It had been one of those days where the fish just weren’t cooperating. Heavy rain had caused the river to come up over two feet in the morning. The river was running fast enough that you could have drifted from the Forks to Ruby, about 7 miles, in an hour. I probably shouldn’t have made the second drift, but we hadn’t boated a fish so we decided to make the run.

It was an uneventful fishless run. We were working the park just upriver from the Hiouchi Bridge. Without warning, this redwood just started growing out of the river about ten feet in front of the boat. The twelve-foot diameter log grew to fifty feet tall while I rowed franticly trying to get some distance between the log and the boat. Fortunately, it toppled over away from the boat.

The bank anglers said it was really close. I can’t imagine what would have been worse. Having the boat 50’ in the air on top of the log, or having the log end up on top of the boat.

Dungeness Crab

Cooking: In a large pot over a very hot flame, (those outdoor burners sold through Cabela’s for deepfrying turkeys are fabulous), Add Salt, 1 TBSP/gallon of water, bring to boil, drop in crab, after water has returned to boil, cook for 10 minutes and immediately remove to ice water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning: Take the crab after it is cooked, place the crab, top side up, in your left hand (assuming you are right handed). At the rear of the crab, take your thumb and stick it under the edge of the top shell. Rotate forward and lift the shell up, kind of like opening the hood of your car. Discard top shell. Turn the crab over, bottom side up, and you will see down the center of the crab some small shell sections. Put your thumb under that at the rear and lift off, like above. Clean out all the grey and green and spongy stuff (if it looks gross, get rid of it). Rinse.

 

I was fun fishing with a friend below Society hole. My rod went down and just stayed down. We thought it was a snag so I maneuvered the upstream of the line and gave it a jerk. All of a sudden the line started moving and my reel started screaming.

It was definitely a fish, a very big fish! We battled that fish through four miles of river for almost three hours. Finally we were able to get it to the side of the boat. It was over a foot wide at the shoulders and you couldn’t put your arms around it. We measured the king and released it. Naturally we didn’t have a camera and neither of us could kill such a magnificent fish.

The weight tables put the monster salmon at 120 pounds. I did a little checking and found out it would have been a world record.

Getting ready for April Fools?

 

Charleston Dungeness Crab Crêpe

 

Dungeness Crab Crepe

Crêpe Filling

• Meat from two 2lb. crabs
• 3 cups sliced mushrooms
• 1 finely chopped small onion
• Juice from ½ lemon
• 3 TBS Unsalted butter
• ¾ cup Dry White Wine
• ½ Bay Leaf
• ½ tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• ½ tsp. Salt
• 1 tsp. Fresh chopped Tarragon (or ½ tsp. dry)
• 2 tsp. Fresh chopped Parsley
• ½ tsp. English Thyme (or regular Thyme if you don’t have English)
• 1/3 cup heavy cream

Melt butter over low heat in 12″ skillet. Add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add mushrooms, lemon juice, spices and ½ cup of wine. Cook on high until liquids reduce to a thick sauce. Add cream and ¼ cup wine over low heat. When you have a thick sauce add the crab. Cook until the crab is just warm. You should end up with a filling that is moist but not wet.

Crêpe Batter – you can cut this in half

• 1 cup water
• 1 cup milk
• 4 eggs
• ½ tsp. Salt
• 2 cups flour
• ½ cube butter

Put eggs, milk, water and salt into a blender jar. Measure flour and set aside. Melt butter over low heat. If the butter browns it won’t work! Add the flour to the blender and then the melted butter on top. Blend on high for 30 seconds. Some flour will stick the side of the jar. Take a rubber spatula and scrape the side of the jar to loosen the flour and blend on high for 1 minute. The batter should have the consistency of light cream, just thick enough to coat the spatula. If it is too thick, blend in a little water. Refrigerate for 3 hours before using. Blend on high 1 minute before using.

