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.