jeff eklund

A Blessed Start To The New Year

 

It’s our tradition to fish January 1st, no matter what the water conditions are. We actually had great conditions for Friday and headed out with our friend Trenton who is still a little green to the fishing sport.

We ended up getting to be first boat down the river and in the very first hole, I hooked up. You’d swear I never fought a fish in my life. Jeff loosened all the drags the night before (because it’s bad for the reels to always have the drag tightened) and we forgot to tighten them back up. It was a big huge steelhead mess as I tried to find the right tension while fighting a fish that had free reign over my line. I ended up losing that but we got all the rest of the drags set appropriately :)

After the third hole, we found a pod a fish. It took a bit of work pulling the boat back upstream after each fish, but we managed to go 2/3 out of that hole.

The rest of the day had the same landing ratio, but we had a great time. Jeff likes to get the boat limited, even if he doesn’t want to bring home any fish so he was a little frustrated that we ended up going 4/10 when there was 3 of us and we should have had all 6 hatchery fish by 9 AM. Trenton and I had a fantastic time and got quite a few laughs in despite our “sometimes grumpy captain that let a few swear words slip.”

We were headed back to the river with our friend Andrew Saturday morning and we noticed that it was a bit foggy and icy when we left the house. The morning was full of ironies which we realized after the next thing happened…..

We were headed on I5 south near Nisqually when out of nowhere, we began sliding. Jeff was driving, Andrew was front passenger, and I was behind the driver seat. What seemed like the next 30 seconds was probably only 4 seconds. We slid across 4 lanes on the freeway, hit the guardrail, and flipped a few times eventually landing upside down in the far right lane. The boat thankfully detached sometime between hitting the guardrail and flipping and ended up in front of the truck about 50 feet.

After we stopped moving, we all gave our noises indicating we were okay and got ourselves out of the truck and off the freeway immediately. Thankfully, a few others stopped to call 911 for us and ensure that we were in relatively good condition. Jeff took an ambulance ride for some minor back discomfort and some X-Rays just to be cautious. The drift boat, rods, tackle, waders, etc were all recovered and in perfect condition to our knowledge. The truck on the other hand, isn’t going to seeing anymore boat launches.

I shared on Facebook around 11 AM and the support and concern was overwhelming. Literally, overwhelming and I ended up turning my phone off so that I could try to get some rest. We are all still doing fine other than some bruises and soreness. I’ve experienced a lot of support from our fishing community but this was by far the most. There were several people in the morning that made posts regarding the accident just sending prayers and wishes to the unknown victims. A few friends drove by and recognized our truck and stopped to check on us although we had already left the scene for the hospital. The amount of prayers we received reinforced my feeling of love and support from our amazing industry and circle of friends that share our passion. It just goes to show that fishing is so much more than a fish.

It wasn’t the way we wanted to start our New Year, but we are all feeling blessed beyond words. The Man Upstairs had his angels looking out for us and I’m a great believer that everything that happens to us, was supposed to happen. There is no doubt that we were meant to be in that accident and walk away essentially unscathed. Who knows if I’ll ever find a reason or understand why, but perhaps it’s just to keep us grateful for our lives.

Cowlitz Lemonade

It seems as though I have let life get in the way of fishing again. And when I think about it like that, I tend to obviously think that life events take a precedence over fishing until I get to a burdened point in life and finally realize why. It’s not that fishing should remain more important that life events, but that fishing is my release for life’s lemons and I quickly forget how to make lemonade. Once I realize that the steps to making lemonade include fishing, my life seems to fall back into place.

I’ve gone out here and there over the past month, but my heart was heavy, fishing felt like a chore and I couldn’t take my mind off the things going on at home, and I wasn’t catching which probably contributed to the slump that I was in. I go through this process about 2 times a year and thankful to say that I’m over this one and I was anxious and eager to hit the river bright and early Saturday morning.

We’re in springer mode although the thought of actually putting fish in the boat is always at the top of the list so we hit the Cowlitz to target a bit of springers, but get some blood in the box by targeting steelhead as well. I got out of slump hooked up for about 5 seconds only to be left with a bare hook and a happy steelhead that got away. I did manage to land one which I was quite excited about!

Brothers Jerry and Jason also got into some nice ones!

Sunday I was feeling even better and even more excited. We headed to Blue Creek and first pass, Zack gets a fish on! Second pass, my turn! Well this was a good way to start the day! Shall we try 3 for 3 passes? We unfortunately weren’t so fortunate, but we ended up with 4 in just a couple of short hours before it slowed way down.

Jeff always runs the boat and anyone that knows me, knows how much I hate running the sled. I’m terrified, I’ll row a drift boat all day but the sled creates so much anxiety through my veins, that I cry. It’s expensive, powerful, fast and I don’t want to be the reason something happens to it. Well, Jeff hooked up and when it’s an average or small fish, he stays on the motor and fights the fish, but this time, it was a big, hot steelhead and he immediately ran to the front of boat which left me with the motor. As I try to remain calm, I’m delegating the others on the boat and trying my best to keep the boat around the fish and make it as easy as possible to get this fish in the net so Jeff can regain control of the boat.

Of course it’s not that easy. It was several minutes of shear torture (but no tears this time) as we drifted slowly towards the next corner which had a few ripples which means I might have to actually maneuver around them or lift the motor up. I’m warning Jeff that he better hurry up because I can’t do this and he just wants to patiently land this fish.

Finally! It’s in the net and I immediately go for his rod so he can get the motor. It was a very nice hen full of glorious eggs that will become the next batch of steelhead bait, but I needed a beer after that. It was entirely too much.

