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Solitary fishing ideal for Moyer

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POSTED August 12, 2010 2:01 a.m.
Fishing, for me, is primarily a solitary pursuit.

Of course, I almost always fish with a partner, but a true fishing partner becomes an extension of one’s self. I have fished on party boats in salt water where one goal is to win the boat’s pool for the biggest fish. I enjoyed camaraderie and have repeated the experience numerous times.  But at its core, I believe that angling should be largely a solitary sport.

Over the years, I have gone to amazing lengths to find angling solitude. I have slid down into canyons 2,000 feet deep to get away from the crowds. Unfortunately at the end of the day, when you’re bone-tired, then you have to drag yourself 2,000 feet up the canyon wall back to your truck.

I have hiked along mountainsides for miles without a trail to find lonely waters, but again the hike out is a killer, even if you’re walking along a fairly level route. I figured there had to be a better way to find angling solitude.  

There are a few techniques that will provide you with a situation in which it’s just you and your partner matching wits with those crafty old fish.

One fairly simple way is fishing from rafts on a commercial float trip. If its solitude you’re after I recommend you stay away from the famous blue-ribbon trophy fisheries.

While the fishing can indeed be great, and a fishing guide will tie on just the right offering for you and tell you exactly where to cast, dynamite works just as well and takes about as much skill. It doesn’t really test your skill as an individual angler.

In addition, boat traffic on some of the really famous waters is sort of like fishing in rush hour traffic.

For solitude on float fishing trips, I recommend rafting the white-water rivers that most anglers never bother with. Fish directly from the raft between the white water rapids and you’ll catch some dandy fish, but be sure to sit down and hang on when you enter the rapids.

Generally speaking when the roar of the river becomes too loud to talk to your partner, it’s time to sit down and pray.

Another technique that will put you in solitude and relatively unfished waters is to utilize what I call shuttle fishing.  You begin your fishing just as the stream leaves the road and fish the lonely stretch far enough upstream until you hit the next road crossing.

Naturally, the farther the roadless stretch the fewer anglers you will encounter, and the better the fishing will be. Unfortunately, when you reach the end of your journey, you’re stranded with no wheels to get back.

That’s where the shuttle part comes in. Let’s use an example: an extremely productive shuttle trip is on the Tuolumne River between Jawbone Creek and the mouth of Cherry Creek. You drive down the Lumsdens Bridge road cross the Tuolumne and about 5 miles farther turn off to the Jawbone Creek trailhead.

Meanwhile, you have arranged for a spouse, or friend to drive several miles beyond your starting spot to where the Lumsdens Road connects to the Cherry road and waits for you at the Holm Powerhouse on Cherry Creek.

You then drop about 2,000 feet down the Jawbone trail and fish all day up to Cherry Creek, where your ride awaits you.

The logistical details of shuttle fishing can be a real pain, but its considerable better than the leg cramps and heat prostration of trying to claw your way up the 2,000 foot canyon when you’re dog tired.

Besides, since you’ll have been fishing water that very few anglers ever even see, you’re likely to have connected with some dandy fish. Is it worth the expense of paying for a white water raft trip, or the headaches of arranging a shuttle trip?

I think so. But then there are lots of folks who think I’m crazy.

Until next week,
Thigh Lines

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