Fresh Steelhead and Chunky Browns (part 2)
I got to the creek at around 7:15 and there were already 2 vehicles parked along the road. I got my gear on and strung up my fly rod with new leader and 6lb tippet. I got a hand warmer activated in my pocket and put on a pair of gloves. After making sure I had everything else I crossed the road and headed through the woods to the creek.
The water had cleared up nicely from yesterday and still moderately high with good flow. There were two fellows in the tubes so I didn’t want to crowd them or disturbed them. I looked down creek and there was a fisherman casting into the section I wanted to fish as my second choice. I wasn’t in the mood today to walk very far down creek being I only had a few hours to fish before heading home for a turkey dinner.
I headed down creek and fished the inlet current that flowed in the straight section the other fellow was fishing giving him plenty of room. We struck up a conversation and he said he had already caught quite a few nice brown trout as well as steelhead this morning. He fished for about another half hour and said it was all mine before he headed down creek. This left the complete section of water to me. From a downed log against the bank to the shallow tail out down below. I began my presentation as I adjusted the weight, depth of my sucker spawn and indicator.
The first strike I hooked up to a steelhead. I played him gingerly testing the new leader, tippet and knot strength being I lost quite a few the day before. I got him to the bank and found he took the yellow/white sucker spawn. I continued, from a good distance, casting out searching for another fish. My next fish was a nice fresh steelhead that gave me a good clean fight. That put a smile on my face when I got her to hand also.
I was getting pretty excited. It appeared I might have found a good pod of fish that were willing to eat.
I continued my presentations and switched colors of sucker spawn when times got slow. The cigar was winding down to the nub but the flavor was still bold and flavorful.
It was about 11:30 when I was planning on heading to the van originally but with the active fish I wasn’t in a hurry. Turkey dinner wasn’t till 4:30 and with the two hour drive, at the most, I still had a little more time to fish.
Soft snowflakes started to fall as it was getting closer to noon. The indicator dipped slightly and my reaction was quick. With the hook set I felt the rod flex downward and I thought I felt a little movement on the other end. I kept the rod up knowing full well this could be a heavy fish and not a snag. The line slowly moved upstream so I reared back a little on the cork grip to give the fish a little more rod pressure. The fish turned down creek and it felt like I had a big hunk of drift wood I couldn’t stop which I knew wasn’t possible. Keeping the rod flexed into the middle the fish stayed out of vision and continued downstream without much of a battling fight. Line unwound off the spool and I tried to turn him but couldn’t budge him my way. Down creek in the tail out he finally turned away and I felt a heavy pull as the fly rod tip bounced with his thwarting tug. He swam up creek with a little more speed so I backed up to the bank while reeling in line when he allowed. It was as if he was dictating the action and all I could do was wait him out.
When I finally had him coming towards me he surfaced showing his big brown body. He rolled in the shallow water and took some line out towards the middle of the creek. He strained not to follow the force of pressure I was putting on him as I strained to bring him towards me. With a short lifting pull of the rod rearward I started to gain the initiative and soon had him at my feet. The chunky brown trout was the biggest I’ve caught in the Erie tribs thus far. His angry look and hooked jaw told me he’s been around for awhile. I carefully unhooked the Oregon Cheese sucker spawn from his lip and watched as he swam away.
There’s nothing like hooking into a fresh run steelhead when there is lots of room for him to put on a frisky battle.
The indicator sunk completely before I was able to react with a yank of a hook set but I gave a late yank anyhow. The fish shot upstream spun and quickly shot down creek towards more open water. I held onto the cork grip tightly as line spun off the reel with a whizzing sound. He shot out of the water, facing downstream, tugged his head away before plunging with an audible splash back into the water. He was heading towards the rippling fast current beyond the tail out. I was afraid I’d lose him. In the tail out though he swatted water about with a quick 180 and headed back up creek. I backed up reeling in line when I felt the rod tip flex downward and than upward in an instant he came out of the water twisting and turning trying to throw the hook. After the big splashing reentry I felt the line tighten again as he continued upstream. He evidently wasn’t ready to give up yet and I let him know I wasn’t going to let him rest. I pulled back on the rod when he showed signs of rest. Nearer to me he turned in the shallows and took one forceful get-a-way attempt. He was able to pull a little line off the reel before his energy subsided. He splashed and swatted at my feet.
The indicator dipped and came up before I was able to react. I yanked up late and to my surprise the line tightened and I felt the fish turn below and a swirl rose from the depth. It took off away toward the far bank and then turned down creek. My cold wet hands held tight on the grip as line peeled off the spool. He made a good run and battled well but in the end I outmatched him and got him to shore.