Day two brought us back to the lower end of the river to see if the fish were still coming in. Despite some early morning pushes of fish, things died down considerably for the rest of the day. On the previous day, we were lucky enough to catch the tail end of the main run. However, there were still a lot of fish to be had and we made the most of our chances swinging wet flies in water that was much lower than the day before. We had several chances, losing fish from long runs, putting too much pressure on them, and a few from people following fish a few hundred yards downstream.
My best fish came at the tailout of a run that I knew fish were holding in. I'd take a few casts and vary the speed, direction, and length of my swing each time. I'd take a break, maybe change flies, and repeat the same scenario. On one particular cast, I had a nice short pull on my fly and knew a particular fish was feeling a bit grabby. I spent some extra time with that fish, making minuscule changes to the swing attempting to get it just right. It paid off when I felt a big pull and some deep head shakes. The big hen head thrashed at the surface before careening downstream into the heart of another run. I did all I could to keep her on in that moment while letting her tire a bit. I relinquished some control to get her to come back upstream to a small eddy where she was easily tail grabbed for some quick pics. Adam named her, "big momma nook".
Downstream, and much later in the day, Adam got his. He followed the advice of a new friend: the river keeper. The river keeper monitors the run and this particular man was seasoned beyond his years. "Chartreuse comet," he told us over and over. He proclaimed that, "It's worked for the last fifteen years". On his hikes up and down, he stopped to talk to each of us several times. We remarked on the beautiful day, the amazingness of the week's run, and on simpler things such as swinging and steelhead. He parted from us with one last nugget of knowledge: "you guys are the only people I've seen all day that are actually fishing".
Touché river keeper, touché.