“Mind Fishing”

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself swamped at work; I’ve had to get my fishing fix by tying flies late into the evening and going through the memory reel of some of my favorite fishing trips. My most recent trip to the Trinity River is one I have been revisiting, A LOT.

It’s quite a process; initially I gaze off into the distance, my eyes begin to glaze over, and then I am transported.

It’s late fall and there is a chill in the air, the forecast for the weekend in the Trinity Alps is scattered showers with a chance of snow. With a paycheck burning a hole in my pocket and two other fishing comrades also chomping at the bit to fish away the weekend, it is decided: we will brave the cold, camp out on the river and hunt steelies. It’s already evening, but we decide to drive through the night and set up camp late, this way we can start fishing at first light. Tents, sleeping bags and other camping necessities are packed into my well-used and well-loved Subaru, (the official mode of transportation for most of my fishing adventures). A quick stop for groceries, and we begin the 4 hour drive north on interstate 5. The long drive gives us plenty of time to debate indicator or no indicator, forecast who will catch the trophy chromer, and of course talk a lot of BS and heckle each other.

2am: finally we have arrived. An almost full moon reflects off the river and casts an eerie light upon the landscape. A camp fire is built to keep away the cold while we make camp. More importantly, the rods are brought out and set up, to lie in wait for a quick start in the morning. With the sound of the river gurgling and the bright night sky, everyone is too excited to sleep. Jack Daniels decides to makes an appearance along with fish stories and friendly banter. Eventually, the laughter dies down and a quiet contemplation of the fishing to come sets in.

photo (9)

Sharing a fire with friends

photo (12)

Marlee is exhausted after setting up camp!

Dawn breaks and my eyes pop open: after a rushed cup of coffee and breakfast, the fishing begins. The four of us (Joshua, Dustin, myself, and my dog Marlee) venture up the river. The view alone is worth the drive. The fall colors are vibrant and the sun has popped out from behind the dense morning fog. The sound of the running river with the occasional spawning salmon jumping is music to my ears. As I cast away the day, I catch one steelhead, but lose him before he is landed. Despite not landing a fish, the day is far from a failure. I silently thank the river for a perfect day of fishing.

Fall colors. Stunning!

Fall colors. Stunning!

Breath taking views!

Breath taking views

Dustin catches the fish of the day, a gorgeous steelie. Joshua hooks into a huge spawning salmon. Around the campfire, we all bear satisfied grins while reliving the days’ fishing adventures. Even Marlee grunts with contentment as he enjoys the warmth of the fire.

Dustin caught the first steelhead of the day. Gorgeous!

Dustin caught the first steelhead of the day. Gorgeous!

We KINDA enjoy fishing.

We KINDA enjoy fishing.

The next day is more of the same, a perfect day of fishing. As the sun begins to set behind the tree-covered mountains, the time has come to say good bye to the Trinity river. I make a promise to myself that I will come back here again; as if I could possibly keep myself away.

Meanwhile in the real world…… “Leslie? Earth to Leslie….?!” Oh right. I am jolted back to reality from “mind fishing.” Sigh. The post-it notes on my desk are calling my name. I’m beyond tempted to leave a note and play hookie the rest of the day.

Advertisements

The San Lorenzo River: Episode I

This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to fish the San Lorenzo River for the first time. The SLR is a smaller coastal river that until recent years was not very productive to fish. Like many of our coastal rivers, the San Lorenzo’s Steelhead and Coho Salmon population fell victim to threats such as pollution, over-damming, and over fishing.  In 1960 there was a population of over 30,000 fish in the river; however by 1970 there were only 1,000 fish remaining. In an effort to rehabilitate the once popular fishery, the California Department of Fish and Game designated the river catch-and-release only in 1984. They also limited fishing access from December 1st through March 7th, and only on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Clearly, the action taken by DFG is working; the rivers’ fish population appears to be making a successful recovery. Two  friends of mine are locals and have been fishing the river for the past four seasons. They tell me that the fishing has improved immensely since they started fishing it, four years ago. Although I don’t have previous years to compare to, I’m apt to agree. The fishing was ample and the river was stunning.

In the morning my local San Lorenzo guru, Joshua,  and I fished “the gorge,” which is part of the lower section of the river between Santa Cruz and Felton. This section of the river is set in a steep canyon, full of looming redwoods and giant boulders. It is by far the most dazzling section of this river. It’s a steep hike down (never an easy feat in waders), so I was surprised at the number of fishermen we encountered on this section of the river. While we didn’t have any luck during the morning, a few bait fishermen we met along the way had landed a handful of moderate-sized steelies.

As afternoon rolled around, we moved further upstream to a section of the river near Ben Lomond. I had been nymphing using a glo-bug egg pattern in the morning, so with the change of location I also decided to switch flies. I tied on a teal and black streamer; made a roll cast out to the center of a deep pool; and intermittently stripped my line in.  Success, fish on! Changing my tactics had payed off. It was along this stretch that I caught two coastal rainbow trout. The first was a 16 inch trout that was well on its way to becoming a gorgeous steelhead. The second was a tiny trout about 8 inches in size. While not giant chromers, these fish put up a great fight for their size, and landing them made me grin like a mad woman.

As the season progresses I’m sure the fishing will become even more productive as the area gets more rain. I’m looking forward to many more trips, and a ton more fish. I forgot my camera on this trip so please excuse the lack of photos, but not to worry, I will be making almost weekly trips here; there will be photos and fish tales galore.