Florence Lake (Part 1 of 3): Reuniting With the High Country

August 24, 2015
The high country around Florence Lake in the Sierra National Forest on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

I hadn’t wet a line since May, when I flew home to Maine and spent three, heavenly days casting to landlocked salmon in the cold, clear waters of Grand Lake Stream. Other than that, I’ve fished only once in the last three or four years: A trip to a Nevada mountaintop, where fat trout between 18 and 22 inches came to net so frequently that I now consider that little summit puddle to be holy ground… but that’s another story. The point is, I hadn’t done much fishing since I moved to the parched sandlot that is Southern California. But my recent sojourn to Maine had stirred me. Before returning to LA, I mailed my rods, reels and fly tying materials to my apartment in Venice Beach. I began researching every meandering, blue line on every map of California I could find. There are trout in those mountains, and even in those valleys, I realized. That was all I needed to know. I felt all the old feeling. It was time to go fishing again.

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"He was thirty-two now, at the height of his power, and he could put all his body and soul into a four-and-a-half-ounce magic totem pole." - Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It.

What Does Magic Totem Pole Mean?

If you’re wondering where the title of this blog comes from, you’ll find the answer on page 21 of Norman Maclean’s somber novella, A River Runs Through It. The soulful Western — which is gospel as far as fly fishing literature goes — follows a…

August 17, 2015