 

Putting it all together

• 12 ounces grated Swiss cheese (a good one like Tillamook or Jarlsberg)
• 2 scallions, chopped
• 1 package Knorr Hollandaise Sauce
• Fresh chopped parsley
• Crisco

The best way to cook a crêpe is in a crêpe pan. If you don’t have one, a cast iron skillet will work but you will need to use slightly less batter. The amounts above will fill 3 12″ crêpes (1/2 cup batter each) or 4 10″ crêpes (1/3 cup batter each).

You can make the Hollandaise sauce from scratch, but we have been very happy with the package mix from Knorr and it’s a lot easier. Prepare the Hollandaise and keep warm and make sure the crab filling is warm.

You want to have all the ingredients ready and next to the stove then make sure you have the sequence figured out because when you cook the crêpes things move really fast and a lost moment means a burned crêpe.

Season your pan: Take a paper towel and grease the skillet with Crisco. Place on high heat. When the Crisco has melted and just begins to smoke, wipe out grease with paper towel.

 

You’re ready to boogie!

 

1. Reduce heat to medium high. Get a fresh paper towel and lightly wipe skillet with Crisco. It should immediately begin to smoke lightly.
2. Pour ½ cup batter in pan.
3. Roll pan so batter evenly coats bottom of pan.
4. Take a metal spatula (I use a long one like short order cooks use) and work around edge of crêpe to free from pan. On most stoves, you will have to move the skillet around over the fire to get the crêpe to cook evenly.
5. As the crêpe cooks, little air bubbles will work through the batter and it will change color. Flip the crêpe with the spatula. Side one should be a golden brown. Side two is done when it has golden brown spots.

 

Now throw the first one away, it just seasons the pan 😉 If you didn’t get it right don’t worry, there’s plenty of batter. I feed the losers to the chickens, they love ’em.
Now let’s do it for real!

Cook side one as explained above in a freshly greased pan. After you flip the crêpe, spread evenly 1/3 of the cheese over ½ the crêpe. Add 1/3 of the crab filling on top of the cheese. Fold the unfilled half of the crêpe over the filled side so you end up with a half circle shaped crêpe. Immediately flip the crêpe over and cook for about 30 seconds. Take your spatula and slide the crêpe out of the pan onto a dinner plate.

Spoon about 2 Tsp. Hollandaise sauce onto the crêpe and garnish with scallions and parsley.
Serving suggestion: Add a fresh Caesar salad

The far northern area of the Trinity Alps Wilderness, near Callahan, sees far less traffic than the southern portion of the wilderness area accessed from Weaverville. This is probably due to the extra drive time required to get to the trailheads from California’s big cities. Less traffic means the lakes receive less fishing pressure.

I started my wilderness fishing project to see some new country and do a little fishing. I soon discovered the State quit stocking wilderness lakes in 2009 due to funding cuts brought about financial crisis and even sold the airplane used to do the job. This year the wilderness stocking program resumed with the use of private helicopters contracted to do the job. This year’s stock fish are small but you can see them in the crystal clear high mountain water and watch them feeding on the surface.

I am trying to get an idea of what areas have been stocked and continue to monitor the program in the future as I build maps, lakes and trail information anglers will find useful.

Fall is fast approaching. The trees are beginning to change color, the last cut of hay is being bailed and cattle are being moved to their winter grazing pastures. At sunrise low hanging clouds drape the peaks of the Salmon Mountains. In the distance, a lone coyote crosses the highway.

Most of the clouds were now below me as I crossed Carter Summit. A half a mile west of the summit is a well maintained dirt road Forestry 39N08. Take it three miles to the Long Gulch Trailhead. The first section of trail is literally a walk in the park, forest interspersed with meadows. Alpine mountains are visible as the creek crosses a large meadow and Long Gulch Creek.

Latest news from the Forestry and rescue folks is to take your smartphone and a small LCD flashlight with you into the woods. Even if you don’t have phone reception your phone can be located by GPS.

According to a group of horsepersons I met on this trek, who belong the Eldorado County Search and rescue team, if 911 is notified you are missing they can locate you with an accuracy of a half a mile. “Once we get to a search area we make lots of noise.” One of them told me. “Even in dense forest the injured but conscious can signal us at night.” He said.

