I have often been asked why I do not bother with any lake
fishing or as we call it, still water fishing. My answer
has always been pretty much the same and you have read about
it in past. Let me share with you the exact reasons for my
reference of "moving water."
Join me for a day of fishing, a day of discovery, a day of
simple pleasures as we did when we were children, before the
demands of adulthood.
Time to get everything packed. It's going to be an excellent
day for fishing. The morning is a brisk 45 degrees but projected
high is 65 by the afternoon. With the lack of any recent storms
and rains, the water levels have been stable for the last few
weeks. We go through a mental list to be sure the bike is packed
with all the needed gear for the day. The fly box has all our
favorite nymphs and streamers. It's winter and surface flies
are not very productive. Downing a last cup of coffee, we fire
up the bike and head out to the interstate for a quick ride to
the river. Today's trip will take us to the San Gabriel's north
fork above Georgetown. At the low water crossing is a little
known 12 site, tent only, camping ground. There is a small
paved day-use only parking area, adjacent to the camp grounds.
From here there is a 26 mile hiking trail that encircles Lake
Georgetown. On the southern shores up on the cliffs is an old
abandoned settlers homestead. Here they grew herbs possibly
for trade as well as their own meals. The herb gardens have
survived all these years and adventuress people still make
the hike to gather herbs in the almost forgotten gardens amidst
Our path lies in the other direction. Heading up river away
from the low water crossing. After gearing up we head across
the low water crossing pausing to look down into the water.
A few bass are startled by our approach and seek deeper waters
for safety. These waters are crystal clear. Clear as the bottled
waters in our convenient stores. Today is going to be another
challenge. We pause along the river's edge an take a temperature
reading. It's hovering right at about 51 degrees. Still a little
too cool for any activity from the bream, and the bass will be
slow to take any flies also. However we know their habits, the
river and methods to entice the winter bite.
We casually amble along the bank soaking in the winter's morning.
The key here is to move away from the low water crossing. Many
new fly fishermen are easily discouraged from stopping at low
water crossings due to the popularity among the locals as favored
swimming and fishing holes. Even though there may be a small
crowd at the crossing, they rarely ever venture any further than
a few yards away from the crossing.
As we head up river the recent floods of a couple months ago are
very noticeable. Debris is high up in the trees showing a rise
of at least 20 feet or more. The river has changed also. The
main flow is now to the north side of the bed from where it was
to the south last year. The rock piles are much larger in the
center causing islands that were not there before the floods.
We decide to stop at the rock islands and shift through the
rubble. After bending over and combing the rocks and probing
here and there with the toe of our boots and wading staff, we
make a small but amazing find. A perfect whole fossil!
When you think about the amount of water and the force that
brought this fossil to rest here, it's amazing it even survived
for us to find. My wife being a 4th grade teacher always asks
me to bring these kind of things home so she can use them in
Water and time has left some very interesting patterns in the rock.
What we see here gives reason for caution when in the water. The
deep ruts can cause a turned ankle and great pain in a single step.
A little further up a large section of soft limestone has been
removed and a secondary channel has formed. The limestone
appears smooth and level. Much better for walking. As we
approach, we notice a peculiarity about the formation. With
quickening steps and building excitement we get closer and
discover . . . Dinosaur tracks!
With the removal of the upper limestone layer some dinosaur tracks
were exposed. This is quite a find. Even if we do not land a
single fish today, this makes the whole trip worth while.
After the dino tracks we hit a few of the deeper holes and
runs and spend the rest of the day landing a few small bream.
But the day is winding down and the larger fish seem to have
eluded us this trip.
So we head back to the bike and while removing our gear and
repacking for the trip home we reflect on our day on the river.
The beautiful clear winters day, listening to the sounds of
the water gurgling and laughing among the rocks on it's journey
to the sea. Finding of the fossil and the dinosaur tracks with
that simple joy of new discovery, remembering when we were
children and this was almost everyday during our summers off
from school. Reflecting on the fish that were willing to come
out and play with us, each giving us another moment of joy
Now you see why I fish the rivers and creeks; it's not just
about fishing, but exploration, discovery and for a short time
the simple pleasures of life. By taking our experiences and
sharing with others, even with a simple fossil presented to
a class of 4th graders, we ourselves, cause ripples ever
expanding outward for others to share that moment of simple
I hope you enjoyed our trip. Maybe someday we will share some
water together. ~ Hillfisher