(This post was co-authored by Al Peterson and John Kreiter, PHWFF-Martinez, CA)

 

Red Bluff, CA – It’s a sunny March day and US Army Master Sergeant Jose Arana is chest deep in the cold, clear water of Eagle Canyon Trophy Trout Lakes.

While the other seven veterans on this trip with the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing-Martinez, CA program walked around Eagle Canyon’s two ponds, Jose waded across. While he may have taken to this aggressive wading – some of the most extreme wading ever seen by the other veterans – simply to get to the other side, his wading also chased the trout that live here to the far end of the lower pond. And that’s where most of the fish were caught.

Jose still claims that he should be credited for several “assists” as a result.

Joined by two PHWFF-Martinez volunteers, these veterans were 20 miles east of Red Bluff, in the foothills of Lassen National Park, fishing for trophy-size trout ranging from 4 to 15 lbs. These ranchland ponds are exclusively accessed via the Confluence Outfitters fly fishing guide service. That day the property caretaker assisted the Martinez group, which included veterans Michael Viramontes, Luke Bachan, Martin Coulson, Albert Tom, Bill Hopkins, Brian Pastor, Doug Niemela, and Jose. The volunteer “fishmasters” were John Kreiter and Al Peterson, members of the Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen, which sponsors the program at the Martinez Outpatient Clinic.

This was one of those days when everyone experienced at least a strike or hooked a fish. The excitement began early. While everyone else was still rigging up their rods a few feet away, Bill made the group’s first cast. He immediately yelled for a net. That first cast of the day rewarded him with a huge fish that would be envy of everyone for the rest of the day. Veterans Bill and Luke each caught two fish, as did John. These fish were fooled using a variety of nymphs under indicators as well as black leech patterns stripped into shore.

That day the group had the pleasure of meeting Pat Young who lives nearby in Manton. He was there to take pictures for an article for Western Outdoor News about PHWFF-Martinez’s day at Eagle Canyon. Pat was kind enough to offer some fishing tips along with a wealth of stories.

The day was concluded with dinner at a local restaurant in Red Bluff, where stories and pictures were swapped, and where everyone got to know the two newest PHWFF-Martinez veteran members, Brian and Doug.

These deserving vets enjoyed a stunningly sunny day, great fishing for trophy trout, and wonderful comradery. Fun!

Jose Arana stalking fish in upper pond

Jose Arana stalking fish in upper pond

Luke Bachan’s fish caught in upper pond

Luke Bachan’s fish caught in upper pond

PHWFF-Martinez Trip Participants - Front (left to right): Albert Tom, Brian Pastor, Martin Coulson, John Kreiter (volunteer). Back: Bill Hopkins, Michael Viramontes, Al Peterson (volunteer), Jose Arana, Luke Bachan, Doug Niemela.

PHWFF-Martinez Trip Participants – Front (left to right): Albert Tom, Brian Pastor, Martin Coulson, John Kreiter (volunteer). Back: Bill Hopkins, Michael Viramontes, Al Peterson (volunteer), Jose Arana, Luke Bachan, Doug Niemela.

Bill Hopkins with fish caught on the first cast of the day in the lower pond

Bill Hopkins with fish caught on the first cast of the day in the lower pond