The headwaters of the Pit River are quietly tucked away in the far upper right-hand corner of California. Besides being largely unspoiled, the other obvious natuarl quality is Goose Lake. Just outside of the town of Alturus, the road follows a gentle grade and reveals the expanse of Goose Lake. On this clear afternoon, the water sparkled blue silver. The shoreline ran beyond the horizonto the north. As I drove, ocassionally trying to size up Goose Lake but finally just giving up. I needed to focus on the road and stay alert for a Forest Service road heading into the surronding mountains east of the lake basin. My heart was set on finding a much smaller piece of water. More precisely, I wanted to find a certain native trout in that small piece of water.
The forest service proclaims it's motto of "The Land of Many Uses." Crossing a cattle guard a short-distance off the highway along the government's dirtroad hints at one of the uses here. Whether cattle were in front of me or now behind remained a relative mystery as I winded along the nicely bladedroad. It was big country with lots of sage and grasses. Tucked into one of the creases in the hills growing up around the basin lives a unique species of trout known as Goose Lake Redband Trout. Where the hills transition from sage topine and both air and water temperatures are degrees cooler is ideal habitatfor redband. Redband wander up these feeder creeks to spawn, find food, and hold in shaded pools during the hot summer months.
These smallish creek dwellers aren't prized quarry by most anglers. Two laws tend to govern how most anglers think. One is based on size and the other is effort. The Goose Lake redband has both strikes against it. Adults in these creeks don't stretch beyond nine inches and good luck finding them. There is no well-wore path from a parking lot that leads to the honey-hole. You got to do some serious map homework, then drive and drive some more along forest service roads, and then the final blow... do a bit of walking.
The reward comes later. The reward is as much bringing a native redband to hand as it is fishing a remote creek. A remote creek you would typically pass over on a journey to some place else.