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The Other Side of the Sierras - Fishing the Merced River November 1998

by Larry Martin

Fly fishing is open almost year around in the western Sierras. I staged out of Columbia, CA where we met our guide Tim Birmingham of T. B Driftboat Guide Service, 8400-70 Melones Rd., Jamestown, Ca. 95327. (209-984-4007). We drove about 45 minutes to the Merced River, onto private property (access is the problem on the lower Merced without a guide as most of the water is in private land). The river is medium sized, with lots of runs, riffles, and overhanging brush. We fished from a boat and waded.

We caught lots of wild rainbows all day on both on nymphs and dries. Best dries were Elk Hair Caddis sized 16-18, but the fish were easy, striking most anything light. Best nymphs were caddis, prince, red brassies, and a huge orange and a black size 6-8 Hellgrammite, which, swung in deep water, produced the biggest fish at base of the McClure Dam. The day was overcast, so the hatch was continuous, with good fishing action all day. Below the dam in deep water, throwing streamers produced 14-16" fish. . Downstream in clear 55-degree water, there was an abundance of 8-12 inch fish. Because fishing pressure is not heavy, the take is generally good. This was a fun day, all day, catching lots of fish. While I flew, for persons driving, I recommend going through Merced, and checking with the local shop for details about access or call Tim.


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