Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Early Christmas Present

Christmas...Almost upon us. A time of the year when young and old start to get overwhelmed with anticipation and frustration. Myself on the frustration side. My week was booked solid. Interviewing all day Monday and Wednesday with a Business Focus Team meeting in the middle on Tuesday. Throw in the fact that my Christmas shopping is not complete and we have the making for a very busy week. Monday comes and goes successfully. We manage to secure 4 excellent candidates to offer employment to in my group. Interviewing is never easy and can wear on all parties involved. The end of Monday finds me in my office catching upon missed emails and frantically organizing my groups work for the next day so I can get my kids picked up on time. While in the process my phone rings and it turns out to be my Mechanical counterpart. He informs me that my Tuesday meeting has been cancelled. I instantly open up my calendar in Outlook and verify his proclamation and the fact that the rest of my day is free. Could it be? Is it possible? Christmas has arrived a few days early for me! I quickly grab my phone and call our associate to inform her to book me off for Tuesday. I then instinctively open up the Water Site and verify what I already know...The river is in perfect shape still :0)
I wasn't really sure if I would get another day on her this season while she was still in all her glory.
Tuesday morning comes and I find myself on the road early as always. I have a hour and a bit to contemplate what awaits me and to ponder further on how truly lucky of a man I am. I arrive to my access point to find another vehicle in my parking spot. No worries... I assure myself there is a lot of river down there for the two of us and I gear up and make my way back thru the bush. I arrive at my starting point and meet the gentleman driving the vehicle in my usual parking spot. I great him politely and ask if he minds me slipping in and fishing the wintering hole with him. He smiles, introduces himself and says he would be happy to share the hole with me. The morning starts out slowly but we pass the time in conversation. I learn he is retired and lives near the river. His name is George and he is 69 years old. I learn that he manages to fish everyday in the fall up to the season close. I make note to myself that I truly wish to be in a physical capacity that will allow me
make the hike and river crossings necessary to pursue this great passion when I reach my 69th year. I then chuckle to myself on the thought that I hope to make my 69th year.;0)
While deep in some intellectual statement my float plummets down and I quickly proclaim "FISH". Today I chose to fish my GL3 with Black IS combo and couldn't have been happier. The two complement each other so well and it was a refreshing change from the 15 Frontier and MykissI. This fish turns out to be a mint hen and after a quick photo op she is released unscathed. I make my way back up to the top of the hole and continue on with the mixed conversation. A few drifts later and I am into another chrome slab. This fish turns out to be a mint chrome male. I make my way back up once again the and my elderly companion asks if I mind him sliding down and fishing the top of the hole with me. I smile and assure him he is more than welcome fishing this section. We begin to talk about roe and I offer him some of my fresh hatchery roe. We talk about the hatchery roe option and the fact that it is no longer necessary to kill a genetically gifted hen for her roe when the hatchery roe works wonderfully. He could not have been better educated to this fact having watch 2 magnificent steelhead take my offerings. I slide up above him and let him fish my spot. A short while later he is into a fresh 7lb hen and is praising me like I was responsible for inventing beer.
It made me happy to see the old fella get into one. He has probably caught a million steelhead in his day but I could see the happiness in his eyes and it felt good. It also felt good to know that I educated a peer to the fact that it really isn't necessary to keep fish for roe purposes. We talked on for another 15 mins and I decided to slide up to the next run. I managed no fish there which was a bit of a surprise to me so after 30 mins I decided to slide back down and fish with George again. A few drifts in and my flow disappears. I knew this was a big fish and it was hot!!! The fish manages to take me to the end of the hole and around the corner where I barely manage to land him prior to a long series of white water. This fish turns out to be very handsome winter buck. Just a spectacular display of genetics and I felt honored to have experienced all his splendor.
I once more make my way back up to where George is fishing sporting a ear to ear grin. George must have read my face because he quickly asks how big that fish was and I show him the digital pics. He genuinely congratulates me on a spectacular fish and comments on how nice a job the "NEW" cameras do. I agree and inform George it is time for me to move down river and finish off my morning with a few different runs. We shake hands and he thanks me again for the roe and advice. I make my way down the river to a long emerald stretch that hasn't fished well this season for some unknown reason. I figure this run is due to produce and try the backside tight to some semi-hidden boulders. A few drifts later and I am into another chrome-buck of grand proportions. This is another hot fish. How fortunate we have been this season to have unparalleled conditions up to and including today. To fight a fresh hot chromer on December 19th is a treat indeed. This fish makes many long runs prior to being landed and turns out to be the chrome counterpart of the wintered buck of earlier mention. Once again I make note of the fact that I am indeed a blessed man and privileged to be on a magnificent system with such ideal cons so late in the season. I continue my journey down river to my final destination. We refer to this run as "G's Clay Banks". This particular run fished incredibly well early on in the season but has only given up the odd fish since. Today it looked spectacular and I anticipated a fish the first drift thru. I made a point of retying a new Kamasan 983 #12 and double checking my 4lb flouro leader for any damage. I didn't want to lose a fish here today knowing that it may be the only take out of this run. I gather up my best looking white bag and lob a nice cast to the far fast riffle. My float dances thru the run to the back end where it jettisons downward. Instinctively I set back on the fish and drive the 983 deep into it's mandible. "FISH" I proclaim to myself LOL! and what a fish it is. Immediately this fish starts heading upriver thru the fast water. I know this fish is big and my heart is pounding. I want this fish bad! Half way up into the whitewater the fish turns and races to the end of the run, then 90 degrees towards the bank and then back to the end of the run. It took everything I had to keep the line tight on this fish and I whispered to myself how this fish had beaten me for a split second. December...Geesh these fish are on fire!!!. I still have yet to see this fish when it decides to go down river and hard. I am on the move and this fish is not slowing down. I manage to get around a large downed tree in the river and the fish is still showing no signs of letting up. I think to my self how big is this fish? I then start thinking about the 983's and how soft they are and make sure I do not fall into my 15 Frontier mode and put too much pressure on it. We are still going down river and must be about 200 yards down. We are coming up to a section of the river that forks and on my side of the river it gets very swift with another tree overhanging. I have to make a quick decisions and decide to cross the river and try to work the fish to the other side. Once in the middle of the river my cel starts ringing. I'm thinking how appropriate. Here I am in the middle of what could be the best battle of the season and I am in the middle of the river hoping not to fall and blow this fish and my phone is ringing. LOL!!!! I ignore the phone and make it to the other side. The fish is just about to drop down another set of rapids when it makes a swing and heads to a slow slack water section. I managed to get him turned into a small reedy bay area and tail him. I drop my rod on some reeds and drop to my knees literally spent. Spent physically and mentally. Truly a spectacular epic battle that was to end in my favor. I quickly get the camera out a fire off a few pics. Yet another genetic champion pushing 10lbs and lightning hot. This fish rockets back to the river as if it were never caught. My nerves tingling I cross the river and make my way back to the run where I blow the next 3 fish in a row. No worries I tell myself as I relive the battle of the season on an outing that truly proves to be an early Christmas present for Brian.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Redemption...(noun) deliverance; rescue.

