A Fine Steelhead Specimen
“Just one more before I go” I thought, as I light a light up a VS Robusto Primaros and start to make the long walk up creek to where I entered this morning.
For the clear water conditions I thought I did fairly well so far. I went through every color of bugger and triple threat during the day. When I finally knotted on a ‘Blood Line’ Triple is what the steelhead seamed to be more interested in. I figured I had fairly hooked up at least 8 times though I only landed 2. The biggest being a solid girth steelhead that took the ‘Blood Line’ on a dead drift. It took me down creek with good force and a good warfare fight. Another fisherman gave me a hand netting the steel for me. I let him have the gold spoon spinner that was already attached to the side of its mouth. Evidently the heavy fish had been hooked before and broke off.
In deeper water it rises with headshakes while I keep tension on him and let him tire out. After these antics I force him to my side of the bank and move closer to the water as I wind line in. Near my boots it attempts to make one last escape with quick jolts, I feel the rod relax in my hands and watch the steelhead swim away with my bugger. I discover abrasion on the remaining tippet where the line broke.
I come across a dark color steelhead within the shadows of the tree line. He’s out from an overhang and smack dab in the middle of a good flow of current. I keep my distance and move quite a ways upstream from him but still within my vision. I roll cast my bugger out into the flow and watch how the current moves and drifts the bugger. Another cast and drift I watch my bugger pass by the steelheads right and maybe out of his vision. I add a little weight, to get it down a little deeper, and I take in some line and cast again.
I let the bugger get to the end of the drift, straightening out my line, and cautiously let it drift back towards the steelhead. After a couple of nudges forward, to give the marabou tail a little more action, I let the bugger drift back and see the steelhead swim forward. Wham, I pull up and rearward on the rod and feel the aggressive fish on the other end. I move away from the water as the rod flexes and the spool spins letting out tensioned line. The fish is fooled and doesn’t like it a bit. He turns down creek and this time I keep the rod tip high to avoid any unseen sharp objects. It pauses briefly for some erratic body jolts than proceeds up creek and away looking for a safe place to get away. I keep a good angle in the rod as it applies pressure from the side of the swimming fish. I bring in some line as the fish swims to a deeper section just out from a tree that angle upward towards the sky. I keep good tension on the rod and have the line pinched between my finger and cork grip waiting for his next move. He gives the line a tug or two as if seeing if I’m still paying attention. Heck, I tug back and move the rod down creek trying to force him to follow. He wildly appears out of the deeper water and skirts the surface through the shallow riffles. I begin to feel him weaken and start to wind in line when possible or let him fight the tightened drag when need be. Stepping into the shallows I guide him between me and the bank. I reach for him and notice his pretty pink belly and beautiful color. "Such a fine looking fish" I say to myself.
I’m well satisfied, hook the bugger to my hook keeper and enjoy the autumn scenery as I make my way through the forest towards the van.
A fine Brickhouse Torpedo graces my lips as I take the exit south of I90. The natural sweetness of the outer leaf makes for an enjoyable smooth smoke for the way home.