A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Boxing Day Returns
My wife and the girls had plans today. Mainly they centered around Boxing Day sales and Christmas returns. With this in mind I had some return plans of my own...namely an impromptu return to the shire for one last visit and farewell for the Ontario 2012 Extended Season. I was not sure if I would get back to the little river before the seasons demise but the opportunity presented itself and I had to accept. With a quickly approaching winter storm from the North the window was small. The game plan was simple... get back in there early and see how things shaped up as the morning progressed with a quick exit strategy in hand should things start to go south.
Arriving to the access I was not surprised to see no other signs of life. This time I had a good feeling the river would be lonely today. My starting point had me hiking back a good 30 mins before any lines would be wet. The brisk winter wind nipped at my face on the hike back and was a certain reminder that this outing was going to be a true winter steelheading experience.
As expected the river basin was lonely. The over cast skies, frigid temps and impending snow storm kept the sane people at home. I had the entire place to myself...but run after run I failed to illicit a response.
I ran the gamut of offerings. I went super stealth for fear of line shyness. I downsized my baits. I stood my ground and flogged the runs in the hopes one fish would come to hand. The river was low and super clear...I knew the fish were there but all I could think was that the major front that was now upon me put these fish down hard. Well into the morning I ended up at a large clay bank with lots of promise. Once again I refused to give up and spent twice as much time as I would have normally trying to convince some cooperation. The outlook was grim and I was starting to make the decision to cut my losses when I remembered this would most likely be my last visit to the shire.
There was another option a few hundred yards down stream that I had not fished this season. The fond memories of this run ran through my head. I was cold but still had time and nothing to lose. I stumbled along the tight banks down river and crossed at the first rapids. I was not sure what to expect as the river was very low. Arriving to the rapids that dump into what we refer to as the "Mitchell" run I was excited to see a long deep emerald shute on the far bank. It looked very fishy and instantly captured my attention. The first cast fell short and I floated the inside edge of the slot from the top of the rapids down through the 60 or so feet of the run without a tap.
The second cast I made sure I hit the far edge and 10 feet past the bottom of the rapids my float unexpectedly dropped. With some disbelief I set the hook and the rod loaded up nicely. Finally my determination found reward and finally some warmth was returning to my tired and cold body. She was a beautiful chrome hen and sincerely validated my efforts. After sending her back into the Emerald abyss I repositioned myself back at the top of the run and put on a fresh white bag. Once again I picked the far edge of the slot and in the exact same location I was into fish number two. This time a very handsome chrome buck. After a few pics I sent him back home to find his lady friend.
My fourth cast was on the same line and again the float dropped in the same location. I set up to a thumping response only to have the hook pop and the rod unload. I was now 2 for 3 in a matter of 15 mins on a day that I couldn't have bought a fish prior. I was eager to get back in there for another go. I quickly selected another small white back and made the cast. I don't know if it was 4 or 5 drifts later but that float dropped once again and another buck was thumping away on the end of the line. A day of despair took an instant 180. Fishing is a funny thing. There certainly is a Mental aspect to the game. Determination and confidence are paramount. I almost doubled back and walked away with a blank but I didn't. I remained focused and determined. I kept faith in my offering and it paid off in dividends. In the blink of an eye things can turn around. I longed for my true winter experience all season and today I got just that. The iced guides and the frozen reel can really weigh on a mans spirits but the isolation and solitude these outings provide are unequalled. I timed my exit perfect...I rode the front edge of the snowstorm all the way home and as I type this snow is drifting upwards of 3-4 feet in my driveway. Winter is now officially here.