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Russian River Fly Fishing Report

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 Rob Russell Reports on 2.15.2018

Happy Summer in Winter from the North Coast!  Sarcasm, we need rain bad.  Take the broken record off the turntable, we really need rain, again.  My opinion, shared by others on the Coast, is that the low steelhead returns we are seeing this year is a result of our prolonged drought and horrible ocean conditions.       Large scale differences in water temp have put such huge parts of the Pacific out of whack.  The total, probable effects of which being likely unquantifiable.         Anadromous fish have fared poorly under these conditions.  Offshore waters, once relied upon for nutrients and growth, have become depleted of sustenance.        

Although drought and ocean conditions probably combine to have the largest impact, there are plenty other issues.  For example, the sea lion population has tripled in CA waters in the last 20 years.  Sea lions are in a feeding frenzy at the rivermouth this week;  so many lions in the mouth entrance, it didn’t look like there was enough room for a steelhead to get through their mass of bodies and chomping teeth.  Also, our kelp is dying and abalone are in precipitous decline, their season closed, another example of dramatic change and decline in our local waters.     

Yet they persist as a species, and the opportunity is still there for the faithful;  the chance to shake hands with the fish we call steelhead…     The mouth is open and fish are trickling in.  Fishing is fairly slow, but as most are realizing, coastal steelheading is not an action packed sport.  We are fishing for a single grab these days, and a fish landed is cause for celebration and halleleujahs.     

A quick story to fuel your fire-  I hadn’t seen a good buddy for about a month at our normal spot, when I finally spotted him this week.  He had been avoiding the crowds, and had been fishing closer to the mouth.  He explained that he had been targeting fish he could see, as they moved upriver.  He had been sight-fishing, for a month, seeing “about a hundred fish” that he could cast to as they waked past him.  He thought he might try it on this day last week and was wondering if I might want to join him.  Twist my arm…  My buddy Pete landed a huge buck that night, after I had thrown in the towel.  He had two chances, two casts, at this fish.  Pete’s words, “Saw him coming and made a cast, no take.  One more upstream cast and he took, cartwheels twice and then left the pool.  I followed him down and landed the beast.  Halleleujah.”


Lemme know if you would like to do some coastal steelheading.  Glad to show you what I know.  - Rob Russell 707-888-2571Instagram and Facebook @robrussellflyfishing 

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