Friday, April 8, 2011

A Little Get Away

Well ... Opening Day of trout season came and went with little fanfare. On Friday the first of April, a severe spring blizzard made an appearance in the mountains. The day was cold, wet, slow at best, and frustrating at worst. While it was good to get out for some stream-bred fish, it was better to chase some lake-run steelhead on Saturday and Sunday. The weather was much more agreeable, and the fish weren't quite so lock-jawed.

Of course, no day on the Salmon River passes by without a hitch, and two days on the water are guaranteed to bring twice as many problems. It almost goes without saying to suggest we tasted our share of misery.

There was the drift boat guide that decided to park his clients a mere 40 feet to my front while I was swinging a run. The river gods smiled on me when I managed my first decent cast of the day, and double-speyed my 550 grain Skagit head across both of his sports' back-trolling lines. The curses, cut tippet, and sacrificed fly were well worth the guide removing his boat from the run, and the cosmos returning to relative harmony. Score one for the bug chuckers.

One of our party spent the better part of the second night introducing his small intestine to the commode. I understand that after the initial introduction, gifts were exchanged, and a friendship was born that will span both time and distance. We're not sure if it was the beer, lack of sleep, or warm - day old ham that did the trick. Whatever it was, the boy has certainly had better nights, and Brenda's motel is hardly the place one wants to be when one's innards attempt a military coup.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Steelhead Ed. Steelhead Ed is every reasonable angler's nightmare. He sells poorly tied flies to fellas who don't know better than to buy from one of the many resident "experts." He storms upstream into the run you're fishing, Pied Pipering four or five of his most obnoxious buddies right along with him. He curses like a meth-head who just smoked his last bump. He saunters right up next to you - close enough to smell your pit stick - and then encourages his buddies to do the same. We dealt with Steelhead Ed and his entourage for only an hour before they became unbearable. We packed up our things, and left for quieter water (which we did eventually find).

And of course there were all the usual frustrations associated with being on a two-day steelhead bender. There were lost spools of tippet, and fly boxes drifting downstream. There were spilled bags of splitshot, and a small fortune in blue-eared pheasant left hanging in the trees. There was the rebellious reel frame that somehow separated itself from its spool at the very moment a ten-pound hen decided to inhale my partner's prince nymph.

At the end of the day, however, we had a genuinely good time. We ate some good food. We drank some truly decent beer, and while one buddy did go swimming to retrieve his spool, no one took an unintended plunge into the drink. The fish were just willing enough to keep us interested, and the sun warmed us whenever the wind blew a little too cold.

All things considered, this trip was one of the best.

Some tubey goodness

Organized chaos
One in the bag
One of several hens
My best fish of the trip
Shawn Brillon ... beautiful man ... possibly Amish
The browns loved swung flies ... the steelhead were slightly more tight lipped - but only slightly


Pat Cohen (smalliestalker) said...

awesome man....I was contemplating a trip up's a toss between steel or spring largemouth....

Dustin's Fly Box said...

AMAZING fish!! Love the flies

Nushranger said...

Good writing. Enjoyed the skagit attack on the drift boat and the priceless description of steelhead Ed. I guess I've never had the um pleasure to meet him, hope it stays that way.