One of the keys here is making sure someone knows where you are going and your itinerary. In the interest of safety I have been testing cellphone reception on my wilderness treks. On this trip I lost reception the second I crossed over Carter Summit on the highway.

The last third of the hike to Long Gulch Lake is a little more challenging. I would call it a “moderate” climb. Total time hiking was about two hours from the trailhead to the lake.

When I arrived at Long Gulch Lake, the first thing I saw was a nice trout come completely out of the water on the other side of the lake. It took some time to work my way to the spot where this photo was taken. There were thousands and thousands of little (3/4” long) black frogs in the meadow. The big fish was still on this side of the fifty feet deep lake, trolling the shoreline and occasionally breaking the surface. I had not seen any flying insects around the lake.

I made my best late summer guess and tied a black ant on the fly line. Apparently that wasn’t what he was slurping down. Over the course of a couple hours, I tried at least a dozen patterns to no avail. I was able to place a #18 ginger colored classic dry directly in front of him. The trout bumped the fly but didn’t take it.

There was still time to make it over the ridge to my east to see if there might be more cooperative fish in Trail Gulch Lake.

Due to a poorly placed sign, I lost some time locating the Trail Gulch Trail. When you find the sign, go left not straight as the arrow indicates. The climb out of Long Gulch is seven hundred vertical feet! The trail is a series of long, steep switchbacks. The old growth fir trees are magnificent and the panoramic views of Long Gulch are breathtaking. Did I say steep? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll reach the ridgeline in about an hour. It’s all downhill from there.

The trail gently descends as it follows the ridge to the south of Trail Gulch Lake. The views of the Trinity Alps are spectacular across the Coffee Creek Drainage. At one spot you can see Mt. Lassen some eighty miles to the southeast. It is a fast paced hike for a half an hour to a major trail junction.

When you see this nameless mountain you better be looking for the trail junction. The North Fork Coffee Creek and the Steveale meet up with the Trail Creek Trail. You want to make dang sure you do not head downhill here! A short easy climb brings you to the ridge overlooking Trail Gulch and trail Gulch Lake.

I took a ten minute break and watched the twenty feet deep lake to see if there was any fish action. A couple of fish broke the surface.

The vertical descent to Trail Creek Lake is about five hundred feet of steep rocky switchbacks through the forest. About a half hour later, when you near the bottom, you can see there might be a way to traverse across a meadow to the lake. I didn’t try it and I couldn’t tell you if it would be a safe route earlier in the season. Eventually, after surrendering a couple hundred feet elevation, I reached the junction with the trail to the lake.

It is getting late in the day. It will take a half an hour to climb back up to the lake and another half an hour to come up with a fishing strategy and get set up to fish. Add to this the time it takes to navigate around an alpine lake to where you want to fish and figure in the fatigue/safety factor; I’m sorry to say it just didn’t add up that there was time to safely fish Trail Gulch.
It took another hour and a half to navigate my way down to the trailhead. The distance is shorter, steeper and rockier than Long Gulch. I didn’t take photos because it pretty much looked like Long Gulch. From the Trail Creek Trailhead it was another .9 miles downhill walk to my truck. I was able to measure the distance with my odometer.

At the first wide spot in the road after crossing back over Carter Summit I stopped and called home.
It was a fantastic day trip I look forward to making again when the fisheries recover and the couple of pints of ale I had at the Etna Brewery might have been the tastiest and most rewarding I’ve ever enjoyed in my life! The steak dinner waiting for me when I got home was awesome too. Nothing like camping……….

Recommendations:

If your interest is strictly fishing, it would probably be better to set up camp at Hidden horse Campground and only hike into one lake a day.

If you think you can fish both lakes in one day, hit the trail at first light!

The hike over the ridge is definitely worth the effort.

You might choose to fish Long Gulch, hike over the ridge and return to fish Trail Gulch the following day.

If you are hiking the “loop”, start at the Long Gulch Trailhead. The hike is easier and you won’t be facing a mile hike uphill at the end of the day, when your exhausted, back to your wheels.

Take a spinning rod and Powerbait. 😉