Cottonwood Creek, CA
Dreaming of Alpine Gold
By Dave Fason
Pine needles crumble under my feet with each step. The cool air, perfumed by the scent of sagebrush and conifers, is thin and dry; breathing is more labored than I am used to. The sun is setting over the mountain ridge, quickening the onset of the evening’s cold. The water, gliding over a rocky creek bed, is a mirror reflecting magnificent hues of gold and yellow. I crouch low and hide behind a pine tree to spy on the golden figures swimming gently in the current.
My good friend Chris Barclay is with me, and he has spotted them too. I whisper to Chris, “Do you see what I see?”
He answers with a quick nod and a grin.
Chris pulls a few feet of fly line out to ready himself for the first cast of the trip. He decides a roll cast will work best. In tight quarters, he gracefully delivers a Royal Wulff to the nearest trout. Within seconds the fish sweeps over and inhales the fly. After a quick fight, our first fish of our trip—a kaleidoscopic prize bejeweled in vivid colors—fills the small net. This trout is very different from what we are accustomed to back home in North Carolina.
This is California’s golden trout country.