fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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fly fishing, a saving grace?

Seems that “rock bottom” came for rocker Eric Clapton while he was fly fishing. (He’s an avid fly fisherman.) In his new book he writes of just how fly fishing finally led a full realization of how alcohol was destroying his life.

Early in the morning a few days later, wearing my new thermal underwear, I crept out of the house to go fishing on the River Wey. I had some new equipment, including two rods.

On the opposite bank were a couple of professional fishermen, with a tent and everything beautifully laid out. They were watching me. I was drunk, and I had just about managed to get my gear set up when I lost my balance and fell onto one of the new rods, breaking it clean off at the handle. I saw the fishermen look away in embarrassment.

That was it for me. The last vestige of my self-respect had been ripped away. Being a good fisherman was the one place where I still had some self-esteem. I called Roger and told him: “You’re right. I’m in trouble. I need help.”

This comes from the TimesOnline.


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learning on the water

Caught in some shallow riffles on the Stanislaus River at Two-Mile Bar, Oct. 6, 2007.I was invited to join my club’s novice class on the Stanislaus River at Two-Mile Bar on Saturday as a student (I helped instruct part of the class the previous week). The weather couldn’t have been better! With eight fishers and three coaches we hit the water about 9:30 a.m. with a small mayfly hatch in progress. Flows were very good and the fish very cooperative as everyone in the group landed a fish.

This section of the Stanislaus River is limited to barbless flies and catch and release only and is inhabited only by wild trout. I started fishing a near seam in the “Oak Tree Pool” and was rewarded about a dozen casts later with a small but beautiful guy who tried to go deep. He had the dubious honor of being my first trout caught on a fly (an olive WD40, #20) in this section of the Stanislaus River.

A bit later, on the far seam (created by two currents of differing speeds coming alongside each other) and the same WD40 fly, I was able to pick up another small rainbow. Much of the time we practiced – with guidance from our club coaches – various casts, with roll and reach casts being put into use quite a bit.

Upstream a bit, in some shallow riffles near the confluence of the three channels, I was shocked by a 13 inch trout that slammed an AP nymph (#18, a fly that at the same time looks like nothing and everything) and took off downstream, with me following. Unfortunately, my coach who had volunteered to grab the fish, let him go on an accidental quick-release. But I guess that fish’s buddies took pity on me as in short order I was into the small guy below, who also headed downstream and had be led to a pool before landing.
Me and a buddy.
Later in the day we headed to the far downstream riffles, where I fished above the riffles, targeting some bigger fish in a pool just underneath a huge boulder. Didn’t catch any big ones there, but being able to get longer drifts (a new accomplishment for me) picked up a strike at the tail of the pool (behind me in the pictures below), just as the water became a bit more shallow. The result was the little guy in my hands below. (Also on an AP nymph.)

Throughout the day we also mingled with llamas that are found in the area, found a huge crawdad head, observed an osprey dive and claim a decent-sized trout from the river, and watched a few big salmon head upstream. It may be obvious, but it was a great day with good weather, friends and fish.

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what would Yogi do?

Do we need pedestrian and wildlife lanes on our bridges? A bear jumped off the Old Donner Pass Highway to avoid two oncoming cars but amazingly and acrobatically saved his hide and ‘bout now might be regaling his bear buddies with the tale.
Bear in Net

Two cars converging on the Old Donner Pass Highway scared a bear who had wandered into the middle of a bridge causing it to jump over the side. The massive animal managed to arrest its fall and sat on a support for the 280-foot-high for a day until animal control darted it, pushed it into an army-surplus nylon net with a pole, and then lowered it to the ground.

This comes from, with more pictures at

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the almost-free lunch

One day, I may become one of those gray-haired (almost there) and stylishly-dressed fly fisherman you see casting wonderful loops on the banks of your local river. Until then, I’ll settle for fostering those new to the sport.

One late September evening my assistance was requested at the club’s novice fly fishing reels.jpgclass. Not quite the old hand at this fly fishing stuff and definitely not a master caster, I was to run the “hooking and landing” station during casting lessons. In exchange I would be rewarded with a sandwich lunch.

So, last Saturday I headed to Walnut Creek and in short order was deemed “The Hooking and Landing Instructor.” My task was simple. Using a remote-controlled truck, to which fly line was attached, I was to give our prospective fly fishers a taste of landing a fish. To understand that landing a fish on a fly rod is different, one has to appreciate that a fly reel is mainly there to (1) hold your line and (2) provide a bit of drag when a fish runs. To play and land a fish one has to strip line — that is pull it with your hand and let it pile up in front of you (and hopefully not trip on it).

Sure, I landed an obnoxious number of fish so far this season — 150+ brook, rainbow and brown trout — but my experience is limited to a handful of rives and streams and a single lake. So it was odd to have these class attendees look upon me a modicum respect even though my fly fishing days began barely six months ago.

But helping out with this class taught me how much I’ve learnt this far, and how much I have to learn. There is such a thing as an almost-free lunch.