© 2014 Grace Baldwin

Dorian Gribble

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The Man, The Myth, The Legend

During my fishing trip to Owen’s Valley, I had the pleasure of being guided by the gruff, outspoken, one-of-a-kind Dorian Gribble.

Originally from Florida, Dorian now works for Sierra Trout Magnet as a fishing guide. He has an older brother who is a businessman and a younger sister who is a stay at home mom.

Dorian is a part of my fly-fishing trip that I will never forget. Although his language would make even the saltiest sailor seem ready for Sesame Street, this ex-marine showed a compassion, patience and love for sharing his sport that peeled back his “crunchy” exterior to behold, as David Suchoff said, a “pussy cat.”

1545682_10152079499322874_2015705661_n… well maybe I wouldn’t go that far, but behind his terrorist-esque neck buff (see photo on left), dark shades, and thick beard, Dorian definitely holds a heart of gold and an appreciation for God’s creatures —at least the cold blooded ones with scales.

During our trip to Bishop, I learned about Dorian’s unwavering dedication to catch and release. I asked him one day whether, once he had hooked a fish and found it’s hole, if he would change flies to try and hook the same fish. “We’re just playing a game, their fighting for their lives,” Dorian responded. That statement really stuck with me. Although Dorian spends his life catching fish, he really cares about them and understands that, while it’s a sport, every sportsman needs to be conscious of his impact on the fish and their environment.

Additionally, I also learned that Dorian is clearly an incredible fisherman. While I would spend fourty minutes fishing a hole, Dorian would wander over, seemingly aimlessly cast his rod, and subsequently hook a fish immediately.

When we mossied our way to the upper Owens Valley, after a not so friendly encounter with a game warden — long story short:  Dorian was missing his guiding license so we had to make our escape to a different part of the river — Dorian kept hooking fish with his rod and then immediatlely would hand it to one of us to fight and land the fish. Although, really all I did was snag Dorian’s rod, he was so quick to give me all the praise at the sight of the 14 inch rainbow trout that in my opinion was all his work. But that’s the kind of guide Dorian is – he really cares about his clients.

Another example of Dorian’s dedication to his clients’ success:  on the second day fishing, Dorian spent the whole afternoon with a member of our group who had only hooked one small fish. He was clearly determined to make sure they caught a fish and felt satisfied with the day.

From fishing with Dorian, I learned a lot about fishing culture and the sport itself. Dorian has centered his life around and made sacrifices for fishing; he shows a sheer love and appreciation of all aspects of fishing. While appreciating his dedication, it made me hungry to continue fishing beyond Bishop. I want to discover what I love most about fishing, what drives me to continue to cast my rod into the unknown, and how I can adjust my life and commitments to allow me to fish.

 

Along with his a-little-too-fast-for-my-comfort driving and love of social media, Dorian was full of fishing tales. Below are three of his stories that really struck me:

The Paiute Cutthroat

One day Dorian told us of a rare subspecies of cutthroat, the Paiute cutthroat, that lived in an unfishable stream high in the mountains. He was requested by a group of biologists to help log the species in an effort to track their numbers and maintain the purity of the species. Dorian and a friend spent the whole day catching more than 30 of these fish that few in the world have ever seen and even fewer had the opportunity to catch.

As a biology major, I loved that his impressive skill in fishing had brought Dorian into the world of science. It made me start to think about different ways that the ability to fish a stream is valuable in science.

1625697_10200470412281509_290839717_nSteelhead Fishing

Another noteworthy story was the time Dorian broke both his 11 foot rods before a steelhead fishing trip. Dorian proceeded to call a rod company asking to lease a $900 rod for the trip. He received the rod, went on the trip, and on his first cast hooked and landed a steelhead. He then, obviously, called the company saying he needed to buy that rod.

The story made me eager to improve my fishing so I can experience the excitement of further fishing opportunities, like steelhead fishing.

25100_104578559582771_6506843_nHis Best Brown

On the last hour of the last day, Dorian took us to a special hole in Hot Creek. The spot felt sacred, like “God’s Drop” as Thoreau described Walden Pond. There Dorian reminisced on how, in this very spot, he had hooked and landed his biggest brown trout ever. (pictured to the left)

It struck me how this location felt extremely sentimental to Dorian. He seemed to hold a strong connection to this one spot in Bishop. I realized that the Owens will always hold a special place in my heart since it is the place I learned to fly fish and caught my first trout.

 

I will forever remember Dorian as the colorful, comedic, and caring mountain man that taught me to fly-fish, something I plan to continue for the rest of my life, and for that I will forever be in debt to Mr. Gribble.