From trickle to deluge, career carries guide downstream

John Liechty

It all starts with a raindrop or snowflake falling from the sky. One by one, they accumulate and saturate the Earth’s soil, slowly puddling and draining to lower land. The flakes stack on top of one another to form a winter snowpack, only to eventually melt and trickle down the mountain slopes. This precipitation and moisture are the lifeline of my business and they have been for years.

Starting in 1995, I began to guide fly anglers on the North Fork of the Stanislaus River and Highland Creek, which flows from the base of Spicer Reservoir. Each spring we would have to wait for the flows to subside to be able to fish this selected water. Over the years, the water molecules would travel down the mountains and into New Melones Reservoir. As they made their progression, so did I.

My business flowed to New Melones as I shifted from fly fishing to a bass fishing-oriented service. One of the perks to this shift in focus was the ability to fish and guide all year long. My success on the abundant foothill reservoir grew in size, and what was once a trickle is now a steady flow.

The same water that led me to this point was still with me. This uneasy churning back to a steady platform gives me a sense of security and familiarity on this vast fishery. But there is more to come as the water leaves the base of New Melones Dam.

After just a couple of years on New Melones, I began to venture even farther downstream, making the short drive to a smaller body of water just below it: Lake Tulloch. This is a wonderful little impoundment with a very diverse fishery. From rocks and docks to tulles and grass, the possibilities seem endless. The only downfall to fishing on this lake is during the summer it is highly trafficked by recreational boaters and during these months, I shy away from it.

Once again, I find myself basically fishing the same water that I began to fish at a young age. This water that started small and grew and progressed, is very similar to the way my passion and hobby became a full-time occupation.

Now, as the years pass, I still frequent the high mountain locations, and as I wade across the cold current, I imagine it pooling below. Will the same droplets that fall from my catch this day fall from my catch on another day from New Melones or next year from Lake Tulloch?

It is an amazing adventure for me and this magnificent moisture that Mother Nature produces. It’s no wonder I feel at home when I’m fishing.

John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932.

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