Steelhead on the lower Feather River. Peacock bass on the Amazon River. Tarpon on Mexican flats. The guides of American Fly Fishing Co. have taken anglers in search of these fish on fly-fishing adventures around the world. When not wading through forested streams and rivers, they staff American Fly Fishing’s shop, advising guests on fly tackle, fly-tying equipment, and other gear from brands such as Korkers, Sage, and Abel Reels. They also impart their expertise through classes and clinics, such as private fly-casting lessons. In addition to serving anglers, American Fly Fishing’s team supports a number of conservation programs, and encourages catch-photograph-exchange-emails-and-release practices to help sustain the American River and other nearby waters.
To Jeff Putnam, fly-fishing isn't just a sport; it's also his work, his leisure, and a large part of his identity. He first pulled on fly-fishing gear at the age of 11, and at 16 began guiding fishermen through the trout- and bass-inhabited waters of Northern California. Since then, he's also worked as a fisherman's guide in Montana and Colorado and cast his line over waters as far away as Belize and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. During group and private lessons, Jeff demonstrates fly-fishing techniques before participants try them out themselves. With his guidance, they learn many ways to hook finned prey from streams and lakes, or to snag inflatable rafts from neighbor's swimming pools.
There's treasure hidden across California, though it's not the gold that once brought miners out west. This particular prize lies beneath the state's winding streams and wide coastal rivers: fish beyond a tartar sauce mogul's wildest dreams. That's where PW Fly Fishing & Guide Service takes over. Their guides work with anglers of all levels to take them on both wading and boat fishing trips. They can also teach people the finer points of fly fishing, and they can operate a camera with ease?which is good, since clients will likely want to pose for a photo once they reel in their treasure.
A flock of mallards swoops over the lake, while in the hills above, california valley quail forage in the brush. Each year, gamekeepers release thousands of fowl onto Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve's 1,500 acres, all of which is meticulously designed to re-create the birds' natural habitats. Overseeing a licensing program that prevents crowding in each zone, gamekeepers open the grounds for daily hunts and can even supply hunting dogs with handlers. To help sportsmen refine their hunting skills, instructors lead safety courses and show outdoorsman the most stylish ways to wear hunter orange. The preserve also encompasses three 10-station sporting-clays course, as well as a grouse bunker, two lighted five-stand courses, and a range for trap and skeet shooting.
A clubhouse gives guests a place to relax, and a kitchen opens for breakfast and lunch—days vary depending on the season. It also houses a pro shop, complete with a gun maker experienced in the English tradition of gun fitting, as well as a sporting gun engraver. The preserve also neighbors the Camanche North Shore Recreation Area, which offers lodging, campgrounds, and further outdoor recreation such as horseback riding and fishing. Other nearby attractions range from historic gold rush sites to vineyards.
Collins Lake Recreation Area stretches down 12 miles of shoreline around a 1,600-acre lake, offering visitors plenty of recreational activities to enjoy on land and water. Staying for the day, part-time captains can rent boats or launch their own, swim and play at the sandy beach, and fish for trout, bass, bluegill, and catfish. Those aiming to extend their stay can sidle up to RV hookups, rent one of the many campgrounds, or opt for the rustic comfort of on-site cabins, which are available in a variety of sizes to suit families big, small, or gilled.
The Headwaters owners Dan and Ashlie Arbuckle strive to make aquatic exploration accessible by providing patrons with high-quality equipment, as well as moral support from their canine companion, Henna. The shop rents paddleboards and kayaks to paddlers intent on exploring the Mokelumne River and also organizes guided trips, exhibitions, and private or small group classes for newbies. In addition, fishing kayak packages rent out rod holders, fish finders, and scripts for tall tales about "the one that got away."