As the summer heat once again swelters in the foothills of the Mother Lode, my thoughts drift off to the nearby Sierra. I find myself daydreaming of a cool breeze under tall trees and cold river rocks that taper into the brisk, clear water. It brings me back to the times when we spent hours jumping from boulder to boulder and fishing my way down the deep canyon of the North Fork of the Stanislaus River. With fly rods in hand, a water purifier and a few granola bars packed, our day was sure to be a success.
Just outside of Dorrington, we traveled down a winding paved road, across the bridge and then onto the rough dirt. The drive there was always a major part of the Xperience. With the windows down, we could breathe the fresh air of the pines and listen for animals scurrying on the hillsides. I remember on some occasions taking clients to these remote areas and I smiled, noticing that they were in complete awe by the beauty and captivated by the feeling of isolation.
Once we arrived at our destination, it was time to gear up, take a short walk and wade out into the frigid snowmelt. The instant comfort and true bliss of being waist deep in this gorgeous water is indescribable. We would watch the insect life as it fluttered onto or from the water’s surface, and then we would select a fly of best resemblance.
After a few false casts, it was time to lay the pattern of choice out gently into the flowing current. Watching the fly drift lifelessly down the runs and through the seams can be mesmerizing. With eyes locked on our realistic offering as it wandered among the natural insects, the greatest moment would soon rise. A fish had been fooled and had taken our pattern below the surface. A brief wave of surprise was felt, then our reflexes told us to lift the rod to set the hook.
There was an instant pressure on the end of the line and the excitement ensued. The fish pulled and jumped, all while making efforts to escape. On our end, we made sure to keep constant tension without applying too much pressure. Once this stability was achieved, the battle came to an end. The fish was carefully netted and remained in the water until the hook was removed.
We stood over our catch with admiration as the culmination of events leading up to this point had all been verified. These beautiful wild trout are incredible and should be released back into their environment. After a few seconds in the fresh oxygenated current, they quickly return to their favorite rock and wait for the next meal.
We live in a beautiful area and we are just a short drive away from dreamland. Now, it’s time to make this daydream a reality. I need to clear a date on the schedule, pack the fly rod in the truck and head to the mountains.
John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932.