My life is still a little bit hectic, but much like running the boat, I’m getting better and better at the things that make me uncomfortable and are unexpected. Once I realize that the ripples aren’t as bad as they look and that I can do this, I am able to remember how to make lemonade :)

A Little bit of fishing before the rain

I didn’t have much time last week to blog, but last weekend we had a great day on Sunday with Jeff’s parents! I had to work on Saturday but Jeff and his buddies did pretty well for themselves. Jeff even got to shake hands with this beautiful hen and there was a couple more “first steelhead” for a few friends!

 

On Sunday I was determined to fish even though I had to head back into work that evening. We took Jeff’s parents out and right off the bat, we were bringing fish in the boat. We had a little confusion with how to reel (the spinning reels stay below the rod and if you reel towards yourself, the handle comes off) but after that was cleared up, we were fishing with perfection! Well, sort of :)

As usual, Jeff got the first fish in the boat. Then the second and decided his dad could reel that one in. Jeff must have passed on his good juju because then his dad was on fire! He hooked a total of 6 fish and we were off the river by noon!

This weekend the rain storm just started in and we had a big trip planned with Mike Z in Forks on Sunday, so we thought we’d mess around a little on Saturday. We headed out despite the rising rivers and pouring rain and while we only got one fish all day, it was another first! Our friend Jerry brought his brother out and he bared the rain and got his first steelhead! We headed out a little bit early because we started getting soggy and got rained out Sunday so we watched the Seahawks take another win home!

Kicking Off Steelhead Season!

I’ve been so busy with life lately, that I forgot how important fishing is! This quarter (school) along with out abundance of rain has kept me from the river for quite a while, but I’m back now and hopefully more regularly again! :)

I took the day off work on Friday to hit the river for our first steelhead trip of the year and was rewarded with this beauty:

There were quite a bit of small fish all weighing in under 8 lbs, but it was still great to be out there. Jeff, who runs HIS boat and always gets first water, landed 6 out of the 9 fish hooked that day! Saturday we took our buddy Patric, his girlfriend (a steelhead virgin), and our other buddy Trenton (also a steelhead virgin) and hooked 10! They were a bit bigger and we got Amanda and Trenton both of their first steelhead ever! Amanda even got her limit (2) and hooked 3!

I worked pretty hard all day keeping the rods rigged up and whenever that happens, I start to feel like it’s work and karma rewarded me with this beauty and the biggest of the day. Thank you Lady K for treating us all so fabulous on Saturday!

Being able to give people this kind of joy is what Jeff loves. He had a great time hooking 6 fish on Friday, but he had a much better time Saturday being able to assist with this kind of experience!

Bonus! Dime bright coho in almost January!

Saturday poured down rain so I was looking forward to a little sunshine this Sunday. We took out another Steelhead Virgin, and our buddy Zach. Everyone got to at least hook a fish, but I unfortunately lost mine! Ramsey got his first ever steelhead, Jeff put 2 in the box (again, that first water all day sort of thing ;) ) and Zach also landed a great hen to replenish the egg supply!

We’re hoping to carry on our New Year’s tradition this Thursday with another steelhead trip so I’m crossing my fingers that the weather permits it! Then, next weekend is my last weekend before it’s back to school for my second to last quarter and hopefully a nice, easy quarter :)

 

PS: After this weekend, I realized that it was time to break out my “go-to” warming techniques to keep me cozy and fishing while in freezing temperatures. I originally was going to direct this to the ladies only, but after all the whiny boys this weekend, I decided it can be helpful for everyone :)

1. Get a good layer of Insulation underneath your clothes. You know, the old Long Johns are actually great with today’s new technology. I don’t go fishing without Under Armour thermal pants and long sleeve shirts. Sometimes I’ll wear two cheap long sleeve athletic shirts as a substitute.

2. Fleece sweats are a must! When I first met Jeff 9 years ago, I made fun of him so much for wearing this ridiculous black fleece sweats with stirrups. Now, it’s either my brain that wised up, or my age that made me stop caring what I look like, but they are a must. There’s nothing warmer than fleece sweats.

3. Fingerless gloves WITH MITTENS. Ladies, I know, these are impossible to find in fishing departments to fit our tiny hands. Take yourself to Target and spend $5-$15. They have a huge selection and they are made for our dainty hands! They aren’t too expensive, and they even fleece and water resistant materials. Look for the ones with fingerless thumbs too so that you can tie knots and open bait loops.

4. Wear latex/nitrile gloves under them to keep your fingers from getting wet.

5. Put one Little Hottie Hand Warmer in each mitten. they’ll warm up the fingers in no time and I fish with my mittens on. The only time they come off is to cast (which I only remove one finger to hold the line) and to bait up!

5. While we’re talking about Little Hotties, if it’s really cold (or I’m feeling like a baby), I’ll stick them in my bra. If it’s too hot, wear 2 sports bras and put them in between. It’s at the core of your body so it keeps most of you really, really warm. You can also tuck one under your bra strap on your shoulder to keep your shoulders from getting sore. Therma Heat back warmers are the best, but expensive if you’re using on a regular basis.

6. Get your boots one or two sizes too big! I spent my first 2 years in boots too small and it took that long to realize my toes couldn’t wiggle and that’s why they got so cold!

7. Wear a normal pair of socks and then thick, cozy socks on top. Don’t get too tight of ones or you have the issue with number 6. I also don’t ever use the Little Hottie Foot Warmers because they don’t work unless air circulates and they bunch up at the feet.

8. Last but not least, bring an extra hoodie or rain jacket if it’s going to rain! You can change halfway through the day and voila! you get to wear dry clothes again

Hope you stay warm out there!