A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Frozen Anchors and Cracked Fingers...Winter Steelheading
Sitting in front of my computer in the comfort of my home I am contemplating just how to capture the past 48hrs of steelheading at the cottage. I'm tired and my hands ache. We started the trip off with an afternoon session that left me feeling quite excited about the next two days. Monday's forecasted temps were very encouraging and I was excited arriving to the upper river with the Hyde in tow to discover that we had the river to ourselves. The next 8 hours would prove to be a series of unfortunate events.
The day ended on a blanco. It wasn't like we didn't have our chances. The ones that came across my path were poorly stuck or simply got the better of me. Some days you can't do anything wrong and some days you can't buy any luck. We did managed to put a multitude of very healthy resi rainbows and browns into the boat though and if it wasn't for their aggression the day would have been very dismal. This mornings game plan was finalized over coffee.
The decision was made to forgo the upper river and head right down to the lower. The boat was left out overnight so all we had to do was load the motor and the rods and make our way to the launch. This proved to be a poor call. The night time temps had dropped well below freezing and the bottom of the boat was now full of ice. The anchor rope was frozen solid as well as the anchor itself in the bottom ice. Minor details to hardcore steelheaders but a pain in the a$$ nonetheless. Arriving to the launch we were quite surprised to see another 5 or so rigs already launched and on the water.
The ramp was very icy where they had launched but we were lucky enough to have the far side of the ramp untouched and bone dry. As we launched two more rigs pulled in. I noticed it was the Hawkins guides and assumed they were starting their days later now as the bite was now into winter mode. We made our way to the first run and crossed our fingers that the anchor would release and function with the frozen rope and mechanism. We were to struggle with this system for the remainder of our outing and it proved to be yet another pain in the a$$ for the morning.
The forecast was predicting a marginally positive one degree Celsius but it certainly wasn't making any attempt at breaking free from the negatives. We struggled with icy guides, frozen anchor systems, reels, hands, and toes. Be bounced around for a couple of hours without so much as a sniff. The feeling of fishing heavy pressured 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th water in the extreme cold was testing my patience. After the 5th unsuccessful location I decided to double back, cut our losses, and head for the cabin to offload the boat and see if we could redeem ourselves wading the water below the coffer.
This proved to be a wise decision. The fishing was tough but I still managed to persuade a couple handsome players to come to hand. The roe bite is definitely on hold but the bug bite seems to be the ticket. Norland jigs once again saved the day. Solid black and black with fire-red. Also to note a flashy white iridescent jig put the hurt on a multitude of resident rainbows and browns. Multiple passes of the black jigs produced nothing and when I switched over to the white I popped two fish in two drifts. Not sure if the resi's are keying in on a minnow or waxi presentation but one thing is for certain...they are on it!
It was nice to feel the big bend in the rod today and get some redemption for a tough day and a half. Monday just seemed to be one of those days where a guy couldn't do anything right and this morning was a bitter cold reminder that the elements can and will have an effect on the outcome. The poor fish don't know what the heck is happening. Plus 8 temps one day and -3 a couple days later. They set up for winter mode and then mother nature throws them a curve. It's all part of the game I guess but I know one thing for certain...my old body takes a hell of a beating on these cold outings. The last three weeks of fishing has wrecked havoc on my hands. They have dried out substantially and I have a multitude of cracks on my fingers and thumbs. At one point today after dealing with one of my fish I noticed my hands were actually bleeding. Now every time I inadvertently bump something with one of my affected fingers it sends a jolt of pain like an electrical shock through my entire body. LOL! I ain't getting soft!!!! It is an unreal pain. The joys of getting older I guess and the price to be paid for fishing like a Fiend. A price well worth it I guess... now where is that hand lotion.