Hmmmm... How fitting a title for todays blog entry. On the heels of a humbling outing I find rescue and deliverance on my home waters. Today was a day to behold. Spring temps in December, clear high water conditons on thetail end of a major thaw, a good friend in company, and energized steelhead. December at its finest.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Humility...I hate it!

Well it has been a long time comming. I almost didn't think it was gonna happen to me this year but it did. I guess I needed it, but not as badly as it was served today! Yes the dreaded s-word :-0 It just hurt typing that sentence and reliving the days events but here goes...
Out the door at a reasonably decent hour to arrive at the parking spot with not so much as a sign of human activity in the area. I suited up and started my trek back to the bush through 3 ft drifts of fresh powder. Arriving at the bush exhausted, I started to venture down the beaten trail following the abundance of fresh deer tracks. The trek back was extremely exhausting and I had to take multiple breaks along the way. I guess it's time to hit the gym again!!! I arrived at my starting point to find a mere 5ft open channel down the entire holes duration. I figure better than nothing and get my line in the water eagerly awaiting the first take but it doesn't happen. This scene is to repeat itself over and over again to the theme of 5 highly productive runs. Today I walked what seemed like a million miles thru a foot or more of fesh powder. What was to be my saving grace, proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, was the top run. There are always fish to be had there just ask G! But today I arrive there to find that 3 gentlemen had hiked in an alternative route and had fished it out. Good for them although I could have "punched them each in the throat" Trotsky style. Destiny I thought to myself. No sense in fighting it. I just hope it's behind me ;0)

