December 27, 2005
The Christmas holidays have always been a good time for both my wife, Christiane & I to head back down to New York State & fish for Steelhead. By arriving around midday Tuesday, we only had about three hours to actually fish. Fortunately, we started in the right spot as we intercepted a small school of fresh fish & caught a bunch of them. Probably 12 or so fish were hooked and many of them were landed up to almost 4 pounds. These fish put up an incredible fight, as every last one was dime bright. As usual, the largest one did manage to get off when she bolted down river through the rapids. The second & third day were no different as we managed to get into more steelhead and even some brown trout on both occasions. One of the best battles occurred on the third afternoon as a fresh fish of at least thirteen pounds gave me a 15-minute fight. When the float went down the fish went crazy as I slammed the hook home. I can’t count how many jumps & long runs she made and had to follow her down river to another pool just to land her. A few quick photos and back she went to the depths of this hole to fight another day. Each of these two days were seeing about 6 to 10 hookups not counting all the juvenile par that wouldn’t leave the eggs alone! We must have caught over 30 of the small rainbows in the 6 to 8 inch size. I even landed a small Atlantic Salmon of 12 to 14 inches amongst them. On the final day we hooked up with Randy Jones, a drift boat captain & had a great time floating & fishing our way down river. Randy has been a guide on the Salmon River & local tribs for over 20 years & had a lot to teach us about specific areas that the fish winter over as well as transitional holding spots. He is incredibly knowledgeable on various techniques needed to hook & land these fish from the fall through the spring. To sum him up in just a few words, I would have to say he is a gentleman & an educator! The detail that he delivers in all his explanations can definitely benefit those of us willing to learn. I know that I have even more confidence now, by spending just one day with him. We hooked into about 8 fish during the day on fresh egg sacs as well as skein. Both browns & steelhead were once again caught with the best being saved for last. This was the second incredible battle in the last two days that was to last almost 15 minutes. For anyone that doesn’t think these fish fight that hard when the water is barely 33 degrees, you are sadly mistaken! Once more, the jumps and runs were spectacular as she went airborne at least 5 times and burnt probably 100 yards of line from the reel. I actually had to leave the boat and chase her just to gain back some line in the process. Fortunately, Randy was there with the net as we finally won the fight. A fresh, female chromer of at least 11 pounds was what we were rewarded with. After a couple of shots with the camera, she was returned unharmed. Catch & Release has become a huge part of why these fish provide so much pleasure to the angler and Randy really promotes it as well. Hats off to him for fulfilling a dream while educating others in the process! You can contact him at www.yankeeangler.com for more information as well as a booking date. He will definitely make you trip a great memory!