There are few people in this part of the world whom I cast more flies with than Professor Christopher Meyers. Chris and I go a few years back. We crossed paths when I was working at Performance Anglers, a great little outfitter that used to exist where Take 2 Video now operates. I’d sell flies and Powerbait to whoever walked in the door. The Professor would regularly step in to load up his plastic fly container with whatever bugs were respectively catching trout at the time. At some point, we ended up heading down to Hot Creek together to go fish. Since then, it’s become about three or four times a week in the summer that I will join Chris. It’s become somewhat of a competitive game between us at this point, as we just naturally count fish caught every time we are on the water. He usually outfishes me, though I’ve gained a lot of ground this last summer toward closing the gap.
Chris Meyers is the Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics at California State University, Bakersfield. He is also a Professor of Philosophy. His better half Donna Meyers is an instructional staff member at the same campus. She is a Senior Lecturer for the Department of Computer Science. They are both very bright folk. Along with instructing younger souls committed to a higher education, Chris contracts with hospitals as a consultant to family members during difficult terminal, end-of-life periods. Chris is present at hospitals when the occasional soul gets called home to meet the maker. Donna works also as a forensic expert for less-than-attractive law enforcement investigations. They live busy, productive, admirable lives. What sets Donna and Chris apart from the standard second-homer in Mammoth, is that these two are not winter enthusiasts. They shovel a great deal of sunshine in the lower part of the Central Valley, when we are, quite hopefully, up to our heads in fresh powder. When the spring semester ends every year in “Bako,” these two lock up their primary shop, and beeline it to their place in Mammoth, bringing with them their dog, Walker.
The Meyers first began their summer voyage to Mammoth 16 years back. It started with a week, then two weeks, then a month. They are now in their thirteenth year of spending the entire summer in Mammoth. Donna even changed her job as a 12-month per year system administrator to a nine-month per year faculty member to make this possible. About three years back, they bought a piece of the rock, a condo in town. Donna doesn’t fish much, but the two of them love Mammoth in summer for all the right reasons. Besides the fishing, they love the fantastic weather. When I complain to Chris that 90 degrees is too hot in Mammoth, he reminds me that most of us here have no idea how hot it can truly get. Temperatures in Bakersfield were triple digits when the Meyers were finishing up the academic year.
The Meyers love to hike and ride bikes. Chris also loves the “laid back feel” of Mammoth, which we both agree can be a double-edged sword. As Chris pointed out, “People don’t move to Mammoth for a career, we come for the outdoors, and work to support it.”
“The great thing of fly fishing is you are in gorgeous country. You’d go there regardless of fishing.” That’s the response Chris offered me when I asked him why he likes to fly fish. He continued, “One of the best things about fly fishing is its meditative quality. While on the water, you have to block out everything else — you get to block out everything else — to focus fully on the activity, otherwise all you’re gonna catch is tree trout. I know of no better way to lose yourself in an activity, in the process forgetting life’s troubles for a few hours.” As someone who spends a lot of time on the water, I can only agree, that some of my best days at Hot Creek are not necessarily nailing 20-inch trout, but watching the deer drink from the creek as a bald eagle soars overhead.
Chris’s most memorable experience of fly fishing is indeed at Hot Creek. He had his eyes locked on a big rainbow sitting on the front part of a weed island. “Big” in Chris’s vocabulary really means “big” as I have seen him land countless trout over 18 inches at Hot Creek, as he knows the water well. This particular fish was positioned in a location in water making it almost impossible to get the right drift. Correct drift at Hot Creek is an imperative, unforgiving part of fishing the world-class creek. He was down there with younger friends who all gave it a shot. It was Chris’s accuracy that landed a “big old 18 inch bow.”
His favorite fishery, however, isn’t Hot Creek. Hot Creek earns the silver medal only behind the Lower Deschutes River in Oregon. He loves the Deschutes for the big and beautiful fish, and its beautiful country. Closer to home, the Upper Owens River is another one of his favorite hunting grounds. He enjoys fishing above the bridge in summer, and fishing close to the lake in fall when the lake fish are moving up. As for Crowley Lake, it is a fun experience, in his opinion, but a different one. The moving waters are where he tends to spend a lot of his time. As for the river he named his dog after, “The East Walker is high on my list of favorites. It’s always gorgeous out there and it’s one of those rivers where one day you land 25 large trout and the next you get skunked. Love the challenge.”
When I asked Chris how many days a year he gets on water, he estimates the number to be around 80. Most of those are in Mono County. Not bad, for a Professor of Philosophy at CSU, Bakersfield. Chris has a great sticker on his green four-wheel drive Mazda. It reads, “Don’t believe everything you think.” Those are powerful words with great meaning. I think Chris nailed it on the spot with that motto, with the exception that he tends to be very exact when it comes to catching trout at Hot Creek. How do I know? I’m there with him half the time.
A more detailed report can be found at http://kittredgesports.com/fishing_report.php. Leonard guides for Kittredge Sports. Call 760.934.7566.