So I was finally able to sneak away from work for a few days and hit a favorite summer run stream to the north. It has been far too long since I last visited these fabled waters and skated a dry through its boulder strewn runs and tailouts. It's not a place with big numbers of fish but what is there is a special race of wild steelhead that give their heart and soul if hooked. Key word being"if"!
I have spent many fish less days on this river. There are also days where 5-6 fish might rise to the dry fly only to refuse it, causing your heart to skip a beat. You think that she might come back on the next cast in hopes that the fly sticks and the Hardy starts to sing. Nothing happens, but that's fairly typical here.
Your mind often starts to wander and the process of cast, swing, step gets repetitive. Just as you think it might be another one of "those" days, the atypical happens. Your fly is skating through a ledgy tailout when all of a sudden the water erupts in the vicinity of the fly. The fly is gone and a split second later, line is being ripped off that signing Hardy at a high rate. At the same time, the fish is cartwheeling out of the water at almost head height. How the hell do these fish jump that high while still pulling backing off the reel. The fish finally stops once the line is wrapped around a rock. All you feel is tension on the line and nothing is moving. Did the fish wrap you around a rock and come loose? Only to approach the rock and change the direction of pressure does the fish scream downriver into the backing again looking for more rocks to hide around. Minutes pass and not much line is gained.
Do these fish ever give up? Not easily. A couple of more jumps and head shakes and she finally breaks for some softer water. Here is my chance, after following this fish 150 plus yards downstream over ledgerock and boulders, does she finally start to tire in a slower pool. As she nears the bank, it is one of the strongest, most hard fighting wild hens I have ever landed. Something I will never forget, until maybe another fish falls to a skated muddler!
Salmon fishing with Jack Harrell June 2017
19 hours ago