Saturday, January 21, 2017

Slush, a Glass and Steel

Slush, a Glass and Steel

 I set the hook and the Wonderod flexed into the midsection. My cold wet hands tightened around the aged cork grip as the vintage rod held firm. When I felt the give and then a sharp tug of the rod tip I knew I had a fish and not another bottom snag. With a couple of head shakes he headed with the faster current down creek.

 The morning was brisk, about 25* when we got out of the truck. We saw a couple fishermen were already casting lines into the cold water of the long pool hoping for a bite. When we got to the creek we watched slush floating on the waves through the riffles that emptied into the pool. The pool current was slowed and with all the drifting slush it made not much open water to drop an offering. We crossed the creek in the riffles and I set up along the pool as Donny broke bank-side ice down from were I stood. It wasn’t long after I stopped moving I felt the chill of the water against my lower thighs through my waders. My feet were still warm from the walk but I was sure it wouldn’t take long for them to stabilize in the frigid water. I felt the crisp air of winter tighten the skin exposed beyond my beard. I began to knot on a tandem rig of sucker spawn to the tippet and my fingers were showing less dexterity caused by the winter chill. I attached an indicator and pulled out line to make my first cast. It looked bleak as to getting a good drift between the drifting slush.

  Time and again we casted out trying our best to get the indicator and offering down to the fish. Our lines weren’t freezing at least so that wasn’t an additional irritation to getting our lines out. I always looked up stream before my next cast, even before my drift wasn’t completed, looking for a better opportunity to drop the offering in a clear path between the slush. It wasn’t going as planned but it was quiet and I was fulfilling that fishing need that built up during the snowy weeks of freezing winter.

  After an hour the slush wasn’t getting much better so Donny decided we should head down stream for more promising conditions. Donny was fighting a snot nosed cold and wasn’t up to his usual self. Though he wasn’t feeling well he still came out. He lives near the steelhead tribs so he can fish anytime he likes but decided to hang out and fish for the day with me which I always enjoy his company and steelhead stream experience.
 Down creek we fished a couple of spots with him hooking into one fresh steelhead that he did get landed. Other than that we plugged along trying to find a pod of steelhead. Anytime Donny was ready to move I always have to cast a few more times just to make sure. On one occasion I was determined to catch a steelhead before leaving. I even commented to Donny “I’m going to catch one!”
 After offering different combinations I decided to try a different approach. I wasn’t sure how deep the water was but the surface current was moving at a good clip. Sometimes I feel the surface current is much stronger than the deeper undercurrent therefore the indicator may be moving too fast on the surface not letting my offering drift drag free in the undercurrent. Not knowing the deepness of the water I also feel my offering may not be getting down in such situations. I decided to take the indicator off and give it a go. I made the cast along a seam of the wavy water that dropped my sucker spawn down into a deeper hole. My fly line drifted just below the surface and, as it was moving with the current, I watched it for any unusual motion. After it passed by me the end of the fly line started to dip and disappear.  I lifted a hook set hoping it was a fish. Sure enough the rod arced and the flexibility of the fiberglass started to dance with the frisky fresh steelhead. It wasn’t long before getting it safely to the bank.

 After the catch we fished a little longer and Donny was now pretty congested and was ready to head out. He crossed the creek and was already on the far bank heading to the path. We actually been out for quite a few hours and I was kind of surprised he stayed out as long as he did. Of course before I crossed the creek and waded out I had to let fly a few more casts.

 The end of the fly line went under in a hurry as the drift was passing through the faster current. I heaved the 8wt rod with force wanting to get a good hook set in the current. The line instantly tightened and shot down creek with the rod tip pointing towards the aggressive steelhead. I called out towards the bank to let Donny know I had another. In the slower current the steelhead swirled beneath and headed back beneath the stronger current. Down creek he swung around frantically before heading towards the flexed glass rod. Before I landed the steelhead it made a couple of trying escapes but the glass rod had enough firmness that I didn’t have to let out any line from the spool. By the time I got the fish to the bank Donny was already close by to take a quick picture of my steelhead.
 With that we headed to the truck. It wasn’t one of the best days we had fishing together but heck; we caught a few even through the hampering conditions.

 After I dropped Donny off home there was still a lot of daylight left. I headed over to a well known section and was surprised no one was fishing the usually crowded hole. I must have fished at least an hour or so trying to get a strike. I tried using all sorts of combinations and even streamers but couldn’t encourage a take. After that I headed down creek to a couple known holes I knew usually hold fish.
 I was wading and drifting my offering along the deeper bank-side water. The water I was wading in started to get deeper so I waded further from the bank. There looked like a good deep section of slow current water, away from the bank, so I took some extra time to fish it before moving on.
 My cast was upstream a good bit and as I kept the rod tip high I watched the indicator come drifting about a couple of yards upstream from me. When it got almost across from me I gave a little mend up creek so my fly line would drift even with the indicator. Just passed me the indicator dropped and I knew it wasn’t the bottom. I took in slack line with my left hand and just as quick lifted the rod with my right. The fish instantly hurried off with line peeling off the soft drag. I held the rod high as the fresh steelhead energetically darted and swam about trying to release the hook. Once it calmed down I tightened the drag and slowly moved myself back into shallower water.
The chartreuse sparkle spawn was stuck fast in the top of her lip. 

 It wasn’t long after that the light started fading fast. I hooked the spawn into a crevice of the cork grip and headed up through the woods and to the truck. Back at the truck I peeled off the neoprene chest waders and changed into driving clothes. I ate a cold sub sandwich on my way to the interstate. 
 Just before getting on the interstate I took out an Aurora Barrel Aged stogie. The toasty brown looking outer wrapper shown some veins but was well constructed and the cigar itself had a firm feel to it. The initial light up produced an abundance of smoke which gradually filtered through the slightly opened drivers window. The initial draw was a toast/charcoal flavor similar to a darkened toasted bun right from an outside charcoal grille. After a few puffs the flavor smoothed out and was quite enjoyable though getting a little bolder the more I smoked. I noticed a leathery taste upon my lips after a while as I continued on, listening to some rock and roll while I was cruising down the highway heading towards home.


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