The sucker spawn dropped up creek a bit from where I stood and I snapped a small mend upstream to make sure my sucker spawn would drift down ahead of my tippet. In time the line arced as if something stopped the sucker spawn from drifting so I gave a good upward yank and the fight was on. The water boiled from beneath as my first hooked steelhead of the season was giving me the old headshakes trying to get loose. I held the cork grip tight as I felt the weight of the steelhead throbbing the end of the rod. He took line up creek for a short distance, stopped for some headshaking near the surface and than shot down creek.
“Coming down” I blurted to alert those with lines still in the water. He stopped momentarily and struggled below with the hook. If there wasn’t as many people lining my side of the bank I would have slowly followed him down a bit trying to keep sideward pressure. When there is such a crowed I’d rather take my chances on a wild one and try to horse him towards me. As he pulled and tugged harder I kept my stance as the rod flexed further and further. I had him coming to my side of the bank, still a ways down creek, when my tippet broke and the line went limp. I wasn’t too discouraged, we had a good struggling battle, and I was going to release him anyway.
It wasn’t long before Deetz decided to head upstream some. I was pretty sure there was still a couple of more steelhead along the deep ledge and decided to stick around.
My second hook up was an accidental snag. I didn’t let him get too far before I yanked upward with force once I determined it was a bad hookup. Once the egg pattern came flashing by, it came to rest safely. By now people were starting to take notice and soon a few more fisher people started to close in nearer to where I was casting. I continued on as before fishing the deep ledge.
The next grab was similar to the first. I gave a yank and felt another heavy load on the end of my line.
“Fish on!” I gave a yelp.
The steelhead came to the surface nose first shaking and stirring the water like an inboard motor taking off with a skier in tow. Water sprayed as he arced downward to continue his rant. I kept a tight line, and grip, hoping he wouldn’t take off downstream as far as the other. We battled tooth and nail within 15 yards of each other before he decided to forcibly swim down creek. I didn’t have much choice but to give him line. I could feel the tightness in my forearms as I struggled to keep the rod upward as he spun line from the tensioned spool. He stopped his escape in an instant, rose to the surface again with wild tantrums that shook the rod all the way down to my grip. We were putting on a good show but it was time to start taking more control. I seen a huge net behind one of the observers and asked if he wanted to net the fish for me. He grabbed the net and started to walk along the bank as I backed up and forced the steelhead towards us. It didn’t take too much time that I got him close enough and the young man scooped him up.
The steelhead was a solid catch and had to be at least 26” long or better. I asked the net minder if he wanted the steelhead. He was grateful for that and roped the fish after I got the hook out of its jaw.
By the time I got back to my original spot a couple of older gents had already taken claim, across creek, high sticking their fly rods fishing the same ledge. Within minutes a younger man stood up creek and floated a pencil bobber into my drift time and again. I spent another 10 minutes trying to avoid being snagged by the casting idiots and then decided to move on up creek. I crossed to the far bank, and continued on.
There was a faster rippling run that looked to have good potential. I was able to see a couple of tails beneath the rippling water and with no one fishing this section I took a stand. The nearest person was up creek a short piece but was concentrating in a deep flowing pool before the choppy water. I tried drifting the sucker spawn through the run but it was quite fast with lots of bedrock. The bottom was easy enough to see to mid stream but beyond that is where the water was a bit deeper with rougher current. It was time for streamer fishing.
I tried a couple colors of my DT Triple Threats that didn’t produce a strike. I decided to go with one of my Goldfish color Threats and add a bit of weight on my tippet to get it down deeper.
After a few casts I started to see fish move around. One such steelhead was staging a little further than rods length down creek. I flipped the streamer outward and controlled the drift to within a foot or so in front of the fish. There I twitched the rod tip a couple of times and then let it ‘swim’ in the current. The steelhead couldn’t take the temptation any longer and swam up and mouthed it. That’s all it took.
With a hearty yank, the hook set and, the fish was on the run with my line following. He didn’t go far before he surfaced and head shook. He continued upstream as other fishermen pulled in their lines. I took a few steps along the bank and put a little more backbone into the rod. The steelhead turned and swam down creek a bit and settled on the opposite side of the creek with jarring tugs. It wasn’t long the hook unhinged and the steelhead was set free.
I spent at least another hour or so drifting and swimming the streamer in the choppy flow. At times I was able to see some fish moving up creek. I ended up fair hooking 4 steelhead and foul hooked one that darted down creek with unnatural speed. When I followed it down is when I discovered the foul hook and jerked the fly rod upward and the hook came loose saving my streamer.
I had just lit up a mild stogie when Deetz returned and we continued to fish the section. While my head was turned talking to him I felt a nudge in my line fingers. Instinct took over and my right hand yanked the rod upstream while my left hand held line tight until I felt the set. I turned my head down creek and seen the boil in the water and said aloud “FISH ON!” Deetz was surprised that while we were talking and my head turned I caught the steelhead without looking in its direction. I told him I fish streamers so much that it’s instinct.
The steelhead felt like it was tugging backwards with the current a second or two before it rose up and body slammed the surface a few times trying to spit the hook. I felt the vibration all the way down the 7 weight rod shaft as it flexed erratically with each forceful whipping pull. This one wasn’t as big as some of the others but she had lots of spunk and I could tell by the color it was a fresh fish right from the lake. Its back was gunmetal gray and its body was pure chrome that glistened from the sunlight. I struggled with her trying to keep her under my control but she didn‘t want to give in just yet.
After a bit we decided to walk up creek. Fishermen still lined the creek like dominoes where fish were holding. We fished the still water without success and continued on to the straight and narrow channel that flowed down into the big hole. Deetz found a gap between a few anglers and had enough room to drift his egg sack under his float as I watched. It wasn’t long before he had one on and I watched the fun.