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Stories from the valley

Home Waters

Contributed by Tim Johnson

For those that are not fishers, our house looks a bit of a wreck this time of year. Piles of outdoor gear, ice chests and waterlogged boots are in abundance. Not because we are too lazy to put the trappings of the weekend away but because we are either just getting ready to go out fly fishing or just coming back.

An old fly fisher I met many years ago gave me one of the best tips I ever received. No, not a great stretch of stream or a favored fly but an approach to fly fishing. He simply advised I find a good stream close to home and fish it often.

In our sport, there are a lot of magazines and even more online content focused on the ‘epic trips’ to Argentina, Belize or New Zealand or perhaps a flight and drive to get to the great trout rivers in Montana.

Great places all but really too far away and out of reach for everyday fishing.

It’s that everyday stream that holds a special place in a fly fisher’s heart. The spot you can get to in an hour. The one where you know all the pools and you have personally worn much of the trail in between. It is the place where you don’t even have to think about which fly to tie on or where the fish will be.

The mountains that ring our valley are laced with an abundance of clear, cold streams. Places that pulse with life – the water, insects and flora. Where you often see kingfishers, beavers and river otters. Where the only track other than your own belong to an elusive black-tailed deer.

We call them our home waters.

They are the places we remember with the most fondness. They are the places that define our relationship with the sport and nature. Eventually, we talk about them like they are ourselves.

This connection with our home waters is no different than a paddler and their alpine lake, a rafter and their river or the Sacramento Valley and its connected waters from the snow–capped Sierras to the gentle Delta. Eventually, they become us.