Welcome to Panfish!

Part One hundred ninety-three

It's Not Just About Fishing


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

I have often been asked why I do not bother with any lake fishing or as we call it, still water fishing. My answer has always been pretty much the same and you have read about it in past. Let me share with you the exact reasons for my reference of "moving water."

Join me for a day of fishing, a day of discovery, a day of simple pleasures as we did when we were children, before the demands of adulthood.

Time to get everything packed. It's going to be an excellent day for fishing. The morning is a brisk 45 degrees but projected high is 65 by the afternoon. With the lack of any recent storms and rains, the water levels have been stable for the last few weeks. We go through a mental list to be sure the bike is packed with all the needed gear for the day. The fly box has all our favorite nymphs and streamers. It's winter and surface flies are not very productive. Downing a last cup of coffee, we fire up the bike and head out to the interstate for a quick ride to the river. Today's trip will take us to the San Gabriel's north fork above Georgetown. At the low water crossing is a little known 12 site, tent only, camping ground. There is a small paved day-use only parking area, adjacent to the camp grounds. From here there is a 26 mile hiking trail that encircles Lake Georgetown. On the southern shores up on the cliffs is an old abandoned settlers homestead. Here they grew herbs possibly for trade as well as their own meals. The herb gardens have survived all these years and adventuress people still make the hike to gather herbs in the almost forgotten gardens amidst the ruins.

Our path lies in the other direction. Heading up river away from the low water crossing. After gearing up we head across the low water crossing pausing to look down into the water.

A few bass are startled by our approach and seek deeper waters for safety. These waters are crystal clear. Clear as the bottled waters in our convenient stores. Today is going to be another challenge. We pause along the river's edge an take a temperature reading. It's hovering right at about 51 degrees. Still a little too cool for any activity from the bream, and the bass will be slow to take any flies also. However we know their habits, the river and methods to entice the winter bite.

We casually amble along the bank soaking in the winter's morning. The key here is to move away from the low water crossing. Many new fly fishermen are easily discouraged from stopping at low water crossings due to the popularity among the locals as favored swimming and fishing holes. Even though there may be a small crowd at the crossing, they rarely ever venture any further than a few yards away from the crossing.

As we head up river the recent floods of a couple months ago are very noticeable. Debris is high up in the trees showing a rise of at least 20 feet or more. The river has changed also. The main flow is now to the north side of the bed from where it was to the south last year. The rock piles are much larger in the center causing islands that were not there before the floods. We decide to stop at the rock islands and shift through the rubble. After bending over and combing the rocks and probing here and there with the toe of our boots and wading staff, we make a small but amazing find. A perfect whole fossil! When you think about the amount of water and the force that brought this fossil to rest here, it's amazing it even survived for us to find. My wife being a 4th grade teacher always asks me to bring these kind of things home so she can use them in her class.

Water and time has left some very interesting patterns in the rock. What we see here gives reason for caution when in the water. The deep ruts can cause a turned ankle and great pain in a single step.

A little further up a large section of soft limestone has been removed and a secondary channel has formed. The limestone appears smooth and level. Much better for walking. As we approach, we notice a peculiarity about the formation. With quickening steps and building excitement we get closer and discover . . . Dinosaur tracks!

With the removal of the upper limestone layer some dinosaur tracks were exposed. This is quite a find. Even if we do not land a single fish today, this makes the whole trip worth while.

After the dino tracks we hit a few of the deeper holes and runs and spend the rest of the day landing a few small bream. But the day is winding down and the larger fish seem to have eluded us this trip.

So we head back to the bike and while removing our gear and repacking for the trip home we reflect on our day on the river. The beautiful clear winters day, listening to the sounds of the water gurgling and laughing among the rocks on it's journey to the sea. Finding of the fossil and the dinosaur tracks with that simple joy of new discovery, remembering when we were children and this was almost everyday during our summers off from school. Reflecting on the fish that were willing to come out and play with us, each giving us another moment of joy and happiness.

Now you see why I fish the rivers and creeks; it's not just about fishing, but exploration, discovery and for a short time the simple pleasures of life. By taking our experiences and sharing with others, even with a simple fossil presented to a class of 4th graders, we ourselves, cause ripples ever expanding outward for others to share that moment of simple wonder.

I hope you enjoyed our trip. Maybe someday we will share some water together. ~ Hillfisher

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