Bringing a knife to a gunfight - a steelhead story

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by cabezon, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    I had an afternoon of meetings scheduled, but it seemed that I had a window in the morning to wet a line. When I arrived at the river about 7AM, I was disappointed to find a line of four bait fishers in the middle of the run that I wanted to fish. Still, the top of the drift was open and I started there with my trusty yellow-bodied October caddis nymph tied to a floating line on my 5wt. After making my first short cast, I let the fly dangle below me while I adjusted the position of my fly vest on my shoulders. Just as I pulled in the line for my next cast, I had a hit and saw a big boil. But the fish, probably a cutt, wasn't hooked well and got off right away. "O.K., that's a good sign" I thought. I lengthened my casts and worked my way steadily downstream. I had a few hits on the caddis nymph, but nothing was hooked until I picked up a 10" rainbow. I could see that bait fishers were catching the occasional cutt; the cutts, my intended quarry for the morning, were around here somewhere

    I had almost reach the zone being fished by the most upstream of the bait fishers when it happened. As the fly drifted near the disturbance created by a submerged rock, I had a hard strike and set the hook. I felt two powerful headshakes before a steelhead leaped out of the water ten feet laterally from where my fly line should have been and then it began to sprint across the river. "Houston, we have a problem". This was my 5 wt rod (fortunately my beefier Sage XP, not my lighter Sage RPL 5 wt.) and my tippet was geared for trout, not steelhead. I brought a knife to a gun fight. The fly line swiftly disappeared from the reel and I was into the backing in an instant. By palming the reel delicately, I was able to keep the fish from entering the fast chute in the middle of the river or passing through the chute to the other side. I looked around and could see no obvious trouble in the vicinity. I could take my time and play this fish somewhat cautiously. What followed for the next five to ten minutes (who knows...) was an elaborate game of tug of war. Cautiously, I applied pressure to the fish and recovered all the backing and a thin veneer of fly line. But then the fish bolted and I was back to the backing. More pressure, and I recovered the backing and a thicker layer of fly line. Then, the fish took a liking to the gear gentleman wading downstream, but I managed to turn its head and lead it back upstream. We had several minutes where the fish did donuts; I would bring the fish in toward me, then it would bolt straight out into deeper water as I palmed the reel gently to keep pressure on the fish. I would apply some additional pressure to stop the run and shift the fish's path parallel to the river, and then I would recover some more line. Rinse and repeat. The fish was tiring as each circle was a little tighter, a little smaller, than the previous one. Then, we reached the tantrum stage of the battle where the fish began to roll and then thrash - a recipe for breaking the leader. But I got past that stage too. By now, I had waded into shallow water just off the cobble bank and I was trying to decide between catching the fish in my net (fortunately my larger flyfishing net) or leading it up the beach. Concerned about the strength of the leader if the fish decided to go crazy on the beach, I decided to try to net. This seemed like a good idea until I was about to try to net the fish and was able to compare the size of the net with the size of the fish. "Houston, we have a problem." I tried anyway, but it bolted past the net and I had to implement some quick gymnastic moves to keep out of trouble. O.K. hybrid plan 2. I led the fish to the bank and then used the net to block its immediate retreat. Placing the rod down quickly, I knelt on the cobbles and moved the fish a bit farther up the cobble bank. And then I went a little caveman with a rock on the head of this poor steelhead. I got out the camera for a bit of documentation and stashed the fish in the grass. Vital statistics for the steelhead: 25.5 inches long, 7.5 pounds estimated weight. I would love to have recorded my heart rate and blood pressure during the battle. Now that the battle was over, I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins and my muscles were still quivering several minutes afterward.

    A drizzly, foggy morning, but what fun - first steelhead of the year!!

    Steve
     
  2. MasterAnglerTaylor

    MasterAnglerTaylor Member

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  3. Nick Clayton

    Nick Clayton Active Member

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    Great story! What a thrill that must have been. Nice job showing up those gear guys. I bet your heart still hasn't totally settled down.
     
  4. Joe Smolt

    Joe Smolt Member

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    Congrats

    I had a similar story a couple of years ago. I was spending a lot of time on the Stilly trying to hook a fresh silver on a fly (with no luck). After a number of weekends of no love I said "screw it, I am going SRC fishing". At that time, I was also skunked on summer run steelhead too. So the next weekend, I move up into the North Fork with my 5 wt. I caught some nice SRCs and continue to respect their strength given their size, but by the end of the day I ended up hooking and landing 2 silvers and a steelhead in one run. Go figure!

    I was able to land the fish because there was a deep side channel that I could guide the fish in to the point that they couldnt really go far right or left.

    Joe
     
  5. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Now that is the way to start out the day before heading in to the office.
     
  6. Clarki

    Clarki I'd rather be reading water

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    Thanks for the awesome story, and documentation. Some of us who have still not felt steel must live vicariously, and stories like yours sure do help!
     
  7. orangeradish

    orangeradish Bobo approved

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    100% badddddassssss. Great writeup, Steve!
     
  8. Kevin J. Burnham

    Kevin J. Burnham Active Member

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    Ahh !! It's not a Brown Trout though !!!
     
  9. papafsh

    papafsh Piscatorial predilection

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    What's not to like about that? Good on 'ya Steve. Good pic's too.

    LB
     
  10. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

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    Steve, I loved that "Houston, we have a problem..." stuff. It says it all. Great report.
     
  11. shotgunner

    shotgunner Anywhere ~ Anytime

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    Great experience! Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. Gary C. Brown

    Gary C. Brown Les Paul Lover

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    I feel your pain, my first was a 6# summer run hen on a 4 weight while fishing for trout.
    I can still get my heart rate up thinking about it.
     
  13. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Great story and catch Steve...congrats!
     
  14. Dan Nelson

    Dan Nelson Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum

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    Great story! Congrats on a great outing.
     
  15. jcnewbie

    jcnewbie Member

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    I wouldn't dare catch a fish like that under those circumstances unless Medic One was standing by....my heart wouldn't take it.......

    ......but it'd 'prolly be worth it anyhow.......!! Wheeeeuuu!!

    Great report!!

    Jc :clown:
     
  16. David Loy

    David Loy Senior Moment

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    Great story. That'll get you pumped up. Did me.
    Gracie
     
  17. Cti111

    Cti111 Member

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    Thanks for the great story & pictures! Motivating me to get out this weekend!
     
  18. Itchy Dog

    Itchy Dog Some call me Kirk Werner

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    Don't hear a lot of success stories of folks inadvertently hooking into a steelhead while fishing for trouts. Yours was rare, and well told!
     
  19. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Glad it turned out that way. When I read the title I thought you were going to write about the gear fishermen all packing guns, while you only brought your Swiss Army knife, and got in a nasty fight.

    Sg
     
  20. wadin' boot

    wadin' boot Donny, you're out of your element...

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    Well done and a good tale too!
     

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