Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Family Affair: Part Two

Heading off the water, the three of us were in search for a local motel to shelter our tired cold bodies from the weather. We settled on the first unit we came across, despite my father's trepidation, and forewarnings of past experiences. He made the arrangements over the phone, which involved a honor system of sorts. It required a secret password to gain access to the key for the room. I guess it was too cold to come let us in. My brother and father settled down quickly while I took to the vice to replenish lost flies that actually worked for us. While I worked on the vice, my father and brother passed out on the beds and I followed soon thereafter.  

No Shadow Casting Here.

Early the next morning, we arrived where we left off the evening before to find even tougher conditions. The temperature dropped creating anchor ice and floating icebergs along the slower water. The already low flows were also down another 1-2 feet. After rigging up my father, he took to the water and was soon into his first fish of the day. After the first fish of the day, things slowed down for a few hours with only a couple hookups before the sun crept onto the water. After my brother landed his first of the day we relinquished the water and hiked upstream to try sight fishing to fish.

Big Poppa Pump Strikes First.

Matt Provides a Helping Hand.

Two Cold Anglers Celebrating A Moment.

Rocking His 1975 Varsity Jacket, Poppa Pump Releases His Slab.

Matt Working A Net-less Land.

Admiration & Release.

An Average Fish Finds the Bottom of My Net.

Our plan to sight fish with the sun at our backs failed soon after we worked our way upstream. The sun receded behind advancing clouds and failed to reappear. However, a warm front was pushing through raising air and water temperatures providing a respite for our frozen hands and feet. Instead of relying on the sun to reveal fish, I used elevation and the reflections of tree trunks on the water. The tell tale outlines of steelhead could be seen after careful inspection. Often after spotting and fishing to a single fish, my eyes would slowly adjust and reveal more adversaries. After landing a few fish including a very beat up brown trout, my father called us downstream. Arriving, he instructed us on several steelhead he had spotted all by himself. My brother and I took turns dead drifting nymphs and micro egg patterns downstream to the fish. After a brief battle I was able to subdue a large and beautiful hen. 

Sight Fishing Conditions: Low, Clear, & Super Skittish Fish.

A Small Buck.

My Best Steelhead of the 2010.

One Pretty Hen.

After releasing the hen, my brother and I spotted several nice steelhead under a fallen tree in the water. To get a closer look and eliminate the glare, we used the log as a platform from which to fish. My father's warnings went unheeded as we worked out way out onto the frozen log often using a broken branch to balance on. I made it my mission to catch the other large steelhead my father had spotted. It was a huge buck that dwarfed the hen I caught earlier. I dubbed him destined to take and after botching the first two times he took my presentation, I nailed the third time. With a difficult hook set from a top my log, I lifted hard and he ascended in the water column throwing his kyped jaws back and forth. My size 16 patten popped out and I lost my chance at the largest steelhead I had seen in quite sometime. After letting the scene settle down, I replicated the feat except with a much less desirable fish. This closed out my 2010 fishing year and the trip with my father and brother. We took to the road as the sun descended on the horizon reflecting on our first fishing trip together in over a year. It was great to get back on the water with these two and see them get into some fish. Hopefully we can make it happen again sometime soon.

A Dangerous Perch.

Several Fish Were Using This Fallen Tree as Shelter.

Hooking Up.

Poppa Pump Comes to the Rescue.

My Last Fish of 2010.


Bigerrfish said...

dude that big ol sloppy fish under the tree, was way crazy, but what I really liked was Matt and pop with the fish, Pop's hands are so cold a couple fingers refuse to get colder, come time for the release... no choice but to give the fish the respect and wet the hands once more..

Great read guys

AZWanderings said...

Wonderful pictures and awesome dialogue. Those fish are simply gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.