Friday, December 08, 2006


Considering the extreme cold snap that had moved in and my fondness of a warm bed I decided to get a late run out the door this morning. I had eagerly awaited today pretty much all day yesterday. I envisioned a solo Trotsky having endless success on our trib while I worked diligently finishing up my unit outage. Today was to be my winter wonderland solo adventure. As I approached a small village 1/2 way along my route I came upon what I would describe as a splintery wooden stake to the heart of a die hard steelheader, the dreaded "Hiway closed by order of OPP" sign. What was I to do? Drive around the sign? You know I pondered this option over and over but I opted for an alternative route. Yes, that would be a great idea... So down the previous sideroad I embarked to the next parallel and back towards my destiny! As I progressed down the road the weather conditions got considerably worse. A rare moment occurred this morning where common sense prevailed over passion and a decision was made to pull the plug and plan for another day.
Lake effect snow squalls are an anomaly on the Great Lakes. A streamer that was to drop 3-4 ft of snow on London was to be my nemesis. Perhaps another day ;0)

Monday, December 04, 2006

I love Mondays

Last weeks weather event had dropped a plethora of rain across Southern Ontario's already saturated landscape. All of the rivers from the east to the west were spilling over their banks. This was not a typical rise and fall scenario as previously played out on the Hydrological site. This event was different. Typically after a substantial rise my home waters would be fishable 24hrs after peak and mint after 36. This system led to a rise of 1M past prime high water conditions. And a Sunday outing on her was out of the question. So a road trip up to Meaford was in order but I desperately wanted to fish her Monday if the waters were to reside to a fishable level. Upon arrival home from the Bighead I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my jewel had finally dropped to a level that she could be approached confidently. Having stashed away a few vacation days and knowing we are going into a 3 day plant shutdown I had previously booked Monday off in anticipation of a fresh run of chrome and prime high water conditions. Going in I was stoked! It was Monday, very cold, and there was a hint of snow in the air. A perfect recipe for a Winter Steelheading.
I took my time gearing up and had to thaw my wading boots from the previous days Bighead outing. I was in no hurry for I was certain there would be no one else on my section of river as there rarely is in winter. Once my boots thawed I made my ritual 20 min hike back into the bush. It was a peaceful morning and the only sounds heard were the cracking and popping of cold timbers swaying in the frigid breeze. I arrived at the bank to a complete surprise. What was to be 18" vis was a mere 6 and the river was on the edge of my personal high water preference. My heart sank down to the bottom of my now refrozen wading boots. Yet another learning for the water conditions memory bank I whispered to myself. I was there, I had the day off, I was warm and comfortable and there was nobody around I was determined to fish.
I made my way to a favorite wintering hole where I reconfirmed the vis and recollected about similar cons experienced. I was to fish the next hour without so much as a bump. I decided to slip across the river and slide up to a long stretch we so cleverly named "the new run" Until recent times we had always passed this section up for better water up river. We learned the error of our ways numerous times this fall. My confidence was dwindling but I was keeping the faith in this run as it has the ability to provide some slack in high water. My roe bags were on the small side so I decided to double bag. Second drift thru the middle and redemption. A fresh-in chrome buck along with an ear to ear grin. I cannot describe how good it felt to fight a fresh fish on the 15' Frontier with the MykissI.
For the Bighead trip I had packed the 13' GL3 and a Pacific Steelheader figuring the smaller river may not fish as well with the 15. I have really grown fond of the big rod and 5" Mykiss this fall and it has become my mainstay. I gathered my thoughts, contained my grin and rerigged with double bags for a 3rd drift thru the run. This time 1/2 way down a large chrome hen slammed the dual bag offering and was fighting like a champion. I managed to beach her in a tall grass hollow which afforded a nice pic opportunity and quick release.
I was pumped Two beautiful chrome specimens in cons boarding on blown to me was a major accomplishment. I whispered to myself "how many chromers are in this run" when things shut down. A half hour later and I decided to slide 1/2 way down the run and fish the lower 2/3rds. This decision was to reward me with my 3rd and final fish of the day. A magnificent 26" buck in full winter armor.
What a spectacular display of genetics and a great way to close out my morning. I could have fished all day and I am certain that I would have found more fish but I was good for a change. For once this season I seemed fulfilled and rejuvenated by 11am. I made my ritual 20 min hike back out of the bush, geared down, and began my leisurely Monday afternoon drive home. I whispered to myself I wish all Mondays were like today ;0)

