Headwaters… Where it all Began!

A highlight of my youth, and the true origins of my fly-fishing adventures, has to be the annual summer trips we made from Santa Barbara to Lake Tahoe, when my father would take me and two of my older brothers to visit our Aunt and Uncle who had a beautiful lakeside cabin on Tahoe’s west shore for a couple of weeks in July and August. I was only five or six at the time, and I still fondly remember feeling the magic of that amazing and icy-cold Tahoe blue water, especially during our mandatory pre-breakfast swims!!








During these annual visits, we would also take a few-to-several days to horse-pack into the backcountry behind Squaw Valley, leaving from Alpine Meadows Stables and riding over the ridge past Five Lakes and down the other side, following Five Lakes Creek and breathing in some spectacular sights and piney smells of Tahoe Forest surroundings…

Our destination was a wonderful old campsite near a place called Diamond Crossing at the confluence of Five lakes Creek and Powder Horn Creek, and this is where my father first put a fly rod in my hand and introduced me to the joys and wonders of small-stream fly fishing!

That little Fenwick fiberglass rod was like my magic wand, and through it I felt the thrilling first tug of a beautiful little wild rainbow trout devouring a royal coachman fly… I was hooked! Most of the fish we caught were in the typical six-to-eight-to-ten-inch range, but occasionally, someone was lucky enough to stumble across a “monster” of twelve-to-fourteen inches, and that always made for some pretty respectable bragging rights on any given trip!

We spent early mornings and late afternoons wandering the area and casting dry flies to scores of those little wild trout, and I remember my father’s genuine excitement one day when he returned from an exploratory outing “above the falls” on one of the local streams to report that he had discovered that there were brook trout up there as well! Needless to say, our horizons had been broadened, and the climb over the falls became a regular part of the adventure every year thereafter…

Always tough to have to break camp at the end of a trip, and the ride out usually felt a little somber after so much wonderful time fishing those crystal-clear Sierra streams in that beautiful Tahoe backcountry! If we were lucky, we’d find a wonderfully refreshing patch of snow still holding on to the shady side of Five Lakes despite the heat of mid-summer, and that spot became our regular lunch stop. My brothers and I would always look forward to the obligatory snowball toss and ice slide down to the water’s edge where we would cool off with a dip into the icy cold mountain lake before heading back to the stables.

Fond memories, to be sure, and I will remain ever grateful for these familiar adventures and the passion for small-stream fly fishing that still flows within me to this day…!


One thought on “Headwaters… Where it all Began!

  1. These vintage photos are perfect companions to your story! I love hearing more of your boyhood adventures that made such grand impressions on you…

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