side drifting

When life gives you lemons…..

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been catching many fish in the past 4 months. THIS IS RARE! I had a phenomenal winter steelhead season and since we’ve switched gears to springers, I’ve been in quite the rut. A normal springer season for me means having anywhere between 15-20 springers tagged on my license and Jeff the same. This year, Jeff had about 10 and I have an unbelievable TWO! One of them was a plug fish while trolling so I really don’t count that as MINE unless I was on the motor AND I landed it.

This is really the first year that we’re targeting summer steelhead on a regular basis and it’s not proving to be any better for me than springers this year. I’ve been out a few times and still had yet to get the first summer run of the year and still am not even catching any kings! The boat as a whole is doing great and we’ve taken A LOT of new people out so I spend a lot of time tying leaders, baiting hooks, and getting out tangles, but I was still VERY discouraged that I have only caught 5 fish (3 downriver steelhead) in the past 4 months.

I had VERY high hopes for Saturday with a boat full of our oldest fishing buddies and amazing weather. I was going to get the biggest and best making all of this suffering worth it. I was sadly mistaken when I still landed nothing and our buddy Ben got his 2 kings, one being an extraordinary 15 lbs and chrome bright.

On Sunday, I had damn near given up by 9 AM. Feeling defeated and discouraged, I was contemplating taking a few weeks off fishing and finding some witch doctor to cure me of this curse. Months of my prayers and/or begging the heavens for a fish were going unanswered, the weather was dreary, and nothing sounded better than to put my rod down, drink a beer, and take a nap and beer on the bow of the boat. I continued to fish my hardest and held back my tears of frustration after 2 rods were broken within 30 minutes.

Around noon Jeff finally hooks into a little summer run! I surprisingly wasn’t angry, and was very happy for some excitement. The motors still scare the living bejesus out of me, but I jumped right on them and worked with him to get the fish netted. Unfortunately, that little native steelhead did one jump and snapped the leader (I swear I did NOT tie that one!).

We went back up to hit the slot again and to my GREAT surprise, I had a fish on!!!! All I could hear was my reel screaming and all I could see was my high vis line heading for the snags. I finally got a fish and there’s no doubt it’s one helluva fish!

After a few LONG minutes of the fish playing hide and seek under the boat and through the motor, we landed this native summer run. She thankfully only jumped once and all my friends now, I panic when fish jump. I don’t like it at all!

I’m all smiles for the rest of the day and GLADLY watch each person land a fish for the rest of the day. We ended up going 2 for 3 on summer run and 2 for 2 on kings (jack only). We fished new water and I broke the curse!

So, when life gave me lemons I prayed and begged and when that didn’t work, I held back my frustration and fished on. I didn’t quite make lemonade, but I didn’t give up and I ended up being greatly rewarded. Let’s hope I can get my groove back! :)

Here are a few more of some other fish that we caught this weekend!

A fish for everyone

 

I couldn’t have asked for a better 2 days of fishing! We headed south with Jeff’s dad and 2 very good family friends and it was definitely a trip to be remembered.

His dad’s fishing phrase “we always catch fish when I’m in the boat” has only been untrue one time (it was a boat issue, not fishing). He somehow, and I say somehow because if you saw him fishing you wouldn’t understand it either, landed the first fish! Not only do we not know how he happened to be the first one to get a take-down, he high stuck his rod right into Jeff’s while he was reeling up and the weight prevented Gordon from being able to reel any farther. As the fish darted towards the boat the bobber floated back up the to surface and the line went slack. Thank goodness for barbed hooks because after about a minute of slack line, the fish was still on! Gordon still couldn’t reel up despite having gotten out MOST of the mess at his rod tip. Jeff had to HAND LINE in a 12 lb steelhead all to realize it was a downriver wild fish. Luckily it was a little tired and we could quickly remove the hooks before it decided to take off again :)


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Keep your chin up

Along with a new boat means new fisheries, new techniques, and essentially starting over. Instead of the “cowlitz experience” that we were so looking forward to this winter, we’re spending our weekends putting effort into a new fishery so we can really have that experience. We side drifted and bobberdogged for the third trip so far this year only to see fish in basically every one else’s boat, and nothing for us. One little change up and I hit one first pass, but didn’t end up landing it and left the river with a stomach full of humble pie and the longing for that chrome bullet.

Knowing that not every trip will be as successful as the salmon fisheries we got to try this year, we were prepared for a few “skunks” but I certainly wasn’t expecting this many. And not just always in the boat, even bank fishing for winter runs, chum fishing the Nisqually, I’ve gone high and dry for weeks! But staying motivated and positive is what is going to make my next fish so much more special. I’m sure, a fish I won’t forget.

So when you’re new to fishing and can’t seem to catch a break, know that even experienced fishermen have bad periods and make every time you get to go out really count. Fish hard, stay positive, and remember, you can’t catch a fish if your line’s not in the water. I’m still hopeful for next weekend, but am just taking this down time with a grain of salt and learning more than I learn on a day that I catch my limit. Fishing is always about learning and improving and sometimes that means taking a few skunks, losing a few games, and going home with a long face.