The Best Fishing May Be in the Smallest Streams
More Than The Fish
The small stream fishing experience isn't every one's favorite. It isn't the "log cabin by the lake" experience that so many of us plan for our summers. It isn't the dirt bike/4WD/quad/dune racer weekend that so many Californians treasure. It can't be enjoyed nearly as much in a large group as in a small collection of friends or family, and may be most valuable when savored in solitude. It isn't the fleeting satisfaction of bringing home a whale of a fish from a pay-by-the-pound fish farm. And it's rarely the romantic mountain getaway that women hope for, althouugh it can be if a man helps to make it so.
A small stream is more the hidden jewel in God's bag of creation surprises. It's the warm blood of a cold snowy mountain, and the cool quench for the cowboy's horse. It reflects the twitch of a mule deer's ear, and it complains in sign language with every leaf that reaches its surface. A small stream is often silent in the heat of the sun, and deafening in the light of the moon. It keeps lovers' secrets, and magnifies a miner's gold.
Fishing these streams is a pleasure that draws young and old. I believe that parents influence the recreation preferences of their children, and fishing is not an exception. Though there are hardcore fishermen who will fish anywhere anytime, there is a very real wall between fresh- and saltwater fishermen, and sometimes between lake and stream fishermen. I've thoroughly enjoyed some lake fishing experiences, but my preference is stream fishing, with the small streams being my favorites. When I was a boy my family took many trips to Bishop Creek in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains; and I've taken my wife and daughters there many times since.
Small streams afford a fishing experience unlike any other. Trails close to the water aren't always available, and rock climbing up and down the stream is often the only way to reach the best fishing. Portions of Bishop Creek are enveloped in willows, aspen and pines. When the wind blows the sound of the trees blends with the sound of the water, and until the wind stops, it's hard to tell the water from the trees. I'm a tent camper myself, so I enjoy the "sound effects" around the clock. The afternoons darken early there as the sun passes the mountains in the west, so a warm campfire and a good book are the perfect cap to a day of fishing. Conversation and music also end the day well, and I never forget to get my fishing gear ready for the following day. Salmon eggs and night crawlers are preferred by the trout in those waters, but I always try a dry fly when I find an opening in the trees large enough to use a fly rod in.
RVing is popular in Bishop, so there are those who enjoy many of the comforts of home after fishing. I prefer to be a little closer to nature, but after a few days on the creek I feel like joining the RV crowd myself.
What To Look For
When fishing small streams it's best to tread as lightly as possible. Enter the stream as slowly as you can, and try not to cast a shadow on the area you're fishing. Look for the deep pools and velocity changes. Trout wait in slow-moving water for food to pass by in the faster current. Use as little lead and as little line as possible in rocky streams. It may be difficult to get to the spot you want to fish, but the further away you are, the more gear you'll leave in the stream.
Enjoy the full experience. Expect to get a workout and to sleep well. Whether you bring an RV or a tent, cook your meal over a fire. Whether it's fish, chicken or hamburgers, it will taste much better if it's cooked over a fire; and campfires are great for enjoying an evening with family and friends. Regardless of how many fish share the ride home, the small stream fishing experience will have been worth the trip if one appreciates all that is available.