invited their friend Brendan and Emma invited Brooke. We were also lucky to have Victor and Judy join us!

We arrived Thursday afternoon around 2pm and were fishing by 3pm. The boys did not fish trout that day. They walked up to the upper pond and tried for some bass. Emma and Brooke fished a little right before dark.

Dinner was fantastic that night. Caprese, sous vide filet mignon, Himalayan pink sea salt baked potatoes, sous vide asparagus and a HUGE piece of chocolate cake a la mode. It was delicious and we all fell into a food coma.

With the outside temps in the low 40’s the boys insisted on going out to the hot tub. A bit chilly… they were able to withstand about a half an hour of that.

Morning came way too soon. Breakfast was served at 8am and it was Cindy and Peter’s (owners of the Lodge) signature French Toast breakfast. The kids loved it and left nothing on their plates. Then came large portions of scrambled eggs and bacon. Oh boy…another food coma…

Everyone fished the morning and the fishing was superb. I think Emma was the top dog with well over a couple dozen fish landed. We could not have asked for better weather. It was T-shirt weather and we could have easily fished in shorts and flip flops.

This was a fun short trip and we will repeat within the year. We are treated so well by Cindy and Peter that just seeing them makes the trip special.

Wonderful to have Victor and Judy there too! Great company and I needed Victor’s fish netting skills when everyone was hooking up!

It was an enjoyable, short trip to Bailey Creek Lodge. It’s a bonus that it’s only about 65 minutes away for us. On the way home, a quick stop at Buds Jolly Cone in Red Bluff.

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