We did the usual Friday night run up to the cabin we rented. The drive seemed long as we drove though rain, then sleet, and then snow. We moved our gear from the truck to the cabin and settled in for the night. Everyone else that we knew were coming up for the weekend would be pulling in later or the next day.
Saturday we woke, had a hearty breakfast, and hoped we see my buddy Ben from the club soon. He arrived just as we had fished getting dressed and rigging our fly rods for the day. The plan...to go to a spot where the parking lot wasn't packed.
Ben and Jen hopped in the truck and on our first parking lot of choice, there was amazingly only one other vehicle there. Rare for this spot, especially since it was 10:30am. Guess this is where we were going fishing! We made the slippery trek down the trail and could see that the river had definitely changed over the past couple of days. It was up, it was faster, and it was no longer clear.
We knew a particular spot that I was fond of and it could accommodate three of us fishing it at the same time. We got into position, Ben at the head of the pool, Jen in the middle, and me at the tail. I tried to make my first cast and caught a tree, just as three old timers across the stream came by. So I pretended to ignore my situation while we chatted with them for a bit. They said they this spot to hold few but big steelhead. I smiled, and kept what I knew of this spot to myself.
They headed down the trail and Jen made a noise. She said she missed a fish. I thought, "whatever" it was only her first cast, and went about undoing my mess from the tree. Jen again made a noise and claimed to missed it again. I broke off my line as it was a hopeless feet to try to save my rig, and again Jen said she missed a fish. Ben and I advised she change how she set the hook and do a strip set instead of a rod set. I went back to tying on a new fly and this time, Jen got excited and when I looked up she had a steelhead on. In less then five casts she was fighting a steelhead. I tossed my rod onto shore and worked my way up to her. Ben also started to move down to assist as well.
We gave some direction as to what she should do and how to handle the fish and she was executing well. And then the point came that I got excited, I saw the steelhead come by and realized my net was not big enough to land this one. After two attempts, I hollered up to Ben that he needed to come down with his net. Ben was able to get down by me pretty quickly and I stepped back out of their way, all this time Ben and I giving advice and shouting instructions to Jen. It made several runs downstream and to the opposite bank and then found a spot just feet in front of us but past the deep edge where we couldn't wade over too. It parked itself there. Now time usually seems skewed when I get into these situations, but we were at a point where this battle was getting close to being abut 5 minutes long, and the three of us were looking at each other and looking at where the line was going into the muddy water and wondering what to do. I then thought, the time is now or its going to be refreshed and take another run and we will lose it. I advised to Jen that she angle and tilt her rod towards the bank and apply a little more pressure. It worked, and the steelhead began to move. After about a eight or nine attempts now, Ben netted the fish, and it was NICE. Jen was sooooo excited and I started taking pictures in case it escaped the net, or fell out of someone's hands. We did measure it before we took it out of the net for the grip and grin pictures and it measured 28.5" from kipe to tail. We had great fortune of a great fight, Jen handling herself well for her first encounter with fighting a steelhead, and not screwing up in the unhooking and picture taking.
Jen was able to tell her story later to Mike and Phil over supper and we were all celebrating in her success. Then we continued celebrating back at the cabin for bit a longer and sharing in other fishing stories. I'm so proud of her!