Half Full, Not Half Empty
The fishing memories that remain strongest with me tend to be those of unexpected occurrences, such as the baking-hot summer day on the San Mateo coast when my friends Brian, Gary, and I hooked surfperch after surfperch under a bright noontime sun — the usual assumption being that the fishing is best early in the morning, preferably with an overcast sky. And the day another friend, John, and I hiked up to a small park lake near Santa Rosa, and on the very first cast, I hooked a bluegill nearly the size of a dinner plate. And then there were the exceptional experiences with trout on Hat Creek and Mono Creek and others I won’t mention, but that remain vivid in my mind, despite the years that have passed.
And now we’re in a phenomenal period, the fourth year of a drought. Certainly, some of the fisheries we like to visit will be stressed this season, perhaps even severely so, and if their health is in question, we should lay off and go elsewhere. But despite the emergency declarations, California by and large will continue to offer numerous opportunities to hook fish on flies. Doing so, however, will require that we think logically and creatively, rather than simply wade into the routine of the same ’ol same same ’ol.
Look at this year as an adventure. For trout, consider focusing on tailwaters, particularly when they deliver water to users downstream. Look as well to spring creeks and to lakes that aren’t drawn down for human needs. And high-mountain streams that continue to flow after snowmelt may remain a good bet.
Consider, too, focusing on nontrout species. This will be a good year to try one’s hand at warmwater fish such as the basses and panfish, as well as that Cinderella of game fish, carp, surely a worthy challenge for fly fishers. And if you enjoy challenges, there’s of course the surf zone. It’s not an easy place to hook anything on flies, but then again, being at the beach is almost always pleasant, whether you catch fish or not. The kelp beds farther offshore also offer fine sport.
As the saying goes, “Think Different.” Great memories are made when we experience the unexpected. I’ll be trying new ideas this summer, visiting new waters, chasing unfamiliar species. I hope to see you out there, doing the same.
Publisher and Editor