Monday, December 05, 2011

December Rains...

Day 2

The rains starting falling late Friday night. Waking early Saturday morning I wasn’t much surprised to learn that it was still raining. It was forecast for the entire day. The cabin was still warm from the previous night’s fire and I was happy the wood stove's form met function. After feeding the dog and reinstating the fire we discussed the mornings options over a coffee. With Friday’s successes in our pockets there was no real urgency to hit the river. We landed on a leisurely start to the day that would start with some peppered bacon and eggs. The rains were showing no signs of reprieve so after a few hours of couch moping and WFN surfing we decided to make a break for the river.
There was a decent rain in the works accompanied by a moderate chill in the air but nothing the Goretex and proper under layering couldn’t handle. Considering the extent of the gloomy day we were quite content and dropped the drift boat in at the Tippy launch. I was eager to fish this section again after the week priors success with my daughter. By now we were pushing 11 am and  I had to chuckle at our overly late start. The idea in this section is to find and fish as much dark green water as you can located along the float down river. This typically occurs in the buckets located behind the gravel bars and ridges of the river along with the occasional trough and extended run. It wasn’t long when my float dipped and I set up on a fish only to feel the solid confirmation and textbook flash before the hook popped.
It was a terrible feeling as I wasn’t totally certain just how many opportunities we would come by having started this late in the morning. My feelings were validated as we only managed to pop a few fattie browns along the next hour and a half of drifting. This was all to change when we reached a deep water section just above Suicide. I was fairly confident we would find some luck here as I lifted a fish last Saturday with Taylor out of this section so we situated the Hyde properly to fish it hard. I was just about to give up on this run when I re-adjusted my depth and made another drift through. It was a good call on my part as the float jettisoned into the green abyss and I set up on a large hot dime.
The fish exploded and ran well down into the Suicide bend. I was in the rowing seat.  After Norland’s crash course in rowing I wasn’t prepared to turn over the oars LOL! With the anchor rope in one hand and the float rod in the other the chase was on. Norland was on the net and dialed in. It wasn’t enough just dealing with the hot fish but at times I had to correct the boat position and keep tabs on our proximity to shore and river obstructions. It must have been quite the act as we worked this fish to the net dropping and re-pulling the anchor. Finally I managed to get the chrome hen near the boat for a shot and in the blink of an eye Norland made an insane snatch and grab. It was impressive… If I had blinked my eyes I would have missed it. The fish was a strong prime specimen in the 7-8 lb range. She couldn’t have come at a better time as our damp spirits were beginning to lose confidence in the day.
After a healthy release we motored back up to the top of the  run and started our decent back down into suicide bend. After a well deserved break I decided to get back in the water. We were now a ¼ of the way into the bend and I was on my second or third drift when my float slammed down. Once again I was setting up on a fish but this time it was confirmed by an enormous leap from the depths followed by a sharp run and two more epic jumps. It was a giant double stripped buck and he was pissed off. Instantly my left arm reached for the anchor rope and I cleared it fast as the fish continued to break the surface and race down into the bend. The fish jumped a total of 7 times over the course of our battle.
Amazing for a fish setting up for a long winter. Once again the circus was in town and we fumbled our way down river in pursuit. At one moment I wanted to reach into my pocket and get the camera so I could take a picture of Gene. There he was…net in hand…one leg up on the gunnel in a focused stance ready to pounce with fury. The anticipation on his face was stellar and I knew then and there that we were going to land this fish and we indeed did just that. It was outstanding. Kind of emotional actually. My arms were aching and before me was a pristine example of the state of the West side fishery. Just a stellar double strip buck in full Winter dress. The fins were darkened to the full burgundy tint and tipped with a stark white tips. The Double stripes were vibrant and well pronounced. The checks were crimson armor plated. He was a handsome beast pushing 10lbs and proved his prowess in the water and air. It was an outstanding moment as we witnessed him jet back into the depths of suicide unscathed and no worse for wear. Our day certain had taken a turn for the better and we were now Amped. Back up river we motored and began to make the same drift. I positioned the boat just below where I hooked the buck and Gene made a few passes through some nice slower paced water. His thirds pass through I was focused on his float and it dropped quick. He set up to nothing.
We were certain that had to have been a fish and commented on the sentiments as he recast to the same line. We watched in utter anticipation as the float meandered down to the general local of it's last disappearance. Then it happened…it dropped and Gene set up on a long buck that breached the water instantly. It was a very good fish and once again the chase was on. We were now about half way down the bend and close to shore. We had some options. One was to risk my inferior netting abilities and play it out in the Hyde or row to shore and put the fish on the beach. As the battle ensued we chose option B and Gene leaped from the boat in the shallows. This still proved to be no simple task as Gene and I worked the fish down river abandoning the Hyde all together. We managed to swing him into a small cove where I scooped him up just for certainty.
It was an awesome fish. A long ruby red striped river warrior with a lime green hue. This fish was tough and his body bore the indications that he was a true river soldier. The beach landing afforded us the opportunity for a nice photo op and we took full advantage of it prior to the healthy release. We were now three stellar fish into a late start and stoked. The day took a drastic turn for the better and we couldn’t have wished for more from it. With an hour or so of fishable daylight left we reset the gear and made the row back out into the drift. Wanting to fish the back end of the bend we made our way down when my float dropped and once again we were into yet another hot fish. This time a smaller silver hen in the 5-6 lb class but nonetheless a workout.

At one time during this battle she was screaming downstream towards a large log protruding from the river. Her intentions were obvious and I had to clamp down on her and hope for the best when she turned and raced back up river toward the boat. The anchor was dropped and the boat was weaving in the current from shallow water to deeper water. We just happened to be over the shallow water when I decided to make my break for the shore. I jumped from the boat and worked the fish towards the shallow gravel bank. Norland was laughing his ass off and in hot pursuit. We managed to find success once again and put her on the beach. Here we were 4 fish into the day, water logged rats, and happier than hell. The boat was in the middle of the river and we were on the shore laughing about the entire episode. 
We marvelled at the  power of these fish and the fact that we had the river to ourselves. We made a few more attempts at the bottom end of the bend but it was apparent that we were losing daylight and had to make the slow motor back up to the launch. We arrived back to the cabin under darkness, off loaded out saturated gear and settled in for a hot meal and some cold Rolling Rocks. The discussions that evening mostly centered around how quickly our day turned around and just how enjoyable this miserable cold and rainy December day turned out to be. 
Today was testament that it truly isn't over until the fat lady sings and perseverance and confidence are the most valuable tools in ones wading jacket. These are the days that get eternally etched into our memories for these are the stories we will tell and relive for many years to come. They are the  days and experiences that money can’t buy... Days that should and will be cherished for the rest of our lives.


Trotsky said...

Very Cool ..thx for a great weekend.
Lets get out there again soon.

JB Ricks said...

Man, I love that section of stream! Big suprise, eh? Haha!

Steeliemax said...

jeelous guys looks like another great day on the big river