Another slump, or perhaps more suitably, a “drought” with the rivers slowly drying up. It wasn’t really that catching fish was a problem during this stretch, but adding a new river to the list most definitely was a challenge. I was stuck at 13 rivers for 2 weeks now (14 days), and as mentioned in my previous blog entry (it can be seen here!: Quest for 20 – Part XIII – The Trout Bead Saga), all of the “low water rivers” were already checked off. I was beginning to think that the quest may actually be out of reach since the season was beginning to wind down, and rain wasn’t really in sight. I’d need a really good streak with some good luck (hopefully after the next rain if it ever comes) to make this once again achievable.
Throughout the two weeks, I fished with friends on a couple of different rivers – mostly ones we had already checked off. This was often done while combating snow and, of course, low water.
On one particular day, my buddy Mike and I decided to go back to one of the rivers we had already checked off. It was an incredible day once again. The best part about it was that we hardly landed any of the fish we hooked – they were all so hot that we couldn’t do anything with them through their massive jumps and knuckle busting runs. Incredibly, despite this being a huge river, the fish were right on to trout beads again (probably due to low conditions). We hooked a few on spoons and pink worms, but once we switched to trout beads, it was nearly a fish every 5 drifts until we had to leave.
Despite the couple of good days, it was now back to business on a new flow that I normally fish a little later on in the season. Full well knowing it was early, Mike and I decided to give this place a try. It often fishes well while low, and we felt confident that if fish were around we’d find them. The first short trip we made surprised us with a bullet chrome doe (Mike lost it) in our favourite run, so we returned back a couple days later to see if I could find one. I managed to miss a couple fish on the way up to the run that always seems to hold a fish, but couldn’t seem to make anything stick.
We arrived at the last run of the day, one that holds fish probably 90% of the time. Right after we got there, I watch a fish spook and take off into the tail out. I comment to Mike that it’s been caught before, since it had a dark blotch on the tail from handling. A couple minutes later, that same fish that had spooked down and out of sight was back – and it came with friends, 6 friends to be exact. One of that dirty fish’s friends was a large ghostly buck. My first cast at it with the spoon provided an aggressive take that didn’t stick. After that he was done with the taste of metal. I put on a 4 inch pink worm, not thinking that it’d work in this glassy, nearly stagnant pool.
One of the reasons I love steelhead so much is that they are FULL of surprises. This buck flew forward nearly 20 feet just a few feet into my drift. He hammered it – my motionless worm – in 4 feet of water with me watching just 10 feet away from him. I set the hook and the fight was on. After a good while of bull dogging around the run and up the run, he finally hit the net. Elation and relief kicked in. Just getting even one more river off the list felt so good, and just going from 13 to 14 made things seem once again possible. The skunk streak was over – river number 14 was now in the books!
After that 14th river, a losing streak ensued, but not for me. Kitty was able to fish with me a bit more over the next few days. We first went back to a river that I had checked off much earlier in the season. I had heard rumblings of a spring run here, and Kitty hadn’t landed one yet, so we went back. The trout, of course, were a draw as well since we knew full well it wouldn’t be a total skunk day.
Over the course of two days we finished off hiking the entire river (we explored the only section I had never been in to). We also finally found the falls that I had been so fervently looking for early season. We fished some beautiful water and landed a bunch of trout, but no steelhead came to hand in these couple of days. Kitty did manage two hook-ups with some beautiful chrome steel, but both of them won their fight and either popped or broke off. At least we had something to add to the journal saying that they were indeed here at this point of the season so we can return in years to come. Regardless of no steelhead to the beach, it was an awesome time exploring and fishing some more unknown water.
The best part of this entire weekend? Rain. It started to come down heavy on our second day, and upon arriving home later that night and checking the gauges, everything had come up significantly. Yes! I would have to wait a few days before the water came down, but things were now looking up for a fresh push of fish to come in, and for some new rivers on the list to go off with their spring running fish: Quest for 20 – Part XV – The Rains