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Napa Valley Fishing Report: Brook trout could be Mother Nature's best work
The Fishing Report

Napa Valley Fishing Report: Brook trout could be Mother Nature's best work

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TJ Schrette

TJ Schrette’s beautiful wild brook trout from high in the Sierra, just below the snow line.

Which Trout Is Mother Nature’s… most beautiful and best work? Ask a hundred trouters and get plenty of different answers. A new “winnah” hit my list when I saw this brook trout caught by Napa angler TJ Schrette, who fished with his dad, Thomas, up in the high Sierra before the virus shutdown. Thomas said it came from just below the snow line.

Take a good look at those trout spots. They are beautiful in the photo and even better live. Brookies were not in my creel for years. Rainbows, cut bows and cut throats mostly caught my eye – until I was invited to fish the famous Henry’s Lake in Idaho, and it was “Game on, brookies.”

One of the special features – and benefits – of fishing is that you get connected across wide bands of friends and family. TJ and my grandson, Jack, were Justin-Siena schoolmates.

Stay Alive In The Wild… was a subject in my May 15 report. It always interests me and excites me to see additional response and new input from readers.

On one subject, I told you that you might not be able to completely rely on your cell phone out in the bush. Napa’s Eric McAllister ( ) was kind enough to correct that statement by pointing out ways even old cell phones without cell phone service can be useful.

“Those phones still receive the GPS signals, so they will give you your latitude and longitude instantly,” he said, locating you to within a few feet.

He went on to say that as long as that old phone is charged up and has Google Maps on it, that’s all you need; no SIM card required. Hold your finger on the blue spot on the map and your coordinates appear at the top.

My cousin Bob chimed in with his “make it easy to be found” pitch. It may sound old fashioned, but it can get you rescued faster and surer. Before heading out, mark up everything you know about your trip so far. Route to trailhead/car park, then your hiking route as you believe it will go. Make a good copy of that at the copy shop to be left behind with your base operators. At any minute that they feel the need to initiate a rescue, that map in the hands of the search team will save them hours – and save you lives, the “old fashioned way.”

Chiming In Also… was Outdoor Life – a companion magazine to Field and Stream that published the original “Lost” article in May – with a 2013 story by Tim MacWelch, “Survival Food: 5 Way to Eat Snails and Slugs,” (

Tim said “… Terrestrial slugs and snails (found on land, not in the sea) are generally safe for human consumption, always after a thorough cooking. Their nutritional value certainly justifies the effort of collecting and preparing them. These critters have about 90 calories per 100 grams of “meat” which is high in protein (12 to 16 percent) and rich in minerals …”

He went on to say that there are many dangers to eating these animals raw, and that the safest choice is the snail. Why not classic escargot? Let your snails purge themselves in a container of damp lettuce for 24 hours. Bring one cup of water or white wine to a boil in a large sauté pan, and pour in two cups of snails. As the liquid boils off and the snails begin to cook, add one stick of butter to the pan and several cloves of minced garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes and serve.

Sure Tim… I know that every Napan will always have those key items in his or her wilderness survival kit. I never leave home without a dozen sets of snail pliers.

Read This… from Napa Wildlife Rescue. “As restrictions continue, and baby season ramps up, we remain separated from most of our volunteers while facing a growing workload. The strain is beginning to show, and we’ve had to add additional paid hours. Please support us from a distance.” Then go on line to Napa Wildlife Rescue and DONATE. Thanks.

It’s Time To Help Bristol Bay… again, from those rich old white guys who want to build the disastrous Pebble Mine and are trying to pull the old “bait and switch.”

Here’s what the Defend Bristol Bay team just reported: “The Feds have announced that they would allow Pebble to pursue a massive change in their original mine plan – without studying the change. Pebble abandoned earlier plans that formed the basis of their entire environmental impact studies and now plans to use an untested, unproven alternate route to transport metals along a new 80-mile road and pipeline route. To repeat, neither the Army Corps nor Pebble has sufficiently studied this change.”

Please ask your Congresspersons and senators to insist on proper vetting of this proposal. One tiny problem at the mine or an unusual weather situation can kill Alaska’s pristine Bristol Bay, which delivers over half of the world’s supply of sockeye salmon every year. In 2019, that was a hefty 59 million fish.

Email Bill Ryan at

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