Woe is me, it’s the California 2012 trout opener weekend and I’m stuck at home nursing the worlds worse cold.
But my hacking and wheezing hasn’t stopped two friends in central California who respooled their reels and restocked their tackle boxes and hit a couple of my all-time favorite California trout spots; Fuller Lake east of grass valley, CA on north of Highway 20 and Manzanita Lake in Madera County CA.
I often write about Fuller Lake and my limits at this under fished Lake on the West slope of the Sierra recommend it more than any other spot in California.
Dam face at Fuller is at bottom of picture.
Fuller is a jewel it’s a shallow lake only 90 minutes from Sacramento and it’s the perfect place to introduce children to trout fishing. Over the last 15 years I have yet to go to Fuller and get skunked. Although I’m an experienced fly fisherman, Fuller is the kind of place that begs anyone to put a gob of chartreuse or corn floating bait on a #16 treble and toss it on a slider rig with a quarter-ounce weight into this lake’s crystal clear water.
One of the biggest reasons I recommend Fuller as a family fishing destination is that it’s seldom crowded—which means you can teach kids how to cast without worrying about them fowling another person’s lines by over casting. More importantly most of this lake has shallow shorelines—allowing you to take kids into the water while showing them where to place their rigs in clear water away from aquatic vegetation shoals.
this is not my fish, damnit!
But the best reason to use Fuller as a teaching experience is that it’s loaded with tasty leaping trout. Although I’ve only once seen Fish and Game’s Trout mobile at the lake in all the years I’ve fished here, it has a large numbers of holdover fish that aggressively hit bait or spinner lures like light white or yellow Mepps spinners.
The two places where I’ve had the most luck t Fuller are from the face of the small dam on the downstream side, and from the shore just upstream of the dam. Another place to try at Fuller is the northeast corner of the lake where a stream empties into the Lake. The only place I’ve consistently caught hold over brownies at Fuller is fishing from a float tube in in front of the confluence of this stream and the lake.
There is a campground on the North end of this lake, if you want to make your trip to Fuller a family vacation.
Lake Manzanita is another family fishing destination I strongly recommend. Located north and east of Friant, CA near the town of North Fork. Mazanita is loaded with hungry stocker rainbows just waiting to be caught by a young or other fisherman on a no-frills West slope Sierra fishing trip. The place to go here is a small peninsula on Manzanita’s north shore near the face of the dam. There is a huge boulder near the face of the dam and trout seem to congregate in the deep between it and the dam’s face. If you’re throwing a lure in this lake, make sure you give it enough time to get near the bottom and use a twitchy return. On an average day you may be surprised to get hit by a two pound,20-inch, trout that’s been hiding in the deep cold water west of the boulder here.
th fishies at Manzanita hang out on th ight side of this boulder.
(Note, there are two Manzanita Lakes in California. The Manzanita Lake I’m writing about is in Madera County. The other Lake with the same name is much further north in Lassen County—jmf)
There is a nice campground at the east end of this lake.
typical Rainbw from Manzanita
I’ve never experience combat fishing at either Fuller or Manzanita. I’ve also always caught trout for the nightly frying pan at both locations. A valid California sport fishing license is required at both lakes, and if you’re 16,. or older, you need to buy a license.
It’s tine to restring your reels, buy some sharp hooks and clean up your old lures. I’ll be the old guy wearing a red, white and blue tie dyed t-shirt drifting by in a float tube, whipping the water with a proven fly, but carrying a bottle of floating bait, just in case. Tight lines, Jim Forbes on April 28,2012.
Like most Southern California gardeners, I fight mineral deficient, alkaloid soils. Over the last nine years I’ve done a lot to my 90 by 40-foot garden patch to make it more productive.
The list of things I’ve done isn’t short. It begins with cubic yards of compost I’ve tilled into the soil and from there jumps to big bags of worm casings. I can grow enough tomatoes, spuds and sweet onions to meet household needs, but at the end of the gardening season, I’m often disappointed by the size of the root balls of my heirloom stock. For as much effort as I put into my garden, I think my plants could be better.
In the middle of last year I was at my favorite local nursery here in Escondido sniveling to one of their gardeners. As I put a couple of Brussels sprouts seedlings and some fast growing cherry tomatoes into a box, he reached below the counter and threw in two packets of a new organic feed supplement and told me to “stick one of these packets in the bottom of each hole and put the plant on top of the (teabag-sized)” packet”.
I’m not beyond experimenting in my garden and I was reasonably confident that I couldn’t go very wrong.
I set four Brussels sprout stalks—two using the packets and two in further down the row in identical soil.
Wow, I’m impressed. The control plants in my little experiment topped out at 34 inches. The two subjects of my experiment grew to approximately 48 inches and were loaded with ripening little miniature cabbages.
The damn voles chopped down one of my freakishly tall sprout stalks, but the surviving stalk is just huge.
Thr name of the supplement is Extreme Organic& Natural Feed Packs. It’s developer is Reforestation Technologies Inc.,(www.Reforest.com) in Salinas, CA. Extreme Organic Natural Feed Packs are slow release and have a 6-4-4 rating.
This is a “feed (in the starting hole) and forget product.” The packet containing the organic feed is biodegradable and the roots absorb the feed that dissolves into the planting medium.
Sequoia-like Brussels sprouts are nice, but what really drove me to buy a 100 pack zip lock bag of Reforest.com’s Extreme Gardening Organic feed packs was its effect on my tomato vines. After I picked the last of of San Marzanos in late November, I carefully excavated the plant.
