After landing only one steelhead this past week and losing four, I was anxious to see if I could raise my 1 for 8 land to hook ratio this week. I do feel a bit guilty for fishing on the weekend but I try not to go to a run where someone else is fishing. It also was a good time to scout out some new spots and with no broodstock capturing on weekends, I did not have to carry the tube around. Also I did not have to keep my eyes on other anglers to see if they had a steelhead on that could be a brood fish for the program.
I was tired out from yesterday’s trip after guiding Rodney and Nina, as well as looking after the tubed fish before the hatchery staff picked it up. I worried like a mother hen when they were in my care as I did not want anything to happen to them. I checked them every so often in the tube that they are doing ok. I remember a few years back when I unzipped the holding tube too far and the fish took the opportunity to get clear of its dark temporary home and gave me a wet splash goodbye.
I got to bed early because of this strenuous work week. Five days on the river and walking on the rocks made it almost worse than working. Of course getting to sleep early meant I was awake early too. After making some coffee then picking up a few bottles and tins, I made it to the river at first light.
As I arrived at the run where I was going to start at, I found Doc there, who donated the wild fish yesterday. He said that he took a nice hatchery fish yesterday too so he had a good day all around. After chatting with him for awhile, I left the run for him to fish as he was there first. I slipped down to the run below and after maybe 10 minutes, I saw Doc’s pole with a nice bend to it. He was working down towards me so I went up to take in the action. It was a good thing as the fish left the main run and started down some fast water with a log jam along the shore. Doc would have to climb over a couple of logs as it was too deep to wade past it. I took the pole as Doc slipped over the logs, then I handed him back the rod. He played the fish with some good weight to it, into a nice piece of back water but the fish was very stubborn to give up, so strong. Of course at times this made getting one to the beach successfully a challenge, I had found that out during this past week.
Finally we saw that it was a wild, too bad it was not yesterday as we do not take broods on weekends except by the the upper boundary of the river, just below the hatchery. As Doc eased into the shallows, I slipped out the hook, a nice buck which I would say close to 14lb. I told Doc that maybe we could catch it early next week. We then headed up to where he had caught the fish but two spey anglers were just settling into the top of the run, I left it to them to try their luck.
I tried a couple of other runs but I had been keeping my eyes on the Friday Hole, just downstream a bit. I had seen that no one were at it yet so I decided to make my move. This is the spot where I missed some sort of fish four times the other day. It took me about five minutes to get to the run, while I picked up a 20 cent returnable bottle on the way.
As I reached the run, two fellows were just approaching it on the other side of the flow. One was tying up his gear or doing something as he was sitting on a log. The other chap moved into the casting position just as I was putting my pole together and a fresh bait on. He had made 4 or 5 casts with no action in the small fishing area. which I really like because if a fish is there you should find it rather quickly. I made one cast of my own while the fellow casted a couple more before he moved up a tad to fish another spot on his side of the river.
On my second cast down went the Maple Leaf Drennan. Yesterday I lost my ML Drennan so I decided to change float types, maybe it would change my fortunes which it now had as a fish that felt like a fair sized one was twisting and turning below the surface. It did not show itself, then decided to vacant the main part of the run. I told the fellow on the log who was watching the action that I hoped he does not go down the channel on his side or I would be out of luck. The pole that I bought some time ago from The Master had a very nice bend in it. My heart was beating a little faster than normal. Suddenly the fish said I am out of here and bolted downstream, but luckily on the channel of my side. Line was now peeling quickly off the centerpin, one of the ones that my dad bought many years ago in England. I was in hot pursuit and splashed across a small section of water with some loose sand below me. I lost my balance and sank to my knees but with my adrenaline running high I quickly regained my feet and on I went again.
I reached two logs that had been cut off by beavers. I did not know how but my line was under them. With a bit of effort, I was able to pass the rod under them. In the meantime, the line was quickly evaporating off the reel. I had no idea if the fish was still there, I was afraid to look and see how much line was left on the reel. To make matters worse, I was using 8 pound test leader and 10 pound test main line. The water was really moving too, so I was thinking the fish must have been gone by now but since I had come this far, I kept following it. I had not gone much further and the line was around a small root that was sticking out of the cut bank. it took me 30 seconds to knock the line off with another stick. I had to watch that the sandy bank did not give way. One has to be so careful especially with the excitement in ones veins while fighting a steehead. Actually, while getting the line free, part of the bank fell in. As I moved on, I had another log to contend with. When I reached it my line was again around another small cut of limb that was also hard to free. I had to ease myself over the bank a bit so I was able to reach out to flip it off, which with a bit of luck I did. Back on the chase, I had to go upstream a bit to forge another side stream. Finally I was on a gravel bar with only a small log jam below that did not look like it would be a challenge like what I had just passed by. I had a little trouble walking properly as all the scrambling had made my sweat pants slipping down on my legs a bit, luckly they were underneath my waders.
I held the rod high and saw the line down from me, nearly 100 yards. I tightened up on the pole a bit, yes I felt the pulse of the fish telegraphing up the pole. I could not believe that it was still there. After losing 7 out of 8 fish in the last month with no obstacles to deal with, how did this one stay on? I winded as I continued the downstream march. A chap from our discussion forum and others around me were watching the show that would have been funny on video I am sure. Too bad Rodney and Nina were not here today. A fellow behind the log jam did not see me coming and we shouted to him that a fish was just above him. He slipped out of the way as I held the rod high to easily clear the low jam. I had clear sailing now. After another 5 to 10 minute of battle, I saw that it was a hatchery fish that came to shore to stay. Because I had put my pack down before I started fishing at where I hit the fish, I had to borrow a pen from the forum member. I told him to go up and try the same spot. Two other people were making a line to it too. I sat on a log but the pen would not write so I had to walk up to where the pack was to get mine. It looked about 400 yards but it felt further. As I went up to my pack, I was amazed by all the obstacles that I got by. I must take a picture of them one day.
I took the doe to weigh in at Fred’s Custom Tackle. It came in a tad over 11 pounds, not huge but we now have fresh fish once again.
It certainly was nice to catch a fish in the Friday Hole on a Saturday.