I had to make a hasty trip to my Mom’s house in Azusa—which has been sold and is now in escrow—and made a spur of the moment decision to throw my fly rod, fly wallet and creel in the back of my car before I left.
My business with the realtor took only a few minutes so I jumped on Highway 39, hooked a right at the East Fork Bridge
Thinking it may be a while before I got up there again, I broke my routine to try a tributary where I’d seen 12 and 16 incher jumping at the morning bite a couple of months ago. I parked the Prius, tied on a seldom used dorky minnow pattern I’ve used before and headed up a high trail adjacent to this seldom-fished feeder stream and walking to a wide spot in the trail where I could look down into a deep pool.
My first thought was “Holy Crap! It’s loaded with big trout.”
I did a quick count before I walked quietly down to a spot upstream of the pond, thinking it had been years since I had seen any part of the San Gabriel River
My first cast was from eight feet away, the 4X tippet and fly gently landing and carrying into the pond. I saw a trout flash silver and head upstream towards my fly. It hit.I missed.
I retrieved, smoothed the fly and roll casted back up stream of the lying-in-wait trout.
I was ready for the hit and surprised by the trout’s run to the bottom of a frigid pool. I gently brought him to the surface, stepped into the stream and had him off the hook in less than two minutes.
At about 10:30 the pool exploded to life as trout jumped at a late morning hatch.
I opened my fly wallet, checked my tippet to make sure it wasn’t abraded, stretched or frayed and tied on a coachman on a barbless #16 needle sharp hook. Three casts, and one more fish that wanted to run. I put it back and watched it fin its way to the bottom of the pool.
The tinkling of dislodged granite on the north facing slope above me signaled I wasn’t alone. The image of hoof prints of wild bighorn sheep by the side of the stream and the physical memory of two more trout caught in a small stream that’s only 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles
Slipping back down the canyon I glanced over at the little arroyo down stream from Camp Williams
Swirling cigar smoke from a contraband short Cuban made me think of old-timers who taught me how to fish this small stream and whose stories of wild trout that interbred with returning steelhead to produce fierce San Gabriel River rainbows, left me awestruck all those years ago.
Soon I was back on the freeway to Escondido
(author’s note: I deliberately didn’t mention the name of this specific East Coast tributary but the hints of a north faciong mountain and evidence of mountain bighorn sheep should give it away. Have fun and leave a couple of rainbows for me, please!—jmf)