Tuesday, December 10, 2013

26 Degrees of Steel

The text said one thing, but meant something else. Had I been fishing, Gerry inquired. What he meant was, "Do you want to go fishing?" I guess when you've made it known that you prefer to fish alone, you should expect your fishing buddies to take the indirect route to inquiring about your fishing plans.

Before the text arrived I hadn't thought much about fishing that morning. The sun failed to do its job and the temperature was well below freezing and was projected to stay that way all day. Earlier in the week -- when work kept me in meetings and off the river -- it had been close to 60 degrees. Now I was free to fish, but like most people I prefer warmth to standing outside in 26 degree temps. More importantly, I knew that fish don't like the cold all that much either. Even if the river wasn't icing up the fish would be hunkered down if the temps were near freezing. But the text prompted me to check RiverBoss -- the best online resource on Steelhead Alley. The flow on the Rocky River looked good. I clicked through to the USGS web site and saw that the water temp in the river had warmed to well above 40 degrees when I was sitting in those meetings earlier in the week, and while it had dropped, the drop in water temperature was much more gradual than the change in air temperature. The gauge said the water temp was hovering near 38 degrees -- not bad at all if you're a steelhead.

I texted Gerry back that the conditions looked promising and I'd be heading out soon. And yes I'd welcome his company.

The first fish (and only one I landed) was hooked from the tail of a pool that I could access from shore. Standing on a bank when its 26 degrees is much nicer than standing in the water. Gerry waded up to the head of the pool and threatened to push me in if I didn't join him in the cold, clear water. Good thing I listened to him -- and not only because he would have followed through on the threat. Shortly after I waded in to get a better drift through a productive slot I hooked into a hefty steelhead. However, the fish threw the hook long before I got a chance to see it. The next fish got off shortly after jumping from the cold water into the colder air. The next one was foul hooked. And the final fish of the day ran up and down the pool for five minutes before who knows what happened and was gone. The fly offered no clues as to what had gone wrong. Maybe all of the ice in the guides was to blame. More than likely it was just operator error.

Gerry fighting a nice steelie on a cold day.
Five steelies hooked in two hours on a 26-degree day is enough to make one forget their frozen feet. And having company wasn't so bad either. Thanks for texting me Gerry.

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