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The High Sierras
Join webmaster Martin Joergensen on a hectic trip through the Northern California fishing for stocked, wild and native trout with his friend Rich Lobrowich
This is the story about how two fly-fishers from each side of the Globe, who only just met, wound up changing a blown tyre in fierce winds below thousands of wind mills in the Altamont Pass in California on their way to a club meeting in Tracy before an outing in the beautiful High Sierra mountains in pursuit of big stocked fish and small wild ones.
The contact was as many times before done through the net. I had business in the US, and dropped
an e-mail to a couple of mailing lists. Rich replied the same evening.
What type of shape are you in?
How old are you?
I like small creeks that are about 10-15 feet Max and average 1.5 feet deep with pockets going deeper.
Thanks Rich Lob
I replied in a good spirit: yes, anything goes - not in iron man shape - closing in on 40 (that was back then!). But it sure sounded like Rich was my man for setting up a fishing trip. His next mail confirmed this:
Do you know the difference between Native and Wild Trout?
Thanks Rich Lob
Yes I did know the difference between Native and Wild Trout, but not the Lahontan Cutthroat that Rich mentioned. I was soon to learn:
Current Angling Regulations:
Method of Take: Only artificial lures with barbless hooks
Season: July 1 through September 30
Just make it out here and we will make do with what we have.
Thanks Rich Lob
We agreed on an itinerary along these lines:
First a meeting with the Tracies
Then a stocked lake for big rainbow
After that a hike for small native Cutt's
And last a creek for small wild trout
That's what I call good roundup to a business trip
I have experienced this many times before. It's like meeting an old friend. Rich picked me up in Santa Cruz, and we went to Monterey to dine. We blabbered along all the way along the coast and had no trouble whatsoever finding subjects for our talk. Dinner was great - fish and seafood on the wharf of course - and I was dropped off back in Santa Cruz the same evening. We would meet again a couple of days later.
I was picked up, and we had a meeting to attend to. I was cordially invited to join the Tracy Fly Fishers for hotdogs, casting, blindfolded tying and camaraderie:
If everything works out we might be able to leave Santa Cruz on 8-18-99 (Thursday) for the Tracy Fly Fishers meeting and then head up to the hills from Tracy to fish.
Thanks Rich Lob
The trip would turn out to be an experience in itself. On our way north out of Santa Cruz, we had to cross the Altamont Pass. The highway crossing this pass is - as all that's American - large. It has many lanes, and we were calmly cruising along when a bang suddenly sent the car swaying and Rich had to find the roadside in a hurry. We had blown a rear tire, and had to do a roadside change.
We eventually managed to find the place where the Tracy Fly Fishers had their meeting and had a great evening with hot dogs, casting and blindfolded tying.
We slept by Rich's friend and Tracy Fly Fishers President Corey Cate, whose house was a treat - filled with magazines, flies and FF-stuff.
The next day we headed out for the mountains, and I'll let Rich tell the story, as he did in the club's newsletter:
Our Danish Visitor
Last week Martin Joergensen came to town. He was in Santa Cruz on business. Martin is from Denmark, about ½ a World away from the left coast.
He had a few days to fish so I offered to be his guide through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
We first meet on Monday night and took a long ride to Monterey to have a great dinner on the Wharf.
It is so amazing to me that when we started talking fly fishing we had so much in common. Martin enjoys fishing for Sea Trout and I enjoy High Mountain Wild Trout. No, I did not get high with the trout... dream on.
Then on Wednesday afternoon we headed to Tracy to meet the Tracy Fly Fishers during their monthly meeting. I learned for the first time how to cast a Spey Rod. Martin fit right in as he had conversation with most of our membership.
Thursday AM we headed toward Truckee to fish Sawmill Lake. It is a pay lake that holds nice Rainbows at 7,200 feet. Before we headed to the lake we stopped in the Truckee River Outfitters and said hello to Andy Burk. Then Lisa Cutter stopped by.
I asked her about a small creek that held some native Lanhontan Cutthroats. Lisa gave us her secret weapon on that name less little creek, use small hoppers.
We then headed to SawMill to fish the afternoon and evening. At 4 PM on my second cast with a blue adult damsel size 12 into the brush I hooked a nice fish at 24 inches. By 8 PM I had landed and released a total of 6 fish the largest was 26 inches and about 5½ lbs. a buck BTW.
Martin also landed many nice fish. His largest was 24 inches and 6½ lbs. - a hen. This hen looked like a football for those of you who read Richard Anderson's book.
Watching Martin tie CDC/Elk Hair Caddis by candle light inside a red caboose was very different.
Early Friday morning we met Frank Pisciotta at SawMill Lake. Frank had lots to say about the lake now that he lives in Truckee full time. So we exchanged some good information on the bug life.
OK, I made a wrong turn which cost us an extra four miles of hiking that almost killed me.
Somehow we made it to a base camp and I found enough energy to fish on Friday night. Martin could not believe how small this little creek was ... and that there were trout in the creek. My guess is that is was running at 10 CFS. Martin started fishing first and managed to hook fish in each pool. His largest fish was 8 inches and mine was 7 inches. He took a few photos that I hope turn out. These are wonderful little fish. Seek and you shall find.
The walk out was much easier and shorter. We stopped at the truck to unload our gear and had an ice cold cervaza before we headed toward our third destination. Along the way we just had to stop at the Cutthroat Saloon in Markleville to check out the decor. On the ceiling hung fresh bra's and panties from the party the night before. We took pictures of the hotel and saloon along with many bikes out front left over from the long back from Sturgis, South Dakota.
We then headed over the Altamont Pass to a small little creek that was a technical challenge with fish behind every rock. We fished again from 4 PM until 8 PM with good success for some small Wild Rainbows. The largest was a 13 inches Rainbow and the smallest was a 4-inch Brookie.
On Sunday AM we headed toward the SF airport as Martin had a plane to catch. A world a part we spent five days in search Wild and Native Trout as we spoke the common language of Fly Fishing.
So if you ever get the chance to meet and fish with some one in this manner - go for it. Both your lives will be enriched. To change a common saying: walk softly and carry a small stick.
Stealth fly-fishing is the wave of the future ... if you have a 4 wt. rod think about a 2 wt. rod on your next trip.
Martin you are a good friend and fishing partner,
next time you are in California we will go horse packing for Golden Trout.
Thanks Rich Lob
This small story precisely recaptures the essence of the trip, and like Rich I cannot stress enough the importance of taking the chance to fish with strangers, having an open mind and being willing to try something new. Great friends are made this way.
Rich was on the mail when I returned home:
Hi Martin this is probably the end of your first day back to work. I hope that your plane ride was a safe one. I enjoyed your company for the five days we spent together. Fly Fishing is such a joy when you fish with friends who enjoy it as much as I do.
I hope that you are able to walk again. I was walking fine by noon on Monday. Looking forward to the photos. I know you are very busy right now so write when you can.
I did post a fish report on FF@ ... now it is your turn.
I am looking forward to you joining the practical jokes in my life.
Thanks Rich Lob
What can I say...?
Thanks Rich Lob!