Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spring steelhead

After playing tug'o'war with a couple of big browns on opening day, Chris and I made plans for some early steelhead the next weekend.  The water was about average for the time of the year - high and stained.  Still, we showed up before sunrise and fished in almost complete darkness to start off the day.  We ran big and bright egg patterns to help counter the poor water clarity, which paid off quickly.  High sticking the seam paid off, and I was hooked up in no time.

Fighting a fish with minimal light is an awesome experience.  When fighting a fish in the daylight, an angler has many things he can rely on visually.  Where the fish is running to, where his line and leader are, and what kind of obstacles are in and above the water.  The only thing I could go on was the faint silhouette of my fly rod and the direction of the pull. Come to find out, it was just a big white sucker!

A 25" Master Class white sucker. 
While it wasn't what we were targeting, I was still happy to catch a nice sized fish.  In the high, swollen water, it was quite the fight!  We both hooked into a few hot fish that didn't stay on long enough for us to gauge the size, but they definitely felt like steel.  We switched flies and presentations before I finally landed a small steelie just as it was getting light out.

We knew we were in the right spot at the right time, and it was only a matter of fooling one of the big boys into eating.  Finally, a drag screamer was on the end of my line.  Besides the fact that it flew out of the water, I could tell it was a bigger fish than the first.  It did what I was hoping it wouldn't - ran downstream. I remember hearing the ticking sound of my nail knot connecting my fly line to backing zip through my guides before I decided I'd chase it down.  It hugged the opposide side of the river, and I made the decision to wade towards it while Chris would be my net guy.  It ran from pool to pool...upstream....downstream...I was getting antsy, but this is exactly the kind of excitement we were there for!

Chris scooped the fish up, we high fived and then headed to the bank.  It wasn't the huge 10 pounder that I was hoping for, but a 24" buck had me smiling from ear to ear.

Notice the gil plate - it is a birth defect.  Something I've seen quite a few times. 

I took a few to soak in the good morning of fishing I was having while Chris did his best to hookup, but no dice.  Once the sun was out, the cars and anglers started to pile on the river.  It was crowded before 10 AM, and we decided to head to a river with less pressure.

We got there and was pleasantly surprised to see only one angler - an old timer fishing worms under a bobber.  We chatted, and he'd told us there was not much going on all morning.  We figured we'd give it a try anyway.  Boy, are we glad we did!  We both hooked up in a short time, but couldn't stay connected.  Shortly after, I reeled in a beautiful chromer!

Chris broke off a slab of a steelie later on that left us holding our heads in shame.  Broke 3X fluoro like it was a strand of hair....NOT a happy fish!

We took our time and explored a bunch of water above a waterfall that the fish MAY be able to pass, but we struck out after walking almost a mile of river.  No signs at all, which was surprising to me considering how high the water was just a week prior.

I got a few nice fish to the net while Chris was the long distance C&R type.  Overall a great start to Spring steelie fishing!

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