Alright kids...1/2 way there and I must say from here on in it gets difficult. I'm not one that enjoys quantifying or numerically ranking my adventures but for the sake of this exercise it is a necessary evil. To me each and every one of these fish and the memories they spring to life have their own equal importance. So having said this I will continue with the process but pay no mind to the numbers. From here on in they are all equal. I have to admit that I have trouble remembering what I had for lunch today but I do remember every event linked to the next 5 fish like I caught them all 5 mins ago. I suspect this will never change and if it does it will be a long way down the trail before that happens. That is just how amazing the next 5 fish are. So pour yourself a drink or crack a cold one and enjoy.
Similar to this past season the Fall of 2008 started off rather slow. The river was skinny and the early October fishery was seeming to be a thing of the past. Nonetheless any time on the river is quality time and a day with Norland is always good for many laughs. On this particular day I remember struggling lower in the river. We made the best of what we were being dealt and decided to make our typical rounds and head far up to the “Holy Waters”. We fished some favored runs with mediocre success and then dropped down to a run we have labelled “The Drive-Inn”. The fishing remained tough that morning and I had just begun to drift off into a somewhat hypnotic state as I tend to when the float disappeared. Instinct took over and I set up hard and fast only to almost have the rod ripped from my grasp. I instantly lost control of the situation and for a few moments was owned by the daunting force at the end of my line. I’m sure we have all had these moments but it was one of those deals where the fish covered every inch of real estate in that pool within seconds. She had me chasing her down river only to turn 180 degrees and have me literally running backwards on the rocks desperately trying to keep all the slack on the reel. I had no business landing this fish that day. She did everything right but by some divine intervention we landed this magnificent creature. To date I have not caught a steelie as long as this fish. She measured out at 34” and her weight would only be a guess. She was a pretty old girl and was probably responsible for a decent percentage of the health of that system. I’m certain Norland and I have caught many of her offspring over the years. It was a privilege and honor just getting to hold her and experience one of our little rivers matriarchs. Oh the horrors she must have witnessed over the years. A true champion of the shire. It’s hard to describe the feeling one gets releasing a fish like this and watching them disappear into the depths. It really is a special moment.
Note: For the record... Norland wanted to make one of those giant 12 person Steelhead Submarine Sandwiches out of her. He started to drool. It kinda got a little awkward for a moment. I told him no and sent the pretty lady on her way. I I think he got the idea from Harv. The are both POS!