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NorCal Fall Steelhead

Day 2

After a killer pizza & a good night’s sleep we started the next morning at the put-in where I was once again reminded of all the hassles involved in floating a river, vs. walking & wading from the truck.

Admittedly, it wasn’t all that bad. We’d arranged a shuttle so we didn’t have to do the vehicle shuffle and the pontoon boat went together relatively easy.

Doug Squyres in Pontoon Boat

Jeff, however… was still learning the nuances of steelhead fishing from personal watercraft – particularly when using 13 & 14 foot spey rods.

Jeff French in Watermaster

Jeff, His New Watermaster, and Scotty Jeffy Rod Holder

It had been a while since I’d floated the river and it was nice to finally be able to hit those runs on the other side of the river again.

California Steelhead Fly Fishing Water

Jeff Fishing “Lower Doug & Dave’s Run”

There’s a lot of fishable water on this drift but there’s one particular run that rates, in my book anyway, as one of the top runs on the river. It’s a run that can not be fished from the road, and it had been years since I last fished it.

In the past I’d had a tendency to rush through the first part of the drift in anticipation of getting to it and quickly found myself doing the same thing on this trip.

The problem is that you can end up skipping a lot of good water and cutting your day short by pulling into the take-out with hours of light left…

On the other hand, if you aren’t at least a little mindful of your time you risk another boat passing you and taking the run for themselves.

But hey… that’s steelhead fishing. Strategy & Anticipation are the name of the game.

California Steelhead Water

Quickly Covering the Shady Water

california steelhead casting

If you are familiar with Trey Combs book, “Steelhead Fly Fishing”, he mentions the name of a specific rock on this river that sets the name of the run they spent most of their time fishing when here. I’m fairly certain that’s the rock in the background of these 2 pictures (the one way down river and on the right).

Hint… it’s not its resemblance to a Rooster that it’s named after.

california steelhead casting 2

northern california steelhead fly fishing

fly fishing steelhead rapids

fly fishing steelhead rapids 2

steelhead fishing foam

Little Halfpounder Steelhead

Little Halfpounder Steelhead

Jeff French Steelhead Fishing Watermaster

The Scotty Jeffy Rodholder Surprisingly Still Intact

17 inch Halfpounder

17″ Halfpounder / Small Adult

The day’s drift went quickly and we found ourselves racing the fading light to the take-out.

I think Jeff would agree, it was a tie. We loaded the boats with headlamps and headed for dinner.

After another killer pizza that night, we headed back to the room where we were intercepted by a gold-mining couple I’d spoken too the night before in the lobby.

They were a friendly, retired couple out from Idaho and we’d had quite a lengthy conversation the previous night. They were interested in how we fished for steelhead, and I was equally intrigued with how they found gold.

I’m all for sharing the resource, but the destruction so many dredgers leave behind can give gold miners a bad name – particularly to fishermen. It was really cool getting to know these guys. It turned out we had quite a bit in common!

They’d traveled all the way from Idaho in their quest. Jeff & I’d driven 7 hours up from the Bay area in ours. They were searching for gold – we were hunting for silver.

I showed them some pictures of our fish…

…and they showed us what they’d “caught”.

California Gold

1 oz of California Gold

Ever hold an ounce of gold?

The first thing I said was “Holy crap is it heavy!” The response, “Yeah… about 1 ounce”.

1 ounce of Northern California Gold

“Nice people”, Jeff said, the next morning as we passed them on the way up river.

“Maybe gold miners aren’t all that bad after all”.

Little did he know at the time, his opinion would take a complete 180 in a few hours…

Check out page 3…

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