Goodwin Lake - Feb. 27 to March 1
by Mark Traugott
An enthusiastic group of nine made the roughly three-hour journey to Goodwin Lake in the Sierra foothills. For three days, we fished this mile-and-a-half long impoundment of the Stanislaus River directly downstream from Tulloch Reservoir. Goodwin has no public access, effectively making it the private preserve of the dozen or so homeowners who live along its shores. One of these is Roy Gunter, our host and fishmaster, through whom participants in these fishouts were able to gain entrŽe to this water.
All but three members of the group had fished the lake before, and these veterans generously shared their recommendations on flies and techniques. The preferred method of attack was via float tube, either trolling or casting woolly buggers (or some variation) while working the drop-off corresponding to the original bed of the Stanislaus. All the fish caught were rainbows ranging in size from 8 to 21 inches, with a fair number in the upper range. Bill Seaman and Elaine Cook operated as a tag team whose tubes were never far apart, and they seemed to be catching fish with great regularity. John Cook ventured out in one of the resident kayaks, initially just to tour the lake, but what he saw encouraged him to return the next day with a fly rod in hand to try his luck. George Boero and Rich Hughett mostly worked the upstream end of the lake, which they had almost entirely to themselves for much of the weekend, an amazing luxury given the quality of the fishery. Don Foskett and I spent most of our time toward the downstream end, where Don had great success even during the cold, steady rain that came down all Saturday morning. Bob Monaco, who arrived early, and Roy Gunter, who arrived late, and who no doubt have the most Goodwin experience between them, were able to use it to great advantage, taking fish in both numbers and size. My contribution was to demonstrate that, contrary to everything I had been told, it is quite possible to take Goodwin rainbows on dry flies. When a brief hatch of March Browns began mid-day on Friday, I was able to hook and land an 18-inch fish on a size 12 parachute-tie donated by Elaine. I was able to repeat the experience when the same hatch occurred on Saturday after the rains ended.
The consensus among the veterans seemed to be that this late-February date was less productive than their previous visits, but everyone caught fish, and several people caught five to ten fish per day. The canyon of the Stanislaus is spectacularly beautiful at this time of year, with cattle grazing the emerald-green slopes beneath colorful outcroppings of volcanic rock. We saw a great variety of bird life - everything from noisy flocks of turkeys, to honking Canada geese, to kingfishers and merganzers competing for the fish, to formations of Sandhill cranes in flight high above. The club fishouts to Goodwin Lake give members the unique opportunity to enjoy quality fishing in a magnificent setting where - as was true on this trip - they are likely to be the only rods on the water all weekend.
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