The Taming of the Shrew

Meaford and the fabled Bighead. Well fabled to me as it has always been on my "LIST". Not being one to venture too far away from hot waters I have never found the time to venture up and fish the G-bay tribs, that is until this weekend. The Hydro site pretty much dictated our travels would lead us to the Bighead to cure our weeks long craving for Steelheading. Prior to committing I did my usual "E" homework as did Gene and the reports were coming in favorable that the river would be in good shape for Sunday. Gene being the freak that he is insisted that I be at his house for 3am as we had yet another road trip ahead of us. After a multitude of emergency stops for deer crossings, rednecks, and Tim Hortons we arrived prior to first light to find that winter was in full swing on the south shore of G-bay and the Bighead was Rockin!
I didn't know what to expect and started to prepare myself for my first S-word (skunk)of the 2006 season. The tiny river was a torrent of whitecaps but to my amazement had 18" of vis. Gene has some prior knowledge of the little river so he decided we would be best to walk up and fish some areas he remembered as having slow water and some slack. Things had changed a little but we did find some good water. Gene managed a couple of nice chromers right out of the gate and really put the wrist to the test. What a true steelheader! Practically broken wrist and he made me wrap it up for him so we could get a day on the water! Yes, that is a true friend!
We decided to work our way back to the car and fish along the way. The peeps started coming out of the woodwork and my stomach was reminding me of that S-word. I saw some nice pocket water behind a huge bolder lying in the midst of a torrent of white caps on the far bank and figured I could reach it with some patience and persistence. A couple of cast later and I had my first Bighead/GBay steelhead. Gene had told me these fish look a little different and he was right. She was a beautiful specimen covered with a million spots reminiscent of a mountain stream rainbow.

I managed to hit another hen from that slack a little later and we were convinced it was the same fish until a photo check later revealed it was her twin.
We decided to work our way back to the car when Gene remembered that he was to give Dave Wallace a call on my cel. Dave was to be up fishing the Bighead and wanted to meet up with us and show us around a little bit. We were eager to meet Dave and always appreciate a guided tour ;o)
We were to meet Dave a nice section of river but were divided by a treacherous river crossing. We figured Dave did it so I guess we can too. Geesh, part way through and I was convinced I was going swimming in December. At one point I was sliding sideways as if I were on Ice. We managed to make it across unscathed but thinking we shouldn't have. Hmmmm Steelheaders will do some pretty stupid stuff in pursuit of their passion. We fished this run with Dave for an hour with no success when Dave asked if we would be interested in fishing a new section he had never fished but just received a tip about from a buddy. There we were 3 wide crossing the death torrent again but with visions of the secret spot in our minds so we made short work of it.
When we arrived to the new water we decided to make our way up to the top end of the water and fish our way back. Along the way Dave spotted a small shrew impaled on a one of the thorns of a bush. I quickly recalled reading a tiny article in a paper recently about a bird that impales its victims and then shreds their flesh from their bones until they are completely ingested. Dave was quick to add that this was the work of the Northern Shrike.
I had to capture a photo for my kids. It is during outings like this when you see the true oddities of nature at play. Gene thought we were a couple of idiots and quickly put us both under suspicion. A reference was quickly made that the guy who caught the first steelie had to eat the shrew. We came to a large meandering bend in the river. I quickly set up on a nice winter buck that jumped twice prior to a long distance release. I really didn't want to eat the shrew ;0)

Not long after Gene was into a nice fish and pushing his wrist to it's limits once again. This fish turned out to be a nicely wintered hen.
We worked our way back just short of the access point where Dave was to mention it was time for him to start thinking about leaving when he set up on a magnificent winter buck. Just a beautiful fish and an awesome way to close out a winter Bighead adventure.
My kudo's go out to Gene and Dave for a stellar winter day on the Bighead. We didn't crush em but we managed some nice fish, avoided the s-word and tamed a shrew.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Be Careful what you wish for...

Well as fate would have it the rains came and came and came sum more. LOL!!! The result...The largest rise in 2 months on my little trib. How will tomorrows outing be? Stay tuned my fellow chrome hunting maniacs ;0)