Water Sports, California
During the spring Sierra snow melt, the Tuolumne River is as fierce as any California Stream. The huge waves and hydraulics are enough to scare even the most seasoned river rafting guide, but most know that spring on the Tuolumne River is as good as rafting gets. Every year, sometime in June, the natural river flow drops and Holm Powerhouse on Cherry Creek releases just enough water for a raft to negotiate the river. The river changes from a scary and dangerous maelstrom to a truly technical challenge.
Highlights of a Tuolumne River trip are exciting rapids, camping along the Clavey River, hiking to water slides on the North Fork, and the possibility of exploring the remnants of the mining days. During the California spring one and two day trips are available. When the water drops sometime in June we spend two or three days exploring the canyon. Previous rafting experience is recommended but not required.
Equipment: Most outfitters will only require that you bring some sturdy shoes, sunblock, a swimsuit, a change of clothes, and an open and a positive and open attitude.
There is a river store near the put in that sells any last minute items.
California can offer an incredible fly-fishing experience from the southern Sierras Mountains all the way up to the Oregon border ? and beyond. Whether you are looking for the secluded high sierra stream hooking into native brook or golden trout or if you prefer the steelhead runs, you can find it here ? sometimes with a hefty price tag or just time spent out exploring and getting skunked (ie ? not catching a damn thing). Most of my trips have been around Yosemite and areas Northeast of Redding / Red Bluff (follow hwy 5 North from Sacramento). Although not designed for the budget in mind, I would HIGHLY recommend hiring a guide if you are visiting the state. Many of the California Rivers can be tricky and without the know-how, you can just be getting wet. The etymology (read: bug?s life) of a river can be vastly different from another one?s a mile away. Tactics can be various as well, some rivers you have to fish upstream, others downstream and some waters are on private land, so without a guide, you can?t even get on. Between the snow pack runoff, hatches, heat, and ?open season,? the time of year is important to consider as well.
There are quite a few Fly-Fishing shops around the sierras ? Mammoth Lakes, Sacramento, Merced?etc? so if you are going around these areas, I would do some research, check in with the local shops for either the tips of the local waters or point you in the direction of a guide. (common etiquette is if you are asking where to go and what to use, then patronize that shop)
Equipment: If you trip takes you to Northern California, then I would highly recommend The Fly Shop, in Redding California. They are a top notch store with up to date info on the big waters and provide guide services for all the surrounding waters. I have never used their guides, but have met them on the streams at times, and always are friendly and offered good advice. They also have guided trip to Alaska, British Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Bahamas, Tahiti, Mexican Tucatan and Belize.
I will provide their info below.
I will be posting up pics on the t?logues.
Over the past decade or so, I have rafted many of the California Rivers. It is a great weekend out with the friends or a great change of pace for things such as bachelor parties, and somehow we usually talk about these times more than the nights throwing dollar bills. There is a river that will meet your expectations. A lot will depend on the time of year you go and the snow pack from the winter before. (best time is early to mid Spring) Most class III I find to be mostly lazy rivers that will give you plenty of time to jump and swim as you meander your way down the river. The class IV’s and V can test your nerves and swimming ability. Cherry Creek is the only, and last step in skill level that I haven’t tried yet. I heard that they do swimming test before they allow you on the river. Sorry I don’t have any great pics, but it is a little hard when you on a raft rowing to save your butt.
For those of you that are visiting the state, it is usually a good little history lesson of the California Gold Rush of 1848/49. These were the rivers where it all began. You can look down in the water and see the gold flakes and even see some "miners" still sifting through the gravel, trying to strike it rich. Last time on the Tuolumne, we actually stopped and a miner passed around his find for the day (or year), I would guess it to be a 2 oz natural nugget of gold. I thought that was cool.
The natural scenery is awesome, but don’t let it distract you. Remember, if you fall out, keep your feet pointed down stream!
Equipment: They will supply everything you need, including lunch. Don't wear cotton shorts or cotton socks – you will be cold and miserable. They usually require you to wear closed toe shoes as well; otherwise you'll get nasty blisters.
I have used some different outfitters (ie rafting companies) but i have always had a good time and enjoyed A.O. (the site I have listed below) They can also direct you to different camp sites around the area that you are supposed to meet the outfitters.
There are many great places to go surfing in California. I've done it at Solana Beach in San Diego, but this picture is of someone who actually knows what he's doing at Ocean Beach.