Fish On, Fish Off…There was no Middle Zone

by Rebecca on April 24, 2010

in Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing for Steelhead

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… read them below or add one }

ShoremanNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm

We appreciate you risking life and limb to bring us that nice video of the Steelhead jumping and the one being WHIPPED out of the river. I would be afraid to get near that raging water. Us old guys are as steady as we used to be. Happy fishing.



MattNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 3:52 pm

What a great freaking story. Well told.


MelNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Rather to be safe than sorry, Rebecca. Thanks for taking us along on your steelhead excursion. The thrill of the take and the initial run will live in your memory forever!


DanNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Love the video, great story. I agree with Shoreman, that river looks dangerous. Your writing is very intertaining though (keep the stories coming). For me hooking a fish is a big part of the thrill, landing is just the end.

Idaho Dan


JohnNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Great story Rebecca, you know it must have been in the air. I lost several today had my drag tugged on and lost a beautiful white streamer to a trout who aparently wanted it more. Had my Tipett broke twice and honestly thought I was laughed at by a Brown…gotta love these Great Vid!


JohnNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Oh yeah… do be careful, we lost an angler two days ago on my home waters when he fell in (Waders filled). Sad story, one to learn from.


ClifNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I’m loving the video, keep it up. Seems like you would rather Robert watch the road than video you. You were really holding onto the handle.

Oh, and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to wade in that stuff. If you put some lead weight in the bottom of your boots, I don’t think the current would sweep you away. :)


KirkNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm

You actually experienced better steelhead fishing than most, because you actually set the hook on a fish or two. In your defense, that water doesn’t look condusive to swinging a fly or even, God forbid, nymphing. Looks more like a snagfest to me ; )
A day spent not catching a steelhead is better than a day spent golfing.


Zach LazzariNo Gravatar April 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Dang! That looks like a tough zone. I am getting all kinds of bad ideas just looking at it.


RobNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 6:35 am

That was an AWESOME video. The scenery is great! The “Bad Rebecca” reference is EPIC! and the soundtrack is cool too. We need to see more of these on future posts.


KenNo Gravatar April 25, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks for sharing the amazing video. All the fisherman and finding an open spot must be a bit frustrating.


DaveNo Gravatar April 26, 2010 at 8:53 am

And now you know why!
Great video, and yet another great read.
As far as the fishing goes… That is stellar fishing. Getting 1 on the hook per day is a good day. Putting 4 or 5 on the hook in a day is spectacular
Good job!


MNAnglerNo Gravatar May 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

Man, you fly fishing types are crazy. I wouldn’t go near that kind of water with a 10 ft pole, fishing or otherwise.


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