John Muir wrote: According to all accounts the Calaveras placers have been very rich -- "terrific rich," as they say here. The hills have been cut and scapled, and every gorge and gulch and valley torn to pieces and disemboweled,...Many a brave fellow has recorded a most eventful chapter of life on these Calaveras rocks. But most of the pioneer miners are sleeping now, their wild day done, which the few survivors linger languidly in the washed-out gulches or sleepy village like harried bees around the ruins of their hive.
Some 150 years later, I would make the case -- their wild day is far from over. Not too far from these sleepy villages of Gold Country, the streams running through the foothills still produce "color." If the colors you seek are iridescent reds and silvery blues, then you might share the good fortune of bringing a large wild, rainbow to hand.
The small stream fishing on the west-side of the Sierras provides an option (assuming regulations permit) in the Spring when the vast majority of the High Sierras is still under snow, and the mountain passes haven't yet opened for easy access to the Eastern Sierra fisheries.
More precious than gold? Catching a nice trout might put food on the table, but it won't pay the rent. But there's also no denying the visual allure of the colors of these fish. Sun-light illuminates the blues running between the spots of a rainbow's tail.
The Sierra foothills turn green as they round the corner from winter to spring. Along with the grasses, the bugs start crawling or flying around. Most of the bugs activity at this stream was sub-surface. I can't speak for the resident insects, only the nymphs we dragged out of our fly boxes.