Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thawed out ..........

Obviously I have not been very good at keeping this blog up to date. Schedules have finally slowed down enough that I can sit down, crack a cold one and recall the last five months. The winter has been so long that to be honest, I would rather not think back. Instead, let’s fast forward to pre – actual – post trout opener.

My fishing has been less than stellar mainly because I have not been getting out as much as I wanted to or should have. A few trips to the south shore saw very little success for me. 

Instead, my good friends Tony and Jack each got their cherries busted on NY steelheading. That was great to see and a relief for me as I was the one whom dragged them on the long drive and bored them with fables of a Disneyland Steelhead Adventure.

The last Saturday of April marks the dreaded trout opener. This would be the weekend where you will see small populations at every known river access and bridge. The carnage and crowds have become too much for me over the last several years however with this year of not getting out much, I decided I would suck it up and face the carnival.

It would be one day after the official open that I was free to roam about. We saw two rivers and to my surprise, a stretch of water that saw very few others. In fact, one run was all ours. That was warmly welcomed as we had driven by an access and counted 33 vehicles. Jack, Tony and Rob joined me for the day and I could not ask for better friends.

When I looked at the calendar on the refrigerator, reality struck. 

There was no open squares for me to pen another steelheading outing other than making a push to fish the morning before racing home for our son’s vocal performance as part of a school commitment. 

Tony and I would decide on a very early start, with a hike in under the cover of night. 3am alarms are never well received. I almost had the nerve to call for late but Tony had already messaged me to text him when I was within 30 minutes as he was already there and had planned on catching a few winks. (sometimes it’s just easier on the family to leave when they all go to bed to avoid waking them up with rods and totes banging around). Oh well, up and at it. Large coffee and music cranked and I off.

Eyes staring at me from the fields, a few dared the crossing and failed including one raccoon I clipped. 

Several times I had to ease off the pedal as I found myself enjoying the drive a little too much. I got to Tony with five minutes to spare from our targeted time. 

Suiting up seemed to be a chore and I fumbled in the dark and contemplated whether to wear the wading jacket. As we reached the run we talked about, I was drenched. Jacket should have stayed in the tote.

Flow was great and colour, clear but with the depths created by the higher flow. We fished the green sections and found fish. I was able to coax a couple to hand but my hook to land ratio was terrible today! 

On a particular run, I waded out to just to my waist and rolled out the black and purple bunny spey to the far edge. Just as I had mended and straightened the line direction, a heavy tug almost jarred me off balance. It was a good battle. I was well into my running line. When I was able to get below her, it was a matter of seconds to slide her into the water swollen grassy edges of the river.

Another fabulous day.  I do hear the fat lady singing but I am still hopeful she will do an encore presentation.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To new beginnings. Marching On.....

It has been far too long and overdue for an entry here. I could spout off a many reasons why I have not made an entry since early October however that would be a cop out. I owe it here now to recap what was a lack lustre steelheading season.

While this new job has re-fuelled my confidence of worthiness, it has also taken away much of my time I would have normally spent on the tributaries. As I slowly rebuild the account of vacation days that allows me those timely weekday getaways, I have been steelheading when I could get away but more so, vicariously through my fellow steelheading bloggers and a few off the radar die-hards. (Thanks lads!)

Two kids heavily into competitive sports does not equate to much spare time. It is an important part of their lives at the moment and to be quite honest, I don’t like missing neither their games nor the practices. They have told me that it was okay to take a pass and to head to the river. I did so on one occasion and it did not sit well with me. My enjoyment of the river was not felt. Realizing that these opportunities were few, I compromised the situation. I made a few trips up after the morning skate as well as skipping post game celebrations at the restaurant in hopes of afternoons on abandoned stretches of my favourite runs full of chrome. And while the first part of this came to fruition, bringing fistfuls of steelhead to hand were somewhat void of the plan.

As expected, it was similar to starting over again this fall as I decided to expand my horizons. Picking up the spey technique would mean less action and more or less, practice trips, at least in the beginning it would seem to be the likelyhood. Granted I had the experience and knowledge of angling for migratories, there was is still a challenge to illicit a strike. Part of the reason for trying something new and different was that, quite honestly, centerpinning was starting to grow stagnant. I suppose having spent the last decade fishing some of the “Disneyland” tributaries south of the border as part of the routine, may have played a part in this though I do not regret one fish from any of those creeks and rivers. There are a ton of memories and adventures we still reminisce about. I did not make a single trip this season and admit, I miss the takes and landing those magnificent lake run browns along with the odd steelhead that tuned me and humbled my arrogant ass. Note, while I did have some action with the spey, they were short-lived and were great lessons in hands/eye to rod coordination. I can’t wait till spring!

On my last outing, I chose to wander back to one of my favorite sections. Normally I prefer to fish this section alone as it brings me so much peace and zenquility that even talking to myself, ruins its healing powers. However, Nardi had been putting on clinics on my iPhone with his recaps. A few weeks prior, we had mis-timed a trip and fished borderline conditions. It was not so much a mis-timing as it was more along the lines that this particular day was the only day I had. On that trip, I had one take from a big fresh fish that tore up and down and across the river, finally bending out the hook and giving it back to me. Tony was willing to make a go of it with me on that day even though he could have stayed home as he was hitting the river the next day. For that I was grateful for his friendship and was keen on getting out again with him. We made plans a few days later and when morning came, I found myself sharing a favorite section with my good friend, who just happens to be a great angler. Tony struck first. I was around the corner working a seam when I heard him “whoop” it up out loud. At first I thought he had gone for a swim trying to get to some remote part a drift so I busted through some brush to see him arced up high with a fresh tail desperately pushing for the opposite way. Great fish.

We would go fish-less for another hour and ventured half a kilometer downstream before I trotted my float to the tail end of a wintering hole. Nardi was retying a new rig after a courageous attempt to hit a small pocket under an uprooted tree about to fall into the river. As I held back and inched the float along, the take was subtle. A micro bob of the float followed by a slight move to the right triggered me to set the hook. Like most, it was not happy to be fooled. There were a few moments where she had the advantage on me as I was cuffed with tree limbs above me and no more real estate to chase on. Luckily she gave up sooner than expected and pretty well slid herself into the flooded grass.

That was a few weeks ago. Since then, the schedule had become fuller and Christmas was starting to stress me out. I decided that I needed to take care of things around the house and prepare for the one season that truly makes everyone happy. I still had fishing on the brain but there was no decent day in the forecast that matched my availability for one more chance at some 2013 steelhead so........ ice fishing it was. 

The day was long and Cook’s Bay did not produced what I had hoped for. There were many fish but less than a dozen keeper size perch through the ice for the several kilometers of slush we traveled through by foot on a 14 hour day. My body was drained and my mind was numb.

Here’s to 2013. Here’s to more trips and many bent rods for stories to share. Salute!