McFLYSHOP STEELHEAD TRIP--2015
As a general rule, I try not to be superstitious, but when you swing flies for steelhead, it's hard not to be "a little-stitious," to quote Steve Carell. Also, I humbly feel like I've paid my fair share of steelhead dues over the years--from frozen rod guides, frozen fingers and frozen rivers, to fishless weeks, lost lunkers and patching holes in rafts--but still, as I strapped down the last corner of my cargo net, cracked a Rainer tallboy and poured the first pull on the bow of my raft (like I said, I am a little-stitous), it was with complete surprise that this year--the year when it looked like I was destined to fish the worst steelhead conditions I have ever encountered--this year would produce my best steelhead trip to date!
I had watched the river levels in the Pacific Northwest all spring and summer, and with the abysmal snow pack of 2014 and the extra-dry spring, the rivers were almost bone-dry. The morning I launched, the river was lower than I'd ever seen it before, and the first ten miles or so were a predictable sequence of rowing, pushing and pulling my raft down river, but that night it rained, and it rained, and it rained some more! Of course, the river was blown-out for a couple of days, but with the "Paying Dues” mantra on an unrelenting loop in my mind, I swung the biggest fly I had on the heaviest sink-tip in my kit and I did not move a fish for two days, but on the third day, the river began to clear and the fish turned on. That push of fresh water pulled the steelhead upriver and put them in a grabby mood, and my steelhead dues were paid back in full! Here are some of my pics:
The river was up and muddy for the first two days, but I diligently swung my fly through camp water. Cast...swing...step...repeat.
On the third day, the river began to clear and I hoped the double rainbow was a good sign--again, I am a little-stitious.
The river was still off color that day, but I finally hooked up and brought this pretty steelhead to hand!