Annual Downieville trip is a ‘reintroduction’ |

Annual Downieville trip is a ‘reintroduction’

A trip to the North Fork of the Yuba River region is always a great time particularly when the outing involves going with my children. While my daughter has not been able to make it the past four years because of commitments to swimming, my son has made the trip.

This year, my daughter was off swimming at the Western Zone Championships in Grand Junction, Colorado. My son asked to take one of his friends from one of the swim teams that he competes against during the summer.

The friend had little fishing experience and was excited to try to catch a fish. Since the friend had no fishing tackle, I had to dust off the spinning gear and actually go out and buy a considerable number of lures so that he could have the best chance at success.

We fished sporadically during the trip and not always during the best time of the day, and had limited success. I had almost forgotten what a spinning rod felt like. I used one from the shore at one of the lakes near our campground on two evenings, even managing a couple of fish and acquainting myself with a new lure in the process.

The lure, a wobbling spoon, is one that is highly regarded in the eastern Sierras for both lake and streams. I have found that lures of this type are usually better in lakes than in streams. Many a large fish has been taken in Sierra streams with this lure however.

The lure is the Thomas Buoyant, an extremely popular lure in the Bishop and Bridgeport areas. I was told about this lure quite some time ago by former Fisheries Biologist, Russ Wickwire, and reminded recently of this lure by another local friend.

Since I needed to get some lures for the trip, I decided to give a sampling of these lures a try. Needless to say that these lures produced a couple of fish when other lures were unsuccessful. I found the action and the available colors to be very imitative of the many fish that swim in Sierra waters.

On the river, I traded the spinning rod for the more familiar fly rod and had some success early in the morning, and was humbled one evening by rising fish that I could not get to respond to my offerings. While I was frustrated that evening, I was even more frustrated that my son’s friend was having difficulty fishing.

Teenagers listen, but do not always hear, or so it seemed to me. The problem that he was having was one not uncommon to many a beginning anglers using lures. While they cast the lure well, most of the time, they do not pay attention to keeping the line tightly spooled on the reel. As a result, he would develop loops or loose coils of line while reeling. The next time he cast he may get a tight line right away and work the line down into the coils of the loose line.

The result is that the next time he went to fling the lure out into the middle of the lake or stream, the lure flew but parted from the line when the line sank into the loose coils and stopped abruptly. Inertia took over and the lure continued to the middle of the lake or other side of the stream, generally lost forever.

Needless to say after about six lost lures and no fish the good news was that he was still interested because he had several opportunities to actually catch a fish. These near misses always pique your interest and allow you to continue to make those repetitive casts.

Breaking up the day with the swimming hole, and skateboarding in town made for a great time for two teenage kids on holiday. I pointed out to my son that fishing was a lot less hazardous than skateboarding after he ran into a wall and bruised his thigh and was limping the last two days of the trip.

While sitting on a bench in downtown Downieville, I did receive a very pleasant surprise. I was reading a copy of the Mountain Messenger.

Incidentally our local papers are a real deal, the Messenger is all of around four pages and it costs 58 cents. I heard someone call my name and looked up to see one of my college roommates and his wife whom I have not seen in about fifteen years although we generally hear from them around the holidays.

They were on their way down the hill to their home in Healdsburg. After comparing notes about the family, introducing my son and his friend, hearing about their children, and finding out that my former roommate was still the Agricultural Manager for Dry Creek Vineyards and is now operating a Vineyard Management business, we burned up a considerable amount of time. We swapped e-mail addresses and I showed them how to get to the local Bakery to get a sandwich for the road.

They also asked me how the fishing had been, knowing that I minored in fishing in college, though not an actual part of the curriculum. My son piped up and told them that he had caught more fish than I had the prior day. “What’s up with that dad?” he asked. What’s up with that indeed!

So this trip was a reintroduction of sorts for me to try casting a spinning rod a couple of evenings, and to see some old friends whom I had not seen for years.

Trips to this region have become an annual outing for my family. My daughter when picked up at the airport in Sacramento, asked me when she was going to get to go to Downieville? Being such a short drive when she was going to get to go to Downieville? Being such a short drive from Truckee, about an hour, it is easily a nice day trip or overnight destination.

Being the county seat of Sierra County, the town itself is rich in mining heritage, and recreational opportunities. One can productively look for gold in the surrounding hills or waters, fish in the lakes and streams, and mountain bike in the surrounding hills. It is a very low-key destination and provides for a very relaxing trip.

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