Today started as many mornings do, with the alarm going off early and me suiting up for another fishing trip. The vedder was my destination. With the dropping water levels, the threat of fair weather for the day and rain in the forcast for the rest of the week, I set off to search for steelhead.
After a quick stop for a healthy McDonald's breakfast I was on the freeway heading for Chilliwack. Now I am not sure how others get ready for a day of fishing, but I almost always suit up at home with my waders on so I am out the car and on the river as soon as I get there. My rod is tied and ready to go the night before and everything is strategically packed so I dont waste time in the morning. Today was no different in that respect. So back to the fishing trip. I was heading down the freeway, consuming some quality table fare from my favorite Scottish restaurant when I realized it was getting a little warm and toasty in the car. So naturally I turned down the heat. Or so I thought. I drove a little further and it was getting even warmer. So I turned the temperature control in my car all the way down. It still got hotter. My temperature control knob on my dash was not co-operating. "So this is how my day is going to be" is what I said to myself. Well, that and a few choice words. Needless to say I had to drive the freeway, in the wee hours of the morning with my window open so I wouldn't die of heat stroke. Why did I put my waders on at home?
When I arrived at the river I parked, hopped out of my sauna car and trekked to my first stop. It was a fishy looking run if I have ever seen one. The anticipation of the day ahead made the heater trouble disappear from my mind. I held my center pin at the ready and gracefully sent my float and jig out into the fishy looking run. Thats where problem number two reared its ugly head. I looked down to see a nice big birds nest on my reel and thought to myself "why didn't I stick with the spey rod". It took me what seemed like forever to untangle the mess.
I continued to fish that first run and saw no action. I waded across a side channel to the head of another run. Thats when the wind picked up.
The wind wasn't unbearable. It was coming in gusts, and was rather annoying. The wind and I were in perfect synchronization. Every time I went to cast the wind would pick up. When I was reeling in at the end of a drift, it would be calm. Sigh....
Despite the wind and other difficulties of the day, the trip was worth the effort. I fished a lot of good water and it was actually quite a nice day out there. As I worked my way down stream from run to run, fishing every piece of water that may hold fish I came across a nice side channel with a small slot of deeper water. The water was, at most, three feet deep in the middle so I thought I would drift a few times through it. Nothing. No evidence of fish. So I moved on to the main run that was just the other side of the side channel. As I fished through the run I looked behind me to see another angler who had apparently also decided that side channel looked fishy. Too bad I had already flogged it to death just 2 minutes before. WRONG! About 5 casts in and his float takes a dive and a chrome steelhead burst out of the shallows. I watched in disbelief. I thought I had covered that water pretty well, after all it wasnt a very side channel. I guess the fish didn't like my jig. Unfortunately for the other guy the fish spat the hook. He tried for a bit to get it to bite again but it was to no avail. I finished through the run I was fishing, and through another. No action. On my way back to my car I decided to throw a few more casts in that side channel to see if the fish was still around. To my dismay, nothing I tried would get it to bite. I concluded it must have taken off.
Back at my car I decided to change things up a bit and switched over to a size two hook with a bait loop. I had brought some procured chum roe and it was time to try it at my next destination.
Now if you are still reading this post, this is where it gets interesting. My next stop warranted a bit of a walk to the run I wanted to fish. On the walk I stopped to look at a small run between runs. It was a piece of water I, and I suspect many others, have walked past many times. For some reason today my fishy sense was tingling and I decided to give it a few casts. Well I literally only got a few casts in before fate took over. I sent out a perfect, smooth cast that cut through the air like a softly hovering frisbee thrown ever so gently to a loved one. The float landed softly on the water and sat upright at attention, poised for whatwas to come next. The float drifted down stream seamlessly until it vanished before my eyes. The take was aggressive and my reaction was quick. It was game on. As soon as I felt the head shakes I got a big shot of adrenaline. The fish took off, peeling line and showing off it's acrobatics on more than one occasion. The fish promptly took my line up stream in an attempt to throw the hook. Then... slack line. The fish had turned. For a half a second I was devestated, thinking I had lost the fish. Instantly I reeled like mad to try to catch up. Then... head shakes. I had managed to keep up and the fight was stil on. It was a good fight, but one of us had to win. The fish was eventually spent, and I had to hand. Luckily by this point I had amassed a few spectators, one of which offered to take a picture. Being that it was a wild fish, I didn't want to have it out of the water too long. I asked him to have my camera ready so I could quickly lift it up for a quick victory shot of my first steelhead landed before I sent it back on its way.
Today was a good day.