In late January of 2009, I head to Claifornia's Eel River. I headed out with three friends that I know through work Rusty, Tony, and Mark. Rusty and Tony both live in Nevada, and Mark lives in Sacremento. I flew into Sacremento, where I met Mark, we then made the 5 hour drive north to Humbolt county and our camp on the South Fork of the Eel. We hung out for a couple hours checking out the redwoods, fishing and drinking a couple beers while we wait for Rusty and Tony's arrival and with them the tent.
And what a tent it was. It was really more like a cabin built of nylon. It had a large main room and four small off shoot rooms for us to use as sleeping areas and to store our individual items. It even had a wood stove in side so that we could be nice warm and dry after a cold, wet day of fishing winter steelhead.
We knew that the river was low when we started out on the trip and there had been some debate as to where we should ultimately head. Possiblibly the Rouge in Oregon or the Smith in Nor Cal or even heading all the way up the north coast of Oregon to hit the coastal rivers that Rusty and I had done so well on the year before. In the end though we decided to stick with our original plan of fishing the Eel. Reports for the previous week were promising with guys get a fish or two per day, but there had been no rain since and the fishing had really dropped off, our hope was that rain would come and even if it didn't we would find a fish or two.
Even a single fish on the Eel would be great. Eel River steelhead, which used to be rather abundant, are now a rare fish on the fly. A large reason for this is the difficulty in being in the right place at the right time. Too much rain and the river blows out for a long time. Too little rain and the steelhead sit out of the lost coast and wait for the water level they want.
A fish or two was really more wishful thinking than anything else. The fishing was very tough or more to the point, the fish were almost non-existent. We fish hard and we fished lots of good water, but there were just not any steelhead around in the low, clear river.
After several tough days of fishing we did take a day trip the Matole River just south of the Eel river. and we checked out the Trinity river for a few hours. We got no steelhead, but I realized just how magnificent Northern California is.