Friday, December 3, 2010

First & Last Light.

It started with a plan. After checking water levels and all the reports, we were on the road by two in the morning and making our way to our intended destination. We knew exactly where we were going to park, hike, swing, and hopefully slay some steelhead. Around six in the morning, a good hour before sunrise, we hit one of the main roads and started to see them. Fishermen gearing up along the side of the road, and already hitting the water. We were beaten. Hitting the parking lot, we were the fourth car there and by the time we exited the truck to gear up, three more came in. These guys were rigged and ready to go, having driven to the river in their waders with rigged rods in the back. By the time Adam and I made our way to the river side, it was too late. I herd of anglers could be seen in the distance, some three hundred yards away. Their bright headlamps could be seen in the darkness, flashing in and out of the trees as they made their way down the footpath to our intended spot. Adam and I soon chose a new spot and rigged up our rods. The herd crossed the river and took up shop directly across from us on the skinny run. They were sixteen deep, and after a brief discussion, Adam and I got the hell out of there. 

Salmon Carcass.

First Light Swinging.

Option number two was a few miles away, and to our surprise, only a few cars were stationed at this pool. We hiked a quarter mile through the woods and set up shop on one of our favorite tail outs. In the first light of the morning, after a few practice casts, Adam had a tug from a small and feisty Atlantic Salmon. The little guy was full of fight and after the land, would not stay still for a photo. Soon thereafter, I hit the water and after a few casts, hooked into a hen on a fast swing directly across the current. Escorting her across the river near the tailout, we played chicken as she attempted to get into the current and rush downstream. I took her to a small eddy by a side channel and landed her for a few shots. It seemed like the perfect start to the day. 

Small Atlantic.

Full of Fight.

Squirming To Break Free.

Not a Bad Way To Start The Day.

We've Got a Jumper.

Risky Business in a Side Channel.

Black Stinger Missile FTW.

One Last Look.

Powering Away.

Like giddy school girls, Adam and I thought we were in store for an epic day on the water. Our high hopes, were left dashed, after a good nine hours of nothing. Not even a grab. Swinging flies has a way of testing an angler's resolve. We patiently worked our way downstream and then back upstream working every fishy piece of water while enduring freezing temperatures and a brutal wind. Driftboats kept working their way downstream, stopping in viable holes and we were left watching as egg sacks and beads showed us how many steelhead were not interested in our swung flies. In between sips of Red Bull and some beef jerky, flies were swapped out, eventually testing every conceivable color, size, and weight of streamers in our arsenals. We were left, perplexed. The day had warmed and the fish had shut it down. 


Taking the Path Less Traveled.

UV Ice Man Minnow w/ Kustom Flyz Eyez.

On every Great Lakes fishing trip, you are bound to see, find, and hear things that leave you shaking your head. For instance, flies litter the landscape, especially along the shoreline. I found an estaz egg on a tarpon hook. I'm assuming to increase the snag rate as it rakes across the bottom of the fast current attached to a few ounces of lead. I am also assuming, the hook was bent on a rock and the fly was discarded onto the ground. In the parking lot, a nice ways from the river, we found a brown trout carcass that was left to rot by a tree. I guess after landing the fish, deciding to keep it, and dragging it around all day, the angler decided, that it wasn't worth the trouble. Awesome. Finally, on multiple occasions while swinging flies through a run, I got a tug from a hundred feet of monofilament. 

Someone Else's Estaz Egg on a Tarpon Hook.

Someone Else's Brown Trout Left in the Parking Lot.

Someone Else's Rig Caught on the Swing.

Later in the day, with the sun setting in the sky, we were hoping that the steelhead would turn the switch back on and go after our streamers once again. We were right.  Just like in the first hour, the last hour of the day produced. On a new run that looked really good, Adam had a soft grab on the other side of the river behind a larger underwater boulder. The fish put a capstone on our day and Adam got his steelhead. Exiting, we discussed the days tactics: point of entry, mends, swinging speed, and bumps. Even though the day was slow, the few tugs received brought us to our knees, egging us on for the rest of the day and surely, bringing us back for more in the future. 

This Time a Male.

Stinger FTW.

Great Looking Fish.

Adam Finished the Day Strong.

Olive Barred Marabou Sculpin FTW.

Another Male.

Blurry Close Up. 

Well Worth the Wait.

Until Next Time...


Bigerrfish said...

good times... good times.

Jason said...

Nice write up, enjoy your trip reports!

Blue River Fly Company

Dub The Thorax said...

Beautiful pics.