Perfect Timing for Steelhead
February 1, 2007
Part 2: After having such a big meal last night, we both decided to skip breakfast and head to the river instead. I opted for a different section in pursuit of fresh, untouched metal heads as we hiked into an area that was free of fresh footprints. I thought Jay was going to hit fish in every spot he fished, but to my surprise that was not to happen. It took over an hour and several holes before he finally had a take and was “Locked Up”! It was another beautiful, fresh steelhead and one hell of a battle before I grabbed the tail of an 8 or 9 pound fish. With a very light, pink stripe down the side of this fish, I couldn’t wait to take a few pics. Once more, the fish was released unharmed afterwards to fight another day! Jay was definitely getting the hang of this and I thought it was time to relax on the instructions and see what he could accomplish on his own. In the next spot, I showed him where the fish generally hold under this water flow and backed off to be one with the trees. Although it was hard for me not to continue instructing him, I knew it was for the best. It was even tougher seeing his float go under in the holding area and not react. Fortunately, he was paying attention and set into what was to be his personal best of the trip. This was a big male and he had other ideas in store for Jay. I knew he was about to have the fight of his life as line peeled from the reel and the fish headed down river. I just had to coach him a little bit to try and gain the upper hand before another disaster occurred. As he started to gain some line, the fish took even more out and we were almost forced to follow him down. Fortunately Jay was able to turn the beast and began to reel him back up stream to where I could manage a shot at the tail. I made sure that I was only going to take one attempt and made it count with the glove. What a relief when I got my hand around his tail and cradled the front of him to show Jay what he had just caught. This was a spectacular fish of between 12 & 13 pounds and definitely worthy of a few pictures before being released. Jay was happy before, but once he realized how big this fish was, he couldn’t have been happier. At the beginning of this trip, he would have been just glad to get to play with a couple. He never imagined that he would land a fish of this size on his first trip. Once we calmed down and re rigged his line from the fight, he was ready for more. I thought he had learned enough to be able to fish on his own after this and set up my rod to show him what a Center Pin float rod could do. Somewhere along the way, he hooked into another silver bullet and fought what I like to refer to as a “Skippy”. It was a steelhead of around 3 pounds and just went ballistic. We didn’t bother to take a picture this time, as his last behemoth of a fish was more than enough! I finally got to wet a line after that and 6 casts later, I was tight to a real chromer. This fish had all kinds of power as he literally went mental! There was nowhere for him to go as I easily turned the fish and took control. Minutes later I was beaching & tailing an 8 or 9 pound silver bullet on the ice flow nearby. I took a moment to show Jay the fish and carefully released him back to where he belonged. We fished a little more before getting out of there all together to try another section of the river. We actually decided to go back to the same area we had fished the day before and see if we could get into a few more before we headed back home. I had to retie my setup due to frayed line and left Jay alone once more to do this. A few minutes later, I heard a voice call my name and looked over to see Jay’s float tight up at the tip of his rod. I thought he had a problem and went over to see if there was anything I could do. Apparently all he wanted to do was show me that he had touched the tip of his rod because there was a fish on the end of his line. He had managed to land a beautiful steelhead of around 4 pounds and needed no help in doing so. I had created a wise guy! I just unhooked her and released the fish without a picture once more. After I was finished setting up my rod, we shifted a little further upstream and hit another section nearby. I instructed Jay to where he needed to run his drift and waited in anticipation. It took a while, but eventually his float went down with authority. I was sure that this was a good fish as it just went crazy! Long runs with violent headshakes were followed with 180-degree turns and charges straight back at us at rocket speed. This fish was pissed! Just when I thought things were calming down and we were getting to a position where we would eventually be able to land this thing, it happened. The fish shot upriver then down almost at the same time and over a deep ledge, all the while never slowing down. Something had to give and it was the leader as the rock edge cut the line. The not knowing is always the worst and we had no idea how big this thing actually was. All I know is that at this time of year, the fish usually don’t act that way unless they’re huge. It definitely would have been nice to get another pic of just one more and that was the one. I made a few more casts with Jay before we called it quits and landed another skippy chromer of about 3 or 4 pounds. This was to be the last fish as we were ready to roll. It had begun to snow quite heavily a little earlier and I knew the drive home wouldn’t be easy. All in all it was a great trip with Jay finally learning why I go back time after time in pursuit of these beautiful fish. He got to play with 8 and managed to land 6 of them the first time out. That’s enough to make him want to go back! I know I will be there as well.