Most of you readers who have followed my columns for the past 18 months realize that I write exclusively about hunting and shooting sports.
My old pal, Steve Merlo, used to try and get me into fishing, but I told him I just didn't have enough time to do both like he did.
I did, though, film an instructional tape for him about crappie fishing a few years back that he used for a class he taught. And, a long time ago, I did a terrific tape of trolling for trout on Lake Isabella with my dear friend, Leroy Fontana.
But, I just never got interested in fishing.
One of my longtime friends and hunting companions is Dr. Steve Newbrough. I've known him since the late 1950s when he was a small child. His father, Bob, was my chemistry teacher at North High, and he, coach Jordan "Turk" Eliades, and I used to hunt pheasant and waterfowl together after school.
For the last couple of years, Steve has been telling me about this terrific trout stream that he goes to up near Springville. I could hardly believe him when he said it is only about two feet wide, and three feet deep, and he snares a lot of nice Brook trout out of it.
So, a few weeks ago I said, "you better show me."
We scheduled a trip, and I asked if it would be OK if my son Mark came along. Mark is the youngest of my five children and has shown a recent interest in fishing because he has two small boys that he thinks would enjoy it.
Being my son, he has grown up around shotguns for most of his life. I have a nice film of him at age 6 in a blind with Steve Merlo and Dino Fanucchi holding a drake mallard.
He was also on television one time at the same age when a local crew went out with me for a dove opening day shoot.
While sitting on a stool after retrieving a bird he was asked, "What do you do with the doves?"
"Eat 'em," he replied.
He has been on numerous waterfowl hunts with me around the country and Canada, and has turned into one terrific duck hunter and an excellent game and target shooter. I was hoping he would get just as focused on fishing, as well.
Steve said it would be great if Mark could tag along, and he would be happy to show him the "ins and outs" of trout fishing in this secret spot. I asked if we would be blindfolded going in.
"Not as long as you swear on your life not to tell anyone where it is," Steve said.
We agreed, so off we went.
We entered the Great Sequoia National Monument just east of Springville just after a two hour drive from Bakersfield.
When we left town just after sunrise, it was clear weather with high overcast. Arriving at the fishing spot, we were met with very dense fog and a temperature of 40 degrees. I was wearing only a T-shirt, but Mark had brought a jacket that I quickly put on.
The guys walked into a meadow, and sure enough, just like Steve said, there was a stream that was about two feet wide and no more than a foot deep. They were using crickets for bait, and almost every cast into the water would result in a bite.
Steve said they were just going to "catch and release" the fish back into the water, so it was important to not let the trout swallow the bait. You only wanted to catch them on the lips so the hook could be removed without hurting them.
It made the whole session a little bit trickier. The hook had to be set at just the right moment or the fish would not get on. And, the fish were real quick since the majority of them were in the 8-10" size, and, if lucky, maybe 12."
After getting some good video of the anglers bringing fish in, I headed back to the truck to warm up.
An hour went by, and the boys showed up. They said they caught about 20 fish between them, and that all were released unharmed back into the wild.
Overall, it was a really great experience for me and Mark. I am sure he will be returning there soon with my two grandsons to have a good time.
The only negative to the trip was 50 minutes of extremely curved road going in. Double yellow lines all the way in, but very good condition.
If you can't stand that type of driving, then this is not a trip for you. Unless someone else drives, and you sleep for the journey . . like I did!!