DATELINE: JUNE 13, 2010 – SHOW LOW, ARIZONA
21 to go.
There are two new fish to report – the genuinely rare Apache Trout, and a genuinely lost arctic grayling. The trout, a relative of the more widespread rainbow trout, is only found in the White Mountains of northern Arizona. It is the state fish of Arizona, which means it likely has citizenship documents.
The Apache trout. Of course, seeing a picture of it this quickly in the blog probaby takes the mystery out of whether I caught one, but the fact I wrote a blog in the first place should have probably told you I caught something.
The grayling, a much more northerly fish, was apparently stocked in this lake without telling me, so it was quite a surprise. (There are three species of grayling – the arctic grayling, found in upper latitudes of North America, the European grayling, resident in the blonder parts of Europe, and the holy grayling, rumored to have been served at the last supper.)
And best of all, Jaime Hamamoto hasn’t caught either one of them, so hah, hah, hah!!
I must give a big thanks here to Andy Batcho of Seattle, another species-hunting enthisiast, who actually pointed out the presence of the Apache trout and gave me instructions on how to find it. You the man, Andy!
This was definitely an opportunistic fishing venture. I found out last week I needed to be in Arizona on Monday. Checking in with Andy, I found that this Apache trout lives about 4 hours away from Phoenix, near a little town named (and I am not making this up) Show Low, Arizona. So this means I would fly in on a 6am out of San Francisco, land at 8, check my immigration status, drive 4 hours, catch up with a guide, check his immigration status, fish for a few hours, check the immigration status of the fish, then drive 4 hours back to Scottsdale for a full Monday of meetings. And this all seems perfectly normal, at least to me and the governor of Arizona.
Historical note – My last fishing in Arizona was also fruitful from a species perspective – I tacked on a blue tilapia and a grass carp during a furtive predawn venture to the Scottsdale Princess golf course ponds. Hotel security had no idea what to do with me, and I probably didn’t help by pretending not to speak English. Of course, if I pulled that one today, I’d be deported to Poland.
And now, on to how I actually caught these fish. In honor of the Native American name of the trout, I have decided to do the rest of this entry in puns related to this topic. If you don’t like it, Sioux me.
WARNING – THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS VILE PUNS. PLEASE DO NOT READ IT IF YOU ARE PRONE TO NAUSEA, HAVE RECENTLY EATEN, OR ARE PREGNANT, CONSIDERING BECOMING PREGNANT, OR ARE IN THE ACTUAL ACT OF ATTEMPTING TO BECOME PREGNANT. THE AUTHOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY HEALTH PROBLEMS THAT MAY ARISE FROM READING IT, INCLUDING ORGAN FAILURE OR BEDWETTING. (NOTHING PERSONAL, SPELLMAN.)
The drive out to Show Low was interminable but with beautiful scenery. I almost turned around, but I figured I’m 4 hours Inuit, I can’t stop now.
The drive was certainly beautiful.
Whereas Phoenix was already 90 degrees at 8am, Show Low was so chilly I had to put on Dakota. But this was a Seminole trip for me, and I was not going to miss it for a little cold weather.
I met my guide, Dave Beucler, at around 1pm and headed over to Lee Valley reservoir.
Lee Valley – a lovely small lake in the desert highlands.
Dave was Cheyenne quiet, but a super guide and all-around nice guy – certainly better than fishing Ohlone. (I tried to book legendary local guide Al Gonquin, but he was already booked. Al’s father had been a guide in the 50’s, so you could say he was a Chippewa the old block.)
I ended up fishing next to a local angler named Thomas Thom. The scenery and wildlife were stunning. I saw a beautiful red-tailed hawk swooping just a few feet above us, and I couldn’t help myself. I said “Look Tom, a hawk!” Then another one flew over, and I said “Look, there’s one Mohawk!”
Stepping into the water, I discovered my waders had a hole. So we had to Apache them. I then started throwing a small spinner, but the guide told me “You Ottowa use a spoon.” I thought a jig might work as well, but I didn’t want to Eskimo questions. It didn’t take long for a fish to bite and start peeling off line. “I Hopi it’s a big one” I said out loud. After a short fight, we landed the Brave little fish, checked its immigration status, took a few photos, and a new critter was on the list.
The Apache trout – quite a feather in my cap, you might say.
Moments later, I was stunned to catch an arctic grayling – I had no idea they were stocked in this area. Heck, if I stayed another day, I Maya caught another species or two. Dave told me “Huron quite a roll.”
A very welcome surprise.
We also wandered through the Creek flowing into the lake – beautiful, clear water and littered with colorful stones. The guide looked down in the shallows and picked up a beautiful blue rock. He offered it to me as a souvenir, but I told him “No, that’s Yurok.”
The drive back to Phoenix was terrible with weekend traffic, but I did pass some interesting road signs.
That ought to make for some interesting county fairs.
I got to the Hilton just as the bar was closing – they only had a couple of drinks left, so I bought …
The Last of the Mojitos.
Sorry, but not so sorry I didn’t hit “send,”