April 2010

In hindsight I probably should have skipped a part two in regards to my Steelhead fishing. I do not have the coveted grip and grin photo to display. I do not have the “I landed this whopper and it was kick ass” story. What I have is a whole lot of Steelhead caught and quickly lost from a super charged experience. The stuff fanciful Fish Stories are made of….

As mentioned in the previous entry, it was clear I needed to find a fly fishing safe zone. The problem was anything that remotely looked like a fish-able pool of water, a fishing camp had already been established on it. It should be mentioned that the section of river was at the top section of the Little Salmon, located at the top of a long steep canyon. Translation: Ultra Swift, Ultra Rapids, Ultra Swirling vortex of Boulder designed Raging water.

So I embarked on a journey of one, fly rod in one hand, diet coke in the other, to discover a small piece of fishing opportunity to call my own. I walked down river, smiling at the curious glances and surverying the river for anything that looked like I could 1) cast into and 2) might be a small holding place of Steelhead gold. When I saw the rolling back of a Steelhead behind a decent sized boulder and a small channel of swirling–but calmer–water I scurried down the rocks to give it a try.  

My choosen pool was teenie compared with some of the bigger holding pools, but it wasn’t human occupied–BONUS. It was maybe 10 feet in length and 5 or 6 feet wide. On either side of my channel it was raging water so I held my fly rod and line up, over the current and cast my streamer carefully. Three inches too far and it was sucked out into the abyss of the white water crush.

So yes, I admit. I was a tad worried about what would happen if I actually hooked a Steelhead, but figured I would deal with that problem if it materialized. Third cast….it materialized. 0 to 100 mph in .03 seconds.  One second I’m trying to keep my fly from going wayward into the black hole of current. The next second, marked with an ’oh shit, this isn’t good’ sound of fly line ZINGGGG, I’m trying to keep one rather pissed off Steelhead from making a break back to the ocean without breaking my Fly Rod.

I lost that battle and quickly–snap!–if I might add. Not to be discouraged, I quickly tied another fly on for round two. So ya. I admit. I was a tad worried the same thing would happen, but holy hell, that quick jolt to the fisherman circuit board was thrilling! I excused my slow reaction time on rusty reflexes, the shock factor (my own) and tight fishing quarters. Round two: Several casts, fish on, repeat above scenario –fish off in less then 20 second. Same goes for round 3,4, 5 and so on…….

It’s not like I was having a bad time, it was exciting. Every hook up meant FISH! The glorious sound of Fly Line zinging off into the abyss and me, the lowly fishergal, doing her best to contain a situation that had all the odds stacked against me. Fisherman logic came into play of course and I started to think like a mathematician. For example: If you take one 6 lb Steelhead and allow it to break into the crushing current that surely adds 1,000 lbs of pull to the fishes advantage, it’s no wonder it feels like I’m trying to bring in MobyDick with dental floss tied to a swizzle stick.

I quickly realized there’s a reason, in this section of the river, that the spin casters would yank their fish to the top water and hydroplane them across the water with their 50 lb test line as quickly as possible. If the fish managed to get even a nose into the big current they could swim away with a “not this time sucker” tone and be 60 yards downstream before the fisherman could say, “Oh crap.”

During my whole trip, I did try every trick I could think of to land just one single (just one I begged the Fish Gods) steelhead, but nothing worked. Maybe a better Fly Fisherman with heavier gear could have pulled it off. Maybe if I had the ability to follow the fish down the river I might of had a chance, but wading one step into that river reeked of You WILL Die. Chasing a fish down the boulder bank meant breaking a leg, or ankle, or accidental slip into the drink of death.

So instead of a grip and grin photo. You get one video of Steelhead jumping. I crawled out on a rock (the things I’m willing to do for you guys!) above a waterfall to catch a few action shots. The beginning, yes, well, I know I mentioned it before, but I HATE having a camera pointed at me. Add in driving up a winding canyon road with my hand doing a death grip on the ‘oh shit’ handle of the truck and what you get is the tense me. Thank you Robert for putting the video together (and your commentary)

{ 13 comments }

Crowded With a Side of Steelhead

by Rebecca on April 22, 2010

in Fly Fishing

I think it was last Thursday, when I was asked, “Hey, do you want to go Steelhead fishing?” ……..35 minutes later I was in the truck and headed North. THAT is why I have the emergency grab and go camp totes. No muss, no fuss, just grab the minimal and get the hell out of dodge before something like responsible thought process takes the fun out of spontaneity. Works like a charm!

