Tied to the fly

Peterson's passion for fly fishing spans five decades
By: Andrew Hazard, Placer Herald Correspondent
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John Peterson, a longtime Rocklin resident, has developed a gift and a passion unseen by many. That passion is a love for fly fishing. He admits with a chuckle that the end result is you are fishing for fish, but the whole experience is what is most important. “It becomes planning what you’re fishing for,” Petersoan, 70, said. “The fishing becomes an extension and it becomes much more about looking forward to what you are going to do, preparing for what you are going to do.” He became interested in fly fishing 50 years ago thanks to his wife Carol, who introduced him to the sport. Carol Peterson said fly fishing was a hobby of her grandfather’s that was passed down to her. “My grandfather used to be a great fly fisherman. In those days there was no limit, you’d have big ole strings of fish and, of course, they always kept them and ate them,” she said. “They didn’t release the fish like my husband does.” Peterson said he rarely keeps any of the fish he catches. “We use barbless hooks,. We use nets that are soft so that we don’t handle the fish anymore than necessary,” he said. “We’re careful to not fight the fish to exhaustion where we have a mortality rate on the fish. Like they say, ‘the thrill is in the tug.’” Peterson’s hobby over time has helped him discover a skill: fly tying. He said anticipation and preparation is key when determining what type of flies to use. “Let’s say that it’s June. June is a time where the big flies come out called hexagenia. We call them hex. Hexagenia is when it’s in a larval state. The nip is when it’s in the water and comes up as an emerger and that’s a different fly,” he said. “Once it’s on top that’s the actual flying insect. Depending on the type of day and what’s happening if you were to go fishing you would have those three flies available to you.” Peterson said her husband has taken fly tying to a whole new level. “Fly tying is nice because John’s artistic and that’s really an art form. He ties flies and puts them in Christmas ornaments in a clear glass globe,” she said. “He did a Christmas tree with flies to auction off to the library one time. It was all these globes with flies that he decorated a Christmas tree with.” Peterson participated in a fly tying demonstration at the Rocklin Library last year. She said her husband is going to do another demonstration on fly tying in November at the newly relocated Rocklin Library on 4890 Granite Drive. These demonstrations are a great way for people to get introduced to fly fishing. Peterson said joining a fishing club is the easiest way to get involved. “I belong to Granite Bay Flycasters ( We have everything from rod building, fly tying. We instruct casting,” he said. “We have discussions about what type of fishing equipment you need, to fly lines (and) fishing reels.” Peterson said the club is really active and people of all ages can join. “It can be many things to many different people. For most people it’s probably the product of getting out and enjoying fishing,” he said. “Everything else kind of rounds up into that.” Peterson said he enjoys all aspects of being a fly fisherman. “The whole gamete,” he said. “I enjoy streams, I enjoy lakes and I enjoy saltwater fishing.” Peterson has gone fly fishing as close as the American River in Sacramento, as faraway as Belize and everywhere else in between. “The lakes that I really like are in the Sierras, that would be like Davis Lake,” he said. Now that Peterson is retired he can go fly fishing whenever he feels like going. Peterson said after 48 years of marriage she is not jealous at all with the amount of time her husband spends fly fishing. “I’m glad he has something to do. A lot of people retire and they don’t have anything to do. That would drive you nuts,” she said. Peterson said the real enjoyment is being with the people he fishes with. “I go with a group of people, anywhere from two to 10 different people. We travel, we setup where we’re going to be (and) we actually do it,” he said. “In the evening, we sit around and cook dinner, have a few drinks and talk about the day.”