BY JIM MATTHEWS/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Feb 09, 2009


     MAMMOTH LAKES -- Bill Randol, 89, died in his sleep in Mammoth Lakes during the night on Jan.3.  Area anglers simply knew him as “Doc,” the inventor of Doc’s Twin Lakes Special -- perhaps the only fly a fisherman really needed in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

     He retired to Mammoth Lakes from his veterinary business in Southern California in 1980 when he was 61, hoping to get in 10 years of good fly-fishing before he died. He got in a whole lot more and became a fly-fishing institution in the process.

     His long-time friend Dick Dahlgren fished with Doc nearly every week during the trout season for more than a decade before Dahlgren moved to Ketchum, Idaho, wrote this about his long-time friend.

     “One of my best friends went fishin' a few days ago -- to the best catch-and-release trout creeks in the Heavens where the only fly that works is the Doc's Twin Lakes Special,” said Dahlgren. “I loved the guy. Jim Bartling, also gone now, introduced me to Doc over 30 years ago.

     “Doc was launching his belly-boat at Twin Lakes just out of town. He was headed for the weed beds on the west side of the lower lake to catch his lunch. We said the howdy stuff, shook hands, and shortly thereafter we went fly fishin’ together at least four days a week for the next 10 years.”

     He went on, “When it was my turn to drive, I would pull up to Doc's place, knock on the door, open it, and yell at Ellie, Doc's beautiful wife.  ‘Ellie! Can Doc go fishin?’ Her chuckle and smile -- and a cookie -- always made my day.

     “He was my side-kick. He was my support and big brother through the early days of the 1984 Rush Creek lawsuits against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power that eventually rewatered Rush Creek, along with Parker, Walker and Lee Vining creeks.

Dahlgren remembers the mini battles and the major battles with Doc.

     “We formed the Mammoth Fly Rodders together, not for Rush Creek, but for an extended catch-and-release fishing season on Crowley and for permission to use float tubes on the lake,” said Dahlgren. “We eventually got it. The Rush Creek battle began about the same time, and it is my biggest memory of my ‘Doc’ times.

     “We believed Rush Creek was a wonderful reborn trout stream thanks to some wet winters that flushed water and trout over the dam at Grant Lake, and we thought it was worth saving. So we decided to save it. In the beginning the LADWP scoffed and postured against the Mammoth Fly Rodders. We were David and LADWP was Goliath. Doc and I traveled to dozens of meetings. He was the influence and the balance and the council that kept me on track and the behind-the-scenes reason the battle was won. In the end, the Mammoth Fly Rodders realized victory.”

     Sadly, says Dahlgren, his buddy would  think it was a shallow victory

“ Rush Creek remains a shadow of what it was years ago -- even a shadow of what it was in 1984 when Doc and I tossed flies to hundreds of browns, ‘bows, and brookies,’” said Dahlgren. “The battle goes on to this day, in spite of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and their powerful political influence. The Mammoth Fly Rodders will continue to fight for what you and I believed my friend. Bless you Doc.”

     A memorial service and celebration of Doc Randol’s life was held last Friday at St. Joseph’s Church in Mammoth Lakes.


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