Friday, October 19, 2012

The Steelhead Experiment

 Grabbed my gear and took the camper down to the Salmon to fish on Monday,  Stayed till Thursday and fished every day.  As I drove down the road toward the Pine Bar boat launch I was a bit anxious. This was brought on by the fact that I left the house without a check book and if my usual "free" spot was taken then I would not have anything to pay for a spot in the campground.  I dropped the boat into the water and tied it to the bank.  I pulled the trailer forward to a spot out of the boaters way and dropped it off, then I quickly drove to a point where I could see the camp site. No one was there!  I dropped in and set up the camper.  Everything was complete, boat launched and camp set up in less than a half hour!

I walked up to the boat launch with my fishing gear and rowed the boat up river to the fishing spot, set my anchor and got my gear in the water.  For the next five hours I puttered in my tackle boxes sorting and cleaning.  I can say that I now have all my gear sorted and stowed according to color with no barbs on the hooks and no unneeded leader threads attached.

By sunset the fish had avoided my traps and it was getting dark so I rowed up river and ferried across to just below the camper.  I tied up the boat and mad sure the equipment was stowed safely away and then went up the my home on wheels for the evening.  Dinner was a delicious meal of Rice A Roni and a Kielbasa Hot Dog. The dog stayed with me most of the night and I will probably avoid indulging in the future.

Morning was cold and windy.  When I say windy, I mean blow you up stream windy! I fished the regular run all morning and Darren Upchurch arrived adding to the fishing power.  I rowed across the river, had lunch and then we were back over in the spot.  At about 3 PM Darren had a hit.  The fish struck his lure and immediately came out of the water in a spectacular splash.  It shook loose at the top of its' aerial and was gone.  Just enough excitement to keep us going.

Not long after the first hit Darren again got a take.  This time he fought it for quite a while.  We got a couple looks at it but could not see if it was a keeper or not.  It took a huge run and was gone.  That's steelhead fishing for you! That's probably why I love it so much.  Most of the time the fish wins and so the hunt continues.

The wind died a bit and we fished till dark and pulled the gear in returned to the camper for the evening.  We ate some pre-made Costco beef stroganoff meal that wasn't bad but I probably would not serve it again. After cleaning up we took the table down and made Darren a bed and then went off to sleep.

Next morning I fixed breakfast and we went back onto the water.  You get a lot of time to sit and look around.  This day was beautiful and the river setting could not be beat.  At exactly noon, I hooked up on a good one.  My lessons in the past made me very aware of my reel and the line drag.  I played the fish and she ran about five times.  Each time I controlled my drag and let her run.  When she tired I eased her close to the boat and noted that she was a keeper.  The keepers are missing their adipose fin which was removed at the hatchery. Wild steelhead have the fins and you can usually see them when the get close to the boat.  

I reeled her in close and got my net ready, she ran when she saw me but I got her back and she was tired.  I place the net under the water and guided her near. Just as I pulled her over the net she mas a final valiant kick and the lure came flying out of her mouth at me.  I rolled the net up and she was caught.  It was so close all Darren and I could do was laugh.

The excitement of the catch kept us going on into the evening and we called her quits just before dark. We had smoked beef tacos for dinner, then cleaned up and went to bed.  We both read for a while but it was lights outwith in the hour.

We woke up at the usual time and had a quick breakfast. We could see that Mike Wassmuth was already anchored over in the run.  We floated over and tried to get set up next to Mike.  Our anchor would not hold and we floated down river and pulled into shore.  We used our side winders off the bank and fished until about 11 AM.  We floated down to the takeout, then walked up and got the truck and camper.  Loading the boat was easy so we were headed home by about 12:30 PM.  The drive home was uneventful but I had a fish in the cooler and that was all that mattered.

Mike Wassmuth on Thursday.
Which one will be the one that works?
She was a 26" beauty!
Got her home and she was a true 26 incher.

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