East Walker River – One More Time

Beautiful stretch of water just downstream of the Elbow.

Beautiful stretch of water just downstream of the Elbow.

I had so much fun last week down on the Elbow I did it again.  This time, however, I fished downstream of the Elbow and though I never found any water as productive as my honey hole, I did find some good fishing.  I also “camped” again and this time, I got some usable footage that become a YouTube video I will debut next week.  All in all, I had a good day and there aren’t too many left before the river starts to ice up and shut down for all intents and purposes until spring.

First fish of the day.

First fish of the day.

So, like last week I left home about 12:30 pm and got to the spot I wanted to fish a little after one o’clock.  It was warm but there was that chill in the air you get this time of year.  I donned my gear and hit the river, first hiking a bit down stream to some good-looking water.  I hooked my first fish of the day on a nymph and I spend the rest of the afternoon finding trout where you’d expect them, all rainbows this time around, with a light but steady breeze at my back that chilled me as the sun got low in the sky.

Nice panorama of the crag behind my "camp."

Nice panorama of the crag behind my “camp.”

I switched to a dry early on when I spotted some fish rising and stuck with it until the end.  In some riffles, trout were rising pretty aggressively but taking emergers, I suspect, as often as dries.  In other spots, mostly the flatter water, the fish rose more sporadically.  I bet a nymph would have done well too but sometimes dries are just too much fun.  Most of the rainbows were between eight and ten inches but a few went up to maybe eleven or even twelves inches.

A spooky fishing trail.  It was Halloween after all.

A spooky fishing trail. It was Halloween after all.

About 4:30 I was getting hungry and my back was getting sore so I packed it in and set about making dinner.  Mountain House spaghetti and meat sauce this time.  A little runny but tasty enough.  After that, I whipped up some hot chocolate.  Damn, that hit the spot as the air began to cool.  I leaned up against the Jeep, enjoyed the hot chocolate and listened to Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” as it got dark.  A little bit of perfect.

Making hot chocolate.

Making hot chocolate.

So anyway, I had another great day on the East Walker.  As a side note, my back (really the nerve that runs down my leg that my shoddy lower spine is pinching) felt pretty good.  My leg hurt a few times and after about three hours my back was getting sore (probably from all the bending and walking on the uneven stream bed as much as anything) but all in all both this trip and the last one were pretty good.  The back’s not better but for the most part I’m able to manage the pain.

Selfie!

Selfie!  BA, baby, BA :roll:

Probably won’t get out next week.  I’ve got some writing and editing to do.  Looks like next week will be the end of temperatures in the 60′s for a while but the weather looks generally good for the next couple of weeks.  You never know.  I might get burned out on the writing and sneak out.  High school football is over too so I might get the kids out with me fishing or shooting before basketball practice starts in a few weeks.  But now that I’ve rediscovered hot chocolate, I might just stay home where it’s warm and drink some of that.

Back in the Saddle Again (Literally)

One of my favorite holes on the East Walker. Almost always full of hungry trout.

See that post below, the one about me having surgery?  I lied.  I am not having surgery.  I’ve decided against it and if you’re really interested in why, or just bored out of your skull, go to Being Retired to read all about it.  Otherwise, long story short is the cure looked to worse than the disease and I’m actively trying to avoid surgery now.  I’m doing more aggressive physical therapy, losing weight and trying to strengthen my back.  It’s working a little.  I still have pain, but it is reduced slightly.

So, I decided to get my ass up and go fishing.  I freely admit I’ve been sort of a pu…this is a family blog so lets say wuss.  I had surrendered to my pain and pretty much stopped doing physical stuff.  Now that I realize I might have to live with some pain to avoid horrible spinal fusion surgery, I’ve decided to just suck it up.  The fact my surgeon told me my back is stable and I probably can’t hurt it further helped too.  I’ve sold my big heavy pontoon and replaced it with the Scadden Outlaw Escape at just 22 pounds rather than 60.  I’ve also purchased a marsh seat to carry with me, but more on that later.

The Jeep with all the gear strewn about.

So, I was off fairly early and excited to go fishing again.  I got about half way to the river and…my timing belt began to fray.  Really?  I limped back to Wellington and went to Masse Performance.  Shane found a belt he had in stock that was little long, but workable and put it on.  I was back on the road within half an hour.  I stopped by on the way home and he put the real one on for my Jeep that he had delivered while I was gone.  Great shop!  If you’re near Smith Valley and need automotive help, Masse is the place to go.  No, its really the only place to go, but they are great.

The Avery seat stuck in the bottom and ready to provide relief and keep me fishing.

First fish of the day, a nice wild brown.

So, I arrived later than I’d hoped at the Elbow and got rigged up.  One of my new pieces of gear is the Avery Marsh Seat, the saddle I refer to in the title.  I got it at Cabelas and with my loyalty points it was only about $25, regularly $39 I think.  I plan to carry it on my back to provide a place to sit (sitting relieves the pain in my back).  It’s made for duck hunting, but it’s light and folds flat.  It worked pretty well, only needing a new strap that’s longer so I can wear the strap across my chest instead of just over one shoulder where it tended to want to slip off.  I had to find a spot the rocks  would give way to let it sink into the bottom, but once it was in it stayed.  Cool!

