Monday, November 26, 2012

Swinging before the great flood...

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!

Last week I was able to get out to the Klickitat for a day on the water with my Dad. He's never fly fished for steelhead, nor spey cast before. I'm still a true spey rookie but with each trip, I feel that my casting improves.

On the Klickitat, we braved cool temperatures and light rainfall fishing in the Canyon and even exploring some of the river above Leidl campground. It was surreal, swinging in the fog covered flats, watching salmon completing their life cycle in the tail outs, and driving my numerous wild turkey.

No steelhead to hand (surprise, surprise as my Dad nymphed up an eager whitefish), but we did beat the downpour by a few hours. Upon leaving the river, the rains started in earnest, blowing out the Klickitat by the middle of the next day. Who can complain about spending time on beautiful water with your old man and a beer though? I sure wont!

Back to bench, tying, and waiting for the next time on the water. Soon enough, I will connect with a steelhead on the swing...

Friday, November 16, 2012

In Search of Grey Ghosts

Steelheading is not a game of constant fish-catching action.

I get that. You get that. Etc.

That being said, progress is being made.

A tasty tailout on a local stream... no Grey Ghosts in sight though.

I'm simply trying to spend more time on the water when conditions are good. Sure, it's between seasons here in SW Washington but you can't catch steel without having a line in the water.

So I find myself out on local waters a few times a week, swinging proven patterns, in tasty looking water, hoping that a grey ghost decides to greet me with a feisty tug. Soon enough, it will happen.

Hopefully that tug will come tomorrow on the Klickitat... I'm pretty certain my one thousandth cast is near!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Importance of a Weekly Retreat

Does life have you stressed? 

Get out! Fish!

That my friends is some very simple, but accurate wisdom. 

Lately, I've found myself out on the water once a week. A far cry from three days of fishing trout in Spokane, but the opportunities are fewer and far between for trout around the 'Couv. 

With nearby rivers either blown out, or nearly devoid of anadromous fish, I'm getting impatient. I keep feeling like I need a fix. My past few trips to the Cowlitz produced mixed results (mostly great casting practice) but no true prize. I need that tug on the end of my line... I'm a damn junkie, and I admit it. 

On the way to Merrill. A gorgeous, albeit cold, day!
This week, my fix took place at Merrill Lake. I hit the water around noon and as soon as I launched my float tube, I realized I had forgotten my stripping apron at home. Genius! Oh well, I had a few hours to fish before hopefully meeting up with Mike Gamby, an original Early Morning Freestone Pimp (much like Jay Johnson, my early fly fishing mentor). 

I found feisty Coastal Cutthroat all around the lake that day, and despite the smaller size of many of the fish (12" average), I felt elated to get some good mojo back. Add the fact that these were my first lacustrine Coastal Cutts, and I was quite happy with the day.

Mike and his friend Chad showed up later and we worked the shoreline, replete with downed logs and a raised water level in search of fish. Mike nailed several Cutts and I took back to my tube for a few more fish before the sun set behind the hills.

I would post pictures of the day's catch and scenery but in typical fashion, I lost a piece of gear on the water. Yes, for the second time in five months, I lost my camera. Remember that missing stripping apron? Setting my camera in my lap in lieu of the apron was a terrible idea... slipped right out of my lap and into the drink. Perhaps the floating attachment would've been a good idea when fishing a lake. But alas, a sweet Fuji waterproof camera is sitting at the bottom of the lake and there's nothing I can do about it. 

The day was an overall success (though I'd trade the many cutthroat caught for my camera back!). It was nice to fish with some new friends and explore water that I hadn't touched before. Heck, it was nice to know that I had still had some skills on a lake! But in this season of transition, I find myself checking water levels, hatchery escapement reports, and weather patterns. While I'll never be over trout, it's almost time for winter steelhead and this guy is going to be relentlessly chasing them.

A real fly fishing junkie can never get enough.