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North Coast: , by Drew Griffith: First fish: 4 stars

On Monday I got on the water with Kris to swing some flies for winter steelhead. We had fished together before. Twice last season Kris made the voyage from the high desert of Reno to the fog lorn coastline of Northern California and Southern Oregon in the hopes of making the connection with a winter fish. Despite ideal conditions on the two occasions we fished together we struck out. Being a recent convert to spey fishing Kris was still looking to get that first fish to hand on the swing as we began our day together. Thick fog in the morning gave way to a blue bird day on the water. By mid day the temperatures had become pleasantly warm for February as we made our way further down river with the hopes of finding some fresh and eager fish coming up from the tide. Under bright sun in a tell tale riffle I watched as Kris' skagit head swung lazily into the soft water and suddenly jarred tight. It was a good eat, perfect. She jumped for us almost immediately in the place she ate and we saw that she was a near perfect dime bright hen. After some excitement and boat wrangling we made it to shore and brought her to hand for a quick meet and greet and then watched as she quietly dissapeared into the riffle. Spirits were high, and the monkey was now officially lifted from Kris' back. We rowed on, looking to get into one last run before the day was over. Now the wind came up, and casting became a challenge. The sun dipped beyond the ridge and the light went off the water. Nearly towards the end of the run came another freight train grab. It was different then before. No jump, just stubborn headshakes and a refusal to budge an inch. This was a good fish, bigger than the first. It fought well in the riffle and finally came to hand along the willow line. A beautiful wild buck. We saw him off and knew we were done for the day. As we walked off the river we were both laughing and spellbound by our good fortune. Few things in the world of angling compare to the days you find them on the swing. 

 

Looking ahead conditions on the North Coast are fair but we are now in need of some substantial rainfall to bump up our low and clear rivers. Some rain is forecast over the weekend but it doesn't look like anything heavy enough to make a significant dent in river conditions. It might put the Smith River on a slight rise and add a little color to the rivers further south but that's about it. As of now there is nothing looming in the forecast to make a dramatic change in river conditions. Hopefully within the next few weeks that will change. What started off as a dormant January heated up into February and gave way to some of the best fishing of the season for the North Coast. Hopefully we'll see a continuation of that trend as we round the corner into the end of this month and the beginning of March. Tight lines out there!

A beautiful hen in full sun.
A beautiful hen in full sun.
Kris with his end of the day buck
Kris with his end of the day buck
First fish to hand on the spey. A worthy pursuit and epic reward
First fish to hand on the spey. A worthy pursuit and epic reward
Getting dialed in before the burn off.
Getting dialed in before the burn off.
As wild as they come.
As wild as they come.
Next 10 open days for Drew Griffith: Mar 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
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