Whenever I cross the Schellville Bridge over Sonoma Creek on Highway 121 at this time of year, I’m reminded of the many Christmas school vacation days I spent right by the bridge trying to catch a steelhead.
From the time I was in the seventh grade, I would look forward to the holiday break as a chance to go fishing. There were really only two choices close by at that time of year. One was striped bass fishing in the sloughs that run from Sonoma Creek to the Napa River across the lower part of Sonoma Valley. The other was to try for steelhead, which ran up Sonoma Creek in fairly good numbers until the 1980s.
The regulations then were that you could not fish in Sonoma Creek after Nov. 1, above the tidewater mark, which at that time was about 200 yards or so above the bridge.
I was too young to drive, but could persuade my mom or dad to drop me off at the bridge and then pick me up later in the day. When the weather was OK, they let me ride my bike down.
It isn’t unusual for Decembers to be dry, and in those years, when the flow from Sonoma Creek was low, the salmon and steelhead would be stuck for a while in the brackish tidewater that included my favorite spot near the bridge.