Fished the Gualala River today with great success. The Water is that perfect emerald green and dropping fast. Started the day at "donkey hole", not 15 cast and I was hooked up, after 2 mins or so and still no sight of the fish, only the scream of a Hardy hinting that it may be larger than the streams typical 4 to 7 pound fish, you could have not smacked the smile off of my face. After another 10 mins or so I finally landed the fish and to my delight it was a brand new hen with eggs ready to pop. She measured just over 35" and went around 12-13 pounds. After a long finger chilling resuscitation she was on her way back to the deep pool I was lucky enough to borrow her from. Few hours later I landed a feisty 5 pound buck that gave me quite the aerial display. I don't think there is a more exciting, beautiful fish that I have ever pursued.
The time to go is now, looked at the water this morning before heading home and have never seen it look nicer. Length and strength of tippet are determined by water clarity, on my heads I use 4-6 foot leaders, just hand made maxima down to 8 to 6 pound test. I also fish a clear intermidiate line when the water clears and slows, I fish 6-8 foots leaders with that down to 4 pound test and use split shot to get me deeper when needed. Flies I use just about any classic steelie patterns from green butt skunks, polar shrimp, signal light...to more salmon patterns popsicles, flesh flies, anything with a lot of marabou...to nymph patterns big hares ears, PT, and a large variety of stoneflies. Presentation is key, I search for fish with slow swings and when I am lucky enough to key in on a pod of fish I like to dead drift nymphs to them. But I find unless it gets really clear if you make a nice slow swinging offering they will more than likely check it out. The tough part is finding the fish. I caught my fish deep, with a 200 grain head, and 8 pound tippet both on green butt skunks and I find a 7 weight to be plenty. Any other questions feel free to ask.
Driving north on Hwy 1 go over the bridge and make your first right (Old Stage road) then about a 1/4 mile, turn right at the Gualala River Campground. This road follows the river for I would guess 2 miles, until you reach the North Fork where the road heads away from the river. From the north fork down comes a nice stretch of holes the ends with a productive riffel. The end of the riffle starts a stretch known as "switchville" which is a long run run that bends into a great hole and becomes my favorite tail out on the river. You can cross at the bottom of the tail out which puts you right across from "snag hole", the hole is made by a huge redwood blow down. Long deep willow bank run follows that will test your distance casting ability. below this is the "donkey hole" stretch about 700 yards you can then cross at the bottom of this to reach the "camp ground/thompsons hole" stretch.
So, park at the switchville area, pack a lunch, cross head up river to the north fork and fish all the way down the spots listed above. That area definitly covers the best water on the river and I've seen it all. If you start in the morning you can thouroughly fish this and have enough time to make it back to the car by dark. I hope you have fun!
Keyed in on a small pod of fish below the north fork all day. Water is slow moving and pretty clear, used an intermidiate line, 8 foot leader down to 4 pound maxima and the popular flies for the day were a chartreuse beaded wooley bugger, and a hairs ear rubber leg pattern. Hooked four fish and landed one, all fresh fish from 6 to 10 pounds. Not very many fish in the system but if you can find them you can have a very enjoyable day. I fished from 7 am to 3 pm in the same 60 yards of river, was very interesting but having hooked up at first at 8:30, next around 11 and the following two back to back around 2, was certainly my most productive day on this river with a fly rod.