Tuesday, December 14, 2010

11/23/10 Swinging in 3500+ cfs

After a good nights rest we all woke up and wondered what the day would bring. We new rain was in the forecast, but were'nt sure how high the river was going to be due to run off. The previous night 1800 cfs was on the chlkboard at Whitakers.

Dad and I were ready so we hit the road and headed to the UFZ, but before we get to 2A I look down towards the river and whoa!!! Dad look!! The island is under water!!...it wasn't like that yeasterday!! It's gotta be at least 3500 cfs.

We kept going and arrived at the fly zone but there were too many cars parked. We called Dave and Matt and to let them know we were heading back to the shop to devise a game plan.

While we were in the shop, we confirmed the flow of 3500cfs, and several other anglers came in and said the trib we had in mind was blown. After playing with the dog and BS'ing for a while we decided to go to 2A and see if we could make it up to the Compactor Hole.

It must have taken us a half hour to get up there. The water near the road was waist deep and the next crossing was just too deep to try so we went the back way to find a place to cross safely. After some hiking in the woods we managed to cross and get to the big river. We just looked at each other and laughed as if we all couldn't believe we were going to try and fish, but we did.

We all fished hard but there wasn't any takers for us to play with, but we still had fun. Everybody stayed safe and worked the water hard but it wasn't meant to be. At least we knew how to get back to the truck safely.

During lunch we tried to figure out where to go next, and we decided to stop at Altmar to see how things were. Not much better, but I did see a friend and asked them how they did in the morning. He said they did great in the UFZ and when they left there was only one guy there.

We hopped back into the vehicles, arrived at the UFZ and hastily made our way to the river. It sounded nasty from the road and becamed extremely loud as went down the trail. It looked even worse, but there was room to fish amongst the brush and the 3 other kind anglers we shared the run with that afternoon.

I asked one of the guys if we could fish below him and he said "Sure!! Thanks for asking...just give me some room when I have a steely on." I said "No problem!!"

Dad found a small opening in the brush to fish from and was the first one to hook up. I looked downstream and saw a fish thrashing around while his rod was bucking all over the place. I reeled in and grabbed the net to help him land it wherever we could do so. The sweet female made some great runs and we both thought she was going to head to the next pool but she stayed in the run.

Dad did a heck of a job playing her and led here right into the net. Yeah Baby!! A steelhead on the swing in 3500+ runoff!! Who would of thought. We tried to get a picture but she wasn't having any part of it and splashed off into the dark water. It was a nice fish too. Still somewhat silver and very clean looking with a touch of color.

I went back to where I was fishing and decided to change to a conehead Swarn-A-Bugger, but before tying it on I slid an orange bead on the line. After I had the fly tied on the un-pegged bead would slide down to the fly and give it an egg sucking look.

After about 10 casts, the fly hits the water and drifts about 5ft and right before it starts swinging, the line gets pulled out of my hand so I set the hook. Straight out in front of me a big male steely comes up crashing the surface, takes a jump and motors downstream. The reel is singing and I am loving the rain hitting me in the face while the wind howls. Nothing like having a fish on that puts the weather in the back seat.

After some hard downstream runs I work him back upstream where Dave gave me a hand landing him. WOOHOO!! A nice thick male and just like dad's steelhead, this one didn't want a photo either. It was tough enough to get the hook out, but as soon as I did, two big tail swipes and he was gone.

Dave was next to hook up about 30 minutes later. I hear him hollar and I look up at him to see his line near me but the steelhead is jumping upstream of us!! "Your going to have fun with this one Dave!! Keep him tight," I yelled to him. He did and he also had a heck of a fight on his hands. The steelhead just didn't want to come in when it got close. Dave tuckered her out though and led her right to me and I scooped her up in the net. Again, another riled up fish that took off before we could get a picture and we were ready with the camera too.

Dave got re-rigged and about 5 minutes later he hooks another one!! This one takes off downstream and goes nuts for the first part of the fight. The hook stayed put and Dave fought this one better then the first one he landed. Even though it thrashing around in the shallows, Matt did a good job netting her for his father.

Dave did his little steelhead whisperer inpersonation and we actually got a picture of this one.

Dad had one other good tug and had the steelhead on for a little while, but it came un-buttoned during some heavy head shaking. He had luck on the Swarn-A-Bugger too. It has became a big confidence fly for swinging over the past 3-4 years.

Dad and I flip flopped for a change of pace, so I decided to put on a Purple Swarn-A-Bugger with a pink bead in front of it. I didn't get a bump for a half hour or so, and began to step downstream to see if the fish slid out of the "swing zone." A few casts and nothing so I safely took a step downstream while holding on to the streamside brush.

I made another cast and it made all the way to the end of the swing and BAM!! A silver bullet comes flyng out of the water and sends water spraying everywhere on the re-entry. Boy did this fish pull hard. I thought the line was going to break or the hook was going to pull free with all the pressure I had on her. I had to stop her though or the battle would have been all over.

She stayed below me and did her darndest to get free, but none of her tricks worked. Dad came down with the net to help me land her and when she was ready I led her to him. Scoop....way to go dad!! I took the net, removed the hook and kept her in the water while did got his camera out. He said he was ready so I lifted her up and we took a quick photo. I held her in the water for a few seconds before she strongly swam away from me.

What a memorable day!! Dad and I landed 3 fish on the swing between us, fishing a flow of 3500+ cfs.....who would have thought? Not us, but we made the best of tough conditions and everybody stayed safe.

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