Wednesday, November 18, 2009

end of the season

wet muddy wading boots by the door.
waders hanging from the shower curtain rod.
a dirty, smelly, messy truck, in the driveway with a Brule stained floor.

the shed that needs to be re-organized.
the lawn neglected of regular attention.
a house in need to be prepped and winterized.

for weeks and weeks, a hot water bathroom faucet in need of repair.
piles of left over snacks, expired coupons, old mail on the kitchen table.
liqueur cabinet seriously bare.

photo's of the seasons victories...on the kitchen counter, the coffee table, the fly shop bragging wall.
rod tubes and grouse gun sitting in the corner, disguised by sleeping bags and sleeping pads.
half-unpacked luggage bags are in the hall.

fly boxes in need of refilling before winter thaws.
gps chips, delormes, sketches of maps on napkins, placed on the special shelf.
in the fly vest...empty leader packages, used tippet, a few surviving Thing-A-Ma-Bobs.

the fly-tying room in serious despair.
camping cookware waiting to be put back in storage.
fleece and Under Armor everywhere...everywhere.

     -Christopher Sprau

Monday, November 16, 2009

Steelhead season closes

Friday: Jen and I were greeted by a cold bottle of the Doctor at our Hotel door.  Thanks Peter!
We found the room where Peter was staying and chatted awhile about the recent weather, river conditions, and fishing reports of the past few days.  Then Jen went off to bed and we headed over to continue our conversation at the Kro-Bar over a couple of Spotted Cows.

Headed over to Twin Gables for breakfast.  The morning was overcast and it was one of those quiet drizzly days.  With no one joining us this morning, Jen and I got ready for and headed to the river.

The parking lots busier then expected, but finally we just picked a spot and hit the trail down to the river.   Jen hooked into brown trout just feet from her that was about 20" or so from what I could tell, but it spit the hook before we could get it to the net. 

We quit early that day stopped and stopped by Big dog's Trout camp looking for Struiff, but we didn't see his truck so we headed back to the hotel change out of our trout pants.  We then swung by Nesterville looking for Rick, but he was out setting up his stand for deer season.  His wife RayAnn said that he'd  back soon for the Northwest High School championship game that was going to be on at the Kro.

The bartender's grandson set up a laptop to the main TV so that the webcast of the game could be watched by the prideful folk of the town.  The desktop of the laptop showing a very very busty topless gal and a pool table, which didn't seem to bother grandma all that much...weird.  Customers there could get drinks, but not food...that would interrupt the staff from watching the game.  I think everyone in the bar was somehow closely connected to every player on the team.  It was a very lake Woebegone and neat to have experienced.  Comments about the ref's and the players were in no part unbiased, and some constructive criticism about the announcer was also given.  Several of the gals were totally engrossed in the game, putting thier hands together, breathing heavily, one of them actually just stood through the whole game to watch as she "just couldn't stand it."  For the record the Tigers went into this game with an impressive 12-0 record.  We later found out, that they ended the season with a 12-1 record as they had lost.  But, now Jen and I know why everyone had "Go Tigers" signs in the local towns and yards and businesses, and on their sweatshirts. 

We went back to the Hotel before the game had ended to pick up Peter and George for supper at the Italian place.  It was 5:30pm and been dark for at least half an hour now so we assumed they'd be ready.  In fact our timing was great, they were in the middle of emptying the truck form the day and going in to change clothes.  The minestrone soup was as good as what all the locals had said it was.  And it was the real deal as both Jen and Peter ran into a little bone that they spit out.  A couple of hours later we left and dropped everyone off. 

Nine-thirty came around and after my short nap I headed to the pub and hung out with the bouncer for about 45 minutes, talking about bow hunting and fishing.  Things were getting busy, so I left him to his job  and I invaded the table were Andy Roth and his two cohorts were deep into some friendly competition to decide who the billiards World champion was.  It was a fun group of guys filling up on Lienies and pizza.

Met up with Anderson and Feiker at our usual breakfast place, and we were off to fish closing day of the season.  The weather was chilly this morning and mostly sunny, and the parking lots was a little less crowded from the day before.  We fished till sunset, several of us had hookups, Jen had a frustrating day with the snagasourous and tangles.  There was a part of the day, where Anderson decided to break out his unpolished sports commentation skills, and did a play by play as I was fishing.  It was funny, but he needs a little more practice before ANY sports channel will hire him to jazz up any event.  And I am pretty sure he is ok with that.

After a chili day, we headed back to the Kro to warm up, use the 'facilities' and enjoy a cigar.  Talked to the bouncer who was running on 3 hours a sleep and a 1-hour nap and just about to start a bartending shift.  Long story, but lets just say he gets the call to fill in and work at several places in town when other people call in sick or can't work for whatever reason.  We finished our last mugs of Spotted Cow of the season and wrapped things up with a supper together at the Anchor Bar in Superior, WI.  Nothing kills hunger or hamburger cravings like the Anchor Grill.  We left there very happy and full around 8pm and was home around 10:30p and went straight to bed.  We unpacked the next day after I had called in sick. 

