As I sit here staring out at 52 inches of snow that broke all records in the Washington DC area, my thoughts drift back to better times and better places. I have so much cabin fever built up right now that I can hardly stand it. By this time in a normal year, there would have been a few warm days allowing me to go trout fishing someplace and deal with the demons inside. Granted, I would've come home skunked because I rarely catch things in January -- but at least I would've been outside and fishing. It sure beats the heck out of shoveling foot after foot after foot of snow.
Since fishing and warmer weather seems so far away, it is appropriate to throw a quick report of a better time on the Upper Sacramento river in California onto the website. Back in 2007 when I had just begun fly fishing, I had to spend a weekend in California on a business trip to bridge between meetings in two consecutive weeks. Without a second thought, I buzzed up to the Mount Shasta area where I resolved to fish as much of this river as humanly possible in two days. The Fly Shop in Reading (the same one you get plenty of catalogs from) is a great source of advice and help. They gave me pamphlets prepared by the Mount Shasta area tourist board that have exceptionally detailed directions to all of the Upper Sacramento fishing locations accessible from I-5.
I've already written up my experiences on several different locations I visited and this new report is for the Sweetbriar section. Like the others, the directions were good and it was easy to find. You should stop in at The Fly Shop in Reading on your way north and pick up the same pamphlet they gave me; it has all the options. Balancing the pamphlet in my hand to make sure I did not take a wrong turn, I bumped down the rough dirt road to pull off next to the sign that announced the new state fishing regulations that had gone into effect for the 2007 season. Prior to this, California had an actual trout season and did not allow year-round fishing. I had a short conversation with another guy who was collecting rocks from the river to build a retaining wall with and then jumped into the water.
The section here is wide, flat and quick. In early April, the mountain snowpack had just started to melt and that put a definite chill into the water. Thankfully, the levels were not high enough to prohibit wading while they did require caution. The last thing I wanted to do was take a dunk in ice cold water wearing waders. At this point in my fly fishing career, I was on my third or fourth actual day of fly fishing. Having been schooled on the Pit River the day before by a professional guide, I knew that at this time of the year I needed to use nymphs. I rigged them up as he instructed me and began to flail at the water. It was as bad here as it was good on the Pit River under professional supervision. Granted, I was an absolute newbie with only a dim understanding of what I needed to do, but I did it anyway.
Remember to refer to my rating explanations - these are based on what I look for - so RED for Physical Fitness translates to easy physically - you do not need to be in shape to fish this section. I prefer terrain that is tough to get into and out of.
I worked up and down the narrow section between the two waypoints marked on the map and fished the likely spots. In hindsight, I realize now that I did not have enough line and split shot between my indicator and the nymphs. All I was doing was drifting a couple Copper Johns a few inches below the surface in the quick water. But it was fun anyway. Now that I'm a little more "professional", I would enjoy coming back here and trying it again. However, when/if I do come back, I will exercise more care. On a later trip with another guide, I discussed this section with him and he commented that this was the stretch of the river that was most frequented by bears. I don't know if he was pulling my leg or whether he was telling me the truth, but I'll take it seriously if I can ever get out to the Golden State to go fishing again.