They never talk about why Opie and Andy are walking down to the fishing hole in the opening credits of the “Andy Griffith Show.”
There is no breakdown about how it “relieves stress” or puts somebody “in-line with nature.” It’s simply a father and son trudging down a rural road to dunk their line in what was more than likely a muddy river because, well, that’s just what you do when you love fishing.
No games. No gimmicks. No stickers for the back window of Andy’s cruiser that tells the world how much he enjoys it all. They just did it.
And with a little bit of that adventurous spirit, you could do it too.
One of the perks of living in Northern California is the fact that it’s truly a fisherman’s paradise -- the abundance of rainfall and water ensures year-round angling in some places and provides a postcard-perfect experience.
If that’s what you’re in to. I mean, not everybody likes fishing and actually catching something.
Here are a few local places worth checking out:
•Stanislaus River -- This one meandering stream could be the focus of it’s own entire story. It’s dammed up and diverted in nearly a dozen places, and the sections of free river that do exist are either incredibly difficult to get to or incredibly popular with other anglers.
But patience, and luck, will land you want to be.
If it’s beauty and natural surroundings that you’re looking for, Clark’s Fork is where you want to go. Yes, it is a drive – the turnoff is less than 10 miles from Kennedy Meadows, which is essentially the start of the trek up and over the top of the Sonora Pass. But Clark’s Fork features rapids and chutes that flow into pristine pools -- exactly where huge trout like to hang out -- and that means a much better overall fishing experience.
You can pick up a Forest Service Map for $10 at any ranger station that’s open when you’re in a National Forest, and the detail will give the opportunity to search for access points and hidden gems you might not know existed.
•Melones Reservoir -- This is one of the major places that the Stanislaus River stops, and that means that all of the fish that were at one time a part of the flow that ended up in the California Delta were halted. That includes the sockeye salmon that was forced to adapt to freshwater and became known to anglers as the “Kokanee.” They’re good to eat and fun catch and are easily identifiable -- typically one’s line has been dozens of feet below the surface in cold water to catch one out of a school.
Aside from a slight deviation in the natural order of things, Melones offers everything an angler could ask for. Small, tight coves with downed trees provides the perfect cover for bass fishing while stocked trout make trolling a breeze. You don’t need a boat to get to the fish here, but it helps. A lot.
•Anywhere along the San Joaquin River -- If it’s the Andy Griffith-thing you’re going for, you kind of have to walk on the trail to the river in your own backyard. Fortunately that trail here leads to one of California’s longest rivers and one that plays a critical role in the fish ecosystem of the Delta.
And the fish are big. Very big. Depending on the time of year, it’s not uncommon to pull three and four-pound striped bass out of the river at will. At least that’s what my friends tell me.
Access might be slightly difficult aside from the public boat ramps since most of the land that wraps around the levees is private. But if you’re lucky enough to find a spot, make sure you take the boy along with you.
By JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter.