native steelhead

It’s important to enjoy who you fish with

I love fishing with this lady! We have quite the good time out on the water no matter what the circumstances or conditions :)

Plus she’s a fish slayer! It’s not too often that we get to fish together, but a couple weeks ago we got to spend the entire day from dawn to dusk hitting it hard. The result was that she went 2 for 3 on some extremely nice fish and while learning a brand new technique :)

 

 

The Sweet Release

I didn’t go fishing last weekend for a number of reasons, including a ton of rain, homework, and a very important meeting on the Chehalis basin. So this weekend, I was beyond excited to go fishing and release some stress! I put the homework away at 8 PM on Friday and turned on the TV. I hadn’t put homework away before 11 PM for the last 10 days and it felt so good!

We woke up Saturday and I was wide-eyed and ready to go. Like when we go out for our first springer trip of the year, neither of us sleep the night before and we both wake up before the alarm clock and don’t sleep on the way down there.

I was a  bit off my game and wasn’t paying very much attention at first. I’ll admit, all I could think about was how I needed to schedule my weekend and what homework I was going to accomplish before Monday morning. I was still having a good time, but I wasn’t relaxing like I should have been. Thankfully, the cards clearly knew how stressed I was and made it work for me anyways!

To be honest, I’ve never caught a steelie on a pink worm! EVER! I haven’t really fished them much and my confidence in them was a little low unless I was on the OP chasing wild steelhead. This year, I said I wanted to fish a worm until I caught one so Jeff tied up a bunch of worm leaders. Good thing about being busy, I get out of leader duty except while I’m on break :)

I was still being a bit lazy and absent minded and was trying to drink my energy drink when my float went down. Of course it happens at this very moment when I’m not looking and I only have one free hand. I throw down my water bottle and set the hook with just a tiny bit of force and feel very subtle headshakes. “That’s a fish”. Maybe a trout or sucker fish, but a fish for sure. It quickly came in continuing with the subtle headshakes enough for me to tell everyone else to stay in the water because this wasn’t keeper.

We only had about 2 ft of visibility so we had to get it all the way to the surface next to the boat to see what it was and as fast as we realized it was a big beautiful steelhead, it realized what was going on and went ape-shit crazy. It started bulldogging me like a king and doing quick, short runs. I kept my calm (which is rare) and so did the rest of the boat as we began working as a team getting rods out of the way, net ready, motor ready, and drag loosened. I was playing this baby to the finish. I wanted to savor every second of this fight and make sure I did everything I could to make sure I kept him on the hook. One big 20 yard run was enough for that feeling to go away. Drag tightened, and I’m laying down the wood. I won’t lose this fish.

 

We get it in the net and head to shore for a quick pic. The beautiful rose blushed buck was just what I needed to feel the sweet release of stress. This is what I live for and this is why I have sleepless nights during the week so I can get my homework done. What was I doing thinking about regular life stuff on the river?! How dare I bring that on the boat and bring that into Mother Nature’s world. This was not the time or place for that.

I took water in the boot and water up my sleeve and felt nothing but sheer, joyous release as we let the 14 lb wild buck go. I was done. That was all I needed all weekend.

 

Of course, I wanted to see more and went back out on Sunday to see if we could get some more but we were left empty handed. Jeff was really disappointed, but I was satisfied. In fact, I was grateful. I would have been happy with a 7 lb hatchery fish and I was blessed with a beautiful 14 lb native buck with the prettiest shade of pink on his cheeks. Bring it on work week!

whew!!!!! That was cold!

It’s good to laugh at yourself!

For safety reasons, I don’t wear my waders when we are on the sled and sometimes even the drift boat. If I fall in, I would rather have on pants that open at the top and bottom then waders, even with a belt. So, occasionally I take on water over my boots when launching or taking out the boats, but it’s usually just a small amount and almost always when I’m taking out so it doesn’t matter.

I have never run into the situation where I needed to take a picture with a wild fish when I’m in just my boots and rain pants, but there’s a first time for everything!

It was really quite cold outside and we only hooked one fish Saturday afternoon, so I wasn’t expecting anything Sunday morning. Of course our buddy Lloyd predicted that I would catch the first fish (and he’s always right). Sure enough, first pass in the first hole, “There’s a fish!”. I almost thought this fish was a snag because she immediately ran upstream and just peeled line off my reel. She ran both away from and straight towards me and like most fish, found it safest right underneath the boat. Why do they do that?! So we cut the motors as I try to bring her out and she goes running straight out into a few cartwheels. “Man I hate when they do that! Please stop jumping!”

After about 2 minutes (which by the way, felt like 10), I brought her to the boat near the bank. As I head out to snap a quick picture, I give my camera to our other buddy who says my internal memory is full and I only one shot. Great! I forgot to put the memory card back in. “That’s fine, just take a picture so I can release the fish”.

Right as I kneel down, I feel a huge surge of water fill my boot! “AHHHHHH! Did you get it? Okay, I don’t care, my foot’s wet”. I immediately released the fish knowing that I saw one flash and I was sure the pic was just fine. What are the odds he snapped the shot as soon as that “AHHHHHHH” came out of my mouth? Apparently very likely because this is what I ended up with :)  

I spent the next hour with my socks off, sitting next to the heater while the rest of the boat fished. I played caddy and tied leaders and baited hooks, but had no idea how I would manage to get my boot dry. I decided that wasn’t going to happen and you can’t catch a fish if your line’s not in the water! I put a plastic bag over my foot and took the extra sock on my other foot and slipped right back into my boot!

A day and fish that I won’t forget and a picture to remind me in case I ever do :)

The injured Willie

This weekend was certainly not the best weekend, but they can’t all be full of smiles and fish on the end of our hooks, can they? It started off great with the Sportsman Show Friday night, however I was hanging out at the NW Sportsman magazine booth so I didn’t get to mingle and check out all the product! Jeff did enough of that and we got all the salmon floats we’ll need this year for dirt cheap!

Saturday morning was great too! Not many people out (I assume all at the show especially because all the water is low, low, low and clear, clear, clear. Ever since we had the cold weather, the motor hasn’t been running the best but we ended up stranded on the river with no power to the main motor. Luckily, we ran into another boat who stopped to help and offered many ideas, finally coming to conclusion that someone needs to go get the truck, and the boat goes down river to the next takeout.

I was the lucky winner of being the shuttle and the very funny gentlemen in the boat certainly turned my frown upside down! Knowing it would take them a bit longer to get to the next launch than me, we fished a little bit on the way up! I finally got to the launch and the boys were nowhere to be seen. I got to take a nice, long nap!

We headed home too late to make it to the sportsman show so that I could actually walk around. Although it was not a good day at all and Sunday was spent trying to troubleshoot and find someone to fix the motor, Jeff did get a wee bit of action before the motor went; A nice 14lb wild fish on an old sack of roe.

I got to run the boat a tiny bit while he fought the fish and I did watch an 8 yr old kid drive the boat onto a trailer and that was the swift kick in the butt that I needed. Jeff has been trying to get me to learn to run the boat since we got it and more than anything, I’m afraid of going fast. The only sport I was ever good at was cheer and we luckily were stationary! You can throw me in the air, I’ll throw you in the air and I let you fall on me before you hit the ground, however going fast is not something that I do. I failed at many sports because I hate going fast, but now I have no choice. If an 8 yr old can do it, I can certainly get comfortable doing it! Next task to master: running the sled; provided it’s up and running soon!