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.


Steelhead said...

I have never caught a 'double striper' nor have I even seen one. That is a beautiful steelhead, and definitly deserves the place of honor on your office wall. I can't imagine how many countless hours of lost production you have cost the company because of that fish! lol!

lambton said...

That fish and this list! LOL!
Never seen one? I assumed all the West Coast Rivers produced these magnificent creatures in the winter months. They certainly are rare in my neck of the woods. I have 3 to date and two were from Lake MI. For some reason the West Side of MI produces a fair bit of these beauties. I'm hoping Norland gets one this Friday out of the Pere Marquette. ;0)

Bill said...

I'm amazed at the beauty of the pic of the fish!
I can only imagine what it looked like first hand.

I'm truly sorry the "Best Of"is done.
But, you'll just have to start over.
I read with interest yout thoughts re: George. I'm pretty close to his age, and you describe very well the feelings and emotions I go through every time I get out.
I hope I can do this craziness for many more years.

Trotsky said...

That is definately the coolest fish I've seen from that river and I can only imagine how it must 've fought to have taken you out the shoot you stubborn ass!!!
Had to pull a Norland eh?
Better than the fish...well almost...is the head shot photo submerged in flowing water.
That is the greatest Steelhead photo I have ever seen.
I wonder if there is any chance that poor old fella is still kickin?
Nice list

lambton said...

We have never met but I have read some of your past forum posts and about you on 18-mile Joes Blog. From what I gather you go very hard and I commend you for it. You are fortunate to have the foresight to enjoy what you love. People get on planes and spend thousands of dollars to experience what we have in our back yards. Literally a World Class Fishery within a 5-6 hr driving circumferance. We should all take advantage of and savor the short time we have too.

lambton said...

I truly hope that fella is in our little river right now. Maybe he is puttin the moves on the T-Twins.

Thanks again for the list idea and inspiration. You suck you POS!

GT said...

Thanks for the brilliant top ten Brian. It made me think of my days up to now. Double thumbs up. So you will have to start another, after Harv does his (?) ;-).

As for George, I have also met him and actually have a pic in a clear frame for him should I ever meet up with him again. He had landed a beautiful fish and I asked if he would allow me to take a photo of it and also of him in a grip-n-grin. I did so and then he slit the fish.... and my heart sank.

(Funny, the day I met up and fished with George, he commented on me taking pics of some of the fish I got to hand and said there was a gentlemen from Sarnia he met whom also liked to take fish pics - LOL)

lambton said...

Thanks for the nice words Gil.
The day I met George I gave him some roe as he was struggling. He hooked and landed a beautiful steelhead shortly after. He was so grateful. A year or two after we met up again and he was still so appreciative of that gesture. It's the small things I guess...
I really liked that old fella.

Anguished Angler said...

Nice Job with your list. Thanks for sharing your stories. I have been reading November Rains and a Screaming Comes Across the Sky for some time now. Your guys pics and stories are great. The busting chops is hilarious. Thanks and keep them coming. Anguished Angler, Western New York

dave.wallace said...

Great top 10 dude, though IMHO the Matriarch of the Shire should have been higher on the list!

BTW you seem to have a real obsession with double stripes - does Norland show you the ones in his underwear???

lambton said...

Dude...it is a hard deal quantifying and positioning these memories. I threw out my disclaimer at #5 about any of them being #1. I actually changed my mind a few times. However...She was a fish of a life time. I can't even begin to imagine what she would look like bulked up in the lake. OMG!

Norland wears Batman underoos...Weird!

Trotsky said...

Batman is sexy...

I was at the doctors the other day and he asked me for a semen, blood and stool sample..
I responded "Geez doc.. I am kind in a hurry...can I just leave my underwear?"


(borrowed humour)