Written by: Nathan Cook, Fishing Manager of Orvis San Jose
Over the course of this spring and summer, I’ve had the great pleasure to meet hundreds of fly anglers from San Jose and the Bay Area, ranging in skills from seasoned veterans to “never picked up a fly rod in my life.” The San Francisco Bay Area is hardly a fly-fishing mecca of America, and it always comes as a surprise to most in the sport to hear that so many fly anglers reside here and so many are interested in taking up the sport.
Shortly after the bustle of the holidays, store manager Steve Slater and I broke out the store calendar and began planning our most comprehensive fly-fishing educational series our store has ever seen. At the heart of our goals for the year is Orvis’ mantra: fly-fishing is “simple, fun, and accessible”. Steve and I share the same belief, and we also believe that so few California anglers know the myriad of great locations within the state to choose from, especially locally.
With a light snowpack this year, high water wasn’t much of a problem, and local anglers couldn’t wait to get the season going. We kicked off the fishing year in March on the Yuba River, just north of Sacramento, targeting rainbows that fight like steelhead. Teaching students the secrets and techniques of this great year-round fishery, and how amazing a Skwala stonefly hatch is.
At the end of March, Orvis kicks-off the phenomenal Fly Fishing 101 & 201 classes. The classes teach the basics of casting, knots, and equipment in a free, easy-to-digest two-hour class. The 201 classes took our students to a local lake, 30 minutes away, to put their new skills to work on the water, fishing for bass and bluegills.
Once June was upon us, we began to show students where they can go for a fun weekend trip, new pieces of water near their favorite river, and even where they can go after work. Orvis-endorsed guide Brian Slusser of Four Seasons Fly Fishing led a two-day sampler of the area around Truckee, which took students to various locations on the popular Truckee River, and to stretches of the upper Little Truckee and North Yuba.
The focus then turns to small stream skills for two-day sampler-style clinics in Yosemite and two-day clinics in Kings Canyon, Yosemite’s neighbor to the south, with Orvis endorsed Jimmie Morales and guides from Sierra Fly Fisher. It is dry-fly, pool-hopping heaven, targeting rainbows, browns, and brook trout from over 9,000 feet to 3,000 feet.
Classes focusing on local areas and techniques are also popular: bass, carp, surfperch, and stripers to name a few species. It’s amazing how much great water is within even a half-hour from your home.