Close encounters with Sasquatch trout – Part II
Fishing and hunting
GUIDE BARRETT CHRISTIANSEN shows one of several large rainbow trout that Dottie and I caught on the McKenzie River in Oregon recently.
The morning after the evening of our close encounter with Sasquatch at Ike's Pizza in Vida, Ore., we awoke to the sound of light rain on the roof of our vacation rental home on the banks of the McKenzie River. We were scheduled to meet our guide, Barrett Christiansen, at a campground up the road at 9 a.m.
The light rain had stopped by the time we reached our rendezvous spot, but it was still overcast and chilly. Barrett, a tall, handsome, 30-something man with his blond hair in a ponytail, greeted us and helped us load our gear into his drift boat. Leaving our car at the campground, we rode with Barrett up the road several more miles to the launch spot. The guide service out of the Caddis Fly Shop in Eugene also provided the shuttle that would insure that Barrett's truck and trailer rig would be waiting at the take-out spot downstream at the end of the day.
The McKenzie was running high and fast, but clear. My fear that the water was just too heavy for good fishing was put aside less than two minutes after our launch when I hooked a hard-fighting rainbow. He got off after a brief tussle, and then I hooked a second, lost it, then a third and lost it, before I finally figured out that in the hard current, I needed to set the hook with more force.
Dottie also hooked a fish and lost it, but on her second try she tangled with a beautiful wild rainbow that battled her for five minutes before she brought it to Barrett's net. The fish measured 17 inches, the biggest Dottie has ever caught on a fly.
We were bundled up against the morning chill, but secure and dry in the drift boat. Our Lab, Annie, a veteran of many Montana drift boat trips, made her self comfortable at our feet. Barrett steered us downstream in the current directing us to cast to certain “soft” seams in the heavy current where he knew fish were feeding. Without fail, one of us would hook a fish.
Periodically the clouds would break and we'd actually see the sun. The river banks were heavily wooded and the brilliant shades of green were broken only the the red, pink, orange, white and purple blooms of large azaleas and rhododendron bushes.
It would have been an enjoyable and scenic boat ride even without the fishing, but it was ever so much better because we caught and released lots of trout (I stopped counting at around a dozen), more, in fact, than we've caught on one trip in years. One of my trout measured 19 inches. All but three were native wild rainbows (not planted).
Barrett knows the river and how to fish it. He is an excellent conversationalist and trusty boat captain, and we highly recommend him if you should be heading to Oregon for a fishing trip. We booked our day of fishing through Fly Water Travel in Ashland (flywatertravel.com). They, in turn, arranged Barrett as our guide through the Caddis Fly Shop in Eugene (caddisflyshop.com). More on our Oregon adventure next week.
Closer to Sonoma, sturgeon fishing in San Pablo Bay between the Pump House and China Camp is outstanding, said Keith Fraser, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael. But heavy wind is making boaters a little wary about heading out most days. When they do, anglers are getting lots of hook-ups. One of Keith's customers caught and released eight sturgeon last Saturday. Joel Sinkay, at Leonard's Bait Shop at Port Sonoma, has similar reports of excellent fishing at the Pump House, when anglers can get there. Joel is also seeing some nice schoolie-sized striped bass being caught off the bank at Port Sonoma. Keith said there are some halibut biting off Red Rock and Paradise.
Salmon fishing off the Sonoma Coast is also excellent, when the wind lays down. Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, had limits for all anglers last Saturday to 22 pounds, which was the least good-weather day he had. He plans to take out clients, weather permitting, this weekend. Call him at 875-3344.
Fishing has been slow at Clear Lake, Berryessa and Lake Sonoma this week. Department of Fish and Game planted rainbow trout in Napa's Lake Hennessey last week.
Fly-fishing on the lower Sacramento River near Redding is good. It is also good at Hat Creek and on the Fall River. Bob Grace, at the Ted Fay Fly Shop in Dunsmuir, said that until the recent rains, the upper Sac was fishing fair to good, and should come down to fishable levels once this latest storm passes through.