By Ryan Arguello
I took 3 weeks off of work to hang out with my family and friends. One of the trips that wasn’t planned, was going to Courtright Reservoir. The original plan was to hit up the salt water looking for some halibut with my buddies Zach and Andy. Unfortunately due to conditions, we had to change plans. This is where trout fishing at Courtright came in. After talking with Zach, the plan was to meet at my house and I would drive us both up for a day trip of fishing. Zach met at my house on Friday around 7 pm, it didn’t take much to convince me to go ahead and leave at 10 pm to get up there so we can sleep before launching knowing very well I wouldn’t sleep. We loaded up the truck and trailer and started on a 3-and-a-half-hour drive to the lake. As always on the way up the mountain both Zach and I talked shop and future fishing trips, it helps the time go by. We finally arrived to the launch parking lot at 1:30 am, we began setting up the kayaks with fish finders, batteries, rod holders, rods, etc, etc, etc. We did this so we can immediately drive down the launch ramp pull the kayaks off and take off fishing. After setting up all of the gear I decided to stay up a little longer to take some photos of the awesome night sky. Finally attempted to go to sleep around 2:30 am, end result……..I did not sleep at all.
I shut the alarm before it went off because i watched it tick closer to 4:30 am minute by minute, got up and started cooking breakfast in the freezing cold on the jetboil stove and pan. I ended up making fried eggs, a massive amount of sausage and bagels with cheese. There’s something about making food in the mountains, not sure if it was the 8100’ elevation or what but it was good.
It’s now 5:30 am and we are now driving the truck and kayaks down to the launch ramp which was about a half a mile away. Once down there we finally got to see the lake and conditions. We saw a lot of wind chop and fog coming off the water due to the water temperature being warmer then the air temperature. The water level was a lot better then we thought although the lake was still not full. By 6:00 am both kayaks were in the water, I parked the truck and was heading down. While walking down the ramp Zack was already in his kayak so I took the time to do what I always do, take some photos to document the start of this already awesome day.
I jumped in my kayak and immediately through out a deep diver crank bait with a 12” leader coming of the back ring which lead to a single hook and mice tail plastic. While that was out I was setting up the downrigger making note of the fish that were being marked on the fish finder, fish were suspended in 50 fow. I dropped the downrigger ball to that depth hooking on a cowbell setup with a fire tiger apex lure. As soon as I sat back to relax and pedal my outback towards the back of the lake a fish nailed the crank bait rod. While I was reeling this fish in I realized that I had forgotten my net! “Shit”! Trout are already slippery as hell. Once I got the fish to the side of the kayak as I expected it popped off the hook. I basically thought to myself “oh well it’s only been 5 minutes, still a lot of time left in the day. The downrigger was the ticket this day, I was consistently catching fish at that 50 foot range. All the fish that were being caught were small, I mean small. On average I would say 9”-10”. Zach was trolling with a dodger lure setup on a downrigger he borrowed from his buddy Jeremy and a weighted dodger lure setup. It took Zach a bit of time to start hooking up but once he found that money spot he started slayin them, by them I mean those small trout.
The wind ended up dying down to nothing and the sun came out. It got hot quick, we both started to shed off those sweaters and put on sun protection. We made our way to shore to make some lunch, again with the jetboils. On todays lunch menu was the easiest lunch to pack and make, cup of noodle aka cuppie noodles (Andy). On the way in the water was so clear you could see trout swimming around everywhere, so my lunch was put on hold and I began throwing kastmasters from shore. I immediately had fish following the lure once I started reeling. Second cast the lure got slammed but did not hook up, I then heard Zach in the back state “ we’ll I guess lunch is on hold”. We are now both trying for trout from the shore. Lots of lookers but no takers, we had to try though. Started making cuppie noodles and now realized that I forgot my utensils, that’s now two things I forgot but I guess when you are bringing hundreds of things, forgetting two things is not bad. Ultimately I looked around my kayak and ended up using my favorite brand of fishing tools, the Cuda brand dehooker was now the Cuda brand fork. It sucked and I wished I had a fork, don’t get me wrong it is a great tool when you use it for what it was made for, it just sucked as a fork.
After lunch we started our way back fishing along the way, we continued to catch dinks in fact Zach had one on and didn’t even know. We wondered how long that fish was towed for. Once at the launch, we loaded up and started heading up the ramp. I looked into my mirror and saw an older gentlemen starting the long walk to the parking lot, being that I had walked it twice already I asked him if he wanted a ride. He quickly thanked me accepted the ride and jumped in. After dropping him off, Zach and I finish loading the gear off the kayaks and into the truck then started home. We ended up stopping for essentials at Shaver Lake then stopped on another small town for some great Mexican food. On the drive home we discussed our next trip up north planned for the end of August, looking forward to getting out on the water soon.
I really enjoyed reading this, I grew up shore fishing this lake my entire life as a kid. It was the annual camping/fishing spot between my Dad and I. My entire childhood I always wanted to be able to fish it from on the lake instead of being stuck to the shore. Next week, at 33 years old I get to continue the tradition with my 6 year old son for his first time. To top it off, I just got into kayak fishing and will be bringing it to play with on our 8 day camping trip. Excited to see others enjoy this almost hidden gem. I also see the Cope’s sticker and am assuming you know my hometown of Bakersfield lol.
Anyways thanks again for the awesome post