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Bill Lynch: Introducing the Meandering Angler

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Readers of my Friday “Fishing and Hunting” column have noticed that it frequently wanders off the subject of its title, and rarely mentions hunting at all, which is why it was suggested that I change the title to something more fitting.

Therefore, I introduce to you “The Meandering Angler.”

My column meanders, especially when Dottie and I travel. In fact, the word meanderer was originally applied specifically to those who travel on a river.

Rivers are a recurring theme with me. No matter where Dottie and I go, there’s a good chance that water runs nearby, and where there’s water there are usually fish.

I cannot pass by a bay, lake, river or tiny creek without considering what creatures swim just below the surface.

What author Norman Maclean said in his book, “A River Runs Through It,” applies to me.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

“I am haunted by waters.”

Even when Dottie asserts that we’re going some place for its rich history, culture, cuisine, shopping and interesting people, I’m thinking, “I wonder if there’s a nice stream nearby that I can fish in?” I have chosen places to stay because of their proximity to fishable water.

That does not mean that I get to spend my days fishing while she wanders alone through local museums, churches, and historic sites. No. Due diligence and marital harmony requires that I restrain my tendency to be a fishing nerd all of the time. Instead I accompany her on those more refined excursions, only occasionally sneaking off to test the local waters.

Dottie actually likes to fish, just not as much as I do. Fortunately, she agrees to go along with me for a few days every year during which we can focus on fishing.

I have learned to choose carefully.

In the early days of our marriage, I made the mistake of taking her to remote places where the fishing was excellent but the accommodations were not. One place in particular she described as “worse than the Bates Motel.” That three-day fishing trip cost me a two-week trip to Italy with nary a riffle in sight.

So the Meandering Angler will continue to wander from fishing to travel and back. Wherever it goes, there will be a nice place to stay and, of course, a river running through it.

Right now the best nearby rivers to fish include the Sacramento between Redding and Anderson where fly-fishers can find lots of big, fat rainbow trout willing to fight. Call guide and former Sonoman Tyler Lee, (530) 515-3787, for a good float on that water.

Another place, slightly closer to Sonoma, is the Yuba River east of Marysville. There, I would recommend you call guide Hogan Brown, (530) 514-2453, who guides out of Chico and has good access to the Yuba as well as interesting spots on the Sacramento River where he guides fly fishers for striped bass. Check out his website at hgbflyfishing.com.

Dungeness crab plus rock fish and lingcod action is excellent now off the Sonoma coast. Call Capt. Rick Powers at Bodega Bay Sportfishing, 875-3344, to book a trip.

And striped bass and sturgeon can be found in the Bay right now. Call Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael, (415) 456-0321, for the latest reports and directions to the best places to fish.