May FishOut, Rio Del Mar Beach
By Kirk Mathew
A small but enthusiastic group assembled at Rio Del Mar Beach. The group consisted of Gordon Lee, Mark Traugott, Michael DiCiano, Sam Bishop, Steve Rawson, and myself. The weather co-operated, the surf co-operated, the tide co-operated, but the fish did not. What did co-operate were several pods of dolphins and three whales, who camped out in front of our appreciative group for about half an hour. I've been on several whale-watching tours and not enjoyed such a nice display. This was spectacular, but not all that unusual. Getting to the beach early puts you in position to see lots of wildlife the average beachgoer doesn't see. The fact that you are also fishing is just icing on the cake. So join us, you'll be glad you did!
Rooster Comb Ranch fish out, May 1 - May 3
by Milana Rawson
Rooster Comb Ranch outing was my third fishout trip with the club, and second fishout trip organized by Cecilia that I could attend. Gearing up for the trip, I could not imagine what was waiting ahead for me. I could not find information on the internet about our destination except few photos of the ranch house and numerous images of chickens and roosters. So, judging from the name of the ranch, I came to the conclusion that it might be a big chicken farm we were going to visit, and it absolutely killed my anticipation of adventure and mystery. Fortunately, I was wrong. Rooster Comb ranch turned out to be a vast territory adjacent to the Henry Coe state park with no roosters at all , but herds of cattle grazing on picturesque hills. The ranch name is derived from the range of mountains shaped like a rooster comb. According to the ranch owner, this range was a reef long ago when deep waters of prehistoric ocean were expanded over the territory where the ranch is now. The ranch house was built in 1928. This rustic style building with old furniture and marks from spurs on the staircase had awakened a subtle sense of shift in time in my soul. The only reminders about our present time were the cars outside, refrigerator in the kitchen, and my cell phone absolutely useless without signal.
The first day upon arrival we (Steve, I, Cecilia and Richard) went fishing to the Eastman pond. I should mention there are a lot of small ponds around the ranch, but we only had time to explore just four of them. We had to drive there because the distance between the ranch house and each pond is too long to cover by foot with the float tubes on our backs. The driving was exciting too. Crossing mountainous terrain, up and down hill, my heart was in my foot so many times that I lost a count. When our truck got on the top of the hill, the hood blocked the view of the road leading downhill, and that moments of uncertainty were the scariest moments during our trip. At the pond I managed to catch two bass fish using a popper made at Elaine Cook's class. Cecilia made video of me screaming when the fish moved in my hands and slipped in the water. I also have to warn you about the bullfrogs. For people like me, who never heard about them, sounds they make can give goose bumps. You see, there is a barbed wire fence across the narrow side of the pond. When I heard the bullfrog the first time, I was close to the fence, and I thought that it were the sounds of alarm installed by the ranch owner to keep people away from the fence. I am still shivering when I recall this in my memory.
The next day I caught nothing, but the beauty of the nature made up for it. First we drove to the pond the name of which I can't recall. We circled around it on float tubes with no success; only Cecilia managed to catch a fish there. I named the pond "fishless" for myself. Next we drove to the Mustang pond to try our luck there. Everyone caught fish there except me, so I just decided to spend the rest of the day floating around the pond and enjoying the scenery. The sunbeams lit the bottom of the pond and I could see the beautiful underwater world: roots of the trees, stone outcrops, snags, schools of fish passing by the water plants grow. At some point I thought to jump out of the tube and try to catch the fish with my bare hands, but the common sense took over the compulsive reflex of a fisherman (woman). On the way back to the ranch we encountered a Jack Rabbit. It was running down the road in front of the truck with its big ears pointing to the air before disappearing in woods. Later I was told that having a paw of a rabbit as a fetish can bring good luck. Well, I thought that seeing the whole alive rabbit should bring even more good luck than just only one paw. Definitely, I needed good luck.
The last day, we went fishing at the nearest Tule Pond. I don't know whether it was a rabbit's merit or lucky coincidence, but I managed to catch five largemouth bass. That day Sam Bishop was so kind to give me a Woolly Bugger (Midnight Cowboy) that he tied himself, and I caught fish from the first cast. Not only did I catch the fish, but I learned how to land it and how to remove the hook without help. Before that someone had to be around to help me. Now bass is my favorite fish because I know how to catch and handle it.
To conclude, the Rooster Comb ranch fish out was a great opportunity for me to improve my fishing skills and just to share a good time with nice friendly people. Although, I am relatively new to the club, after this trip I can tell that I am not a rookie anymore. Driving after the Jack Rabbit did not bring me to the Wonderland, but I had the incredible fly fishing adventures of Milana at the bass ponds of Rooster Comb Ranch that I would like to live over again.
2015 Roostercomb Ranch Report
by Cecilia Stipes
Sufficient early rains blessed the ranch ponds with satisfactory levels of water this year making a return trip possible for our club. The group this year consisted of Sam and Elena Bishop with grandsons, Bennett and Sam, Greg Foy and Judi Oyama with sons, Taylor and Ryan, Tom Pelikan, Noelle Nichols, Keith Munger, Gary Kettleson, Dan Eaton, Dave Moore, Milana and Steve Rawson, Elaine Cook, Bill Seaman, Dick and Cecilia Stipes. We had an early start driving out to the ranch after breakfast at Casa de Fruta in Hollister. Scott Wilkenson, ranch owner, and long-time buddy, Steve, helped everyone settle in at the ranch and then guided folks out to the ponds. We caravanned out to the farthest ponds along the highest ridges of the ranch offering us breath-taking views and some of us "white knuckles". Putting our vehicles in 4-WD was an absolute necessity and taught us what it is to crest a peak and trust more road existed as we dropped over the edge!
Elaine and Bill made their annual hike out to one of the State Park ponds, "Jack Rabbitt", where they caught their limit of 100 fish!-the fish were small but eager to take whatever landed in front of them. It was wonderful having Noelle, Dave and Milana and Steve as newcomers to the ranch. Dick and I escorted Steve and Milana to the various ponds and I was lucky enough to capture on video Milana's reaction to catching her first bass. It was an exciting moment but scary. Dave and Dan took a long and steep ride out to "Harvey". They caught a lot of fish but the ride out of there put Dan's truck to the test. He reported to me later that some welding would have to be done when he got back home. Tom had a close call in his float tube when he leaned too far forward reaching for his fin. The float tube flipped over on top of him trapping him due to the hooked-style apron on the tube. Tom remained calm mainly because he is a cool guy and also on account of his training through scuba diving. He raised his head up and worked his way toward shore treading water. Fortunately he was not far from shore and there was a happy outcome to this near tragedy. Way to go, Tom!
The ponds were productive for everyone except for "Shadow" having suffered the hardest from the drought. Weeks prior to our visit, Scott witnessed fish floating in the shallow water while a group of 30 wild pigs fed on the dead fish. Another noticeable change on the property, possibly a result of the drought, a rampant virus wiped out the entire ground squirrel and coyote populations within two years. There also seemed to be fewer deer sightings this time.
Everyone had a great time fishing and swimming and partying. The Foy boys and Sam's grandsons had fun shooting their 22-gauge rifles at cans. Steve drove Elena around in his ATV to the various ponds where she enjoyed bird watching and visiting everyone. "Mustang" and "Tule" offered the best conditions for the families to lounge, play, swim and jump off the docks. Bennett and Ryan spent hours playing in the water at Mustang wearing goggles and snorkels. Judi took videos of the family fun which she posted on FaceBook under her logo "Bad Girl Films". Great job, Judi.
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