"Combat Fishing on the Little Salmon"

I don’t think I can get publicly scorned for mentioning the river I went to, so here it is. The Little Salmon River. Reports of record Steelhead numbers and gluttonous catch rates are hard to hide anyway. 

When we arrived to the hot section of the river, my sweet little Fly Rod with an intimidation factor of a willow stick faced a long line of Ugly Stiks as stout and menacing as Oak trees. Welcome to the combat zone.

The first night I was there I didn’t even wet my line. For one, there wasn’t a spare rock to stand on. Valuable real estate had been claimed earlier in the day and any move to overthrow the current King of that perticular granite was met with death glares and a hint of Marshall law.

Not that I would have tried anyway. In this situation the fact is, spin casters and fly fisherman can’t mix. With so many lines all cast across the river it creates a woven spider web that is precarious and sticky. While I observed, it seemed there was always two or more people ferociously trying to disengage their line from another. Several times during multiple fisherman tangle ups I couldn’t help but think, now that’s what a cluster fu*k looks like….

I’ve never sat around and felt self righteous about my fishing. Honestly, in my mind, I’ve always felt that anyone that is out fishing is all right by me, and I’m holding (trying) onto that mantra. But for one whole evening I sat and watched the show that is Steelhead combat fishing and felt completely separate from those fishing below me. I’m not sure if my feelings fall into the self righteous category, or if my thoughts simply fall into an opinion of a person who prefers the slower pace of fly fishing and utmost care of the fish themselves. Despite the fact we were all fisherman, I did not feel like part of the crowd that evening, at all.

The fisherman below me seemed so frantic about everything they were doing. Cast, reel, cast, get snagged up with other fisherman, untangle, cast, impatience, reel, hook a fish, haul it to top water as fast as possible, hydroplane it across the water, smack it into the rocks, sometimes someone would net the fish….sometimes all the nets were busy with other fish so just yank it up the jagged rocks, put foot on fish to contain it, rip out hook…Native Steelhead? Unceremoniously toss it (from 5 feet or 10 feet up the bank) back in the river. Clipped Steelhead? Toss it up on the bank to flop around (can’t give up the rock real estate) and let it die slowly.

It was exhausting to watch. The Pace. It was also heartbreaking for me personally and at times, frustrating (disgusting) the way the Steelhead were treated. I had a hard time keeping my catch and release practises quietly to myself and risked getting shunned (ass kicked) off the bank with a few vocal suggestions. I’m sure my Fly Rod case resting against my chair didn’t earn me any points, but I believe —again with the feelings/opinions— a little respect is deserved to a fish that just swam all the way from the ocean. 

This wasn’t about those who spin cast versus those who fly fish. It was about this specific group of fisherman, all caught up in a contagious frenzy (and there was fish on constantly), not slowing the hell down, taking a second to crawl down the rock carefully and taking care of their fish the right way. Out of the mob, there were a few who took the time to do things ethically and I appreciated those anglers. They were the counter balance to what seemed a hopeless and disturbing night. On that small front, not all seemed lost in the frenzy.

When I started this entry I didn’t know I would go down a righteous river bank. But there it is, spelled out in words from my observations. As for myself and attempting to stake claim to a Fly Fishing safe-zone of river, I did that and hooked many Steelhead. But I think I’ll save that experience for a new entry…..part 2.

I think I wrote plenty for one day.

Rebecca

{ 14 comments }

The Dark Side of Nature

by Rebecca on April 15, 2010

in Outdoor Photo Journal

~There Was No Hiding From This~

Recently I shared a sunset picture I captured on camera that made me weak in the knees. This picture has the same ability but on a totally different level. The sunset I watched from a leisure place in the distance. When I took this picture I was up close and personal with a storm front that quickly came up the Mountain to kick my ass.

I took the picture with the same thought process that a person who is about die scribbles a quick farewell letter. I figured if I didn’t live, the lucky soul who found me frozen to death could flip through my camera and say, “Oh, oh I see. Poor girl got taken down by one of them blizzard fronts that look like black fire sneaking up the side of a mountain to snuff you out.”

