Here's a really cool little tale of So. Cal. trouting for your listening and dining pleasure. I think we all agree that warm weather, small streams and zero precipitation equals a tough formula for the fish. That said, I still wanted to evaluate the population of an obscure trickle with no name in the local hills. It's Thin Blue Line Fever at its finest (no relation to any 70s trucker movies). I also have been neglecting the locals and miss that sense of discovery. After some careful study with the help of my assistant in Black Diamond Trout crime the plan was set and some sandwiches packed (baguette with kalamata olives). * The relationship between fishing and bananas has its own special taboos (especially in salt water angling) but today, we celebrated the banana and it's value as an angling talisman. *
Our destination was a spot where water is barely known to flow and represented a better location for the search for reptiles than the search for fish. The terrain was not human-friendly. With the odds deliberately stacked against us, observation would be key and fishing secondary. I am not making this up!
The stream was intermittent but due to the shade and altitude, the water was actually quite chilly. Observed were tons of fry which really made me happy. The next best thing however was the occasional "dead pool" (trumpets and drums please). The formula is simple: obscure stream+remote location+robust population+dead pool=home of the hog". No fry in this hole hmmm no fry in this one either. What could be "wrong"? It seems so textbook but this has served me very very well over the years and on this day it was the jackpot formula. Feeling comfortable with fishing, the rod was rigged-up and fishing began.
A lot more crawling with stealthy peering over boulders and brush followed. The fish would sometimes spook at the slightest movement and I knew that the game was serious. These fish have persisted for a reason. They are hyper-wary. Finally, tactics adjusted, I peeked around a corner and saw a dark shadow casually cruising the far end of a small and barely flowing plunge. A poor bow and arrow cast had my fly fall a good 3 feet short of the fish. After briefly readjusting my footing for I was in a precarious crouch, I looked up and saw the fish was now just under the fly. Yes folks, I was fishing a dry (#16 Stimulator). ;) In an unusually slow and deliberate fashion, the fish slurped the fly under.
The fish was safely released with a lot of spring still in its step and we left the arroyo with a sense of wonder. The successful adaptation of a European fish species in So. Cal. will forever amaze me (carp notwithstanding).