It was hard to stay focused at work on Friday, so I didn't. I did everything I could to make the day go faster. Four o'clock came, and I was out of there and headed for home. I moved the pile of stuff from the living room that packed the night before into the Tahoe. Ran over to Big 10 where I was to meet Mother Feiker to pick up the fleece windstopper coat and hat that Jen would need that we left behind at the previous weekend steelhead outing. When I got back, Jen and Mike were ready to roll out of town, and so we did.
We made a couple of stops along the way to refuel, pick up "supplies" and have a bite to eat. We arrived at our sleeping quarters around 9-ish and popped a beer while we unpacked. Luckily we unpacked right away as Mike and I had some high-energy conversation and laughs, which kept the pace of our arm curls going at a pretty good pace. Jen retired around midnight, and we ran out of steam around 2:30am. At least that is what Jen says.
It was a nice day. The kind of day that one who grouse hunts typically wishes for. No wind, light cloud cover, 40's for a high, perfect for walking at a slow pace with a 20 gauge in hand. We checked our rigging and our flies and started our nymphing.
We covered some good water and Jen still seems to be a natural at learning the basics for fly-fishing. Over all, the day didn't seem to be delivering too many steelheads to too many people. But I was pleasantly happy. By the end of the day I had caught three smolt. Which to many, is trivial, but to me it was the end of a two year streak of catching nothing in the steelhead family. This made me feel confident that the changes I had made in my rigging this year was indeed going in the right direction.
At dusk we headed back up the trail to the Tahoe, and then back to the cabin to get out trout pants off before going out to eat. I am sure it has something to do with being in the outdoors all day, but there is nothing better then a heavy sweatshirt, a burger, and greasy appetizers to end the day. We had a few people join us for supper. I had just had a bailey's and coffee placed in front of me when Peter came in and joined us, eager to hear the days reports as he would start his three-day steelhead tour in the morning. Ole and Bucky also stopped by a little after Peter and shared their fishing encounters that they had that day.
We got a chance to sleep in this time, as Muffin-top and his wife had left town yesterday. And leisurely worked our way through the morning steelhead routine. We tried a different landing then the day before to go fishing. Both days, the spots we had picked was based purely on the number of cars at the landings rather then any skillful predictions of where the fish would be. We just wanted to be away from the crowds. Turns out, there was a lot of good water we covered that day as well.
And then it happened. I was working a nice bend pool. I covered the top two-thirds of it and started into the tail of the pool. A half-hour of fishing with nothing to get excited about. I drifted my line down in the tail and my indicator did a fishing move so I raised my rod, not sure if it was a rock or a fish. As soon as I had tension the steelhead I hooked was tight to the line! It moved up and to the far side of the pool, then over to the close side towards me. I could see that it was a dark steelhead, and that it looked to be about 20" or so. Then it turned and screamed downstream and in about ten yards of its dash, my line popped and went limp. My 5-second rodeo with a steelhead had ended. I had also lost both my beadhead X-legs nymph and the yarn fly dropper. The 3x G-max floro was cut cleanly off. At least it wasn't my knot the did me in I thought to myself. And while I may have cursed out loud at the loss off the fish, I quickly smiled and was happy that I got the chance to finally fight a steelhead after my long dry spell.
To add to my count, I managed to land another smolt later that day a little further down river. And as the day came to an end, I had to convince Jenny that we did have to leave so that we didn't get home too late. She was enjoying herself and really wanted to stay. Eventually she came out and we left the river around 4:30pm.
We were greeted by your classic north woods "old timers" smoking a Backwoods cigar at the parking lot where we changed out of our trout pants. He updated us on the scores and his analysis of the Packer game as well as the Viking game. And we returned the favor by updating him with our analysis of the day's fishing. After a bit of chatting, we hopped in the truck and headed for home leaving the old timer in my rear view mirror puffing on his cigar while he waited as it got closer to sunset before he wet his line.