There I was with the nub of a Bohemian Red clinched between my teeth standing in thigh high water. The butt section of the 7 weight fly rod was in my gut and the rod flexed deep downward. My forearms tightened as the steelhead rushed up creek with the force and speed of a buffalo in a stampede. The tensioned fly line couldn’t cut through the water surface fast enough to keep up with the hasty steel and arced somewhere beneath. It was a good 10 or 12 feet when the steelhead exploded upward out of the water from where the yellow fly line entered behind him. The fly line shot up like a slingshot spraying water as the big fish belly flopped back onto the surface like a fallen log from a high mountain ledge into a calm pool of water.
It’s been a long day for Kevin and me. The near two hour drive up to Erie started for me about 5:30am. Now it was around 2:00pm and I only had 1 hook up so far that broke off at the pinched lead strip on my 5x fluorocarbon tippet. Kevin had yet to hook up but he wasn’t the only one. Most of the people fishing this lazy Thursday weren’t pulling anything in either. What was nice was there were few anglers and the ones roaming around didn’t butt in too close to cause friction. The bait fishermen weren’t doing any better than the fly guys. Except for one fly guy, who was getting strikes now and then, the rest of us felt the excitement of steelhead fishing had gone for the day.
It was about then that Kevin mentioned for the third time he was going to get something to eat. My belly growled for the third time, a little louder, as if strongly agreeing to the notion, but I didn’t let on. I asked if he wanted to fish somewhere else after he ate. He said he hated to leave fish to look for others. I told him I’d stick around and fish while he goes eat. I mentioned there was a whole hoagie in my cooler if he wanted to split it. He left his rod and vest along the bank and headed to the truck as I lit up a Bohemian Red and continued fishing.
The stogie was almost half way gone when he returned with the hoagie and a couple of drinks. I took out my compact scissors and cut the cigar in half. On the shore I took half the hoagie and went back to fishing as Kevin sat on the bank eating and watching me.
“You know you might catch a fish” he stated
“If that’s what it takes” I answered as I clicked the drag tighter and began to cast out with one hand.
I heard a few people, up stream on the far bank, mention about me eating the hoagie while standing in the water fishing.
I was drifting a Triple Threat just above the creek bed with a white sucker spawn below my indicator in the very slow current. With the hoagie in my left hand, right hand holding the rod, I was chewing the last bite when the indicator twitched downward. I yanked up on the rod with one hand and felt the tension. I called out “FISH ON”, stuffed the rest of the hoagie between my teeth and grabbed the line with my left hand. I remember hearing people laughing as I fought the steelhead with a portion of the hoagie hanging out of my mouth. The fish wrestled in front of me a bit and I backed up with the rod held high to keep tension. He momentarily rose subsurface, dove deep and shot away with head shakes. After a short distance he turned violently and the rod bent deeply and I remembered I had the drag set heavy. With a quick thrusting turn the tippet broke and the rod straightened. I found the line broke below the knot closest to the indicator.
On the bank I set the hoagie down and proceeded to tie on the same set up checking my knots for tightness. I finished the hoagie, took a swig of ‘Dew’ and went back out into the water. Kevin joined me and entered a few yards down stream.
There was nearly a breeze to help the indicator to drift any faster in the almost still water. At times I pointed the rod tip at the indicator just to make sure it was moving. I could picture the Triple Threat just skimming the top of the creek bed. About after three casts I took out the left over stogie and lit it back up.
Kevin was carrying on a conversation with the guy next to him. A few people were gabbing above the rocks up on the far bank. The sun would reappear at times through the overly clouded sky. The air was cooling off but still comfortable in long sleeves.
The indicator landed among the drifting leaves and I watched the sucker spawn and Triple Threat plop into the water. It drifted a good bit and than suddenly pulled downward at an angle. I yanked for the hook set and it was than I was in my own little steelhead world.
There I was with the nub of a Bohemian Red clinched between my teeth standing in thigh high water. The butt section of the 7 weight fly rod was in my gut and the rod flexed deep downward. My forearms tightened as the steelhead rushed up creek with the force and speed of a buffalo in a stampede. The tensioned fly line couldn’t cut through the water surface fast enough to keep up with the hasty steel and arced somewhere beneath. It was a good 10 or 12 feet when the steelhead exploded upward out of the water from where the yellow fly line entered behind him. The fly line shot up like a slingshot spraying water as the big fish belly flopped back onto the surface like a fallen log from a mountain ledge into a calm pool of water.
Somewhere along route 322, as the headlights led the way in the pitch darkness, I reached down into my traveling humidor and pulled out a Hand-rolled Buffalo Trace cigar Jack had sent me a few weeks ago straight from Kentucky. I nipped off the torpedo butt end and took a whiff of the barber pole outer wrap. There was nothing special; it smelled like a mild cigar. After lighting up, the deep orange embers glowed on the end of the barrel in the darkness. The draw was smooth but the flavor was unresolved. The mixture of tobacco in the first quarter was a little rough but not enough to give up on it. After the first quarter the cigar’s character came alive. I began to taste oak with a bit of a charred wood flavor. The draw was still smooth and wasn’t as rough as the light up. The longer I puffed the more satisfying the char-oak flavor became. Half way through the stogie another flavor was noticeable. There was still that soft oak flavor, that seemed to cling to my lips, but I began to taste a trace of the sweetness of Bourbon. I noticed the cigar smoke hinted this Bourbon sweetness also if I concentrated on it. Nearer the nub I couldn’t taste the heat of the draw until I felt the burn of the outer wrap nearing my fingers. Overall it was a smooth mild-medium smoke once I got passed the first quarter.
I pulled into the driveway at 9:30pm. I dashed out the cigar butt on the pavement, grabbed a few of my things and headed towards the front door.
It turned out to be a relaxing satisfying steelhead day that ended with a good hour long satisfying cigar.