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Nepotism 101? I confess… Meet my grandson, Jack Ryan, a St. Helena native. In his brief Thanksgiving holiday from lessons at Cal Poly SLO, he went south to fish in Cabo San Lucas. You can tell that dorado is fresh out of the water because it still has a lot of color. It is a direct connect for all of you linguists out there who know dorado means gold colored. They quickly go grey after being out of the water for a while. On your next dorado trip, use this old and effective trick to ramp up your catch numbers. Tie off the first one you hook to let it swim around close to the boat. That will bring dozens more into your fishing range – fast.

Take a good look at that seal. He is a bright guy—checking for a free and easy meal on board before having to dive way down for his lunch.

More From St Helena… Look at Pat Fetzer’s beautiful, fly-caught Klamath River steelhead. That’s a five-pound moose caught on an egg pattern. Pat told us that his fly guide, Ryan Williams, put him on to an “unbelievable number of adults and half pounders landed.” Pat was fishing with Williams, a pro fly guide and one of Jack Trout’s great young protégé’s. (Seems to have gotten my name on backwards?!)

Steelheading is a special outdoor experience. They live in beautiful places. They are strong and smart – the essence of a “worthy foe.” You have to use very light leader and tippet so you don’t spook them in the clear water they like best. Bringing a big wild animal like this to the net in a swiftly flowing river tells the perfect story about teamwork. You don’t just drop the anchor when you hook a steelie. First, the angler must get control of the fish. Don’t overthink it – let the rod do most of the work. Then the guide must find a quiet stretch where he can stop the boat. Both must be alert and ready when that fish comes up shallow. Miss it with the net – or hit him on the nose with the net rim – and it was all for naught. Book some trips with Jack Trout at 530 926-4540 or www.jacktrout.com. Tell him the “other Ryan” sent you.

Add the Smith River for big, wild steelhead hunting on conventional gear with pro river guide, Kevin Brock (800 995-5543). He has fished three generations of Ryans and I have fished with him for 24 straight years.

Many Of You Will Go… challenge yourselves this winter. Have at It! But please come back home safe and sound. Outdoorlife.com caught my eye. Hope you will consult their piece titled “Survival—Our tips, tricks, tactics and tales will help you get out of whatever it is you’ve gotten yourself into.” A couple caught my eye: “10 Tips for starting a fire in bad weather” and “Order of Operations in a survival situation.”

*Here‘s that article—early enough to provide everyone a Holiday list of key items your loved ones might need to survive in the bush. https://www.outdoorlife.com/tags/survival .

Want A Safer One…that the whole family can enjoy together? Take your family and holiday guests to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. It is rated a “Don’t Miss” by two of my favorite outdoor enthusiasts—Star Editor David Stoneberg and Wayne Ryan (no relation).

Go now before the rains scatter the birds. Wayne tells me that there are 1,500,000 ducks and 318,000 geese for you to see. We are truly blessed to be so close.

Here is the very best information about the Refuge and how to get there—on line at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Sacramento/about2.html . (Ask at the visitor’s center for other close by stretches of the refuge, too.)

It Is A Special Thrill For Me…to tell you that this is my 334th “Fishing Is My Day Job” column. It all started back in 2002 when column number one appeared in April. Since then, it’s been all my pleasure to get to know all of you anglers and share stories about St Helena folks for 16 straight years. As a 42-year resident, this is the time when I like to get local and ask readers to shop local. It makes the best Holiday Season ever. As a starter list, here are some of my favorite local merchants:

*Cort and his team at Acre’s is my go to place for gifts of all types and styles. Every member of that team is professional and customer-tuned all year long.

*Sean and the team at OK Tire are my tire guys—I’m never going to buy a tire anywhere else. When you see the boss down on his knees checking your tire pressure, you can be sure that the rest of the team follows suit. It’s the perfect example of employee empowerment.

*Main Street Books is better than Amazon. You are going to like Liza’s “MSB Prime Now.” We don’t pay for shipping when Liza has to order something. Better still, she is a brilliant book seller – somehow always has an opinion or viewpoint on a book I am ordering. I’m never buying a book anyplace else.

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