Ty Swafford Stories

I received email from Patrick Swafford:

Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 8:07 PM
To: glenn@zenflyfishing.com
Subject: Lazarotti

I just received a copy of your article on Jim. I am Ty Swafford's son. I live in Cheyenne Wy and reading this brought back many memories of fly fishing on the San Lorenzo before fly fishing was anywhere as big a sport as it is now. My dad was the best fly fisherman I have ever seen BUT I can tell you Jim is as close as it gets. I have so many thoughts that flood through my mind of Jim or both of the guys ( my dad and Jim) that bring smiles to my face that it would be impossible to relate enough of them or their impact on me to anyone. I guess the best thing I can say is my dad died a few years back and every time I come back to see my mom, she lives in Turlock, I MUST find a reason to wet a line with Jim. He is as close as I can get to dad. And Jim holds a very special spot in my heart. He was my fathers and now is one of my true friends.

If you would like to talk a little about the guys or fly fishing around Santa Cruz you can e-mail me here anytime. These were some of the best times of my life and really had a pronounced effect on where I have lived and what I have done.

Thank you for letting others know about the "old times".

Patrick Swafford

In a second email, he provides interesting stories about fishing for Stripers at the mouth of the San Lorenzo and Pajaro Rivers in the old days.

Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 7:21 PM
To: glenn@zenflyfishing.com
Subject: Re: Lazarotti

Dear Glenn,

I do remember quite a few of these guys. Just a few notes on some of dad and my experiences with Stripers. I am old enough to remember fishing for Stripers at the river mouth before the harbor was built. Lots of big fish would move into the river early in the season. Often they would sit next to the point before entering the river. And I mean BIG fish. Dad and I used to go down there in the evenings after he was done with work and look for fish working in the surf. I must have been elementary school most of this time. On one occasion, he took me down and decided to let me try the fly rod. I was too small to cast a regular shooting head so he cut about six feet of lead core line for me to use as a shooting head and I stood in shallow water and stripped enough line out to cast beyond the breakers. This was before stripping baskets were even heard of. All I would do was strip a lot of line off the reel and sling the lead core as far as I could and then strip it back "just like the big guys". One night I tied into a Striper about as big as I was. Dad stood next to me and gave me instructions on how to fight the fish. All of a sudden I turned around and Dad was gone. I remember wondering where he went but when I turned back to look at the surf, I knew. The wave was about two feet over my head. That one knocked me down and when I came up, Dad was laughing louder than Skorp Evans was. Skorp had been standing on the point watching all of this unfold. While the second wave knocked me down again, both guys were amazed that I actually still had a hold of the rod. I didn't lose the fish yet but it decided to enter the San Lorenzo and as I got to the trestle it broke off. Both Dad and Skorp said it was forty pounds of more. Unfortunately that was the biggest Striper I ever hooked.

My most vivid memory of fishing for Stripers was always at the mouth of the Pajaro River in Watsonville. I guess it was all of the phosphorus that is used in the fertilizer in that area. We used to take our flies and put them in the sand and jump up and down on them for about ten seconds. Then when we would cast into the surf, the flies would glow in the water. It was pretty cool around dusk but the darker it got, the eerier it got. Four or five of us standing together fishing and little things glowing all over in the water. At times it drove the fish crazy too.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures. Just memories. All of my fishing in the surf was with Dad. We fished the San Lorenzo every weekend and Wednesday possible. Back then, it was one of the best streams on the West coast. Too bad it has gone down so far.

If I can be of any more help, don't hesitate to ask. Fly fishing has been a passion with me my whole life because of the times spent in the Santa Cruz area.


Questions or Comments Contact: Glenn Yoshimoto
Los Gatos, California

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Published: September 5, 2004

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