winter run

Valentine’s Day

This weekend was definitely one for the ladies!

We headed out with an old high school friend and her boyfriend who happens to be as fishy as us and had a great day!

Not only was it great to catch up with her and get to know her boyfriend, they treated us with so much wonderful food! ahahaha. They are welcome to join us anytime and Jeff has designated Jess the official cook anytime she comes fishing :)

It was a little bit tough deciding where to go because we have recently gotten a lot of rain. Even when we got to the river, we were very skeptical about whether or not we would catch anything. After about 2 hours, Jeff finally hooks a nice little buck! 30 minutes later, Jess is hooked up! She’s only been fishing for a little over a year, but she picked up really quickly, goes often, and ended up out-fishing the boys (of course). When we have new friends join us, I always am quick to jump on the bow with them and make sure they are fighting the fish correctly so we can get their fish to the boat. I was ready to take this approach and she actually didn’t need my help! Steve has clearly taught her well and she was able to bring her fish to the boat like a pro!

She got this nice super hen shortly after Jeff’s fish

From that point on, there seemed to be a hook up every 30 minutes after that! Jess got another nice hen, although it was wild. I also got 2 fish, and unfortunately, our new friend, Steve, could only get trout to bite his hook.

Our friend Kari and Derrick also got a couple fish, but more importantly, she got this great hatchery hen on a yarnie!

There was a little joke that we had in our boat regarding a very optimistic co-worker of mine. He seems to be the most positive person on the planet, and even after just 10 minutes of conversation with him, you walk away feeling good about yourself and life. We decided to adopt his positivity and while Jess and Jeff designated themselves to his team, the whole boat ended up having a great time full of fish, laughter, and positivity.

So Jess and Steve, I hope we can fish again soon! A trip like that is exactly what I needed to take my mind off my studies and work :) Thank you guys!

1st Winter Steelhead Trip

We finally got to head back out fishing after the long closures in our state to ensure coho returned to the hatchery and to successfully spawn. The rivers were in shape, and we were anxious to hit the water!

Saturday started off pretty good as far as hook ups go, but not so great on the land ratio. We watched a few trees fall in from the dropping water (pressure against the loose banks from the high water is released as the river drops) and watched the dirt and mud follow creating almost no visibility for that bank. The lower in the river we went, the more clarity we lost and as the afternoon went on, we hooked up less and less.

Sunday was a very slow start but quite the opposite as Saturday. We went 8 for 10 so our landing ratio was great and we worked hard to stay above the falling banks and trees to keep our clarity. I think at the end of the weekend, we only hooked 2 fish on eggs! The rest were either on yarn balls, cured prawn, or sandshrimp rags.

My favorite presentation at Steelhead University this year was Cody Herman’s and this was the perfect time to put my new knowledge to use. It became a little joke because I was trying to convince the boat that the fish would hold on the opposite side of the river as the slide, even if the bank with the slide is where we would normally catch fish, inside and softer edges, maybe deeper, etc. I didn’t think the fish would want to swim/breath in the muddy river with all the silt because it gets in their gills, and their migration path would move from the bank to either the middle of the river, or the opposite side.

Jeff wanted to make fun of me, but we actually ended up catching over half of our fish on the opposite side of the muddy bank. Thank you Cody!!! It could be a variety of reasons why this happened including coincidence, but I was excited and felt that I was able to contribute to the captaining which is rare.

It was a great weekend and while I only landed 2 fish, one was this great 13lb hatchery buck. The rest of the boat landed hatchery hens so we got a few quarts of eggs to make up for what we weren’t able to get during coho season :)

Back at it next weekend and I get 3 days to fish! Then, I’m starting the last leg of my educational journey……..Starting to study for the CPA exams. Woohoo!

Last trip before it’s back to school

We rang in the New Year being completely skunked! It’s a tradition of ours to go out the first day of the new year and steelhead fish. We did just that and the river levels weren’t in the greatest condition so we headed to a place that we normally don’t fish until February because it was one of the only rivers in shape…….and we got skunked. Not even a bite! It was a great day and beautiful outside, but no fish.

We headed down to southern WA on Saturday and redeemed ourselves by landing a nice coho, a kelt, and went 3/4 on winter steelhead.

The first fish of the day was around 10 AM and my eyes were wondering to the houses along the river when Jeff saw my float go under “honey!!!!” The immediate reaction was simply to set the hook without even looking and sure enough, “Fiiissshhh”. It took off running down river and it was heading straight for a waterfall! Okay, it wasn’t really a waterfall, but it was some pretty gnarly rapids and I was still standing in the boat 100 feet upstream of the fish.

Jeff said “you’re gonna have to go chase it” and he picked me up like a child because the water was almost waist deep and while the fish continued to scream down river, I began running…..and running….and running. I’m not sure how I managed not to slip and fall and I dredged through the river and my fish headed around a corner. I just kept thinking, this is a blast, but there’s no way I’m going to get this fish. I was laughing the entire way and then I heard our buddy Curtis come stomping behind me with a net.

We’re huffing and puffing and the finally gets tired and brings itself to the bank. Wow! What a rush! And well, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve needed to be picked up out of the drift boat to chase a screaming winter run. ;)

The next fish wasn’t until about 1 PM and it was on a diver. Curtis was letting out one rod when mine started getting hit. We all take turns and because this was a diver fish, it’s fair game so I was going to let Curtis have it. Well his hands were full with the rod he was letting out so I snatched it up. To be honest, it didn’t fight much at all which I am now okay with, because it was a beautiful wild hen and I’d rather it come in quickly than to tire it out like the first fish.

The third fish was Curtis’s and the second to last place that we fish on the drift. Jeff was making fun of him because he was drifting a peach cheater and an uncured chunk of prawn. It was referred to as “snot”. Sure enough, he got slammed! And his “snot” produced a great hatchery buck.

We decided not to fish today (Sunday) since I technically start school today and the garage is a disaster, plus we’re in day one of a storm. So we’ll hopefully be back in shape for next weekend and I’ll get a bunch of homework done while he’s cleaning :)

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!