Wild Rainbows and California Mountain Streams

Teaser pic from Curtis
My latest trip put in Los Angeles California for eight days and in that time, I found several opportunities to get out and fish. Before leaving, I had done some research and put some feelers out on a few websites for potential fishing locations, tips, and partners. I was fortunate to get a bit of everything.

I was particularly excited about meeting up with a gentleman named Curtis. Curtis lives near the top of a mountain and has a creek that is a short ten minute drive from his front door that is loaded with wild rainbow trout. After several emails and private messages that contained some incredible teaser pictures, I was beyond excited.

Finally the day had arrived and I made the drive from L.A. to his house. Before I continue with the fishing experience, I would like to point out that if I had done nothing other than drive to his house, I would have been a happy man. Miles and miles of twisting mountain roads with fantastic views entertained me like a burlap sack of catnip would entertain a cat.

Once I arrived, we did the introduction/small talk thing while I loaded up my gear in his Honda Element that I hadn't really paid any attention to at first. About five minutes of through town driving, the road changed from dusty blacktop to full off road terrain and the farther we continued, the rougher it became. All of the sudden I realized that we were in a Honda Element and I made a humorous anecdote in my head that Honda should do a commercial here as I am pretty sure this is not what they intended for this car, yet it did it quite well.

As we arrived to our destination, Curtis pointed out that the park rangers were there. This was interesting to me, because we were seemingly in the middle of nowhere and yet law enforcement was present. I tend to fish in the middle of sprawling urban lands and rarely see any sort of conservation police. After a short conversation with them, we got geared up and started the hike down to the creek. As we were crawling over rocks and down the side of a mountain, this little creek suddenly appeared. One of our first views was a deep pool with incredibly clear water and full of natural rainbow trout that were clearly sipping bugs of the surface.

First wild rainbow
At the suggestion of Curtis, I tied on a small number 16 stimmie and started casting. I was casting Curtis' Sage TXL 1wt which was completely new to me, so it took me a few minutes to get used to it and untangle my line from the bush behind me - twice. Once I got that out of the way, I caught my first wild rainbow on the fly!! This one fish made everything worth it. It wasn't big and the fight was only fun because I was using a 1wt, but it was still awesome. This was the fishing that I always wished I could do. Away from people or any sign of them. For me to accomplish this took a four hour flight plus an hour and a half drive so to catch this fish made it all worth it.

Shortly after that fish we changed flies and started moving up stream. We were hitting every run and pool we found along the way. Almost every cast resulted in a strike and every so often I would actually land one. Those fish are small, fast, and incredibly gifted at spitting a hook. Unfortunately, our solitude in the wilderness only lasted a couple of hours as we crossed a bridge where many seasonal residents and visitors tended to stop and enjoy this small mountain stream. Although most were just out enjoying thier day and the views that were available, one particular group seemed to put a damper on our outing. This group of late teens or young twenty somethings and their untethered dog seemed to follow us into every hole. While I am sure they were just having a good time and the dog was surely having a blast, fishing was tough when the dog would come running through every hole we tried to fish. It was aggravating that the humans seemed to be completely oblivious to level of rudeness they were perpetuating by allowing their dog to do this. Eventually, we got tired of them and turned around covering all the holes on the way back. We caught more fish, had a few laughs, and by the end I felt as if I had known Curtis for years and years.

Once back to the mountain top, Curtis had a couple of Sierra Nevadas on ice that we enjoyed as we overlooked this awesome place. While I have never been that intrigued with living in most of California, I could easily understand why someone would live in the part that Curtis and his family does. I, for one, would do it in a heartbeat and I know if my wife saw this place, she would too.

© 2011, Nick Doumel, used with permission


  1. Nice Nick. I was sure this was going to be blast California post. Curtis sounds like a great guy and your trip was a success for sure.

    1. It definitely was. I have a couple more posts coming about some other Cali experiences coming up too

  2. Great adventure--wild rainbow on the 1 wt. what was the length of this rod? I have never used a 1 wt. I use a 3 wt on our tailrace, I could see where the 1 would be fun with the wild bow. Thanks for sharing a great story

    1. It was a 7'10" 4pc and definitely fun. I really wouldn't mind tackling a bigger fish with it as I am positive it could handle it.


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