Reel: Pflueger Trion 30
Rod: Okuma Celilo 9' 6"
Picture the classic Pacific Northwest, overcast day, sun hiding behind the clouds and a light sprinkling of rain overhead. Taste the crisp morning air, and feel the light breeze that threatens you to zip up your jacket, but digresses, just in time to catch you off your guard with your light, easily articulating summer clothing; welcome to summer in Washington.
This was one of those mornings when you roll out of bed, rig everything with extra care (just like Grandpa did) and treat each cast with the utmost respect; we took our sweet time meeting up (Karr & Guide Assistant Cho) this fine summer morning, and moseyed on down to the fishing hole. Steelhead green water and medium flows had us floating an assortment of shrimp, yarnies and jigs. The first few floats through the upper holes this morning were fairly anticlimactic, but good practice nonetheless. Wait, I take it back, since Guide Assistant Cho missed two floats down, right off the bat (no Steelhead were stung in the process).
After our phase shift downriver, we prepared for some Summer Run action. One thing I notice as I progress as a guide is that the more my clients catch fish themselves, the more successful I become; this was one of those days. I rigged Karr up on a tipped, White Aerojig (Systematic Jig Fishing) and sent him down though hole of the head of the pool; Steelhead "stage up" in these locations, prior to leaping up the rapids above. Second cast out, his float took a plunge, and the roof of a Steelhead's mouth was pierced by Karr's lightning fast hook set! Right off the bat, we knew this was a Hatch, due to it's aggressive surface displays, enormous head shakes and high velocity, back and forth riverbed dives and runs to the surface. 10 minutes and some fighting coaching later, we tailed this Chrome Ghost and punched out the heart. Lights out, my friend.
There was a another Steelhead sitting in the hole this morning, and I could feel it quietly sitting in solace after the recent plight of losing it's friend. After all, who wants to sit on the bottom of a frigid, glacial fed river, after your friend was just plucked away from you by some invisible force, when you could be happily sitting in a warm barbeque, with new friends and a slice of lemon (or two)? Beats me. Since I wanted to prove a point to Karr about the aggravation bite, I put him on the almighty pink worm, and proceeded to tie on a matching, aggressive color, and tuned jig. Sure enough, third cast out, an angry, angry, and most emotionally compromised Steelhead replied to his "friend request."
Now, this Steelhead was hot; she took a straight, reel screaming line drive to the rapids, and succeeded (Steelhead: 1, Reel Priorities: 1). After we manage to turn her head (I swear, an angry Hen will kick the living daylights out of an Buck, every time) and in the nick of time (we had about 5 wraps of Hyrdofloat left on the spool) the real fight began. Now some fish are tricky, and will come straight in to you; do not bring them in. I repeat, do not bring them in, let them sit in the current. This allowed me to teach Karr how to deal with these "smart" Chromers, and work with some technique to force that last run out of this Steelhead (I call it "Shock Technique"). Sure enough, this Steelie took it's last run after attempting to wrap around my legs, Guide Assistance Cho's foot and bury into boulder (nice moves, Ninja Karr). Subsequently, I used my Asian, rock ninja water skills, hand walked down the line, and tailed our emotionally compromised friend. Boom, second Steelhead punched.
Time elapsed: 90 minutes. 45 minutes of these 90 minutes being strictly dedicated to hiking, picture taking and technique instruction; nice work on the rod and reel this morning, Karr, and thank you Cho for sharing your adept video taking skills with us this morning.
Some mornings, we just tag em'. Others, we cast, step, cast and pull one out (we're always going to find a Steelhead). You should have the rock solid confidence that we at Reel Priorities live by; it is our very breath. If you're interested in honing your Steelheading skill to a razor like edge, learn now, as you will find extreme difficulty in the low and clear water that is to come, unless your allow me to walk alongside you as an Angler, since I fight the same fight, my bank fishing comrades. Take advantage of the opportunities now, and learn how punch out your catch card this summer, Reel Priorities style.