An Amador Angler — ‘Be Prepared’ to fish Upcountry
Kautz fills his Silverado with fishing gear and extra clothing. ledger dispatch photo by mark kautz
Posted on October 25, 2013
By Mark Kautz
ledger dispatch columnist
It’s the time of year again for a short reminder to be careful Upcountry.
Being prepared when you venture Upcountry is an absolute necessity. One of the big words is “layer.” Never a truer word has been spoken. You can always take off a layer or two, but you can’t add layers if you don’t have them. When I head out for a day of fishing, my truck is full of clothes. Because I drive an extended-cab pickup doesn’t mean I have tons of space in the back. In fact, when you add in three tackle boxes, two buckets — one for fish and the other for bungee cords/rope/bug spray — a chair pad, a camping chair, tarp, first aid kit (handy to have) and a big net, it doesn’t leave much space for clothes.
We’ll start with rain. I’m a weenie when it comes to fishing in the rain, but, in the winter, fishing in the rain (if you’re one of those brave enough or stupid enough to get out there when it’s raining) is a whole ‘nother ball game. You get caught in a winter rain and you can get into trouble in a hurry. Ever heard of hypothermia, which is subnormal body temperature? It can be deadly. You want to make sure you have proper clothing. I carry a rain coat, rain pants and a fleece hoodie to wear under it, as well as top and bottom thermals. You can’t have enough clothes.
How about snow? I have a fleece-lined parka, two fleece watch caps, ear muffs, three types of gloves — neoprene, fleece-lined leather and fingerless fleece, with finger covers — and chemical hand warmers, lots of chemical hand warmers. I carry all this, with the exception of the parka, in my backpack, which is always with me. I also have a blanket in the truck, stashed under the back seat.
You always want to make sure you have extra food and water with you. I have an ice chest that fits behind the passenger seat, in which I carry several bottles of water, a couple of sandwiches, half-a-dozen granola bars — I like chocolate-coated, chocolate chip ones, from Quaker — and a thermos of coffee.
How about a shovel? I always have one of those fold-up army shovels that the GI’s in WWII carried on their backs and, in the winter, if I’m wandering Upcountry, I also carry a plastic snow shovel. At the beginning of winter, I’m always reminded of the time I went up Wrights Lake Road to fish Lyons Creek (it had water back then) and in the morning I drove right over a big patch of snow. Coming back later that day was a different story and once I got high-centered because the snow had started to melt, it took me more than three hours to dig myself out. A nice big snow shovel would have been a great accessory.
One last thing, remember to always, always, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
Just a few suggestions from someone who lives Upcountry, fishes Upcountry, and has an insatiable need to explore roads never traveled before. You would be surprised how many good fishing spots you find just wandering the back roads. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a person who puts himself in harm’s way, and, if things get dicey, I’ll be the first one to turn around and leave it for another day.
One additional item I want to add this year is vehicle maintenance. Since I bought my Chevy Silverado, I’ve had it maintained on a regular basis by GMC, in Folsom. Many may not have the funds to do constant maintenance on a vehicle, but because I do, I have the confidence to take it Upcountry and not worry about it breaking down, even though it has more than 200,000 miles on it. I also keep a good set of mud and snow tires on it. Helps keep you from getting stuck.
I guess my point is, always be prepared. If you watch the news prior to a big snowstorm, you always see the CHP telling Mike TeSelle from KCRA 3 (poor guy always gets stuck with reporting in the snow from Blue Canyon) to carry extra clothes, food and blankets. Good advice from the CHP guy, who always comes to your rescue if you’re in trouble.
As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues would say, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.” Tight Lines.