When Todd Sodaro was 3 years old he caught his first fish. At the time he and his Dad were fishing in their favorite place, Alpine County. In 1962, Sodaro’s parents bought property in Markleevillage, where the family would camp during fishing expeditions and where his parents eventually moved when they retired.
Sodaro lived in Santa Clara, Calif., for 39 years of which 22 were spent managing electronic firms in the Bay Area.
When his dad died 14 years ago, Sodaro gave his notice at work and two weeks later moved up to Alpine County to be with his mother, Jackie.
“I got very lucky when it comes to mums,” he said.
When he moved up to the mountains he managed Kay’s Silver Lake Resort for a year, then for 11 years he managed Carson River Resort.
For the past 18 months he’s been helping at Creekside Lodge where recently he set up an eight-by-six-foot peg board displaying fishing equipment for sale in the office. Many children come in to feast their eyes on these wares.
“Everybody, especially kids, catch really good quality Alpine County trout,” Sodaro said.
Sodaro doesn’t like to hear of kids being bored fishing. He maintains that they only need to feel the joy of catching their first fish, just as he did as a child, and they’ll be hooked (if you’ll pardon the pun). Often, in his own time, he takes families fishing lending the kids his equipment at no charge. At first it’s necessary to hold the rod with the young aspirants to enable that first catch (letting them think they caught it) then once they feel how it’s done they can catch fish by themselves. Todd is a catch and release fisherman, using barbless hooks. The only fish he saves and eats (and, said Sodaro, the local trout taste spectacular) are the tiny percentage who are hurt when hooked.
On July Fourth weekend Alexia, a 9-year-old girl, and her parents from San Jose came into the Creekside Lodge office. They discussed fishing with Sodaro who took them after work.
Alexia, an excellent fishing student, caught seven fish, the last two on her own; she released six and kept an injured 3.5 pounder. Sodaro is in regular contact with various outdoor sports magazines, providing details of current fishing information in Alpine County (water conditions, planting status etc.) which helps tourism in the county. One of these publications, Western Outdoor News which enjoys a huge circulation, is going to include Alexia and her fish on their Whopper List, which is usually reserved for professional fishermen.
When the business, then Sierra Pines, came up for lease, Tony, a fishing buddy from Carson River Resort days, suggested to Sodaro that they lease the store. Dayne, the third partner, is Tony’s stepson. The partners took two and a half weeks to prepare the building and opened on April 24, two days before the beginning of fishing season. They are happily surprised by the success of their first two and a half months.
Todd’s Bait Tackle and Supplies, consists of equipment for both catch and release and put and take fishing, (at prices customers like) a general store, gas, propane, laundry, ice, gifts, WIFI and a cafe with 20 items on the menu; the biggest seller is the delicious hamburger. Other sandwiches include: turkey, ham and veggie burgers. There is also calamari, fried prawns, ice cream and hearty breakfasts. A beer and wine license is coming soon. The store-cafe has an upbeat, energetic atmosphere.
As chairman of the Alpine County Fish and Game Commission, Sodaro orders trout from American Trout and Salmon, a fish hatchery in Susanville, for planting in Alpine County waters. He always rides in the truck to ensure that the fish are handled with the utmost care. From April-October, a truckload of 1,800 pounds of trout is planted every 14-17 days in the East and West Forks of the Carson River, Markleeville Creek, Silver Creek, Lake Alpine and Indian Creek Reservoir. Planting is funded in part by the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce. California Fish and Game stock the balance of the waters in the county.
Fishing season for rivers is from the last Saturday of April to Nov. 15. Lakes stay open all year as does the part of East Fork of the Carson River downstream from Hangman’s Bridge. Ice fishing is permitted.