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Be warned: Don’t fish major Sierra rivers until we reach July
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A short while ago, I ran into a fellow who asked me how I did on the opening day of trout season. The fact is that I actually stayed home on opening day. Why? Because it’s too darned dangerous out there!  Long ago I discovered that there is a season dictated by the State and one dictated by The Good Lord.  It reminds me of the advice in Matthew 22:21 to “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars  and render unto God that whish is Gods”. This season I suggest that you obey Gods rule, rather than that of the state.

 Once when fishing one of my favorite trout streams, I lost my footing and started to float downstream until I was slammed into a V between two boulders that were about two feet under water. I tried to get free several times but it look very much as though I was going to drown. Finally I got my feet between my body and the rocks. It dawned on me that I’d probably only have enough strength for one more try and that if I failed, it’d probably be the end of the line. Finally, after a brief prayer,  I pushed with all my strength. Suddenly the current swept me away, bouncing head over heels downstream. I managed to make my way to shore and collapsed on the sand. Except for breaking my rod tip and being bruised, soaked, and sore, no harm was done. That was as close as I want to get to meeting my maker for some time. 

 Last spring, I recall reading about a father and son who turned up missing while fishing on the North Fork of the Stanislaus near Boards Crossing. It was over a month later, after the water level dropped, that some other fishermen found their bodies. The close call that I had happened in the fall when the water was low and clear, yet I had been guilty of an often fatal mistake, I had underestimated the incredible force of moving water. I failed to respect the force.

 This spring especially, with the abnormally heavy snowpack in the Sierra, most of the rivers will be roaring with ten times their normal flow. All it will take is a couple days of hot weather and the raging torrents will begin. Of course, there’s no way to tell for sure, but my gut tells me that this season will be a killer. I’m not trying to scare you out of going fishing, but if you don’t want to be found wedged between some boulders until some fellow fishermen find what’s left of you, you’d be well advised to stay away from all, repeat all, of the major Sierra rivers on Opening Day. That means avoid any of the major tributaries of the American, Mokelumne, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced. The higher elevation tributaries like Deer Creek and Beaver Creek will be snowbound and unfishable. If you think I’m trying to dissuade you from fishing your favorite river on Opening Day, you’re right. Better a dull weekend than a deadly one.


I’m probably one of the first to complain that there are too many anglers, but I sure as heck don’t want to reduce the competition by having some of my fellow anglers drown. Don’t plan on fishing any of the major Sierra rivers until July. I’m dead serious. Stay away from the rivers this spring and you’ll live to enjoy them this summer.


Until next week,


Tight Lines