My daughter, Laura Ross, flew up from Monrovia on Friday to fly fish with me on the North Fork of the Stanislaus River. Laura had gone on our Green River trip with Alan Fisher and Mandy Anderson in March and caught thirty+ fish on each of three days, so it was time for a reality check. I had also given her a Sage five weight rod and a Ross reel for her birthday in June and it was past time to try them out.
Wayne Taylor II had recommended the White Pines Outdoors for guide services and we met the owner, Dan Liechty, at 5:30AM on Saturday morning. We were on the river just after 6AM. Since the Green is mostly nymphing with several items on the leader (two nymphs, split shot, and up to three strike indicators) the technique doesn't really involve casting. You slap all of the stuff off whichever side of the boat the guide tells you to. The Stanislaus was going to be Laura's first experience fly fishing with casting. Dan was tolerant of her continually calling it a pole, but he drew the line at bobber so we had some vocabulary as well as casting to work on. We did well in the morning. Laura caught five fish and I caught the largest rainbow, on a California river. It measured fifteen inches, but that trophy didn't last long.
While working our way across the river, Dan helped Laura who had zip wading experience but way too much confidence. I managed to slide off of a rock and fall in. Laura said that she heard me yell and was impressed as the sunglasses went flying, the hat went flying, and I went downstream, but with my left arm extended and the rod held up safely away from obstacles.
Just before finishing our half-day with Dan, we fished a nice pool with me standing on a partially submerged rock ledge that had a sharp undercut. Dan spotted a hog and told me to let everything drift. It took the size twenty-two WD40 and I had a big fish on my four-weight Sage. It took off and I was along for the ride. Then it decided to go under the ledge and would have broken off if drastic measures hadn't been taken. Without hesitating, and with the sound of rod pieces breaking, I pulled up as it went for the ledge. That maneuver brought it over instead of letting it go under. I managed to land it with what was left of the rod and Dan got it in the net. Fortunately, Laura has done other fishing so understood the priorities: her mother would risk drowning to protect the rod, but sacrifice it for a really nice fish. You can always send the Sage in for repair, but how often do you get to hook a rod-breaking eighteen-inch rainbow on the North Fork?
We took a break and then went out with Tibor Derencsenyi at 4PM to finish our split day of guiding. I had heard great things about Beaver Creek and it is one of Tibor's favorites. He did his best to instruct us in small creek technique, but we decided to finish the evening back on the North Fork where we got skunked. Tibor felt so bad that he offered to come fishing with us Sunday morning and help us with our casting. After two days of fly-casting with Dan and Tibor, Laura was successfully double hauling and catching fish doing it. Tibor taught us some other fancy casts and Laura caught two more fish on Sunday.
We had a wonderful trip on a river that wasn't supposed to be fishing that well thanks to both Dan and Tibor. I can't thank them enough for making it a great trip.
IF YOU GO:
Dan & Sandy Liechty
WHITE PINES OUTDOORS
2182 Highway 4,
Arnold, CA 95223
SNOWSHOE BREWING COMPANY
2050 Highway 4, Arnold
1225 Oak Circle, Arnold
just off of Highway 4 across from the Ebbetts Pass Lodge
EBBETTS PASS LODGE
1173 Highway 4