A nice wild rainbow.

So, I didn’t fish for long, maybe three hours, but I slayed them.  I fished one of my favorite holes and could have caught them with a bare hook it seemed.  I fished a dry, nymphs, a hopper, a streamer and a big stone fly nymph.  I caught fish on them all.  A few smaller browns were amongst the rainbows that were averaging ten to twelve inches with the biggest going about thirteen.  Most were hold over planters though some looked to be wild and they were all fat and hard fighting.

One of the bigger fish of the day.

All in all it was a good day.  Not too cold but great fishing.  I’m busy next week with physical therapy and then I’m going out of town, but if the weather holds, I’d like to try a longer day to perfect the new pain-saving seat.  Looks like the new float tube/pontoon is not going to get a work out this year, but come February when Hinkson Slough opens I’m going to get out there and put it though it’s paces.   In the meantime, I’m going to go through my gear, replace some things, maybe buy a new four piece rod to replace the broken one, and maybe even see about a Tenkara set up.

My Cortisone Shot and Maybe a Shot at NO SURGERY!

My S-1 vertebra in the center, the needle at the bottom and the contrast dye is the black cloud up top. That’s 2-3 ml of dye and he injected 17 ml of cortisone. That white line in the middle is just interference. Click to see larger.

I got my cortisone shot this morning.  It was relatively painless and the doctor felt pretty good he got the entire disk and nerve marinating in the anti-inflammatory.  He told me that there is an 80-85 percent success rate with the injections and I can have up to three per year as necessary.  My goal isn’t zero pain.  My goal is the ability to get out and about without excruciating pain shooting down my leg.  Some pain is tolerable and cortisone shots and a little pain is preferable to spinal surgery.

So, now I wait and hope the injection does it’s job.  I’m hopeful but prepared for the worst.  Today, I’m a little sore and tired from not sleeping well last night.  Nerves!  Now that I’ve done it, it was no big deal.  I wore my street clothes even though it was performed in the surgical center.  My doctor, Dr. Shapiro, was a good guy and used x-rays to get the cortisone right were I needed it and I even got a souvenir picture.  I should have brought a Sharpie and had him sign it.

Back Solutions, I Hope!

If I’m lucky, the stars will align and I’ll be back on the water soon.

I had an MRI done on my back a couple of weeks back and I’ve seen my doctor since.  I have a bulging disc between my L5 and S1 vertebrae.  That bulge is touching the never that runs down my leg causing me considerable pain when I stand or walk for long.  Wonderful!  Now I have a diagnosis.

So, my path has been set.  I will be getting a cortisone shot next week, the 26th of July to be exact.  The doc and I are hoping it causes just enough swelling to go away to allow the pissed off nerve to settle down and the offending disc to retreat ever so slightly.  A single millimeter will do me wonders, according to the doctor.  Otherwise, it’s off to the surgeon I go.

That’s the update.  My big test will begin the 30th, a trip to Monterey with the family.  I have been dreading it, hoping the aquarium has a lot of places to sit.  Maybe, if the shot works, I won’t need to sit.  Anyway, here’s hoping the injection works some magic and I can put this behind me.  Until then, check out some of my previous posts.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope my next post is a good one.

Back Update

I’ve been to my doctor and we went with the anti-inflammatory/physical therapy strategy.  I’ve been on Naproxen for almost a month and going to physical therapy.  I’ve got a bunch of stretches and exercises and I’ve been doing them religiously.  I also got a lift for my left foot.  My hips are wonky and my right legs is about half an inch longer than the left as a result.  It has helped a lot.  I seem to be able to stand for longer periods and the pain is less when I go walking.  I expect to be doing this for a while longer since I am seeing some improvement.

However, standing is still painful after a while and some days its still as bad as it was prior.  I’m kind of waiting for the lakes to open up so I can go float tubing.  I can sit all day long with no pain.  I’m also probably going to Disneyland with the family in June.  That will be the big test.  With another 6 weeks of therapy, I’m hoping my pain is manageable.  If not, who knows?  Good news is this year the snow pack is pretty light, but most of the lakes were full from last years heavy snow pack.  High elevation lakes should be opening up early this year.

Stand by!

Back Problems

You may have noticed a pronounced lack of posting.  If you are really observant, you may have noticed a lot of very short fishing days as of late.  A couple of hours here, a couple of hours there.  We’ll, I’ve been suffering from back problems from a couple of years.  Sitting feels great, walking and hiking is good up to a couple of miles.  Standing, maybe half an hour before my back and right leg begin to ache and burn.

I’m pretty sure I have sciatica.  Something is pressing on my sciatic nerve and causing the pain.  It makes fishing, among other things, a chore.  I’ve been putting off seeing a real doctor because…well, because I’m a man.  Anyway, I’m going to a orthopedic surgeon this week to see if I can get it fixed.  After a trip to Disneyland over the holidays and a trip to Jamaica, I’ve finally had enough searing pain.  Hopefully some physical therapy or meds will help, but if surgery is necessary, so be it.

The blog is not dead and neither am I.  Thanks for reading and I hoped to get this fixed before summer.

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