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Fishing holes were favorites for his Grandpa

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Fishing holes were favorites for his Grandpa

Don Moyer’s book “Tight Lines” is filled with observations of the outdoor Ripon philosopher from the Bodie Ghost town to spreads of wildflowers.


POSTED May 5, 2012 1:53 a.m.

Author, newspaper fishing columnist and sometime lobbyist Don Moyer of Ripon has an imaginary creel filled with early memories of trout and bass fishing trips and locations of his favorite fishing holes in the valley and foothills.

Today he most enjoys fishing on the Stanislaus River in Ripon under the bike and foot bridge the city purchased for a song from an Alabama city. It hadn’t met the height requirements for river traffic and couldn’t be installed. When he is not on the bank under the bridge, you can find him fishing from a floating tube in the same part of the river and having to get out all too soon near Jack Tone Road.

Moyer was quick to reminisce back to 1953 when he was just 5 years old and he first went with his dad Don to the Tuolumne River at a spot under the Lumsden Bridge for an entire day. He said they had left the house about 5 a.m. and drove a couple of hours and stayed at the river until late in the afternoon.

He remembers the panic of once getting lost at a tender young age as well. Moyer said his dad had always told him not to panic if that ever happened and to just walk upstream.

“I was a scared little kid, but I found my way and we went home with a basket full of fish,” he said.

The daily trout limit was 25 fish back then before it dropped to 10 and now it’s set at five that you can take from the river, he noted. Admittedly he always catches more than he takes home for dinner, saying he is into “catch and release” fishing mode. The women in the family have become liberated and they don’t readily clean the catch any longer, he chuckled.

“My dad was a fly fisherman and taught me how to fly fish,” Moyer added. But he also had a history of catching Blue Gil, Croppy and Bass in the Delta.

Moyer said the best fishing hole is in the San Joaquin River off the Dos Reis Road landing where there is a hole in the river bottom where catfish gather. It’s as easy as dropping in a line, he quipped, and you’ve got your dinner with five or six cats in a short time.

Catfish can easily be hypnotized, too,” he laughed, “by just rubbing their bellies.”

A number of those prize catfish became pets in a small backyard children’s wading pool at the Moyer home being a subject of jovial conversation all summer long.

The former Ripon city councilman said he was thrilled with a move to Ripon as a teen because of the good fishing in the Stanislaus River and to be near his Tracy High speech coach Ernie Poletti who lived on Two Rivers Road south of Manteca.

He said he had him for speech during his freshman year in Tracy and would have had the former Ripon educator for four years if his family had remained in that community. The two of them would often go spin casting for bass on the Stanislaus close to Poletti’s home, he remembered from years ago when he was just 16.

“It was just me and him – one on one – and I’d show up at his house after school,” Moyer quipped.

The Ripon writer remembers generational bonding – as he has termed it – with his dad and grandfather being the core of memorable family fishing outings.

“I was just talking to my kids the other day about taking my dad out fishing in Farmington in a part of the old rice farm. It was a great fishing hole where we could see the bobbers bounce up and down in the water. We had a great time and caught a bunch of fish – being with all his kids was a great generational bonding,” Moyer said.

He said the family had done the same thing with his grandpa years earlier at a fishing hole at Airport Way and French Camp Road. Four generations were there in about 1975. His grandpa died three years later, Moyer said.

The Riponite told of how he and his wife and two other couples liked to camp for the summer in the Sierras on the Mokelumne River near Hermit Valley. The husbands would drag the trailers and take their families up there – a home base where they would camp for months. The families would enjoy the weeklong quiet of the wilderness while the husbands would drive home to their jobs.

It was the home base for the Moyers, the Neumanns and the Hodges, he said. The original three couples evolved into many additional families, he mused.

They all had a reunion at the camp sites last year as Moyer scattered his mother’s ashes to be near his dad’s so they could be in that beautiful valley next to the gorgeous trout stream forever.

Now it’s time for another generation to be introduced to the sport as grandson Joshua Mullen is about to get a Donald Duck fishing pole for his third birthday.

“He should be big enough to watch the bobber bouncing up and down,” Moyer said. “It’s not about fishing – it’s about having fun with fishing coming later.”

“Ski Resort Fishing” is a popular yearly event for several family friends where some five couples visit places from Park City, Utah to Mammoth Lakes high in the Sierra when there is no snow on the ground.

The skiers aren’t there, but the trout fishing, golf and luxury accommodations are readily available at bargain prices, he smiled.

“Whenever I travel I pack a rod in my suitcase, especially when I’m lobbying or going to a conference. It’s not too far from Washington to at Gettysburg and it’s a beautiful river just two hours to the north – and west into the hills of Maryland is great for trout and bass,” he said.

Moyer’s 300-plus page book, “Tight Lines,” is about everything in nature from wild flowers to ghost towns and sells for $22 on Amazon or from the author himself with an autograph.

A focus of the book is an 1858 vintage kettle the family found in 1980 with a stamp of the foundry name of B. Ellis & Son. Moyers said it obviously fell off a wagon some 130 years before, noting that there is a kettle imprint just like the one they found in the dirt on the town seal of South Carver, Massachusetts where the kettle was manufactured.

He noted that the foundry also made cannons for the Yankees in the War of 1812.

Moyer values the readers of his fishing column from as far away as Bulgaria, Taiwan, England and Australia due to his newspaper columns being sent worldwide on the Internet.

He recently received correspondence from a missionary in Bulgaria who said he loved his story about the rattlesnakes.



209 staff reporter


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