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Something’s fishy, and that’s good

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POSTED May 12, 2011 12:53 a.m.

I guess it’s appropriate that last week’s self-deprecating column, one in which I strung together some of my more human moments, was missing the first 200 words, and ended up making no sense.

I have no idea how I managed such a feat, but sure enough, in my “sent items” box, it was only half there.

Few things are easier than copying a document, and pasting it into the body of an email, so as a man I will admit ... it was Gmail’s fault.

One thing that is not on par with the simplicity of sending an email is fishing the raging streams that drain into the Central Valley. Due to the rain, everything from the Stanislaus to the Sacramento is running high.

But as every guide I know says, “If you only fished when the conditions were right, you’d hardly see the water.”

So I went to the Upper Sacramento River (using the money I saved in April by only using three-quarters of a tank of gas) despite guides and fly shop owners saying the fishing was tough. There is something deep in the reptilian brain of fishermen that wants to be able to say “Oh yeah? Well I still caught fish”.

Plus, tough doesn’t mean impossible.

Still, I kept expectations for the whole weekend reasonable as to not set myself up in any regard.

I was welcomed by a free campsite since no water was hooked up, so I immediately assumed I would catch no fish. It is too much to ask to catch fish in a blown-up river while camping for free, especially in great weather.

However, 10 minutes into drifting a Jimmy Legs, my indicator disappeared below the surface. I was fishing a straight stretch that was flowing deep and swift.

The water rose up the embankment, so one foot out from shore, I was wading almost three deep and surrounded by bushes. The best I could do was a roll cast out into a current that had no real fishy characteristics.

The whole thing looked like a place a trout could rest but the section was huge and gave no impression of trout consolidation.

I guess I lucked out.

The indicator vanished, I set the hook, the trout jumped and fought. I talked to it, eased it close, and swooped under it with my new net. The shock of catching a fish so quickly made me release it before I had the chance to admire the thing.

This is how embellishments take root. Over the next few hours you even wonder if you actually caught it. Once you are convinced it did happen, the size of it starts to grow exponentially since the water is tough, no one is around, there is no evidence and nothing has happened since.

Just before my buddies arrived I landed another trout. This one was a logo, the type of fish that definitively represents a species.

It was an olive-shaded brown trout that turned burnt gold at its belly with uniform black spots down its flanks. I photographed it, partly as evidence, partly out of admiration.

I sat down for a few minutes, not to get all mushy, but to fully grasp the warm clear day, cold clear water, free clean campsite, and two beautiful fish on a weekend trip in which success was meant for the ‘dedicated’ angler.

When life works out like this, it’s best to slowly and quietly take note. The memory will inevitably be needed when the sky clouds and the fish wise-up.

To contact Jeff Lund, email

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