Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tuesday's Gone

Tuesday’s gone...
              But not Forgotten

 After handing a Cazadores Churchill to Bings, I stuffed my own shirt pocket with a Sinclair Vintage for the morning. I also grabbed a Habana Cazadores, Carolina Reserve and a Gurkha Beauty for later on. It was about 8:00am, breezy, overcast and a chilly 42 degrees. We dressed warm, with rain gear, and headed down the trail for some Tuesday steelhead fishing.

  The water was cloudy with only dark shades of boulders being noticed beneath. The flow of water was as good to almost perfect which should have the steelhead spread out along its path. The first big hole produced nothing but I was able to see a couple of oblong shapes moving around beneath. We continued down creek and crossed through the shallows to the far bank. Slowly we fished the seams in the shallower water within the rumbling current.
As the sky lightened I was able to distinguish the dark outline of holding fish from the dark sides of boulders and rocks in the shallow current. When I did spot a steelhead there was usually one or two not far off. They were holding tight, almost motionless beneath the oncoming current. Bings and I picked away at them and eventually one would be hooked and the fun of fighting a steelhead in the current began. Keeping the rod upward was a must for keeping tippet and leader from dragging against any sharp rock edge. Though the water we were fishing in was only a couple feet deep at best the fish had the advantage with its strength and ability to force the issue at any time. We each lost a couple and missed quick hook sets but landed some dandies before moving on down creek.

 The deeper pools were still stained or shaded enough from the rising sun to not be able to see the bottom. I got a glimpse of a few moving oblong shapes in a semi-deep run with good flow. I drifted a black Woolly Bugger I had on without a strike. Not wanting to change flies I mentioned to Bings about the fish and left him to see if he could catch them while I moved on down creek into the faster water. It wasn’t long before Bings hooked up and landed a nice steelhead. Just before I turned a bend, in the creek, I looked up and Bings was still fishing the tail-out. I figured, with the day brightening up, he must have seen more steelhead in the section and decided to stick around.

Around the bend 2 guys, with conventional rods and bait, were fishing in a choppy flow that rippled into a wavy current near the far side cliff. This widened to a deeper stretch with good flow for a nice drift. At the tail end another fellow, with a fly rod, was fishing the tail out. He was concentrating as if he was able to see the fish in the shallower water. I started just below the conventional rod guys and slowly worked my way down towards the tail-out with streamers, sucker spawn and nymphs. I saw the fly guy at the tail-out hook up with a steelhead that took him into the rocky shallow waters below where he lost it. He fished the tail-out for another 20 minutes or so before giving up and continuing on down creek. From up creek I drifted my offering towards the tail-out keeping my distance.

 My first hook up came on a sucker spawn drifting under an indicator. The indicator dipped instantly and I yanked upward for the hook set. With good forceful headshakes the steelhead came to the surface the than shot towards the far bank. Fish figures, from under a tree, scattered everywhere as their shallow wake was evident. My fish turned down stream but nearer the shallower water it cut across towards me with lightening speed. I’m sure it was that sudden surge towards me that left too much slack in the line. Once I got line in it was too late, the steelhead shook the hook, and swam free.
I worked the section from the middle of the run to the tail-out for the rest of the day. The guys fishing bait were having a good old time hooking up often. I, on the other hand, only hooked up occasionally.
 It seemed I needed the right pattern and color at the right location with a good drift. Steelhead always confuses me with their selective habits. Trout I can figure out most of the time by examining what’s flying around or crawling about. What I find under streamside rocks or what time of year it is. Steelhead fishing, at least as I can tell, has neither rhyme nor reason. What works one day may not work the next. I found what color works in the morning has a good chance of working in the evening on the same stream but it may take some time to find that magic combination of color and pattern.

I looped a cast a good distance that landed the streamer into the far side of the wavy current. With a quick mend the indicator moved toward me, settled and started to drift with the flow. 3 oblong fish shaped objects were moving upstream, from the shallow tail-out, through the flat water into the wavy current. My indicator dipped with a pull up creek. I yanked back the rod and I knew one of them oblong shaped fish were on the end of my line. I tightened my fingers around the cork grip as the fish continued up stream. When the line tensioned tighter, that bowed the rod into the middle, the steelhead stopped and started to jolt and tug the line that rattled the 7 weight rod tip like a tall palm tree amidst a hurricane. He tugged relentlessly trying to free himself from the hook. It seemed like minutes before he torpedoed down creek towards the shallow riffles. Afraid I would lose him, if he got into the rocky shallows, I palmed the spool, slowing it down, until I applied enough pressure to stop it. The rod tip bowed like a tree snare waiting to be sprung. Within seconds the steelhead made a wild dash up creek. As it passed me I watched as its oblong body shot through the water like a torpedo on target.
“Coming up” I said loud enough for the guy to my left to hear me, as the fish took line, so he knew the new course the fish had taken.
  He brought in his pencil bobber quickly and stood and watched us battle it out. The fish rose to the surface with a splash, spun facing downstream and proceeded hastily leaving a swirl behind. As the melee started to slow I could feel my forearm muscles and the tightness in my fingers upon the cork grip.
  In the shallow tail out the steelhead decided to swim towards the far bank at the same time I started to wade down creek away from the brush behind me. Wrestling with the steelhead I was able to gain more control and got him to hesitantly swim towards me. With aggressive rod movement I kept him moving towards me every time he veered off course. I brought him to the streamside shallows where I was able to get ahold of him. He was a nice heavy steelhead with good girth.

After that I caught a couple more steelhead but none as aggressive like the one pictured.

 As evening approached I made my last cast into the tail-out and decided to call it quits. I headed up creek with the other fellows towards the place I entered in the early morning. I never came across Bings and when I got to my van his truck was gone.

 It was still bright enough to see under the cloudy evening sky.

 In the confines of my van I changed into street clothed as the Dodge 318 engine warmed up. Exiting off of  interstate 90 I took route 89 south. Somewhere in the darkness I reached into my traveling humidor and selected an Oliva ’O’ to enjoy on the drive home. The cigar was smooth and superb that burned evenly to a long white ash.

Another good day of steelhead fishing worth reminicing about!





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