It had been much too long since the last time I’d gone fishing. My spirits were as bedraggled as a soaked kitten’s.
The fact there was a bunch of cars parked at the bridge didn’t really faze me. I knew most of the guys would be fishing north of it - where most of the fish were. I was headed several hundred yards downstream, towards the lake. I’d druther fish where there weren’t many fish as long as I had some space to myself.
Only one guy was working “my” spot when I got there. I set up a respectful 50 or so yards away and proceeded to get my first professional overrun (“backlash” or “tangled line” for you fin-impaired folks) on my 2nd cast.
Five minutes of cursing and working out the tangles later, I made my 3rd cast, and this time there was no unravelling that mass of monofilament spaghetti. I cut the line, sat on the bank, dug out some new line and started refilling my reel. And promised never to use line more than six months old, ever again.
While I was in the midst of that little chore, the other guy packed up and started walking back towards the bridge. As he passed, I asked if he’d had any luck. He replied in the negative, saying it had been dead for the three hours he was there.
Fuelled by my usual mixture of faith and foolishness, I was undaunted. I moved to his vacated spot and began drifting a small worm under a float.
The sun was warm - though the wind found gaps in my clothes and reminded me it was very early spring. The worm wasn’t working so I switched to an artificial grub. Nothing doing there either. Time to use the tried-and-true roe bag.
An hour and a half meandered by without a sign of a fish. My shoulders and arm began to hurt - in that good, fishing-caused way. The water looked perfect - high and slightly dingy. There had to be a fish or two around. They couldn’t all have moved up to the off-limits spawning areas yet.
I was watching two gulls squabble over something when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my float slip under the surface. I belatedly, but not too belatedly, set the hook and was overjoyed to feel throbbing resistance. My 11 ½' rod (it’s not the size - it’s the tricks you can do with it) bent into that oh-so-lovely C-shape.
After a 2 or 3-minute spirited tussle, I eased a 4lb. steelhead to the bank.
Usually I like to release my first decent fish of the year but I was pretty sure it would be the only one I’d catch today. As I dispatched it, I mentally promised to release the next one, whenever it might come along.
It came along about an hour later. This time a 5-6 pounder, a fine male already sporting his spawning colours.
A fishless hour after that, I packed up and trudged back to my car. My hip waders had somehow gained 10 pounds each. My back had joined my shoulders and arm in the pain department.
And my spirit soared. I felt renewed - as happy as I’ve been in months.
Tomorrow I’m gonna do it again.
The above post was written for the layperson, the non-anglerphile. For those of you who consider fish slime to be a cologne and who feel naked without at least a couple of scales clinging to your clothes - read on....
I use two rods: a 9' light-action for bottom-fishing and for casting the occasional piece of hardware, and an 11 ½' noodle rod for drifting under a float. Water clarity was only about 16" so I decided not to bother with a lighter leader and just fished straight 8lb. with each outfit. (Trilene XL, by the way - still my favourite all-round line after all these years.)
The first fish hit a drifted roe bag, tied with white mesh, tipped with a bit of a teaser - a single Berkley Power Egg in fluorescent orange.
The second came during a lull in the current flow when I used the 9-footer to lob out a small, air-injected worm weighted only with a couple of BB shot about 14" above the hook.