Sunday, January 22, 2012
#*%$!...That can't be good
"January Slab Hunt". I must say the video was awesome. It certainly put a smile on my face and more importantly had me motivated to get off the couch and geared up to hit the river. I noticed there were 2 or 3 squirrels hitting the bird feeders hard this morning and I took this as a positive to indicate a somewhat warmer shift in the weather. I loaded up the van and headed for the river.
Prior to this trip I had made arrangements with Bruce Farrell from the Grey Bruce Outdoors board to demo a 15' St Croix AVID adorned with a Riverkeeper Frogwater Edition Centrepin. The gear is on loan for a limited time and I was anxious to put a bend in the big stick and run the Frogwater through some big river action. The day priors session spoke to the refinements of the reel but I really needed a fish or two to develop an informed opinion. I have been getting bombarded from my Michigan brethren to run the "Waxie" as they call it this time of the year.
The river was once again deserted. I had the run of the water below the coffer so I decided to start up tight with a black and red Norland special. I gave it a fair run and decided to switch it up prior to working my way down the drift. I adjusted my float and tied on a new #10 135 Dai Riki Scud to my 5.6lb Raven Flouro tippet. The maggots were looking me in the eye so I popped open the container and mulled around the sawdust for a big fattie. After two drifts tight to the coffer I threw out my third and started to shuffle sideways towards a gravel bar that protrudes out into the flow. Doing this I took my eyes off the float to concentrate on the substrate of the river when the rod was almost pulled from my hand. I set up and a very hot titanium steelie jumped a foot or so from the surface and screamed down river. The avid loaded up nicely and it was fish on! For a late January steelhead this fish was on fire and gave me a run for my money breaching the surface multiple times. From what I seen it was a purple buck in the 7lb range. I was cautions not to put the boots to this fish with the big stick as I was unfamiliar with the blank and the power it possessed. Just as I was starting to gain some ground the float flew over my left shoulder and the fish was gone. Anxious to evaluate the incident I collected the slack line and pulled the rig in for a close inspection. Fully expecting a broken leader I was surprised to see the knot had failed on the hook end. Disappointed
As expected the water splashed on the reel had locked it up solid and the rest of the morning was played out fighting an ever increasing cold wind with the big stick, frequent attempts to de-thaw the reel and another blown Steelie. Tight tolerance pins are works of engineering but can be ones nemesis during the frigid months. It's imperative to exercise every precaution practical to keep these pins clean and water free at these times.