When we looked for hashtags for some of our Instagram posts, we encountered #californiaadventure. This hashtag made sense given that our time in California turned more adventure than just fishing. Why? Water…. and more water…. and more water…. and not just any water…. raging, dangerous whitewater that was much more suited to thrill seeking kayakers than anglers. At any moment, if you had a slip, a flip or a misstep you could find yourself in real danger.
So what could have been a normal fishing trip to seven different California rivers became an adventure finding safe, fishy water. We had to hike deep into forests in search of small tributaries to fish the Kern. We sloshed through marshes thick with mosquitos to fish the waters of the Owens. We bushwacked along the Truckee to find waters that looked fishy. We carefully navigated the banks of the McCloud, flowing at over 5 times normal, and hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail to catch the McCloud Rainbow. We event took the “Road from Hell” to fish near the McCloud River Preserve. We had a lucky encounter at a fly shop in historic Dunsmuir that led us to a spot on the Upper Sacramento where, after we traversed several railroad tracks, we caught a couple of bows. We hiked over 7 miles along Hat Creek in search of trout. About the only spot where we fished in what might be a “normal” way was on the Fall River, and even then, we had to lay down in the boat to get under one bridge to get to the hole where we ultimately had success. All in all, the California rivers on the TU Top 100 trout streams list were challenging, exciting, and definitely provided us a #californiaadventure.
We always try to fish other waters than just the TU Top 100. While in California, we wetting lines in Hot Creek, the Little Truckee and the Lower Sacramento. We hiked down into the Hot Creek Canyon where Barb hooked a beautiful little brown that was hiding along the far bank. The Little Truckee was flowing wild but we found time and a little spot to fish right next to a bridge. As for the Lower Sac, we actually took a float trip with Matt Dahl and hooked into some big, beautiful California rainbows.
Speaking of rainbows, two strains of these gorgeous fish are local to California waters, the McCloud and the Kern river rainbows. In fact, most all of the rainbows in trout streams around the world come from these two strains. No matter if you’re fishing trout streams in Montana, New Mexico, New York, Argentina or New Zealand, when you hook a rainbow, chances are it came from the McCloud or Kern lineage.
As always, our trip isn’t just about fishing and we constantly remind people, “Its Not About the Fish”. Our trip is as much about the people we meet and the places we visit along our Ramble. California did not disappoint on both counts; we were blessed with great guides at each stop. Matt Dahl took us on a “Sac Attack” down the lower Sacramento when the Upper was dangerously high. Matt also took us on our “Matt in the Hat (Creek)” adventure. The venerable Ernie Dennison took us on the “Majestic McCloud”, even though it was flowing at the highest levels he’d ever seen and guided anyone on. Matt Mitchell navigated the Fall River with us, even under the bridge, to experience the “Fall River Spring”. As we headed down further south in California, “Stonefly Guy” Jeans showed us several Kern River tributaries which will go unnamed, but provided an awesome day of fishing small streams with 7’-3wt rods. And finally, our man Gilligan showed us his backyard, “Gilligan’s Truckee”. We’re already planning a trip back to California to fish all these rivers and hopefully fish for the Heritage Trout Challenge. Our guides were awesome, and made our time on the water productive, interesting, educational and safe.
Even with all this fishing, we still had time for more adventures. We took sightseeing trips to Lake Tahoe, the Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Forest, Dunsmuir and Mt. Shasta. We’d have gone into Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, but, the roads into the parks from the Eastern Sierras were all still snow covered and closed. Speaking of snow cover, we watched skiers and boarders STILL skiing at Mammoth Mountain, which is planning to stay open for skiing until August/September and Squaw Valley was also still open and planning operations until at least July. Did we mention the BIG winter/spring snowfall CA experienced and the amount of water in the rivers? ?
We also enjoyed some great food and music along the way. We want to give a big shoutout to Crumbs in McArthur, CA. When we were fishing the Fall River with Matt Mitchell, he recommended Crumbs to us and wow, what an amazing meal we had there. This is a MUST VISIT place if you are in the area. In historic Dunsmuir, you should definitely visit Yaks, a burger joint that made Yelp’s Top 100 list. It had a great selection of local beers as well. Speaking of local beers, Mammoth Brewing and its Golden Trout Kolsch is not to be missed. We also want to highlight Professor Colombo, a Huntington Beach band that was playing at Moody’s in Truckee. Great music and vibe.
Finally, we hope you enjoy this montage of pics we’ve put together to highlight our time in California. We try to highlight local musicians when we put together our state highlight videos and we are so very lucky to have music by the Stoneflys, an alternative/ska/reggae/jazz group from Kernville, CA. What’s extra special to us is that this is Guy Jeans’ band! Guy is a renaissance kind of guy as we found out during our visit to the “Nunya” creeks of the Kern drainage. He was kind enough to let us use one of his band’s tunes for our “#californiaadventure” post. Enjoy!