A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Monday, April 09, 2012
Late Season Float
Back in early January I had slipped into Ray Schmidt's Guide shop for some jig tying supplies. As fate would have it the shop owners were on holiday down south and one of their guides Gary Melzer was keeping house. Gary helped me find my tying materials and through the course of poking around the store we got to talking about Centrepinning for steelhead. Gary was eager to talk shop on this topic as he informed me he had recently taking it up and was very fond of the method. I was as equally pleased to meet a fly guide interested in the floatfishing scene. Over the next 15 mins or so we discussed technique and eventually landed on a future outing together on the river.
Well as life often does we both got busy and somehow managed to keep missing each others windows of opportunity. With the spring Guide business picking up our options were limited until finally this weekend the stars aligned and we found an open window for both of us to finally meet up and share a drift. I offered to float the Hyde and give Gary a much needed break from guiding. I figured he had spent a month or more showing clients around the river and might enjoy the break and opportunity to relax and fish.
We landed on a late morning start and met up at my place for 8am. We decided to float from Bear Creek down to Rainbow as Gary reported a decent number of dropbacks dumping out of the Bear. The plan made perfect sense to me and any day on the mid to lower river in my Hyde is day well spent regardless of fish numbers. To be honest I hadn't put too much expectation on any sort of numbers. The run is at its tail end and with the full sun and traffic as of late I just assumed it would be a struggle. On the way to Rainbow to spot Gary's truck we passed a deserted Bear Creek launch site. I was amazed to see the lower river was virtually free of traffic. We dropped the truck off at Rainbow and drove back up to launch the Hyde.
The morning air was crisp and a mild wind started to roll over the tree tops. The birds were exploding with song from the woods and it wasn't long before our lines were wet. We were under some time constraints and decided not to over stay our welcome at any one spot. The secret to fishing this river is to cover water. Gary knows this river well and suggested we hit a long heavily wooded straight away slightly down river.
We motored down and dropped anchor. Gary wasted no time and was into a long and lean dropback on one of his rag egg yarn patterns. Ya gotta love the acrobatics of dropback steelhead and this fish didn't disappoint. After a fair battle the fish made the net and smiles donned both of our faces. It was kinda cool to see the excitement in Gary's demeanor as well...For a guy that fishes as means of employment its cool to see that the "Steelhead Fever" is still there.
We continued to work our way towards the end of the run and a large bend in the river. Gary was quick to point out a deep trough down the center of the entry to the bend so I positioned the boat at the top of it. This time it proved to be my turn as part way into my first drift my float rocketed below the surface and I set up on a hot one. It was one of those violent takes that leave no question in your mind. This fish shot under the boat multiple times and managed to stay deep for the majority of the fight. After an awesome battle Gary made the scoop and fish number two was in the boat. She was an unspawned hen and still tight. It was nice to see some fish were still working their way up the system to do their business.
We snapped a few pics and bid her farewell. As far as I was concerned we had a million dollar day on our hands...we each had a fish, the weather was favourable, and the river was free of traffic. It was nice sharing fishing stories with Gary and learning about his Guiding experiences as we picked away at productive haunts. A few bends later deep in conversation Gary's float dropped far into a drift and it was fish-on again. This fish was big and full of energy. We ended up pulling anchor and giving chase. After a worthy battle and pursuit I made a deep scoop and number three was to hand.
This fish was a big spring chromer and fell for another one of Gary's Rag-egg ties. Man...Gary wasn't kidding when he said those Rag egg ties had been fishing well for him... We carried on down the river and poked around some more spots. We both missed a few more opportunities before having to motor to the launch to meet our deadlines. It was an awesome Sunday morning on the river and time well spent. It had been a while since I floated the river in the Hyde and sure was nice to get her back out there. It was as equally nice to spend the morning with someone of similar passion and respect for the fishery and centrepinning methodology. I look forward to floating the river with Gary again in the future. It certainly was alot of fun.