In case anyone is wondering. I was elk hunting and had been dropped off topside with the intention of hiking down to a much lower rendezvous point. The theory is good and when I left the sanctuary of the truck the skies were blue and cloudy. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Nature waited until I was a good mile down the mountain before she whipped up her special blend of twisted humor.

I lived, but it was definetly one of those days I couldn’t ignore the thought.
You know the one.
It chants ”Really wish I was fly fishing right now.” Over and over……..

{ 9 comments }

A little Fly Fishing Fate

by Rebecca on April 6, 2010

in Fly Fishing

~From under the Blackberry Camera~

When I woke up yesterday it was rasnowing. You know, a sweet mixture of rain and snow. It was exactly the kind of mixed weather signal that just dared me to go out and fly fish in it. So being the brave and fearless sort of fisherman that I am, I grabbed my gear– plus one dog and headed straight for a Fly Shop to pick out a new fly or two that gave off a rasnowing fishing vibe.

I do love visiting this fly shop. The guys that run it, (especially you Michael) are always smiling,  helpful and encouraging of my activities both on the river and this website.

While Michael and I sifted through the flies we chatted it up, fly shop style. Like a good Fly Fishing Pastor, Michael kept me in check when my hand hovered over the stripper pole flashy type nymphs and he dropped several Holy Celestial flies into my plastic tithing cup. No multicolored flash with neon disco dubbing and extra large beadheads for me…..

As I was waiting to check out I found myself surveying another anglers pile of purchases. Now, normally I would never snoop like this, but something caught my eye and I couldn’t resist (no really, there was no containing myself) asking what in the world were those thingamajigs.  Now, I won’t get into what those thingamajigs were because that calls for a whole ‘nother blog entry, but I was concerned about the wayward angler and told him I had a better solution right outside in my truck.

My Fly Fishing Good Deed for the week got a check mark when I shared two items from my personal stock of illicit and controversial enablers. Based on the ratio of good vs. evil, I realize today I probably could have gotten away with one sinfully sparkly fly because my good deed would have balanced out the sinner flash……

Sinful flash aside, I believe that my good tidings to the Fly Fishing Brethren did inspire a bit of reward from the weather front. It stopped rasnowing while I was in the Fly Shop and only a non-fisher type would argue that these things aren’t all linked together in one large cosmic cloud of FATE.  

The ever loyal Bandon and I raced down to the river for what ended up being an afternoon of tree snags and little hatchery trout. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I absolutely hate losing flies and typically I hold onto my little furry friends like a nun clutches her rosary. The area I choose to fish was new to me and despite exploration I was unable to find either a wadeable area or a section of river that wasn’t surrounded by trees, bushes and weeds.

Perfect for the fish of course, a nightmare for casting and missed hook sets. I won’t admit how many flies I lost or how many trees I climbed or even how many cuss words I spewed. Instead I will let yesterdays fly fishing excursion lie in the past and offer up a mini-video I took while retying for the blankenty blankth time.

Disclaimer: I didn’t take a camera yesterday. This is from my new Blackberry which I took to the river swaddled in 2 ziplock bags. I’ve never done video and I’m not convinced I should. There’s a reason I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself and furthermore, why there are no videos of me. I tend to flip off camera operators, spit like a hissing cat and run the opposite direction when a lens is lurking around. But, because of this person…..and this person….I’m testing out the possibilities with this irrelevant, shaky and pointless video ~

I know. I’m as big a chicken as Bandon is, but at least I don’t try to lick fish ~ 

{ 16 comments }

Easter Palette Mother Nature Style

April 4, 2010

A sunrise or sunset isn’t extraordinary enough to inspire people to go outside everyday and witness each new statement the sun and the sky co-designs for us. Fact is, both instances happen once a day, every day, of every year and it’s awe is lost in the predictable repetition. Yet, sometimes when I’m outside and I am paying attention, the visual lauguage of nature takes [...]

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Forward Casting: Bite Worthy Words 3

April 2, 2010

 It’s time again for me to cast off to the different reaches of the Internet River and show everyone a few honey holes that are guaranteed to produce a catch or two. A few of these are contests, so once again I’m just showing how gracious and generous I can be (as long as you don’t usurp [...]

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