Sunday, March 17, 2013

And so it begins .....

I am getting used to this……. showing up late to the river, missing first light, being 11th in line looking for a parking spot. It’s not that I think I have to be the first there or that I will miss out on that window of opportunity where the fish simply turn on and will thrash at a bare hook. The sound of the am alarm sparks the old ticker and I am sitting up like a jack-in-the-box. Then I sink back into the warm cozy comforter and moulded pillow contemplating just how much more time I can afford before I have to get moving. There seems to always be some event happening the night before that keeps me up later than I should when there is an early start to the day ahead.
Last night was no different. Our son’s competitive hockey season has come to an end. Coach had a final skate with the team splitting them up and playing a fun 3 on 3. Afterwards we had gathered for some pizza and nachos. I finally excused myself from the festivities around 11pm. By the time I got home and settled in, it was near midnight. I always think it that it will be fine. There are always Red Bulls or 5-hour shots if need be though more and more, one should really stay away from that stuff.
Traffic on the road was lighter but not the case at the access. I knew I would not have pole position however rolling up to a parade of trucks and small imports; the day was not looking grand. At the bottom of the path, it was a toss-up on whether to veer right or left. I went for the most productive pool I frequent. Of course, three others were occupying the real estate I wanted so I settled for the inside seam on the opposite side of the river. At least I was alone here. It was not really producing as I watched several bent rods and photo sessions across from me.
You do the math and figure that if these three were together, chances are they all came in one vehicle which meant the others must be scattered at the other spots. Most likely, good sections above and below would be occupied so I buckled down and started making adjustments and changing up presentations. Just when action had come to a lull, my float slipped under. A decent fresh fish determined to take me down through the tail out and into the rapids. I will admit, I love using 8lb tippets with the CTS 13.6. It’s really not fair. It was a quick turn back upstream followed with an effortless slide to the bank.    

Just when the water was looking to clear up, it seemed to go off. I could have pounded the drifts, change up to a searching leader set up but I don’t enjoy off colour water nor do I fish with that type of presentation anymore. I had picked up another fish and lost the same amount up to now. The wind was bitter and my face and finger tips were tingling despite the Buffs and wool flip ups. How much was another fish worth and did I really need any more satisfaction?

When I sit back and think about the last outing ( as I often do), regardless of the conditions and whether I hooked up with fish,  to be able to recoup and regroup at the river’s edge is something I will never take for granted.

Friday, March 8, 2013

High Bank

Back in 2006, I was young and determined to winter steelhead. This capture shows the ice build up along the banks. The rods in the picture do not show just how crazy this was. Over six feet high and possibly greater in some spots. Walking a hundred yards over this ice to get to the river, we said it would be the last time we would do so. It would not take much to bust you up if you were to fall through a weak point.

Not the brightest thing to be doing but after all these years,I went steelheading today despite having that gut feeling the year round open section of the river would have little to offer. A wise steelheader told me long ago that 10% of the water holds 90% of the fish. Somewhat similar, this available section at this time of the year has about that amount of productive drifts.

The sun was to make an appearance but it never showed. The air temps were still comfortable but not warm enough to run the reel gloveless. That metal is still very cold and sucks the energy from your hands and fingers.

The river, low and clear.

We started off slow, continued along the morning very slowly and the ending was as slow as molasses. I did not hit a fish until 11-ish...... and it was a sucker. Perfect. Are they coming in now? Admittedly, with nothing happenning, part of me was hoping for a few more suckers just to put a bend in the rod.

I adjusted the shot pattern  (to something totally opposite from what I had been running all morning), switch to a  4lb leader and put the float into the same seam I had been working for the past 30 mins. Recall I mentioned that there is not much productive water in the section and we had reached the upper limit of legal real estate to fish on. Wouldn't you know, my float shoots under. I set the rod back hard. There was a violent pounding on my rod tip, line zig zagging through the water cutting the surface up. It bolted up past me and into some big rocks. I could feel the line rubbing against the stones' edge as I stretched out with one arm while braking the reel, trying to steer it out. When I did get it back into the main current, the fish rolled me like an crocodile. The frayed fluorocarbon gave way.There was nothing more after that.

When I got home, I threw the 4lb leader into my fishing locker. Fat chance it will see light any time soon.