Justin and I arrived into Santa Rosa at around 10:30 pm Teusday night. Justin had been telling me all about his good friend Jones, whom we were going to going fishing with the next couple of days.
“He’s the coolest dude, you”ll really like this guy,” he goes.
After hearing some amusing stories about adventures he and Jones had been on, I was really looking forward to meeting this guy and do some fishing with him.
Jones is a all that Justin said he was. A very laid back, chill, and steelhead obbsessed fly-fisherman. Justin and I were going to stay at his place, so when we arrived we sat down on the couch and developed a game plan for the day to come. We agreed upon a 5:30 wake up and breakfast at a small diner in Gurnsville. After hearing the 5:30 part of the conversation I decided to turn in for the night.
Bang, bang, bang!!! “YOOOO,” I shout as I roll over.
“Time to go fishing,” says Justin in an enthusiastic voice. “Lets do it,” I reply.
As I walk into the garage, I see Jones and Justin gearing up and stuffing themselves into their waders. In surprise, I do the same. I never thought I would be putting on my waders at 5:30 in the morning. We drive into Gurnsville and the town is desolate in the coasty fog. We stop next to this small diner and walk in to see two older gentlemen sitting at the bar reading a newspaper. Then across the room were two individuals that were clearly feeling the affects of St. Patty’s day (which was the night before). Both were sitting in a back corner playing and gawking at their little dog, which was fairly amusing.
The Russian in the early morning fog. Photo by: Camille Egdorf
The first spot we stopped to fish was basically right next to the little diner. We all walk down to the river and I’m at this point awe struck by how cool this river is. It was full blown Rivers of a Lost Coast. Luckily we were the first ones on the spot so we got to fish the best part of the run. We lined ourselves up, waded out, and all made our casts at the same time. To make sure we didn’t tangle up we let the flies swing in unison, and then cast at the same time. It was a pretty sweet experiece because I had never fished this way before.
Photo by: Camille Egdorf
Before too long, more fishermen showed up. I could tell this was a good spot because all of them were biting at the bit to get in the action. Justin had also told me some crazy stories about fish he had hooked in that run.
After a while the run started to become a little over-crowded, so we all decided to hit up another sweet spot that Jones knew about. We drove about two minutes and ended up at this little spot hidden back in some trees. We bush-whacked our way through and came out to a very fishy run.
“Camille, wade out as far as you feel comfortable and start fishing,” instructs Jones. I do as he says.
Photo by: Justin Miller
At the time I was using this fly that was almost blinding. Tied by Chris Aff (a guide on the Russian river who has a knack for tying up some incredible flies) it was a solid orange, with a little flash. I was especially attracted to it because it was so pretty….(what can I say…I’m a girl).
I let the fly swing down, stripped in some line and made another cast. Prior to this day, I had heard stories of fishermen who have had close encounters with fresh from the salt steelhead, who had to sit down due to shock. They experience shaky and tingly hands, weak knees, and occasionally high pitched voices. I never really thought that was an accurate statement and figured that it was all in their heads. Boy, was I wrong.
I made a big mend, and let the bright orange fly do it’s thing. As it swung, I made a quick glance at Justin, who was down river from me. I watched in utter amazement and jealousy as he makes a flawless cast. I shook my head, and looked back towards my fly, wishing that someday I could be as good as he was. My fly was at the end of it’s swing, and I grasped ahold of my line to begin stripping it in when I felt a tug. “Dog-gone-it, I’m stuck on the bottom,” I thought.
Just then I felt a heavy tug and the head-shake of a fish. My stomach went to my throat and I raised my rod. The fight was short lived for it was about 30 seconds before he slipped from my fly, but the steelhead was kind enough to show himself one breif second. He broke the surface and allowed everyone to get a good look at him. Then he was gone. I was beyond excited. I could have cared less about losing the fish, I was just ecstatic that I even got to see one. I tried to fish right away, because there could have been another fish in the area, but my efforts were futile. I was experiencing shaky and tingly hands, weak knees, and a high pitched voice. I had to just stand there out in the river for a few minutes and regain my compsure.
“That was really cool,” said Jones.
I would have been happy if that was all that I got on that trip, but it only got better from then on.
Can you see the fly? Photo by: Justin Miller
Photo by: Justin Miller