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Joann Snowden

St. Helena angler Joann Snowden with her big trout caught on the South Island of New Zealand.

Let’s Start Off 2019... with some far away angling adventures featuring our own Joann and Scott Snowden. Last year they fly-fished both North and South Islands of New Zealand. Here’s Joann with a typically big NZ trout. This is the most challenging fishing. Slow flows and smart trout make it tough to hook one because they get a chance to look at the slow moving bugs. Wags have said that those trout know every fly pattern.

Looking For Results… in 2019? Of course you are. Let me start you off with some recommendations that include a story of my personal success with each outfitter below. Best seasons and times to fish fill up fast. So, you might want to spend some of your Holiday cash gifts to indulge yourself this year.

1. Fishing With Larry. Their specialty is “hosted trips.” Not only do they arrange everything but also one of the key managers actually hosts your trip. Covering Alaska, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Cuba and the Christmas Islands (for starters) they have the right trip for you. Get started at: https://www.fishingwithlarry.com/index.html. Years ago, when we were going to be in Eastern Mexico, I asked them to book four boats to target permit, bones and baby tarpon in the flats. You only have to know that Doug Roberts and I caught and released seven permit, along with bones and tarpon. Ask your flats fishing expert anglers they’ll tell you that seven permit in a day is a special accomplishment. Note also that, the data includes “spin fishing.” While they have all the chops to create top fly fishing trips, it’s nice for klutz’s like me to be able to spin fish in these exotic climes.

2. Sweetwater Travel Company. Call Dan Vermillion (1 888-347-4286) in Livingston, Mont. Tell him Ryan sent you. He can offer special trips here in the Rockies (like 3 Rivers steelheading, Lower Dean River Lodge, Harrison Homestead and the historic Lewis and Clark cabin) as well as The Bahamas, Aleutian Rivers, Mongolia, Amazon, etc. They gave us a thrill by booking us into their famous Copper River Lodge in Alaska. My son, Alex, his son, Jack and our friend, Stan Press, and I loved this fly-in camp. We caught wild rainbows, sockeye salmon and huge toothy pike up in the weeds – all on flies. Stan fooled a 23-inch trout, Jack brought a 21-inch rainbow to the net, Alex and I put the fly into dozens of strong sockeyes. Only six guests, great food (like fresh hot soup for streamside lunches) and great guides, a sauna and steam room can make this your own private “Man Cave” for a week. Check ‘em out at https://www.sweetwatertravel.com/site/our-lodges/alaska-copper-river-lodge.html .

3. A little less exotic, closer to home and less expensive is a largemouth bass hunt on Clear Lake with pro bass guide, Bob Myskey (274-0373) or fishclearlake.com. Clear Lake is ranked the third-best bass lake in America by Bassmaster Magazine and Bob is the best bass guide there. He has fished three generations of the Ryans and put me onto my third 10-pound bass in the Adobe Creek arm in April a few years ago.

4. Kevin Brock (800 995-5543) is my pro river guide. We have fished with him for 24 straight years for salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, American shad and stripers on the Sac, the Feather, the Smith, the Rogue the American River and the Delta. My biggest king salmon ever came out of the Feather when Kevin guided me to a terrible looking spot where I hooked a 45-pound salmon.

Looks Like… the perfect time for my annual note to tell you that I pay retail – just like all of you. No spiffs. How could you trust me if you thought I was getting a secret deal to recommend certain goods and services.

International Sportsmen‘s Exposition… is on in Sacramento right now thru Sunday. It’s the place to update yourself on all things “outdoors” with a solid emphasis on fishing. See and hear legendary fishing guides and outfitters. Have company experts at every booth take you through a check-out of each of the new items on your bucket list. Then come back and buy them locally.

*Hours: Start at 11:00 AM Thursday and Friday; 10:00 AM Saturday and Sunday.

*Tickets: Adults $16.00; active military and youth 15 and under are free.

*Parking: At “Cal Expo Parking” is $10.00.

*Address: CalExpo, 1600 Exposition, Sacramento, CA 95815

Evan Blasingame’s Pocket Notes… included this Ogden Nash poem to be read to all budding anglers for 2019:

“I’m sure that Europe never had

A fish as tasty as the shad.

Some people greet the shad with groans,

Complaining if its countless bones;

I claim the bones teach table poise

And separate the men from boys.

The shad must be dissected subtle-y;

Besides, the roe is boneless, utterly.”

*How appropriate that Evan is the new St. Helena High School Fishing Club’s Faculty Advisor. This new club is up and running with some special plans for 2019. Stay tuned to see how you can help. Meanwhile, remember that chef Tim Hanni and I fished up a pail full of shad on the Feather River a few years ago—and Tim invited the whole neighborhood over for home-cooked shad roe.

Why Do We Always Seem To Lose… the good ones? Like my friend, mentor and former boss, Doug Ernst. I’m proud to borrow his wonderfully simple and compelling end line: “Thanks For Reading”.

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