[Editor's Note: Before he headed back to college, our great summer intern, Grant White, made a trip to California, where he got some fishing in.]
My summer internship at Orvis HQ officially ended a couple weeks ago, but the company’s wealth of connections has kept me pretty busy in my time since. Last week, my sister Katie and I met up with Orvis-endorsed guide Brian Slusser for a day of fly fishing in northern California. We hit up three bodies of water, practiced three different fly-fishing methods, and had a wonderful time with Brian and his beautiful golden retriever, Shooter.
Katie and I met Brian and Shooter in the town of Truckee and wasted no time getting on the water. The day’s itinerary included stillwater smallmouth fishing in the morning, with a transition to stream and river fishing in the afternoon and evening.
This summer in particular, I have fallen in love with stillwater bass fishing around my Vermont home. Arriving at Prosser Reservoir, I was immediately struck by the region’s barren landscape. Gone were the fallen trees and structure that indicate smallmouth habitat in New England lakes, replaced by, well—dirt. “There are probably 10,000 smallmouths in this water,” remarked Brian. Okay, I thought, but where? This is why hiring a local and established guide makes all the difference. Brian has been fishing and guiding the Northern California area for over sixteen years. He knows where the fish are located and how to catch them. And as it turned out for us, once he found the fish, catching these predatory smallmouths proved to be pretty easy.
In the next two hours, Katie and I caught around a dozen smallies. Although we didn’t hook into any bigger than 7 inches, every cast we threw out brought countless fish to the surface to check our offerings. I even threw on a size 6 slider in an attempt to ward off the pesky juveniles, but it didn’t matter. These smallies were hitting literally anything and everything that touched the water. Although none were substantial in size, it was still a blast to see these small fish fight, leap out of the water, and even put a little bend in our 5-weights.
From Prosser we headed out to fish the Little Truckee and the main Truckee River. The transition from the flat reservoir to moving water meant not only different settings, but also entirely different techniques. Because I am predominately a bass fisherman, backcasting around trees and mending line is something I don’t have a lot of experience practicing. But Brian was with us every step of the way, offering instruction and demonstrating proper technique. He again knew exactly where the fish were located and had a keen eye for rising trout. “Right there! Did you see it?” He would ask, pointing to a spot in the ripples. Sure enough, a minute later a trout’s snout would emerge through the water for a split second before disappearing.
By the end of the day, my time on the stream and river yielded one beautiful, but small brown trout. However it was Katie, who cited 2002 as the last time she picked up a fly rod, who wrangled in two nice size rainbows and one brown.
At times, fishing on the river was a bit slow, but that didn’t mean the day dragged at all. Shooter, Brian’s beautiful golden retriever, provided all the entertainment needed for the slow fishing periods. Although bred from a lineage of bird-hunting dogs, Shooter has morphed into a full-fledged fishing pup. He spent most of his time tagging along with Brian as he made his way back and forth between my sister and me. Sitting or standing carefully by the waters edge, Shooter’s ears would perk up and his tail would wag at the sight of every rising fish. When one was hooked, the dog would be by your side ready to make a new fish-friend.
Overall, the day was a blast, and I highly recommend fishing with Brian Slusser and Shooter if you are ever in Northern California.