Sunday, December 04, 2011

Norlands Unicorn...

Day 1

Well the stars finally aligned.  The weather was forecast to be fishy, I had a free schedule at work, and Norland had the green light to join me for a few days of pre-winter/late fall Steelheading.  With some vacation time saved and a daunting wood stove install task hanging over my head I decided to head up Tuesday night and Gene would meet me at the Cabin later in the week..  The wood stove install was a little more involved than I had anticipated but after two full days of mental and manual labour the job is done. I couldn't be happier with the end result.
 There are still some minor details to finalize but the stove is in, looking beautiful, and cranking out the heat.  This was giant monkey on my back.  With major commitments at work this year I had considered paying someone to install it.  The quotes I had received were coming in extremely high and I struggled with paying a ridiculous amount of money for a job I was quite capable of completing.  With this said and the major fall outage at work I managed to keep putting the daunting task off. 

Looking at the weather window I decided I better bite the bullet and get it done.  Just as I was finishing up the final caulking and nailing of the roof flashing Norland rolled in.  True to his useless nature he showed up just in time to do nothing.  LOL!  Typical!!!
I cleaned up as he unloaded his gear and we settled down for a couple of cold drinks and some dinner as we discussed recent events in each others lives and the game plan for the following day.  There was a minor cold front that crept in shortly after Gene arrived so we decided to take our time and get to the river launch for 8am.

When morning arrived we discussed the days events over a coffee and agreed on fishing the lower river out of the Rainbow bend launch.  The morning air had a crisp bite to her and the remnants of a mild evening snowfall was visible on the ground.  As we made out way back to the launch access we rounded the final corner to witness an empty parking lot.  This was certainly a gift and we were quick to offload the Hyde and make our way down river in hot pursuit of some chrome.  The first couple of locations were stingy and didn't produce a single take.

 I could sense that Norland was thinking his Michigan curse was going to continue on and haunt him.  The third location we set up at I managed to hook a nice clipper early into the drift.  I was nice to feel the rod load up and the validation of our efforts.  After a decent battle we put the fish in the boat.  We continued to work our way down river to the next location.  Not long after situating the boat I hooked a little skipper and sent him on his way.  Gene then set up on a decent fish but no sooner than seeing his rod load up nicely his main line broke and a dire look of disbelief and despair fell across his face.  It was a sizable fish and Gene took it hard.  He shook it off and retied.  While he did that I dropped the boat down about 30 feet to fish a nice foam line coming off  the current break of the sunken tree.

About 3 drifts in I noticed Gene's lost float start to make it's way into the seam we were fishing then disappear under the surface.  I was clear that the fish that he had lost dropped down to this run and set up on the line we were targeting.  We figured that fish wouldn't be alone and made a couple more drifts.  A few drifts in and Gene hooked up with a tank.  The fish started to run down river and the chase was on.  We knew it was a big fish but were both shocked when it broke the surface.  With no other options we worked our way down river in the Hyde in hot pursuit.  After a couple of feeble attempts the huge buck made the net and I lifted him into the boat.  He was a giant.  Definitely Genes  personal best Steelhead.  He measured out at 32".  We didn't get a girth measurement but this fish would easily hit the 14 lb mark. 

The fish was awesome and couldn't have come at a better time.  By now Gene was shaking and couldn't have been happier.  After a fair amount of glamour shots we sent him back to the depths from which he came unscathed and no worse for wear.  Gene celebrated the epic victory over a Creemore and a bologna sandwich.  LOL!  The remainder of the day found us poking around the lower river desperately looking for a hookup.  But as fate would have it we were unsuccessful.  The fish were certainly there but were put down for some reason.  We talked to other steelheaders that experienced the same findings.  We couldn't have been happier with our rewards and the encounter with the giant MI buck.  All afternoon all Gene could talk about was the call he was going to make to Advanced Taxidermy when he got back home for the reproduction mount.  LOL!  It was a good feeling watching him put that fish in the net and I couldn't have been happier for him.  He certainly has  taken his licks over there and more than earned that fish.  We arrived back to a warm cabin and the inviting aroma of crockpot chili.  We lit the inaugural fire in the wood stove and discussed the next days game plan over diner and some cold beverages as we settled in for the evening.  Life is good.

On a side note...I attempted to teach Gene how to work the Hyde.  That proved to be a lost cause.  LOL!  I'm just glad he didn't have his sidearm in the boat as I'm certain he would have shot me in the face for my lack of patience.  I can't be around useless people...LOL!  ;0)

to be 2


18 Mile said...

Awesome read, awesome fish, and it couldn't have happen to a more desrving guy.

lambton said...

Thanks Joe!
Norland...deserving???? LOL! Deserving of kick in the nadds maybe... ;0)
It was a great trip and an awesome fish. I can't wait to see the reproduction that Advanced comes up with. I also can't wait to see the bill for that work! Ouch!
You are going to have to make your way over to the West side some time. You will certainly not regret the effort.

JB Ricks said...

Great fish!

Make sure when you write up day two, you mention something about the dude with the gold Islander you saw putting on a clinic that ended up having to swim back to shore as the water was rising around him...?


lambton said...

The day I saw the crazy American Jig Fisherman sporting a gold Canadidan Made Floatfishing Icon was actually day 3. There will be no mention of that day on this blog as we both got blanked. ;0)
Once again brother I am sorry I didnt' make the effort and hike up to see if that was you. I saw you getting beat up by that monster fish and was actually considering the hike on a humanitarian front to offer some assistance and tail it for you but I was under a tight timeline and wanted to cover that bend before we had to hit the road. That and the fact that I would never attempt to wade where you were. LOL! Mad man!!!!! Swiming in December...Now that is hardcore! I'm up there this coming weekend and plan on drifting that section in the Hyde. Are you Free?

JB Ricks said...


I'm not sure if I have time this weekend. I am going to bow hunt on saturday I think, but Im not sure yet. I'd like to hang a big fat doe before I put away the deer gear for good.

GT said...

Nice fish Gene!!! There have been days where I was happy to see my buddy get the best ( and sometimes only )fish of the day.

Hey can you get a video of Gene working the Hyde? :O

lambton said...

GT...Norland was not made to operate non powered pleasure craft nor was I wired for tolerance and teaching ability. LOL! I forewarned him and he knows what I'm like. Video would certainly make the comedy network.


Mmmmmm meat! I'm seriously thinking about taking up bow hunting. Just have to get that by the wife and daughters...The love the deer.
I have recently been fixated with the hunting channel on the satellite. Bow hunting really appeals to me and it sure would be nice to have a freezer full of venison burger and pepperettes. Good luck and be safe out there.


Trotsky said...

You hunt the chocolate starfish you homo...
I am a rowing genius yet unappreciated.
Great trip... I 'll never forget that fish.