Close Encounter

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 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

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

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

Can you see the fly? Photo by: Justin Miller

Photo by: Justin Miller

Photo by: Justin Miller

St. Patty’s

My St. Patrick’s day was spent out on the Trinity River with two clowns…..Greg Kennedy and Doug Simpson. The original plan was to go and fish the lower Sac, but those plans were smashed when Redding was pounded with massive amounts of rain and the river turned to straight up chocolate. So instead we decided to head to the Trin and chase some steelhead.

When we actually got into the truck it was about 9:30 am and we still had about an hour drive to go. Greg and Doug thought it would be a good idea to grab some grub and beer so we stopped at a small store. After about 15 minutes and a case of beer dropped at the checkout line by Doug, we were on the road. Now to make sure you all know why time was so important on this day, I was leaving that evening to go on a two day fishing spree with Justin on the coast.  It was made clear by Justin that I had to be back at the shop by 5pm.

My Irish charm!!!  Photo by: Camille Egdorf
My Irish charm!!! Photo by: Camille Egdorf

We wadered up and started fishing. I was quickly informed that I was not wearing any green, and was given the option to wear a green tiara. I figured why not, after all some Irish luck was always something good to have. So I threw it on and started fishing.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shinning bright and the water was perfect. I couldn’t believe we didn’t catch any fish that day because the water was dirty. (Dirty as in great). Greg made the comment that my tiara was scaring the fish away because it was so shiny. I guess the Irish luck wasn’t on our side that day.
We ended up making it back to Redding just in time, and avoided a potentially angry Justin. That night Justin and I packed our gear,  and headed south to the Russian river.

Spring Break

For my spring break, I decided to head South and make a quick visit to the boys at The Fly Shop.

The last leg to Redding.   photo by: Camille Egdorf

The last leg to Redding. photo by: Camille Egdorf

I arrived into Redding around 9 pm on a Friday night and was picked up by Ryan. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited to be back to my old stomping grounds. When we got to the house Justin was sitting in his usual spot on the couch and I noticed that most of the foods that were on the shelf back in Nov/Dec. were still there. It was apparent that nothing had changed at all and it was if I’d never left. We spent the night catching up, and laughing at some of my crazy college experiences. I told them about my misfortue with the fire drill, and they did nothing but laugh. Ryan had already made plans for the weekend and was taking me to the North Umpqua early the next morning. I was stoked to find out that lightning (Eric) was joining us. In the first two hours of being back I could already tell this would be an awesome spring break. I was going to be fishing the North Umpqua in less than 48 hours!!!!

We left Redding just before the crack of dawn and after what seemed to be an eternity of driving we arrived to the North Umpqua. I had never seen a fish ladder before so Ryan and Eric thought it would be cool to take me to the Winchester Dam. We walk down to the river and into this little cave thing with three underwater windows.” Looks like theres a couple here,” says Ryan. Sure enough I look at one of the windows and theres three winter steelhead staring right at me! We must have stood there for 15 minutes just staring. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If I hooked into one of those guys, I would freak out.

Thumbs up!  Photo by: Eric Fields

Thumbs up! Photo by: Eric Fields

Once we stopped gawking at the pretty fish, we geared up and started fishing. It was dumping buckets, so again everything got soaked and chills were sent down my spine. We fished through out the day and never did see any chrome. We did hear stories about fish either being hooked or caught, which kept our hopes up. That evening we met up with a friend named Rich Zellman, and started to set up camp. We all decided to nibble on munchies we had in the truck, instead of going into town for an $8 burger. Eric brought along his box of survival gear and remembered that he had some cans of soup and a little burner. Just out of curiosity I looked at the expiration dates. One was June 5th 2006, and the other was August 10th, 2007. I immediately started laughing and informed everyone else. Ryan, with a crooked smile, opened one a took a whiff. ” Smells good to me,” he says. I also took a sniff and to my surprise it smelled just fine. So we opened the other, took a whiff and poured it into the pan. Ryan also brought along a canteen of jambalya, which he also pourd into the pan. So we ended up with this mix of aged beef and potato jambalya soup.

I was really hungry.   Photo by: Eric Fields

I was really hungry. Photo by: Eric Fields

The soup turned out to be very good, and proved to be a good way to finish the day. After we finished munching we sat around drinking mountain dew and telling fish stories. Our dishes were done by Rich’s dog Bo, who was more than willing to help out.

Aged beef & potato jambalya soup....yummmmm!  Photo by: Eric Fields
Aged beef & potato jambalya soup….yummmmm! Photo by: Eric Fields

For the rest of the night we all chilled out in the back of the Land Cruiser and shared crazy college stories. Ryan and Eric insisted that tell Rich my fire drill experience. I have a feeling that I will forever be reminded of the most embarrassing of my life. 

The next day we headed back out to the river. It was still raining so we were beginning to worry about the river blowing out. We hit several spots that were dirt magert but not fish presented themselves. At around 2pm the river did eventually blow out, so we geared down and made the long trek back to Redding.