Monday, November 18, 2013

Big Water Season...

Water...A steelheaders dilemma…It seems that we are always chasing it.  The flows are either too high or too low, too clear or too dirty for our liking.  Whatever your preferred poison there is always a reason of concern when it comes to river conditions.  One could almost state that River Conditions are a Steelheaders Nemesis.
So far the 2013 Season has been interesting to say the least. The past 5 years have been a struggle waiting for the rains to arrive and allow opportunities to chase our adversaries. Some years conditions held anglers at bay awaiting enough water to carry a float while other years found the smaller flows remaining mere trickles for the entire duration. It seems we are always waiting for the rains to come. This years season has been the opposite.
The rains came early and have continued to come. They have kept the mean river levels on the upper edge of fishable and quite often have been returning before the rivers had come into shape injecting another 2-3 days of grief and down time.  The trips I have taken had been timed for what I interpreted would be the best opportunities based on weather forecast and hydrological data. I have yet to arrive and fish the river under what I consider "mint" conditions. The flows have remained big and have kept the fish scattered.
The visibility has been on the edge and only managed to come into shape at the end of each outing.
It's been an interesting and challenging year and the secret to success has been to cover all of the water. Typical lies have been mediocre and keeping one’s mind and eyes open have been producing results. It's easy to fall into the trap and concentrate on the "money" water but the fish are on the move and distributed throughout the entire system.  I have always been one that prefers the high flow rates but my preference and confidence lies with big clear water.  
It's refreshing and challenging but the physical demands of running miles of river can weigh heavy on you.  The last trips hike out of the back waters really weighed on me.  It certainly brought to light the cold reality that my youth is escaping me.   I try to keep myself in shape for this crazy obsession and for the most part I feel I can keep visiting the waters I love to fish but I have realized that a clock is ticking. That water is a young man's game and perhaps the epic hikes need to be scaled. 
Nothing worth obtaining is ever easy and everything good comes with a cost.  The water we fish certainly has a physical component to it and the big flows adds to that equation.  It forces us to cover lots of  river which inherently requires multiple crossings.  These efforts are multiplied by the raging flow and an impaired visual component.  When you can’t see the rivers obstructions from the stained water it’s imperative to take it slow, make each step count, and be focused on your game.  The more time spent in the raging currents equates to increased efforts. 

Throw in a foot of snow, slippery boulders, and the absence of river bank and the miles hiked take their toll.  I shouldn’t complain as this water is certainly a blessing to the watershed and all of the creatures that rely on it.  The system has undergone a  good flush and the fish have had no problem scattering throughout it’s entirety.  “Shooting fish in a barrel” has not been a reality for the fair-weather crowd so spawning adult numbers should see an increase come spring.   
Also...fighting wild Huron chromers in a large raging flow is second to none.  The water has certainly been large this Oct/Nov but on the flip side of the equation, we are only mid-way into the season and December has the potential to be outstanding if the freeze-up keeps at bay.  The Rains of 2013 are certainly a mixed blessing and hopefully we are paying it forward with limited opportunities now for exceptional  December opportunities later.

1 comment:

JB said...

This winter will be epic on the big river. Mark it.