Since I’ve been involved in revitalization for the past 30 years, that’s what people know about me. So I thought I’d mix things up and write about some non-downtown topics. Fly fishing is an activity that I thoroughly love and of course, don’t do enough. We are very lucky to live in a place where we can fish throughout the year. Think of all of the places where people go to fish in the western U.S., they’re all under snow in the winter. Not in the Central San Joaquin Valley, We can fish all year long. In fact the biggest trout that I ever caught was on a Christmas morning on the Kings River (that’s the one in the picture).
My fifth grade teacher, Rick Saxton, was a passionate fly fisherman. We had time for hobbies on Friday afternoons and he would tie flies. I learned how to tie a wooly bugger and royal coachman from him, although mine were always pretty rough looking. He gave me an old fly rod and reel and I practiced casting in the backyard. We lived close enough to the San Joaquin River so I could cast for bluegills (they would strike at a bare hook).
Somewhere along the way I lost or broke that fly rod. I didn’t fly fish again for years. Decades later, I went to Montana and Canada and fly fished with guides. It was fun and I’d learn a little each time. But I thought, “I don’t even know how or where to fish near Fresno, and I live at the base of the incredible Sierra Nevada mountains!”
At that time, the Fresno Bee ran an article on a local fly fishing guide, Jimmie Morales. I called Jimmie and asked him to teach me how to fish our area’s local waters. People hire golf pros and personal trainers, so why not hire a guide to teach me how to fly fish and avoid the long, frustrating process of learning on my own. I don’t have much free time, so why not learn quickly and have fun, positive results?
Jimmie taught me the correct way to tie knots, the places to go throughout the year and what flies work for different seasons and locations. He also taught me how to read a river to know where fish might be, how to sneak up on them (which is really fun) and how to hopefully reel them in. We always fish for wild trout, not the lazy fish that are raised in captivity, eating fish food and then planted in lakes and rivers. Wild fish are smarter and more fun to catch. We also practice catch and release, so that the wild fish populations aren’t depleted by overfishing.
Fly fishing is a great way to clear one’s mind. When you are on a river or stream, all other thoughts will disappear. Fly fishing is also much easier to learn than people imagine. Movies and television shows have also made it look more complicated than it really is. Others think fishing is boring, because when they were kids they’d have to sit still for hours hoping that a trout would eat their bait. Fly fishing is active, we don’t sit and wait, we go to the fish. It’s also great to get outside and to enjoy all of the natural beauty that surrounds us…we are so lucky to live here!
A bunch of fly fisher-folk and other conservationists hold a fundraiser every year to pay for extra enforcement to prevent poaching. The goal is to restore the natural trout fishery on the Lower Kings River. If you’d like to join this fun group on December 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Cedar View Winery in Sanger (they make great wine!). There is a great raffle with trips and gear. Call 559-787-9500 or visit the Kings River Conservancy website for tickets.
If you are interested in giving this great form of recreation a try or want to learn more about fly fishing give Jimmie a call 559-683-7664 or email email@example.com Tell him that you read about him on FresYes.com You could also give a guided trip as a gift or buy your favorite fly fisher (even if it’s yourself) a gift at Jimmie’s store in Oakhurst called Yosemite Rivers Fly Shop located at 40872 Highway 41 or check out the Sierra Fly Fisher website or Sierra Fly Fisher Facebook Page. Whether you’re a beginner or have been fishing for years, there is always more to learn, which makes for a lifetime of fun and adventure in our nearby rivers, streams and lakes.
Additional Information: Check out this “Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing”
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