A Long Short Story

Have you heard the saying, "Never rob a bank across from a diner with the best donuts in three counties?" Well, this isn't that, but it's similar?


Winter steelheading is quite possibly my favorite thing to do. I love how challenging it is. You could go three, four, five, or more days without hooking a fish. That's the way it's been this season. I've been semi fortunate that my AVERAGE had been 1 fish every 4-5 days on the water. So not great. Last year at this time, I had about 1.5 every day. We don't judge steelheading by numbers, but it's always interesting to know your success rate. Some years are better than others.


So this last Sunday I was fishing with my good friend Larry. If you've fished with me personally, you know I treat you the same as if it's a guide trip. Yeah, here fish this run; I'll fish behind you (on a guide trip, I don't fish). And maybe the third or fourth run, I'll fish first. Honestly, my favorite thing is seeing someone catch a fish. And really, it's a team effort, and the whole boat wins!!!!


Enough with the back story. So Larry and I were fishing, there were a few boats behind us, and we were trying to stay out in front; we were trying to bucket hop. I was on a mission to get a fish.


Well, my story is not similar to the opening quote, but I did hook a fish. The fish came from a run I had caught quite a few fish in the past, but this hookup was different. There is actually a long story that goes with this. So, I had been texting my friend Sam all day. In the last run we were fishing in, I cut him off and left it as I have to go. Really I didn't have to go, but it was time to move to the next spot. Fishing has been challenging, so when I pulled into the next spot, I thought it would be funny to tell him that I had to go because I had to land a fish. Well, long story short, I'm a lousy friend... Sorry, Sam!


So it was my turn to fish the run first. I started high in the run, well above where you would think you would get one. As I was swinging down to the bucket, my fly dropped over the edge, and something weird happened. My fly got sucked down hard. At first, I thought it was a grab, but it was strange, and I assumed it was a rock. It broke free and slid into another rock. It was another weird hard yank, unlike anything I can really remember feeling. I lifted up, and it broke free. Immediately I thought it had been a fish, but nothing happened. As I reflected back upon what had just happened, I tallied it up to hooking the bottom or a rock. Larry had seen the whole thing play out, and I was like, "That was so weird, but I don't know." So I made the same cast, and when my fly fell off the ledge, there it was again. But this time, it was definitely a fish. It took like a freight train, and it was on. Immediately I could see that it was a huge buck with a big red stripe down its side, and it was angry. It thrashed on the surface and was pulling hard. I fought it down around my boat to a place that would be easy to land it. I led it to the bank and then turned it back towards me to get it into a position to land it. I was putting a lot of pressure on it so I could land it quickly. At that moment, I pulled it upriver, and the line was singing lightly. All of a sudden, the fly popped free. Immediately I thought, well, I guess I was playing it too hard. I reeled up the line and grabbed the fly. To my horror, my #2 Octopus hook was straightened out more than any other hook I have ever seen.


So long story short, I lost the fish. Really, what I meant was just because you hook a beast doesn't mean you've won the fight. Sometimes the fish rises up and punches you straight in the face and swims away laughing. Honestly, that was one of the most rewarding fish I've hooked in a long time!

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