Tuesday, January 12, 2010
#1 The Early Christmas Present
O.K. so by now I really don’t have to inform anyone just how special the 2006 Fall/Winter Season was for us on the home waters. The constant water levels, below freezing temps, number of fish and quality of fish were unprecedented. It was the season of all seasons and just may never be paralleled aside from exceeded. Norland is adamant that that season ruined me but I’m well beyond it now. Everything was coming together for us that year and we took every opportunity to take advantage of it. One such opportunity found me flying solo mid week on the 19th of December. The weatherman was predicting unseasonably warm temps and as I recall I hiked out of the bush that day with my wading jacket slung over my shoulder. In typical fashion I arrived to my access point predawn and was shocked to find a vehicle in my usual parking spot. This had been the first time I had encountered this and was hoping my planned starting run would not be occupied. I made the journey back to the Wintering hole to discover an elderly gentleman fish there. I greeted him with a friendly good morning and asked his permission to join him in this run. He was a very polite and friendly man and graciously welcomed me to share a drift with him. Normally I would stray away from the company but this run had been producing a ridiculous amount of fish that year and was hard to pass up. As it turned out the company was rather nice and we talked about the generosity of the landowner, life, and how fortunate we were to be on the river that day. It turned out George was approaching his 70th year and he got me thinking how I truly wish to be granted the health to pull off such an accomplishment let alone be in the physical state to make the hike back to the river by then.
Everything was going great that morning with the exception of the cooperation from the fish. For some reason we were not putting them on the bank. I was fishing the meat of the pool through to the tail out section and George had the top. Norland had been hitting a lot of fish in a small isolated slot on the far bank above the run in previous outings. After exhausting my efforts lower I decided to slip above George and make the long cast to the far bank. The first drift through this slot I hooked up with a very hot fish. This fish was on fire to say the least and pushed the GL3 to the limits. The fish ended up taking me down around the bend and through the rapid where I eventually swung him into the shallows. When I got my initial glimpse I was awestruck by the beauty. I have caught many steelhead in my day but never one as pretty as this. I had never even seen one in person let alone one from our little river. My first double striper. The colors were outrageously vivid and very reminiscent to a west coast fish. The cheeks were saturated and the double stripes were very well defined. I still marvel at this fish daily as the image hangs on my office wall at work. After I released that fish my nerves were shot. I was moved by the grandeur of the entire episode. I walked back up around the bend where George asked me if I had lost him in a tone that suggested no sane person would ever have let a fish go. I smiled and said no extending the view screen from the Cannon for his review. Wow was his remark. Wow indeed I thought to myself. My day could have ended there and probably should have as everything else was shadowed by this encounter.
To this day the photos inspire. I know Norland really has a thing for this fish and I honestly wish he was there for it. I’m surprised he hadn't placed his order with Advanced Taxidermy and has a replica of it hanging on his basement wall.
Well there it is…my #1 most memorable fish to date. I don't know if I'll ever be able to top this fish but it will be alot of fun trying. Thanks for sharing in the journey. I encourage you all to do your own top 10. It forces one to relive those special moments that can sometimes be forgotten and fuels the creative spirit.
A special thanks to Norland that POS for coming up with the idea and getting us all through last winter’s onslaught.