During my John Muir Trek between South Lake and Tuolumne Meadows, I was fortunate to fly fish some of the most exhilarating and technically challenging streams in the "Range of Light." One that ranks for me as the most stellar of wild trout habitats is the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. First, the terrain is very exciting, from Goddard Canyon to the confluence with Piute Creek, much of the access requires a "sixth sense" or "ballerina awareness" while carrying your rod and gear. Climbing over talus and polished granite benches is a skill set to access the many exquisite pools, tail outs and countless riffles. It's understandably apparent once you hook into one of these wild trout, that they are a product of this environment. Feisty and strong, these hybrids would hammer the fly, then propel themselves out of the water, to then vigorously swim upstream and launch themselves out of the water again often two feet into the air. Angling one these inspired fish with my 3wt rod was like equating it to a "pinball rodeo." Wow! Just hang on! Tight line! Even at this high elevation, roughly 9,000 feet, the fourteen trout I caught and released were an average size of twelve inches nose to tail. It was obvious that high biomass and the water purity that flows from many alpine catch basins at the headwaters are definite causes to their size and spirited strength. These well-fed trout, I'm calling Cuttbows, rather than Paiute Cutthroats, have striking coloration, heavy spotting, evident parr marks and distinctive red stripe while lacking the slash under the jaw. (See Sierra Trout Guide by Ralph Cutter, pg 15). During my energetic scramble up this freestone stream, I found abundant amounts of Cased Caddis and some large March Brown Stonefly Nymphs which resembled ones I have found on the Lower Yuba east of Marysville in northern California. During the day that I had to investigate this stream, I thrived on the remoteness and grandeur that complimented this rugged river. Most of the fishing technique was high stick nymphing with a BB amount of weight. Before the trek, I tied a few ginger "Hares Ear's," with gold ribbing, and a small piece of holo-graphic tape over the thorax, that closely resembles the Cased Caddis flies I have found crawling over the rocks in most of theses streams. This fly worked very well and was one of the most productive flies I tied for the trip. From any trail head the upper South Fork is a least a two-day strenuous adventure on trail in the wilderness, however as you loose yourself in the scenery and quality of angling, the distance will seem to fade away.