Saturday, October 10, 2009

12/1/08 Good Day for Swinging

We were all tired of going to the same places over the past few days so we all decided to head to the North Side of the Trestle Pool. It was nice because that lot isn’t typically plowed so there were only two other vehicles were in the lot. It was a nice morning, the sun was shining and the wind was calm……for a little while.

After getting our cleats and gear together Dad, Joe, and Dave headed about a ½ mile downstream to an area they like and I went to the head of the flats just below the Trestle Pool. There were about six other guys on the far side, who seemed to be in the same group, working eggs sacks and floats with noodle rods. There wasn’t anybody near me on the side is was on and there was a nice deep bowl right out from shore with just a tad of current. A little slow to swing with a polyleader and not get snagged, but the fly could be dragged and stripped to keep it off the bottom and impart good action.

I had already put a new piece of tippet on last night, so I put my rod together and tied on a tube fly which is a variation of one of Ken Sawada’s tube flies. 1 ½” long plastic tube with pearl flat braid body for the rear half, at the mid-point blue squirrel tail top and bottom, front body of pearl flat braid with blue squirrel tail top and bottom, purple Lady Amherst tail as a collar, and a dyed red Golden Pheasant Crest for a topping. I thought it might be a little on the bright side with a lack of natural movement, but it did have something going for it………it was different.

I worked a little bit of line out to cover the water in close while overhearing the guys across the stream. The current was so slow the line had to be slowly stripped in to give the effect of current, and I added a few short, sharp strips for added motion. I kept stripping two to three feet of line out for each cast until I was covering a good part of the river, but not interfering with the guys across on the other side. As I was working line out, a few of the guys had hooked fish and lost them due to using light lb test. It was nice to see a few hookups because if there some fish over there, some had to be in front of me as well. On about my 15th cast, the line was out and swinging very slow, so I made three strips and paused. The line kept swinging slow and I went to make the same three strips and pause, but on the second strip the line pulled back and I set the hook out of instinct.

The rod had a nice bend in it and the fish came running right to me so I had to strip in line quickly. The fish then took off, pulled most of the loose line out of my hands, splashed on the surface and I got to see that it was a steelhead…..sweet!! The steely played nice and stayed right in front me, made a few very short runs and came right to shore. It was a nice little male steelhead about 6 lbs with a pretty nasty lamprey wound one side. I took a quick picture, revived him and he vigorously took off to the deeper water. Awesome!! What a great way to start the day.

Checked my knots and re-tied the tube fly hook onto my line just to be ready for the next one. The tippet didn’t get stretched out too bad so I left it on the end of the polyleader. I began working line out like I had before, but started moving down river a little more quickly to cover some fresh water. The guys across the way were still hooking a fish here and there, but none of them could land any and every one them broke off as opposed to the hook coming free.

I was just downstream of them when a drift boat started to come down the river close to my side. I fit in one more cast before the boat got close to me and one of the guys across the river hollers, “The fish are right here!! Anchor about 10 ft upstream of that guy and start fishing. If he doesn’t like it, tell him to go F$%# himself!!” I don’t what that guy had against me, and I felt like shouting back but it wasn’t worth it in the long run. The two guys in the drift boat asked how I was doing and I told them I just got one and wasn’t even fishing the bottom. They both said, “Cool, keep it up!” then told me they had done pretty well upstream. After saying good luck to each other, they kept floating downstream and I kept working downstream.

I fished through the rest of the run with no luck, although some different guys hooked up and landed a few on eggs as I walked by them. I hit all the likely areas and fished some water that was a tad too fast for my liking this time of year, but it was a challenge getting a cast out between branches and tough to keep the fly swinging slow enough. If something was going to take the fly it was going to be explosive. One of those things that keeps you swinging day in day out….the take is great and the tug is the drug. The harder the strike, the more you want it to happen again.

I caught up with Dad, Joe, and Dave to get the scoop on how their morning of fishing turned out. Dave hooked up with a steely right off the bat, but it headed downstream and wasn’t to be. Joe hooked one or two but didn’t land them and my Dad didn’t get a take either.

After lunch Dad wanted to go back to Pineville to try and repeat his performance from yesterday afternoon. Joe and Dave went back to the LFZ to find some space and find some fish.

