Reel: Pflueger Trion 30
Rod: Okuma Celilo 9' 6"
It's cool when you receive an email in your inbox from an angler seeking guidance, become friends on Facebook (if you're not friends on Facebook, it's not real life...) and slowly build anticipation for your outing this week upcoming. This morning I had the privilege of working the water with single handed, fly fishing convert and Skykomish river local, George. No ordinary man indeed, especially when he replies that his favorite movie is "Talladega Nights" tells you not to eat certain berries off of plants on the walk down (epic fail, digestive system) and shares such an extraordinary life story with you. I've come to the conclusion that individuals who live off of the land are most likely trustworthy, and demand a great deal of respect from the community. As a QFC and Chipotle goer, George has my full admiration.
Today we worked systematically; I worked the bottom of the fishing line, George took front and center and Guide Trainee Seitz covered the top of each fishing hole. Starting at the tail out, Seitz tagged a trophy smolt. Along the way, we placed our floats, drift gear and spoons into every pocket and riffle we could find. After an hour of boulder crawling and precision casting work, we decided to relocate, down river. If any of you require education pertaining to the learning how to relax and on being "mindful," George is your guy. I'd say he taught me more than I was able to teach him this morning, and what a privilege it was to share reciprocal, hearty conversation with such an individual of such caliber. In this industry, you meet quite the colorful variety of individuals, and on some mornings, you're able to truly share an experience with an angler, and feel as if you're taking a "personal fishing day" rather than one that is guided; I'm proud to say that today was one of the former.
Right as Guide Trainee Seitz whipped his first casted into his first drift at the head of the pool, and before I could say "watch out for that snag," a most cooperative Steelhead managed to clamp down onto his eggs; yes, this one managed to escape, before a hook set. Now Seitz is one of the most consistent, powerful hook-setting anglers that I know, but today, this one got away from him. Steelhead: 1, Reel Priorities: 0.
Next, turning to George, I recommended he direct his cast into an upper pocket instead of straight out. I watched the whole process, from casting to watching his float "land" on top of the water. Strangely enough, his float never resurfaced... A solid 6 seconds later, squinting my eyes and scouring the water where the cast should have landed, I looked back to see George's rod doubled over, and then immediately go slack. Hook-set two, missed! It's a funny thing with Steelhead angling; some days, you get one float down, or one take on the drift, equating to one Steelhead landed. Others, you get multiple strikes, and bring nothing to the bank.
After working the whole stretch with spoons, drift gear, bait, jigs and the like (the fish were no longer biting out of hunger nor curiosity), tails between our legs, we walked back to head of the pool. "Have we tried the aggravation bite with the Pink Worm yet?" asked Seitz. Thankfully, we had not. So, on went the Pink Worm, and on came our third contender. Usually, it's a first cast deal, as a Steelhead will either destroy the offering, or leave the hole when then Pink Worm enters it's territory (yes, I've observed Summer Run in low and clear, interacting with my feminine looking offering). Just don't get the one with sparkles, and if you do, best you hide them from your wife and your daughter, lest you arrive in the morning a few worms less!
This fight was strange. Out of a 10 scale rating, I gave this Steelhead a 2 for poor work ethic, but a solid 9 for creativity. So, on the rod went George with this moody Hen. She ran straight in towards George. Then, she proceeded to fight in a circle (quite literally), not even diving into the boulders, attempting to saw off the monofilament leader. Since she still had plenty of juice left in her tank, and after a futile attempt to tail a "hot" fish, George had to drag her back and forth on the ultralight rod (manual fighting technique), to make sure there was nothing left in this fish. The landing portion is where most anglers fail; here at Reel Priorities, we still uphold a clean slate, with a 100% landing ratio; every Steelhead that has been on the line has been landed this season.
We all work so diligently, patiently awaiting the opportunity of a "take" from the Chrome Ghost. If you're disinterested in becoming like the other 99% of anglers who net their fish or throw them on shore (Natives included), continually go home skunked, choosing not to adapt to the conditions, and forego environmental stewardship (just look at the bank), come along for an adventure with Reel Priorities.
The path of a Steelhead Angler (not fisherman) is arduous, requires great discipline and consequently much heart break, but the reward surpasses all human understanding. I challenge you to utilize your gifts, skills and inherent abilities, to maximize the potential of your life, on and off the water.