"Schaadt," a tiny voice called out.
"Shhhh," Schaadt whispered. "Quiet, they'll beat it."
"Schaadt! Hey, Schaadt! Jimmy's bike broke on the front. Can you fix it, Schaadt?"
"Damn!" Schaadt said. He swung open the gate and half a dozen kids swarmed in. Schaadt was all friendliness, and 20 minutes of hard work fixed the bike. The group rode off.
"Damn kids," Schaadt said, fooling nobody.
Bill Schaadt has been the one constant factor in California's coastal fishing over the last quarter of a century. He has rarely missed a single fall or winter's day on the water in all that time. He used to go to the Klamath in September and stay until the lower Eel got good, and when that was rained out he would go back home and fish the Russian all winter. But the California fishery is almost a thing of the past. In 1956 Schaadt landed between 650 and 700 steelhead in the Russian. Fishing the same number of hours today he would feel lucky to catch 20.
The only really prime stream left in California is the Smith River, which is located in the extreme northwestern corner of the state. It remains undammed, its drainages have not yet been too badly spoiled by logging and it runs an exceptionally large strain of both steelhead and salmon. Today Schaadt confines almost all of his fishing to this river. He takes his small trailer up from Monte Rio early in the fall and stays until the heavy winter rains make fishing impossible.
His knowledge of the river, and especially of its salmon, has reached the profound. Much of what he does is so obscure that only the most advanced fisherman could detect it. On the other hand, the essential thing he does is so simple it is inclined to be overlooked: he fishes the longest and the hardest.
Not only that, he fishes the longest and the hardest in the most productive spots. One verity in this type of fishing is that there is almost always a best place. Each hole has its "bucket," and when fish are holding they will favor one hole or another. It is axiomatic that Schaadt will be in the best place in the best hole.