There were only a few trucks in the Pineville parking lot and a bunch of trucks with trailers for the driftboats. Most of the people seemed to be right around the Pineville Bridge so we headed downstream to where Dad wanted to fish. Nobody was down there so he hopped in where he was yesterday afternoon.

There was some nice water above him that caught my eye, but it was going to be tricky wading around some small fallen trees, and even tougher casting. Took my time getting into the river and waded out just far enough to have room to cast. I figured my Dad had the Purple Mahogan on, so I figured I would put one on too, except mine was brown with a touch of copper. Haven’t hooked one on this fly yet, might as well give it a go. I got my self situated and worked some line out to cover the water in close. No takers in close, so stripped out a little more line after each cast until I was able to fish all of the “good” water.

I started stepping my way down the run after each cast, keeping an eye out for branches in the water from the downed tree which was pointed almost straight downstream. It was a tricky little area so I was making a game plan in my head in case I get a take. I got passed the tip of the downed tree so I was home free as far as wading was concerned. There were still a few downed branches to deal with however.

The water was great at this point. There was a heavy current on the far side, and the majority of water in front of me was about waist to chest deep, at moderate speed, with just enough chop on the surface. The substrate was just right too. I had my hopes up and kept telling myself to drop the line if the time came.

About four steps downstream of the downed tree I made a decent cast that was slightly downstream of me. The line barely turned over, so I made a little mend to get the line tight and held the tip of my rod out towards the center of the water to keep the line swinging smoothly. The fly swung downstream and I followed with the tip of the rod until the rod was in the normal holding position for me.

Just as I got comfortable holding the rod, the line was yanked out of my fingers. I raised the rod to the side to set the hook, there was a nice boil and the fight was on!! Yeah baby!! My Dad turned and looked upstream to see the fish come up and boil again then take off downstream towards him. The reel was singing its song and I was hanging on, enjoying the energy I felt through the rod. This fish felt pretty strong in the current, but I didn’t know how big it was.

I was in a bad spot to land the Steelhead because of the downed tree, plus there were a lot of branches in the water close to shore. There was also a tree below me that had long, low hanging branches that poked out over the stream. I started heading downstream in knee deep water, watching out for obstacles, and reeling as I went. The Steelhead had stopped its downstream run and was slowly making its way back up towards me. It got a little hairy when I was going under the overhanging tree branches because the Steelhead was at a rod lengths away, and I had to hold the rod at a weird angle to get around everything.

A few more steps and I would be home free. The Steelhead took off on short run out into the heavy current and didn’t budge for a little while, so I kept steady pressure on her. She began to come closer little by little, but she was strong and used the current and her fins the best she could. I kept the pressure on and finally she rolled onto her side so I could lead her to the shallow water near shore. I kept her in the water and corralled her in between two tussets of grass. I took a quick picture and passed the camera to my Dad so he could take a few pictures as well. She was tough to handle and kept flopping and writhing around so I got her back in the water, revived her for a little bit and off she went. She was a pretty fish that was just starting to turn a little dark.

I took a short break to dry off my hands and tie on a new piece of tippet. My Dad hopped back in the run after changing flies and started to work the water again. By the time I was ready there was enough room to hop in above him so I started over again with the same fly.

Things were quiet for about a half hour and we both had covered a good amount of water. I made a few longer casts and felt a tug one of them, but I didn’t drop the loop. Darn, I never gave the fish enough slack to suck the fly into its mouth. Checked my rigging and the sharpness of the hook and all was good so I started casting again.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see my Dad set the hook and his rod starts bucking up and down. He looked upstream and gave me a whistle, but I had already began reeling in my line. I got to the shore, headed downstream while getting my camera out, got closer to him and took a picture. I got closer to him and got a good look at the Steelhead he had on and could tell it was about the same size as the one I landed earlier. He had it on for a little while longer and was about to lead it to shore when the hook came free.

He was a little disappointed but happy at the same time. I asked him where the fish took during the swing and he said, “At the very end of the swing, the fly was just hanging there for a second and he nailed it!!”
That was it for the evening. We fished a little while longer without any more takers so we hit the trail, got in the truck and went back to the room to clean up before dinner.

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