And that was not fun.  Unfortunately, Jen and I had both had some bad stomach thing going on.  It was kind of there on Sunday, but we tried to ignore it.  We were suspect of the famed soup we had the night before since that is the only thing in common that Jen and I had, besides water.  On the drive home I went through a whole bottle of the pink stuff, as my stomach was doing this non-stop gurgling flopping around thing.  It was not fun at all, and I spent most of the day in bed hunched over.  I know not the ending to the season that one wants right?  At least we had fun this year, and I don't have to quit steel heading as I was threatening to do before this season had started.  I hope next year is just as fun.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Steelhead weekend #4

Friday night:
dropped Jen off at hotel, and then met up with Ben and Amy at Kro-bar for drinks.  We met drunk banjo "bubba" guy (think of Jeff Dunham's bubba puppet and you are getting very close, only not as good looking) who kept talking with us.  At first I thought he was a day early with the Halloween show.  It turns out that it was not a show.  He was drawn to my Psycho-ward sweatshirt and thought it was really funny.  At least that is what I could make out of his really slurred "bubba" accent.  He told us that he was going to stay home Saturday night to avoid the freaks...ironic.


We met for breakfast at the Twin Gables, Jenny and myself, Ben and Amy, and Peter.  We formed a loose plan and started our day.  Once again, the parking lot of choice only had one vehicle.  The River was ours for the taking.  Jen and I headed up to a specific spot on a hole suggested by Mike,  but once we got there, we backtracked to "my bush" as I just had better feeling about starting there.

I am glad I did!  On my first cast of the day, I caught a 29" steelhead out of the middle of the bend.  It seemed like it took forever to land, and I was enjoying every second of the fight.  Ben netted it for me, as Jen didn't have a net, and mine was too small for this guy.  We took several pictures and measurements, and after a hard decision, I chose to return it to river.   

We figured we let the area rest for a half hour, and after I finished my cigar, Jen and Ben chose their spots, and I moved up to the lead in to the pool.  It was all of 15 minutes and I had a second steelhead on!  I remember yelling to Ben that I was sorry, and pleaded for his help to catch this one too.  The first steelhead pretty much stayed in the water, but not this one.  The second one jumped out of the river 4 or 5 times and fight took just as long as the first.  I couldn't be happier.  It was mid October of 2007, when I landed my first and also last steelhead before today.  The day went by quickly as we continued to fish  and even moved to another angler parking lot for the last two hours of the day.

We ditched the trout pants and put on some comfortable clothes and headed to the Italian place for pizza, and beer, where I bumped into "Big Dog" and my buddy Struif.  So I shared my personal victory with them and Struif was very supportive, as he is fully aware as well of my frustrations with this steelhead game.

From there we ventured over to the Kro-bar to see the Halloween costumes, where we found Big Dog and Struif again, along with Tony, Louise, Jay and Rick.  Lots of stories and good conversations were had while watching the ghouls and goblins that floated around the bar.  Later in the night, the bartender appointed our group as the costume judges, she bribed us with a free round of drinks for our services.  Sounds good to me, we were kind of rating them already.  I have to say though, this was the quietest and rather disappointing from prior years.  Maybe next years run will be better.  ;) 

We may have gone out for breakfast an hour early...oops, daylight savings time happened and my watch wasn't corrected for it when I crashed the night before.  Jen and myself, Ben and Amy, Peter, and Mother Feiker met up for breakfast and headed to the river.  When I caught steelie number three with in a half-hour.  Can it get any better for me this weekend?  I was delighted, but a new challenge was presented quickly.  Ben was up river at another hole, and Jen didn't have a net, and she has not ever netted a fish before.  While I fought this runner of a steelie, Jen was working at removing my net from y back so that she could land it.  It was a very silver 24" steelhead that made several long runs.  On all three of the fish I caught this weekend, they all brought me within feet of going into my backing.  Jen was getting nervous when she failed to come close to netting it a couple of times and suggested that she take the rod and I land my fish.  But, since this was number three of the weeekend, so I denied her suggestion.  I told her this would be good for her to do, and was thinking to myself "please don't screw up, please don't screw up, please don't screw up" while giving her words of encouragement.

Jen did land the fish, and in the process, ended up more wet then the fish!  To put it in her words, "she got the sucker, god bless it!"  It was deep and heavy and everything a healthy steelhead should be.  Peter happened to walk by just before the release, so I was able to "Flash" him with my steelie before returning her back to the river for another day.

We only fished for another hour or so as we wanted to get back to see the Packer v Vikings game.  I did catch a little smolt about the size of the cigar I was smoking, which made me chuckle at that realization.

And that is my story of the end of my long dry spell of not catching steelhead.  I like catching them a whole lot more than fishing for them and not catching them.  I hope I don't have to wait as long for my next one, especially now that we made it look so easy in front of Jen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where did my steelhead monkey go? WHO CARES!!!

That's right, after a long dry spell, the monkey is off my back.  This weekend I hooked three steelhead and landed all of them!  Two at 29 inches on Saturday and one 24 incher on Sunday.  A special thanks to Ben and Jen for for being excellent net-men!