Friday, November 2, 2012

'Blood Line'

‘Blood Line’

A lot of my stories I mention a Triple Threat streamer. I included a picture of a couple so you have an idea of what they look like. The title of the story ‘Blood Line’ refers to the name and description of the Triple Threat  I used to catch steelhead in the cloudy water conditions. Because of the rainy conditions I didn’t take my camera but the story is as accurate as I can recall… usual.
  I returned to the steelhead creek about 2:00pm in hopes that all other anglers would be gone. The creek, earlier, was clear enough to see shadows of steelhead in the shallower sections but deeper than a foot they weren’t so obvious. There are only a few deeper sections down low with a couple of falls that the steel have to ‘jump’ to make it upstream further. I caught a couple earlier in a fast moving shallow run downstream from one of the falls another angler was fishing. I knew I’d do better if I had one of the deeper sections to myself. I drove to check out another creek but it was running murky and forceful. When I returned to this creek there wasn’t a car parked or a fisherman in sight. It was time to give my self-tied streamers a work out.

 After reaching the spot I wanted to fish I lit up a candela Churchill and zipped up my raincoat. The sound of the water rushing over the flat rock shelves and tumbling over boulders up creek was deafening. A steady wind, from the lake, gust through the tree tops nonstop. Rain fell continuously, sometimes in a drizzle other times in a down pour. My Gortex raingear kept me both dry and windproof. My face and hands felt the chill of the outdoors but I was content and determined to catch some steel.

 Being the water was a French Vanilla Cappuccino color I wanted to show them something that might catch their eye. I knotted on a ‘Blood Line’ Triple Threat and added some weight about a foot or so above. I cast it up into the boiling water that tumbled over a rock ledge the length of the creek, and followed it with the rod tip as it drifted below.

On occasion I’d toss the streamer cross creek and let it swing towards the shallower tail end of the pool. On one such occasion I felt a yank as I was bringing the streamer in for another cast. I tried setting the hook but I already had too much slack. The small steelhead rolled and swam out of sight. I cast out for a few more times before knotting on an ‘Olive Back’ triple threat.
Trying to avoid the drifting tumbling leaves got to be a nuisance but I kept at it. I had one good strike on the ‘Olive Back’ but after a short fight the steel got free. After awhile I changed back to the ‘Blood Line’ and worked it over the pool trying to cover every inch until I found where it seemed some steelhead might be holding.

 The line pulled as I was almost daydreaming puffing on the stogie. The second my fingers and hand felt a difference in the pressure automatically signaled my brain to react. A quick lift of the rod and pull of the line and the tensioned line tugged back with force. With a tightened line I seen her subsurface briefly before she swam into the current towards the deeper water. I angled the flexed rod to a 45 degree and let her take line figuring she wouldn’t try to ‘jump’ the falls. She made a quick U turn away and headed down creek. I lifted the rod as she crossed in front of me and let the rod drop some as she went passed. The fly line followed the swimming steel down creek as she peeled some line off the spool. When she felt more drag pressure she turned away from my side of the creek and swam down further. I had to keep her from getting into the shallower white water below so I lifted the rod upward and gingerly played her. I gave her line only when I thought the tippet couldn’t take any more pressure, I brought in line when she gave me the opportunity too. Even with 4X tapered leader I was in no hurry to strenuously bring her in without tiring her out more. I waded down creek a bit and after applying pressure, from the side, I was able to coax her nearer to me. Within sight, through the cloudy water, she got a glimpse of me and turned away. I let the heavy drag slow her movement and eventually got her to hand. Her wet silvery body gleamed like a custom chromed out Harley!

  It was tedious fishing after that. Casting in between drifting leaves, small branches and even a wooden step with accuracy was no easy task. It was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack blindfolded as the water continued on its mud stained path. I did succeed hooking a couple more on the ‘Blood Line’ Triple Threat though. Most were in the less fast flowing tail out. It wasn’t continuous action by any means but with patience and a stogie to keep from boredom I caught more than what I expected in such conditions.

 My backhand sidearm loop cast put the ‘Blood Line’ up against the far bank. I didn’t have much slack in the line when the triple threat started to drift with the current. It didn’t drift more than a foot when the line hesitated. I gave a quick hook setting yank of the rod and a swirl from across creek became visible where the leader entered the water. I felt a couple of swift tugs before the fish swam towards the middle of the tail out. I angled the rod up creek hoping that he would follow but he didn’t budge. With a little more umph upstream the rod flexed deeper into the middle, he surfaced just enough that I saw his darker body and maroon lateral line. His upper body was thick with the rest still hidden beneath the brownish water. My cold wet hands tightened around the cork grip and I put the butt cap into my gut. I was ready for a wild ride. He shook, twisted and jolted the line as the current flowed into his face. Surface water splashed about and the water around him churned before he submerged deep. I felt every iota of power the steelhead exerted as my arm muscles tensed with the battle.
  From beneath I could feel him trying to obliterate what was hooked into his jaw that kept him on a leash of leader and line. There was no way he was going to be led up creek in the direction my rod was pulling. He spun towards the far bank and bullied his way with line following. He was right back to where we started and it was if he wanted to challenge me from there for our next skirmish. With his dorsal fin just tipping the surface he shook his head with thrusts of bizarre force. Within seconds, of him letting up a bit, I arced my back backwards, the rod flexed deeper as I forced him in my direction. He swam into the middle of the pool, head facing into the current, stopped and I couldn’t budge him any further. Occasionally I felt a little nudge through the line as I kept side pressure on him.
As I held the flexed rod, steadied by the butt in my gut, I felt as if someone was watching us. Maybe I just hoped someone could see the experience of the fight. I turned my head upstream and there was a guy and his son watching my fiasco with this brute. They stood motionless, spinning rods in hand with a bait bucket sitting on the stone shelf. I turned back to my dealings and gave a hard tug. He tugged back and we continued with the show for our new audience. He continued battling me for what seemed to be another 5 minutes with splashing, surface turbulence and quick cornering until I got him to the bank. A good size hole developed in the corner of his mouth from all the jarring but the hook held firm. I have a 30” mark on the rod shaft and he was about an inch shy. His girth and weight was more impressive than his length.

After I released the steelhead the two observers started to fish. It wasn’t long before I connected again. The steelhead came right towards me like a demolition ball in full tilt. I backed up with the rod high, reeling in as fast as I could. The silver swirled just out in front of me and swam away. I chuckled at its bravery.
 I found that some steelhead were holding in the backend of the pool and staging only a foot or so beneath. I couldn’t see them but if I got the right drift, up high, I would get a take. After one better hook up and fight the two disappeared and I was alone again in the rain and howling wind.
 It seemed as if every time I was willing to give up I got another strike. Not that I got a good hook set or got them all to hand but had enough action to keep me awhile longer. After my last stogie died out I called it quits.

In the rent-a-car, on the way home, I really wanted a celebration cigar but had to refrain. It turned out to be a weather miserable day with enough steelhead caught to make the trip rewarding. I do believe if it weren’t for my new ‘Blood Line’ triple threat it may have been just a day in miserable weather to smoke a candela Churchill and a few 55 Victor Sinclair samplers.


Blood Line wet
Olive Back wet

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