A long-anticipated journey

Summer is in full swing, and after much long deliberation, I’ve decided to fish my way from California to Montana. I’ll be gone fishin’ for the rest of the summer and perhaps well into the fall. I set out with no particular time frame or route in mind. Like Bilbo Baggins, I intend to go wherever the adventure takes me.

Irresponsible? Perhaps a little bit. But hey, you only live once. What about my job you ask? I’ll still be able to telecommute part-time for my current job so I won’t be completely off the grid while I’m on my adventures (not to mention I’ll be able to afford fishing gear, gas and food….in that order). Many of my friends have no idea why I would want to go galavanting across the country by myself; fishing away the summer. But then again, many of my friends don’t fly fish; those that do just wish that they could come with me.

A scenic drive

A scenic drive

Days 1-3; July 13, 2013:

My Dad is traveling with me for the Oregon leg of my trip; double the gear but also double the fun. Most of the morning is spent getting last minute items and cramming my beloved Subaru full of fishing rods, fly-tying materials, enough flies to open a fly shop, float tubes and camping gear. Who needs to see out the back window anyways?

Windmills line the mountain outside of Burney

Windmills line the mountain outside of Burney

About 5 hours into the drive, I realize I didn’t bring a net. “Hey Dad, did you bring your net?” Uh oh. Dad realizes he didn’t bring his net, not a huge deal….except for the fact that his net is attached to the back of his vest (loaded with all of his favorite flies, and other beloved fishing gear). He’ll have to make due with his hip pack for a few days until it can be FedEx’d up to meet us. The next day on the river, I notice him reaching out of habit for tools normally found on his vest; but alas he grips at empty space. Poor guy!

Fish these size were so fun to catch on a #2-3 graphite rod my Dad built. I want one!!!

Fish these size were lively to catch on a #2-3 graphite rod my Dad built. Slow action and fun to cast. I want one!!!

We make camp at Castle Crag, our site is right on the Upper Sacramento River. Ironically, our neighbors are the Peninsula Fly Fishing Club. It’s always easy to identify fellow fly anglers, the gear tends to give us away. Fishing stories are exchanged and it turns out the president of the club has just moved to Truckee. What a small world it is!

While Dad continues to chat away with these folks I decide to hit the river.  It’s dusk, the perfect time for fishing. The fish are hungry and I’m catching 10″-16″ wild and planted ‘bows every few casts. The next day more fish are caught, I learn how to tie  PMD emerger and pops teaches me how to skate a caddis. A sublime start to what promises to be a spectacular journey.

On the road again. Mt. Shasta in the background.

On the road again. Mt. Shasta in the background.

“Mind Fishing”

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself swamped at work; I’ve had to get my fishing fix by tying flies late into the evening and going through the memory reel of some of my favorite fishing trips. My most recent trip to the Trinity River is one I have been revisiting, A LOT.

It’s quite a process; initially I gaze off into the distance, my eyes begin to glaze over, and then I am transported.

It’s late fall and there is a chill in the air, the forecast for the weekend in the Trinity Alps is scattered showers with a chance of snow. With a paycheck burning a hole in my pocket and two other fishing comrades also chomping at the bit to fish away the weekend, it is decided: we will brave the cold, camp out on the river and hunt steelies. It’s already evening, but we decide to drive through the night and set up camp late, this way we can start fishing at first light. Tents, sleeping bags and other camping necessities are packed into my well-used and well-loved Subaru, (the official mode of transportation for most of my fishing adventures). A quick stop for groceries, and we begin the 4 hour drive north on interstate 5. The long drive gives us plenty of time to debate indicator or no indicator, forecast who will catch the trophy chromer, and of course talk a lot of BS and heckle each other.

2am: finally we have arrived. An almost full moon reflects off the river and casts an eerie light upon the landscape. A camp fire is built to keep away the cold while we make camp. More importantly, the rods are brought out and set up, to lie in wait for a quick start in the morning. With the sound of the river gurgling and the bright night sky, everyone is too excited to sleep. Jack Daniels decides to makes an appearance along with fish stories and friendly banter. Eventually, the laughter dies down and a quiet contemplation of the fishing to come sets in.

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Sharing a fire with friends

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Marlee is exhausted after setting up camp!

Dawn breaks and my eyes pop open: after a rushed cup of coffee and breakfast, the fishing begins. The four of us (Joshua, Dustin, myself, and my dog Marlee) venture up the river. The view alone is worth the drive. The fall colors are vibrant and the sun has popped out from behind the dense morning fog. The sound of the running river with the occasional spawning salmon jumping is music to my ears. As I cast away the day, I catch one steelhead, but lose him before he is landed. Despite not landing a fish, the day is far from a failure. I silently thank the river for a perfect day of fishing.

Fall colors. Stunning!

Fall colors. Stunning!

Breath taking views!

Breath taking views

Dustin catches the fish of the day, a gorgeous steelie. Joshua hooks into a huge spawning salmon. Around the campfire, we all bear satisfied grins while reliving the days’ fishing adventures. Even Marlee grunts with contentment as he enjoys the warmth of the fire.

Dustin caught the first steelhead of the day. Gorgeous!

Dustin caught the first steelhead of the day. Gorgeous!

We KINDA enjoy fishing.

We KINDA enjoy fishing.

The next day is more of the same, a perfect day of fishing. As the sun begins to set behind the tree-covered mountains, the time has come to say good bye to the Trinity river. I make a promise to myself that I will come back here again; as if I could possibly keep myself away.

Meanwhile in the real world…… “Leslie? Earth to Leslie….?!” Oh right. I am jolted back to reality from “mind fishing.” Sigh. The post-it notes on my desk are calling my name. I’m beyond tempted to leave a note and play hookie the rest of the day.