Fly Fishing the Gualala River

GualalaRiverWe were over on the Gualala River around Christmas and New Years in the 1970s. It was cold and gray over there. The bar at the mouth was open and the river was running just enough water. We were fishing in Minor and Thompson pool a ways above the Highway 1 bridge. There was a lineup of about 6 to 12 people on each pool through the day. Some where going upstream to Donkey and Snag pool too. Some where heading down towards the holes above and below the bridge.

I met a real nice old school teacher, John or Bob?, who said he fished there every Christmas holiday for two weeks for many years. He fished the Gualala River , Garcia River and Alder Creek. We met on the Minor hole and he was telling me that if I came downstream below the Highway 1 bridge to a place called the ‘Race Way’ at around sundown we might see some fish coming through.

I went down there later in the day and found him. We crossed the river where it was pretty shallow and then walked upstream a little ways. He had told me to put on a very slow sinking line so I put on my floating line. We waited for some fish to move from the big tide water pool up through this shallow water. He said we would see them waking and then could cast in front of them.

Finally we saw some water moving at the top of that big lakey pool. Then it looked like a fish was coming up through the moving water that was only about a foot deep. We were too far upstream because when the fish got close to us it disappeared in the top of the pool we were standing on. He told me to move down further so I would still be at the edge of the shallow water and could see the fish’s movement better.

Then the next fish started to come up through that shallow stretch of water. I walked downstream even more so I could cast to it before it reached the safety of the next pool. It seemed to stop for a minute in maybe a depression or behind a rock and was just fining there. I cast a few feet in front of that fish and when the line started to swing in front of it the water exploded with a big hot fish on my line.

All the sudden about 6 fish exploded heading downstream in a mad rush, jump and splashing. My Hardy reel was really screaming with this fish heading down to the big pool above the ocean. As my line was running down stream I felt this tugging sensation kind of from the side. I had not noticed but another angler had cast his lure at those fish too and had hooked my fly line. I think he thought he had a fish on too but had my fly line. It soon broke off the fish and it was over just that fast and was almost dark too.

I told the old school teacher thanks for showing that neat place and that I was very happy to have just hooked that great wild fish if even for only a minute. He never cast to those fish, so I’m sure he just wanted to see me hook one. He was a real great guy. He retired from teaching and I think he stopped by my fly shop some years later if I remember right.