Retracing Steps

A couple years ago, my friend and I took a pretty cool extended fly fishing road trip.  I bought a 1974 Ford Highboy, a 4 wheel camper top of similar vintage, and we spent the better part of July, trout routing our way home to the East Coast at 60 mph.  That journey started in the Shasta Region of Northern California, where we picked up the rig.  After royally upending the timeline of our host for this first leg, we spent the evening sipping whiskey in failing light, as wild rainbows happily fed on the surface.  We missed fishing this river, and I’ve always wanted to get back. 

In my chosen field, sometimes there are requests for supporting mills to visit end users.  In most instances, this can be valuable, other times you can cut yourself out a deal altogether.  A key partner in the Printed Circuit Board market, was requesting a joint call to my customer in SoCal.  With the understanding there wouldn’t be any dialogue on price or a tour of their facility, I set this meeting up.  This, of course, presented the opportunity for another fishing trip.  So I made plans to travel back to the Upper Sac with a friend for a few days before the meeting.

As we started to climb out of the “Veggie Basket”, it became apparent that we would have a real winter blast to deal with.  This year has been favorable for snowpack, which means more water for freestones and lower chances of repeating the wildfires that took so much in 2018.  With traffic and light snow, we arrived well after dark, got the fire going in the wood stove, and settled in to enjoy some fine smoked ribs and libations.  The next day called for cold temps and a good chance of heavy snow. 

The plan the first day was pretty loose.  Have a leisurely breakfast, then hit the river during the warmest part of the day.  Much to the chagrin of my host, I’ve been following a Keto nutrition program since mid-January.  He obliged me, and we had a Mediterranean breakfast of salamis, cheeses, olives, and figs each day.  I’m pleased to share my scale reads a full 13 pounds lighter than it did following the holidays.  That celebration is short lived as I seem to have given myself gout in the process. 

Down low, there’s mix of town stockers, hearty natives, and lake runs.  Up higher, the wild fish dominate.  Their contrast is so stark.  It’s a nymphing game this time of year.  According to the reports, the water was up, and fishing was poor.  I really expected to see the Mochachino we’ve been seeing so much of in the East, and this was not the case.  Sure, it was higher, but the clarity was quite good.  Fish were camped on the soft edges, and didn’t seem too particular about what they were eating.  Sure was fun.  

We spent a few hours getting pelted by wet snow, until everything seemed cold and wet.  Time to call it a day.

Day 2, would be spent on the hoof.  This fishery is bordered by an interstate, as well as an active rail line.  The railroad also doubled as a transient thoroughfare.  It was fascinating to stop and read some of the cryptic messages, drawings, and notes of good will.  A glimpse into a world that really doesn’t get a lot of attention, really stirred my interest.  All the way up to the soda spring, there were places people communicated and made their mark.  It was a nice distraction during the miles of trudging along, wearing felt bottom boots, and walking in heavy, wet snow.

On hike trips like this, I like to go to the furthest point, then work back.  Must be the late night drift boater in me.  It’s nice to be close to home when the fishing is done for the day.

Thanks, my friend. We covered a lot of ground, saw some sweet scenery, and caught some really remarkable fish.  

The business meeting went well too, and it will likely afford the opportunity for retracing steps.  Again.  Fair warning, Jose.


Mike Cartechine

Mike is a Rust Belt resident that started fly fishing before The Movie. He cut his teeth on the warm water fisheries in Ohio before moving east. His home river is the Upper Delaware, and in 2017 he founded the Upper Delaware River Native Fish Society, which raises awareness and respect for the native shad, chub, sucker, and black bass of this fabled fishery. He can also be found swinging muddlers for lake run fish on Great Lakes tributaries, and learning more about salt any chance he gets.

Mike prefers medium-fast action 5-weights with clean lines, sharp knives, meats cooked over fire, real Neapolitan pizza, and a well stocked & organized drift boat.

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