A semi-coherant collection of ramblings,misdealings, and Tom Foolery experienced in pursuit of Great Lakes Steelhead.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Kickin off Ontario
Last weekends torrential downpours left the Huron Rivers running large and proud. I monitored the situation from work all week in anticipation of an opportunity to fish the home waters. I watched the graph like a hawk and what I thought would be Tuesday turned to Wednesday and then Thursday and realistically... Friday. I already had Friday booked off of work to head over to the cabin with the family for Thanksgiving weekend so Thursday was my only shot. I booked it off of work with a contingency to go in if conditions didn't better themselves. I wasn't overly confident that the visibility would be prime after a late Wednesday photographic report from a friend so I decided on a game time decision.
Wednesday evenings data was predicting a fishable flow but just on the upper limits. When I awoke Thursday morning my prediction was on the money so I loaded up the truck and made my way to Tim Horton's for some morning fuel. The ride up was relaxing and I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy the quiet that comes with the downtime of early morning travel for fishing. My timing was a little off and I arrived 15-20 mins later than I would have liked. There was already a car at the access but I didn't let it dampen my spirits. The fair weather fisherman bite has yet to be squashed by the driving winds and bone crunching cold that comes with this passion so a single vehicle spoke to river conditions on the edge or dumb luck.
I geared up and started the long trek back to the river. The morning sun was beginning to light the sky on fire as it threatened to rise off on the horizon. The only tracks I could make out in the bean field were from what appeared to be rather large Coyote. We seemed to be headed in the same direction so I kept my eyes peeled as I followed them back towards the bush. The forest trail was overgrown with lush green foliage. It had been a rather long time since an opportunity to fish this early in October had presented itself for me. I didn't expect to have to lay down a new trail. As I made my way down into the valley I could hear the roar of flowing water. I was initially alarmed by the intensity but reassured myself that graph data and past experience dictated a fishable flow.
Finally I pushed my way through the last tall grasses to reach the waters edge. I was marginally disappointed with what lay before me. To be quite honest I knew all along that the river was going to be on the negative side of fishable but it was my only shot at her for this rain event. I had been here before and watched her come into shape before my eyes so I kept an optimistic outlook and started to cover water. It wasn't long and I hooked a 4" river chub. I had forgotten about those little demons but took it as a positive precursor.
If this little guy found my offering certainly a genetically superior Great Lakes Steelhead would have no issue. Another three or four drifts and my float dropped in the slack water and the GL3 loaded up nicely. It had happened...my first Fall Steelhead of 2013 was on the line. It wasn't a huge fish but certainly validated my efforts and rekindled my confidence. After a decent battle the juvenile chromer came to hand. It was a couple of pounds of confidence and after a quick pic was released. I was certainly excited and proceeded to pound every inch of decent water with determination as I made my way down river.
Every effort brought no further reward. I made my way down to a well know bend in the river we frequent. I waded out to the center and worked every inch of the outside bend to no avail. After overstaying my welcome I decided to further my travels to the final destination of the morning. This run holds a special place in my heart. If I had to choose one spot on this river to fish this would be the place. I can only honestly recall being shutout here once so I was eager to get positioned and make the first throw. The first 20-30 drifts didn't turn a fish. I was starting to think about cutting my losses and making the hike out when I noticed the river visibility was showing signs of improvement.
The visibility went from 6-8" to 10-12". I had to remind myself that this was going to be one of those days that fish better later on as the conditions improve. I gathered my thoughts for a moment and repositioned my footing to alleviate a minor lower back ache that was surfacing from standing stationary for so long. I found myself marvelling at the reflection of the golden fall foliage on the waters surface and becoming hypnotized by flowing water and falling leaves and the ultimately the true splendor of Autumn. I started to recount all of the fish we had turned and all of the adventures we had shared in this very spot.
So many good times and fond memories. Truly sacred water and a place near and dear to my heart. After regrouping my thoughts and coming back down to earth I concentrated my efforts on the lower far side of the pool. I made a very long drift to towards the tailout when I lost sight of the float. Instinct took over and I set up. Surprisingly the GL3 loaded up and a giant chrome buck erupted from the pool. I was in complete disbelief as I made every attempt to handle the angry beast. After a few more acrobatic leaps he made a long run to the far bank and held his ground deep in the pool. Then, as if in cinematic slow motion, the orange 8 gm Drennan loafer broke the surface and shot back to the river bank behind me.
He had won. I was alright with it. I experienced a incredible battle while he put on an acrobatic show that only a hot October fish could. I frantically collected my line on the reel and checked my leader. Not only did he win but he won because of purpose. The hook was gone and the bottom 6 inches of the leader was severely frayed. He wrapped my line on some rocks and ground himself free. Certainly a conscious effort on his part and well played. I retied my rig and wondered how many more opportunities I would get. Once done I excitedly made a cast to the top of the pool and mended the slack line when the float dropped. I set up, the surface exploded, and it was game on again.
The very next cast and I was into another chromer. This time a hen. I was taking no chances with this girl and put all my faith in the gear. Soon I was holding a magnificent silver slab in the shallows. It was a great moment and another gift from this amazing river. I fished for a bit longer and lost another giant chrome missile on my way out at the first run of the morning. I chalked that one up to early season rust. It was now shortly after 12:30 and the sun was warming things up.
I had a long hike out and decided to take my time. The hike out was tough. It doesn't get easier with age. Unseasonably warm temps and steelheading gear make for a tough hike. I was certainly glad to reach the truck and crack a cold reward for the days efforts. Life is good I thought to myself as I geared down. The best days of the year are before us. Fish are in the rivers and the steelheading season is here. This time of the year is what its all about.