Monday, October 19, 2009

Lost by a 'Goby' 2008

Lost By a ‘Goby’
With two steelhead already to our credit, the third was at the end of my 6.5 lb. tapered leader. Thoughts of maybe getting close to first place were already filling my brain. I played the fish anxiously but carefully to bring him at hand. Schlemoc looked on intently as the steelhead displayed both power and beauty as it went air-born. Then…..
With only a few years steelhead fishing and my partner, Schlemoc, not holding a fly rod for the past 4 years, I felt our odds weren’t very good to become winners of the ‘1 fly’ event. I didn’t get in this for the prizes or bragging rights anyhow. It was to fish against others to see how I fare. 1 fly for four hours without losing it was a challenge I couldn’t resist.
Dream Catcher and I went up Thursday evening in preparation for the ‘1 fly’ event on Saturday. My partner Schlemoc and I have been private messaging each other about which fly we were going to use. We decided one of us would use a woolly bugger while the other would use an egg or sucker spawn pattern. This way we’ll have both cases covered. My objective on Friday was to determine what colors to use. I had told Schlemoc that Dream Catcher and I would be scouting all day Friday.
Friday at 7 a.m. D.C. and I hit the mouth of trout run. 3-4 foot waves were breaking against the beach. Dream Catcher fishing for steelhead is like me fishing for trout. If there’s a body of water that holds either we got to try it no matter the conditions. D.C. was throwing sucker spawn into the waves on his noodle rod while I was casting buggers between the swells. After about 20 minutes we headed elsewhere.
At Walnut we found a large pod of steelhead holding in a clear wide pool. Above them D.C. and I continued to try to get them to bite. Occasionally a few other fishermen would stop by to cast minnows, jigs and flies into the pool without success. I could have easily dropped live bait or cured eggs to them but I was on a mission. A brown woolly bugger (of all things) got the attention of a few steelheads but they wouldn’t hit it. My favorite largemouth and smallmouth fly was now a good possibility for my go to fly for the ‘1 fly’ event.
I started dropping egg patterns and sucker spawn to the suspended fish. A few took an interest on an orange double sperm egg pattern. D.C. tied on a small orange jig and ended up catching one of the steelhead. Just before we left he tied on his oversized orange flat fish and caught another steelhead. That evening we went to the Elk access area and I met up with Rippinlip. He gave me the scoop of what guys were catching steelhead on earlier. I did end up catching 1 steely on my hand tied brown bugger so my choice was finale. We also thought that the Elk access area was our best bet for fishing the ‘1 fly’. With the starting time not being until 9:00am might be a problem finding a spot for two partners to fish together though.
Saturday morning D.C and I drove down to Girard park for the ‘1 fly’ event. It was like going to a Dragnet masquerade party without the masks. You sort of knew everyone but you just never got to meet him or her. Their names have been changed to protect their ‘innocence’! I met up with my partner Schlemoc and gave him my scouting report. We agreed I’d fish with my brown woolly bugger and he’ll fish with orangish/red color sucker spawn he had tied up.
We started our tournament across the rock wall at the Elk access area. The sucker spawn didn’t seem to be the right fly for the motionless water but my brown bugger wasn’t doing any good either. After about an hour we moved on down towards the mouth. We found a spot for both of us to fish side by side. Schlemoc hung in there adjusting his sucker spawn to different depth under his indicator. The sun finally got over the trees and I was able to see some steelheads about a foot below the water surface a good 2/3rds across the creek. I overhand casted to them and slowly stripped the bugger in. more than once a steelhead would follow the bugger. I finally got one to take the bugger and ‘FISH ON!’ The first fish of the day was a good one. People around me backed away and let me play the active fish on my 7wt. 9’ ½" rod. One gentleman asked if I wanted him to net my fish but I didn’t know the ruling and declined. After landing the fat steelhead at 25" (give or take 1/8") I explained to him and the others about the ‘1 fly’ event. They were intrigued no less and gave me room when I needed it. When I hooked into and landed my second steely on the brown bugger and measured him at 24" (give or take 1/8"), the game was on!
Jack had mentioned that 90-100 points should take first place through past experience. Schlemoc had more confidence than I that these two fish alone would be a big deal. I figured three would at least get us into 3rd place.
The fly-guy next to me tied on a black woolly bugger and in time started to hook up with steelhead also. He was fishing deep so now and then he’d snag up and break off, something I couldn’t afford to do just yet.
At a quarter to twelve I knew time was running out. We had to allow enough time to get back to the van and then get to the park by 1:00pm. I decided to fish deep despite the bottom snags. Schlemoc on the other hand was hanging in there like a real trooper even though he knew his fly wasn’t right for conditions but he didn’t give up! We watched as a few steelheads coasted in and lay suspended around and beneath his indicator. I remember watching a steelhead drop out of sight and the indicator twitched. Schlemoc reared back with his rod to set the hook. The line tightened and then snapped back fishless and flyless. Things happen, but now that put the pressure solely on me and it was about 12:00.
I decided ‘snags or not’ I’m fishing my bugger deep and slow. I casted out a few times. All at once I noticed my fly line tightening up on the drift and I had to make a split second decision. Was it a snag or a steelhead? I took my chance and lifted my rod to set the hook. The ‘snag’ started moving and ‘FISH ON!’ The other fishermen backed up and let me play fish #3, so I thought. Somewhere between the fish jumping out of the water and belly smacking the surface my line went limp. I quickly wristed the line towards me to see if my bugger was still on the end of the tippet. Miraculously it dangled from the tapered leader. Dream Catcher’s knot held true! Upset but not out I cast again into the deep depths.
With more time off the watch it was nerve racking to fish slow and patient. I felt the line again tighten up and set the hook hard! A fish pulled away with force and ‘FISH ON!’ Belly flopping and fighting the fresh steelhead gave it’s all. Surfacing I could tell it wasn’t a long fish but it was still points. The fly-guy next to me figured around 21". I fought the fish cleanly to the muddy bank. Schlemoc looked on as I measured the fish to exactly 21". We had 70 points so far and only about 15 minutes to fish.
Back out to the thigh high water I was getting ready to cast when the guy next to me hooked into one. Patiently I waited for him to get the steelhead under control. I resumed casting and searching for another but time ran out. Hurriedly we made it back to the van excited with our results of catching just 3 steelhead in the past few hours.
Back at the check in I parked the van. Many of the fishermen and women were already back standing around. We walked up to the pavilion and there stood Dream Catcher.
"How’d you guys do?" he asked
"I caught three" I commented " how’d you guys do?"
I noticed his eyes open a little brighter and he said they got "0".
I could tell by the expression on his face that he knew something I didn’t.
We checked in with 70 points. I noticed there were a lot of zeros, a few 20+ and a 46? At about 12:50 we were in the lead.
About 12:55 two guys I didn’t recall showed up at the check in board. After they signed in I went over to the board and seen 70 3/8"!!! 1:00pm tournament closed.
Worm Waster and fishing coyote had won!
Heck, I don’t even think my tape measure had 1/8" increments! We got beat by 3/8th". That’s .375, 9.525 millimeters. Worm Waster had caught a Goby that was 2 ½". A Goby?
I didn’t even know what one looked like. I heard of winning by a nose in horse races but to lose by a Goby???
___________________________ ~doubletaper

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