Steelhead, for those who are unfamiliar, are a super-charged, sea runnin, crazy reel screamin, and extremly hard to catch rainbow trout. Once they reach the sea after spawning, they split up and become loners, and have been found as far away as the coast of Japan. To think that the fish your chasing has been around the world and back, truly is something special, and the countless days having gone fishless, or even biteless, were worth every moment.
My first encounter with these elusive creatures, was on my first outing with Ryan and Frank. After picking Ryan’s brain about spey casting, I waded out to my knees and started shooting line.
Swish….Swish…..Swish. Big mend.
“Let it swing down,” echos Ryan’s voice in my head.
I let the fly swing, anticipation in my arms. My eyes, mind, and body are concentrating on nothing else but the small “traffic ticket” at the end of my line. Rain pelts my jacket, runs down my brow, and of course finds it’s way to my dry clothes, sending a shiver down my spine. Although I’m chilled and cursing the rain, I continue to follow my line as it swings below me. TAP…….whoa……there’s something there. My heart goes to my throat, and I very nearly set the hook. I catch myself, and quickly regain my composure. Tap….tap….TAP. I raise my rod, low and behold….theres a fish on! I give out good holler,”I got one,” reminding myself of my childhood years when I would yell at the top of my lungs,”I got one,” when I hooked up with a fish in Alaska(I did that just for the camp attention). Grinning from ear to ear, I reel in my first steelhead. Ryan, at my side, congratualtes me and gives me a high five. As I study the small 17in. steely, I’m facsinated by it’s markings(completely different from the trout I’m used to seeing). A faint shimmer of red runs down it’s side, small spots litter it’s back, and bright chrome makes it shimmer in the sun with brilliance. I gently retrieve the small “traffic ticket” and return the little fella back to the river. “That was a good ole 1/2 pounder ya got there Camille,” exclaimed Ryan. Now you need one of the big guys!
On the way home from the almighty Klamath river, we were discussing the days fishing, when we decided to take a quick stop to gear down, and use the facilities. Just as we were jumping into the ole “Land Cruiser” Ryan notices something hanging from underneath the vehicle near the right rear wheel. “Hey guys, is that supposed to be there?” Both me and Frank look at it and are like, “no.” So for the next 15-20 minutes I sit on a rock and watch Frank and Ryan scratch their heads about the mysterious, hanging, attachment. Luckily Frank is an expert on land crusiers, or cars in general, and diagnosed the problem. I think the diagnosis was the exhaust was falling off. That was one of three incidents with the land cruiser.
For the next several weeks I continued to pursue my fisrt ever adult steelhead. I fished weekend on weekend for what seemed to be a decade, and caught nothing but small 1/2 pounders. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to catch the fiesty little buggers,but the thought of something bigger swimming around was just too hard to forget. I was determined to catch at least one adult before I went back to Montana.
Back at the shop, I had been working on a slide show/presentaion about my life in Alaska, which I was going to present to The Shasta Mayflies, Golden West Women’s Flyfishers, and the Shasta Trinty Flyfishers. The weekend before my presentation to the Shasta Mayflies, I was invited to participate in one of their outings on the Trinity river. At first I was unsure, mainly because I didn’t know how to get there and I didn’t know anyone, but in the end, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet new people and talk a little fish.
Beep, beep, beep….I roll over with a groan and fumble to shut off the annoying, and evil alarm. My first thought was, “5 in the morning is insane,” but when the thought of fishing rolled in, I realized that this was an exception. I threw my gear in the “Ford Ranger” and took off for the Trinity.
Once I reached the meeting spot for the day’s events(fishing) I was greeted by some very enthusiastic fisher-women. I was overwhelmed at first because I’d never been around so many other gals who loved to fish as much as me, but soon relaxed and listened in on the conversations. There was a constant buzz of stories, questions, answers, and lots of laughter. I could tell that it was going to be fun day.