It’s taproot was 13 inches long and its lateral roots were appx 18 inches. And the two Italian heirlooms I grew using one packet each out produced my control plants by three pints of fruit each.
I recommend RTI’s Extreme Gardening Organic & Natural Feeder Packs. The only thing I’d like to see in this garden feed is a vole repellent. But that’s why I have a Beeman .177 air rifle and a scoped single-shot .22 as a backup rodent control solutions.—Jim “Farmer” Forbes on April 22,2012.
As a result of opening my eyes and agreeing to come in from the cold in the last month, I’ve had a long standing view of two organizations completely upended.
There was a time in my life when I didn’t talk much about the fact that I was a Marine Corps veteran who served at Khe Sanh and Hue at a time when both places were battlegrounds. I wasn’t ashamed of my service; in fact I’ve come to realize that it had a profound impact on my life; some good and some bad.
Very few people I worked with during my early days covering technology in Silicon Valley knew I had been in the Marines and fewer still knew I had been at Khe Sanh and elsewhere in South Vietnam long ago.
I didn’t hang out with other veterans and I had resisted joining either of the two most well-known veteran’s organizations.
I used one very few part of my veteran’s benefits’I went to college on the GI Bill. And in 1971 I went to a VA clinic to see a doctor, an experience that soured me on the VA for many years.
But my life has changed recently and I wanted to find out more about my veteran’s benefits. And my quest led me to a local American Legion post here in Escondido where several members pointe me to the VA and made sure I knew what to do to take action. So I joined the American Legion and I use it as a “club house” of sorts. Whenever I need to socialize an can get away from my duties around the house, I pop up to the Legion, read a book and have a Coke in the patio.
Over a soft drink one of the officers of my local Legion Post patiently explained to me how the VA worked, plus how much it had changed in the last 30 years. He provided me with the information I needed to make a VA enrollment appointment at a local clinic and patiently explained that Legion volunteers were on hand at the two largest clinics here in San Diego County and there job was to help guide me through the VA’s organization.
So I had my first appointment with the VA today, had my picture taken for a VA ID card and was incredibly surprised by the experience. I waited two minutes for my appointment, was courteously treated by an enrollment officer who made the point of telling me “we’re here to help you.”
I quickly outlined the three service-related reasons I wanted to enroll with the VA:
I believe long term exposure to incoming and outgoing artillery caused permanent hearing loss in both of ears;
I think that as a result of having been in a bunker that took a direct hit from an incoming North Vietnamese artillery round, I have profound claustrophobia—aka PTSD;
Most of all, I was exposed to Agent Orange at least three times during the time I was in Vietnam.
I’ve always felt slightly ashamed about going to the VA with this. However, the enrolling agent at the clinic set me up with the appointments I need to get the ball rolling, and, he made sure I understood I should feel no shame for seeking help from the VA.
I’ve never felt more satisfied with any government agency interaction than I have with the VA clinic in Oceanside, CA.
Wow, they just knocked my socks off.
And it all started with the simple act of spending $35 to join a local American Legion post and asking for help from other veterans who had been in my shoes.
After a lot of years, I’m beginning to understand what it means to have been thanked for my service and to really have been “welcomed home.”-- Jim Forbes April 4, 2012.
Every year about this time, my mind wanders as waiting for schools of tasty yellowtail to swim north from the warm coast of Baja California.
If the fish won’t come to me, I think about going to the fish. And one of the best fisheries in North America isn’t very far from me, it’s just south of the Border with Mexico in Loreto, Baja Sur, Mexico. It’s hard not to have grown up in Southern California and not know about the fishing in Baja and the sleepy Mission village of Loreto on the Sea of Cortez.
Loreto isn’t Cabo San Luis or Mazatlan, it’s a nice safe little town that in my lifetime has developed a reputation as the place to go for limits of yellowtail, pargo nd other snappers, ‘cudas, trigger fish or mackerel family members that will spool or fry your reel. Yes the fishing in Baja’s Sea of Cortez is really that good.
The first time I ever lost a reel full of expensive line and fried a reel was in Loreto. It was a life-altering experience that forged my bond with this town. I was young and didn’t understand that there are times when a used $25 fishing reel and cheap hooks are sometimes completely inadequate. I know better now
A big yellowtail inshore at Loreto taught me that lesson.
Getting to Loreto is now as easy a booking a flight on Alaska Airlines out of Los Angeles International. Alaska now offers two 737 flights a day to Loreto. It’s a short 90 minute hop down Baja from LAX to this fishing paradise. Hotel accommodations range anywhere from about $(US)55 a night for a basic room in a nice hotel to $(US) 100 a night for an upscale establishment. Don’t fret catching El Tourista in Loreto. The food is fresh and tasty.
Every hotel in Loreto is capable of getting you on a panga from the beach out to the fishing grounds. Panga fishing is synonymous with the Loreto experience. Pangasfa are open boats so be sure to bring your sunscreen and a hat. In all the years I’ve fished Loreto; I’ve never been skunked or come back to the beach with fewer than four nice fish.
But while Loreto has a well-deserved reputation as a fishing destination, it’s also flat out beautiful and the site of marine ecological preserve and one of the oldest and prettiest California missions, Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho.
Loreto is full of surprises, one of which I made hiking up a stream coming down from the brown hills to the west of the town. My mellow was harshed when I saw two foot-long trout jump from a pool chasing an afternoon hatch. Trout in Baja? Si, all things are possible here.
If you go to Loreto and stay more than three days you need a visa, which is available for $24 from any Republic of Mexico consulate or embassy. In addition, a valid US passport is required for travel in an out of Mexico.