Against the Odds
Early 2015 has been vastly different than this time last year. Most everything was on complete lockdown last year, temps hovering in the single digits, with no end in sight. While 2015 hasn’t been spectacular by any means from a weather standpoint, it has still afforded a few opportunities to fish and not deal with frozen guides, anchor ice, and misery.
We decided to go against the grain a bit and pull streamers last weekend instead of making the logical choice and fishing steelhead on a smaller river system. This of course goes against conventional wisdom, as the conditions were far from ‘ideal’ for a good streamer bite.
Things started off better than expected when my Olive Boogie Man streamer got thumped in a deep run, I came tight – immediately putting a significant bend in my rod. I felt a few hard head shakes and then nothing – we never saw the fish, but we were encouraged by the relatively immediate action. Shortly after that Jeff from Fly Fish the Mitt, and streamer guru (he has a serious addiction that most likely requires an intervention – but who am I to ruin what I consider a good thing?) had a shot at a serious trout from a likely lie, but somehow did not get any hooks in him.
Then nothing…………..for many hours……………..it had already been better than we expected, but the early returns on our investment were overly encouraging and nearly set us up for failure as we immediately forgot that water temps were near 33 degrees, low and clear, and it was January!
Shortly after parking the boat and having a mid river chat with another group of pals that had launched shortly before us, things started to pick up once again.
Jeff narrowly avoided disaster while trying to net this fish – we both had lost track of where we were in relation to the bank and just as I begun lifting the fish towards the net, Jeff noticed that we were a mere feet away from going broadside into a log/tree combo that would have potentially caused havoc.
Soon after that Jeff put together the most productive, unproductive shift of the day. In streamer fishing there are several ‘near misses’ or ‘what could have beens’ or ‘if onlys’ – times where fish either commit to your pulled bug and don’t get pinned, or they give chase only to turn away and go back to their deep water haunts. The thrill of the chance, from multiple perspectives, is what keeps me wanting more and coming back. One fish in particular was summed up eloquently by Jeff as, “I seriously feel like I just got intimate with that fish”. 2 great fish and nothing to show for it.
It was nearing the end of the day, and the 30 min timer had just gave notice that it was time for me to stop casting and to switch the rower’s seat. Jeff insisted that I spend 5 more minutes casting before we switched, after a back and forth exchange with me arguing that I had enough and it was his turn to fish, he won and I ‘had to’ keep fishing. I buried the very next cast into a small twig that barely broke the surface of the water – further expounding my desire to sit in the comfy rower’s seat, put my mittens on and enjoy the rest of the float. After Jeff’s encouraging to do everything in my power to shake the bug loose and not disturb the water, I was able to finally free it. Then on the very next cast this happened:
This undoubtedly should have been Jeff’s fish – not mine. Hell, he even did more work than I did to catch it. He rowed us across the river, he put me in the correct spot, he encouraged me to make a smart decision, and then netted the fish for me.
Streamer fishing is similar to what I understand drug addictions to be – users are always chasing that first high that they experienced. I’ve already set my self up for failure for the next several times I get out to pull streamers, as I am convinced that everytime out I will have the exact same experience – or better. And I will do everything I can to chase that feeling again. It’s a good thing that Jeff is the only one that is an addict here.