Furlough Day on the Russian River, CA

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Cal, Feb 19, 2009.

  1. This is a thread I originally posted on a Northern CA board that eventually got trashed by a bunch of folks with Steelhead Envy. I thought I might try posting it here because this board appears to have more mature less crazy folks.

    So, here goes:

    I work for the State of California and Courtesy of the Guvernator I had the first of many Furlough days (2 Fridays a month) without pay and decided to make the best of it chasing the elusive (and somewhat rare) Northern California chromer.

    Wanted to get the hell out of town and the only river close to where I live with any flow or rumors or fish was the Russian. Scouted all over on Thursday, and discovered that not many of the normal runs had enough water to swing a fly. By Friday the rain had brought a tinge of color to the water and there was some current up around the Wohler Bridge access (upstream from Guerneville) where my buddy Mark and I spent several hours spey casting but did not see a single fish.

    Decided to go down to Casini Ranch (an access down near the mouth of the river) and get in the line-up for lack of any better ideas. Broke down and stowed the spey rod and set up the single hand 8 wt with an intermediate shooting head. Went down and joined the line-up, which was not too crowded considering it was a Friday and it had just rained.
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    There were fish moving through all afternoon, I think I may have seen as many as 100 fish move through and only one seal lion who was poised upstream in the frog water. The only current in the river, even at low tide, was in the downstream area and only up against the far bank. In 4 hours of fishing I saw 4 fish hooked, 1 of which was lost, 1 was foul hooked, and 2 were caught and released.

    *My fishing partner, Mark hooked up early.
    [​IMG]

    *Mark’s bright hen.
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    After about 2 hrs of swinging and changing flies and swinging some more, I caught the only other fish landed Friday afternoon, this fine buck, about 33” and estimated to be 12-14 lbs. The fish was caught on a bright orange bucktail and marabou winged classic style steelhead streamer. After an epic 15 minute battle the fish was quickly photographed and released. Spent a good part of the fight looking over my shoulder because there was a sea lion was hanging out upstream in the frog water about 200 yds upstream. You would be amazed how fast they can move, until you remember that they survive by being able to out-swim Great Whites.

    *My buck
    [​IMG]

    My first trip of the season and I made the first entry on my 2009 steelhead card. I hope you all have a chance to get out on a river near you soon. In normal rainfall years the Russian can be blown out for weeks at a time so low rainfall or drought years are best, as it may be the only river with any flow until real rain falls. Looks like we just got some real rain !

    Regards from the Golden State which currently has no gold.
     
  2. Very nice, thanks for posting. Interesting to hear that the Russian fishes better in low water years. What's the ratio of hatchery to native fish that are caught?
     
  3. Sweet report, no bashing here. Great looking river and two nice looking fish. Glad that you can make the best of those furlough days. I plan on doing the same for mine up in this neck of the woods.
     
  4. Bash the sea lion not the fly fisher.
    Great report, to bad I can't join you.
     
  5. I think the Russian may have about 20-30% wild fish. It fishes better in low water years because the legacy of historic logging practices in the watershed is very muddy run-off. It usually takes a good two weeks to clear to fly fishing color, so in a good rain year it may be blown all winter. In a low water year it may be one of the few rivers open at the mouth and probably gets many strays. Water from other rivers is pumped into this system so steelhead from other rivers are attracted to the Russian. Probably a lot of hatchery fish stray.
     
  6. I hope you dont get bashed like you did on Kiene's, I also thought that was a great report. maybe i'll go to the russian tomorrow.
     
  7. Great report and damn that's a beautiful buck there, cheers :beer2:!
     
  8. Was the thread deleted on the Kiene's board? I can't seem to find it just to find out what would people be so uptight over?
     

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