Saturday morning Eric and I got up early while my dad slept in and stayed warm. We bundled up, loaded the truck and headed to the UFZ since Eric was only up until Sunday afternoon. Upon arriving at the Paradise pool, I hear someone calling me and recognize a three friends from home. We bs for a bit and I ask them if I can hop in below them, as Eric went down to the next pool downstream.
Boy was it raw out with some nice wind gusts and an occasional snow squall for the first hour or two. Since I had permission, I started to swing the tailout of Paradise with the same setup and fly from yesterday, except a fresh knot at the hook. For some reason I wasn't feeling the purple Mahogan and decided to switch to an Irish Crayfish in black.
One of the guys above me hooked one on a small nymph and I helped him land it and we took a nice group photo. About a half hour after I resumked fishing I looked downstream to see how Eric was doing and I see him backing up with a nice bend in his rod. I keep watching intently from afar as he plays the steelhead out and begins to land it when the hook comes undone and off she goes.
That got me warmed up a tad so I battened down the hatches a little more and focused on my casting due to the wind. I felt a few small tugs and dropped the loop but nothing was on the end. No matter, my confidence was high and after a few more casts I got a heavier tug. The line was almost straight below me when I felt some weight so I dropped the loop, the line came tight, and I set the hook. A nice, fairly colored up fish comes rolling up on top and heads out to deeper water.
It felt so nice to have a fish on for a little while, since I was practically skunked during the last tip in October. "Keep the line tight and a good bend in the rod and everything will work out," I kept telling myself. A few more small runs, some splashing and headshaking then into shore he came. WOOHOO!! What a great start to the day.
Well that warmed me up a bit, so I changed my tippet like I do after landing any size steelhead, and put the same fly back on for some more action. I fished another 1/2 hour or so then headed down to where Eric was to see how he was doing and see what happened on that first fish. We chatted as Eric kept fishing, then I see his indicator stop, he sets the hook and a nice steelhead comes up headshaking that tears off into the heavy flow and breaks off.
Eric had been doing good on a chartreuse glo-bug and said that first steelhead made his indicator jump uspstream at least a foot. He said the hook popped on the first one and lost another one that was touch and go.
As Eric was re-tying his tippet he asked if I wanted to swing a fly through the area so I said "Heck yeah!!" I decide to start slightly higher in the run to get a better swing. Nothing at first so I start moving downstream to get out of Eric's way since he was about ready to begin fishing again. I get below his spot and the river widens a tad and makes a nice little tailout with some structure.
I make a cast to swing the crayfish in front of a seam created by a large rock, and the line goes flying out of my hand and this steelhead heads downstream cartwheeling, jumping, and thrashing all over the place. I don't know how the barbless hook stayed in but it did thankfully. The steelhead calmed down a bit and I was able to recover the lost line and get him out of the current so I would hopefully have some advantage. Things worked out and I was able to get my hands on him for a quick picture. YEAH BABY!! Two nice steelhead on the swing and it isn't even lunch time yet!!
I put a new piece of tippet on and tied the same crayfish back on the business end as Eric got back to his spot and began fishing again. About 10 casts later I hook up on a small but very fat steelhead that had a lot of gusto. He came in flopping all over the place so we took a quick picture and I let him go to get back to egg munching.
That was it for the morning session. The snow was coming down heavy and the wind was blowing hard, so Eric and I decided to head back to the truck. It was a little sketchy at first with the white out conditions, but it lightened as we neared Pulaski.
We grabbed some lunch, went back to the room and warmed up for the afternoon. It was also time for my dad to get out on the water since the snow headed north to Tug Hill.
After lunch we headed back to the UFZ, but there were too many cars to make the walk to the river worthwhile. We turned around and headed to the mid-river area to find some room for everyone to fish pleasantly.
We hiked downstream to a favorite run and found out it was a little crowded, but there was room for Eric and a spot further downstream that my dad and I could share. I hopped in first, fished in close, then kept working line out until it was time to take a step downstream and cover more water. I had the same black Irish Crayfish tied on since it worked earlier. Who knows...maybe a forth tug?
The wind was still a challenge to cast against, but every so often the sun would poke through the clouds and the wind would calm down. Then it would gust so hard it was easier to wait to cast then try to cast. I repeated the cast and step process and managed to keep the hook from hitting from me in some un-reachable location.
During one of the swings, not long after the fly hit the water, I felt a weight on the end of the line so I dropped the loop. As the line was going out I set the hook to soon instead of waiting for it to come tight. I felt to heavy head shakes when the rod bucked, then there was nothing there. Darn!! Oh well at least I had a 4th tug in one day!! Same fly too.....guess I should tie a few more!!
I kept working downstream and my father hopped in above me and started working some line out. He settled into a nice rhythm, which was then abruptly interrupted when he got near the same area I had just had a tug. I hear him say "YEAH!" and when I look upstream I see his rod bent over, hear his reel sing, then I see a nice steelhead jumping down the river causing a ruckus.
This steelhead did not want to come in, even when my dad got him out the current. He kept on thrashing and rolling, making short little runs. He finally got tuckered out and dad led him over to me. I landed him in the shallows and noticed a an Orange Heron right in the corner of the jaw. Sweet!! I gave dad a fist bump and then took a few quick pictures before the steelhead bolted off.
We all fished until evening, but that was the only fish in the afternoon. It was getting quite cold so we all decided to head back to Whitakers and I made some Jambalaya for dinner. MMMMMMM!!