By Chris Shaffer | 05/25/2012
Bridgeport, CA – A week ago, the Virginia Lakes basin was deserted. Last Thursday we didn’t see a single angler at Little Virginia Lakes or Virginia Creek. Walking out of the woods between Big and Little Virginia, towards Virginia Lakes Resort I noticed a woman trekking towards me.
She looked a few inches shorter than five-foot and seemed pretty curious.
“Is everything ok,” she said. “I heard some cheering and screaming. Did you catch my 12-pound brown?”
“Want me to tell you where he is?” she said. “He’s sitting in front of that grass, probably. Or he’s beneath the sunken boat, over there.”
Back in my publishing days, when I wrote “The Definitive Guide to Fishing Central California” I used to know this area extremely well, but this lady was taunting me with knowledge.
“You’ve been fishing the creek? How many did you catch?” she asked me. “I see egg juice on your fingers. You were fishing Green Label, weren’t you?”
I was stunned.
“Wait a minute. Are you Carolyn?” I asked.
“Yeah, who are you?” she said.
“I’m Chris Shaffer. I’ve talked to you for about a decade on the phone doing stories for the LA Daily News, Fishing & Hunting News, Game & Fish, California Sportsman and ESPN.com Outdoors,” I told her with a big smile on my face. We shoot hands and traded a few more fish stories.
She noticed I was wearing a Pautzke sweatshirt and beanie and offered more knowledge, urging me to walk across the lake and fish what she refers to as “The Deli.”
“Take your Green Label, walk over there and make a few casts,” she said, pointing at the adjacent shoreline. “Right over there by the big guy. I call that ‘The Deli’. The rainbows are over there. Give that guy a jar of your eggs. That’s what they are biting on.”
The “big man,” I told her, was Pautzke Bait Company owner Casey Kelley, grandson of the mastermind behind Balls O Fire.
“It’s the only egg to use here in the Eastern Sierra,” she told me. “I’ve carried it for 37 years and refuse to carry another other egg or brand at Virginia Lakes Resort. What is this FireBait stuff you have? You don’t need that. Use your eggs.”
We were here to test FireBait, rather than drift Green Label egg. With 5p.m. approaching and an episode of Pautzke TV to film, I joined Kelley and my co-host Tim Roller in “The Deli” where we caught roughly 35 trout in an hour on Atomic Garlic, Peach Garlic and Chartreuse Garlic FireBait. None breached 11 inches.
It was almost ironic to see Roller, the man who was the first to hold the current world record brown trout caught in Manistee, Michigan, a few years back hooking 10-inch stocked rainbows and having a blast.
“Watch this,” Roller said. “I’m going to count to five and I’ll have another one. They love this garlic flavored FireBait! They don’t even let it sink to the bottom.”
Head to Little Virginia with FireBait this Memorial Weekend where The Deli is open for business. It shouldn’t take long to fill a stringer of pan size bows.
Editor’s Note: Virginia Lakes Resort and Carolyn Webb opens today for the first time this season. For more information please visit http://www.virginialakesresort.com