Since my January was one of the most dreadful months I have endured in slightly over a half century on this planet, I have recently declared that MY new year officially began February 1st and I have dubbed it The Year of El Fisho.
Without going into details, if you knew them, you'd certainly agree that my January sucked more than a high dollar Dyson vacuum cleaner. That being said, at some point I'll have a post on it, because someone very near and dear to me passed on.
After the funeral, my longtime friend Billy Ray and I were standing in my driveway. He'd driven me and the family around to and from the funeral. He'd come in from out of town and after being great friends for the past 34 years, well, he came through yet again.
As we were enjoying the rare nice late afternoon day with lots of sunshine, we were both ruminating on how little fishing we'd done lately, and in particular, how little fishing we'd done over the past several decades of the type we like. We began to talk about where we wished we were living right now, instead of where we actually live.
I pointed to the driveway, two cars wide, and said I just want to live near a good size creek about the width of my driveway in some area where trout live year round, not like here in Texas where they get stocked in winter and die in the spring once it warms up. I'd like it to be a creek rather than a river because if I'd like something small enough that if I fell in I wouldn't be swept away or drown, something 2 or 3 feet deep.
We both agreed that such a creek with smaller trout would be just fine and that we didn't need some quest for giant, legendary sized trout. We both use lots of ultralight tackle and again, our love of fishing isn't entirely about the catching. Sure, I like to catch fish, but give me a bunch of miniscule trout on a 1 weight rod any day over stalking some huge old fish that needs to be left alone in his elder years. Besides, especially on super ultra light weight tackle, small fish not only fight well but are also more likely to recover from the stress of being caught due to their age. We're mostly catch and release with barbless hook kinda fishermen with the occasional steamside meal of fresh butter fried or grilled trout.
So to have that, i.e. the mystical creek, I have to move somewhere north of the snow line. Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho are three places where my professional license will transfer and I can work, and there are appealing locations in all of those states. And jobs for me in all three states. I've been in my retirement system for awhile, and am still young enough that, God willing, I could vest in another government retirement system as well by the time I'm ready to take down my shingle.
And there's lots of places for sale that fit the bill. Near towns where I could work. Some have ponds, creeks and cabins or small homes. It's always a big plus when you have electricity and water and septic set up, so even if you plan to build your own place, having a nice, tolerable house to start with would really be ideal.
The caveat that goes along with living on property with a creek is that you want to be residing HIGH UP above that creek, so that should the creek have a 100 year flood you would still be high and dry. Also, the creek should not limit your road access to your property when flooded, meaning no low water bridges between your place and the highway. You want a place you won't getting flooded out of or into.
I'd like a pond to go along with the creek, and a fresh water spring to me is one of the main things I want in a property. A pond means that trout and smallmouth bass could be fished for when creek fishing wasn't great or when you felt like some still water fishing. A spring fed pond would be great, and from experience I know that you don't want your creek too close to your pond in case of flooding and your pond fish get washed into the creek. But in these times of concern about water, a live spring would be a great thing, even if you also have a water well and/or piped in water and a water catchment system.
I've mentioned before a friend in East Texas has a very nice spring on his place. He uses mostly solar power to pump the water from where it arises in the earth up to his house and his purification system. His well water is ok, but it's nothing like the stuff coming out of the ground. Funny how two sources of water on the same place can differ in taste and smell. His spring flows from a small pond into a much larger multi-acre lake that overflows through a complex set of screens and a waterfall made of rocks into a small seasonal creek.
He backs that all up with a water catchment system, and used that filtered water through the drought of recent years to keep his garden in great shape, his smaller pool nice and fresh and the yard around his home nice and green. If you know anything about gardening, you know nothing grows nature like rainwater.
On one of the Alaska homesteading shows, I saw a very simple power generation system based on flowing water being diverted through a series of large pvc pipes containing electric generators using gravity and the slope of the hill it was on to drive the water into and back out into the creek after cranking out some pretty serious power.
Likewise, although still I think any significant amount of solar power and battery storage systems they would require are out of our financial reach, some use of solar panels could probably take care of some needs without significant battery storage system investment.
We had a solar water heating system in the late 90's for about 5 years. We had problems with it, but I think a lot of those issues have been resolved in the newer systems they have. When it was working, our gas bills for the backup home water heater and storage unit were tiny tiny tiny. The sun did most of the work, even powering the pump that brought the water up through the collector on the roof.
We don't want to live off the grid but we'd like to BE ABLE TO live off the grid if we had to, power and water wise. Foodwise too, but that's another post.
We'd like to be on some small acreage, something manageable. Something big enough to shoot guns on, although the only hunting I'm interested in is predator control. I'm not into game hunting of any sort, although I've done my fair share and enjoyed it in my younger years.
Nowadays, I'm fascinated with animals. Not only our cats and dogs, but wild animals in particular. The chance to observe from afar how other mammals and other animals and creatures live just captivates me. I watched this same thing fascinate my father decades ago when he was the age I am now, and animals are very cool to watch.
I let a HUGE water moccasin go recently while fishing on the San Marcos River, mainly because it went the other way when it became aware of us. I've never been bitten by a poisonous snake, but have been with folks who have, and it's not pretty. Minutes later, I caught a nice sized bass under a lily pad right where the snake had been, and had I shot the snake the bass surely would've been gone baby gone.
So yes, unavoidable predator hunting is part of the package when living in the sticks, but other than that my shooting would be for paper, wood and steel targets. So a nice ravine or cliff would be great for locating an extremely safe shooting area with no danger of escaping bullets, and lots of the places in our range that I've looked at have similar terrain on the property for safe shooting.
The areas we've been looking at have vast amounts of public land near them, and sometime adjacent to them. This means lots and lots of various fishing and shooting locales in addition to what's on your own place.
So yeah, for the The Year of El Fisho, I'm gonna find a place where we can get to as soon as possible with a creek and maybe a pond and small house, with trout nearby.