Monday, March 7, 2016

False Positive

My flies weren't even wet yet when Gerry hooked into a fish while drifting one of his new, bright pink minnow flies (tied up during Open Vise Night at Backpackers Shop) through tail of a pool we often fish when our time is short.

I headed downstream to net his fish and congratulate him on ending his 0 for '16 streak. It really wasn't much of a streak since our trips to the river were few and far between since New Year's as a combination of weather, work and other responsibilities kept us off the river.

As Gerry slid the long, slender female into the net, the bait fisherman drifting spawn through the heart of the hole dragged a dark buck onto the bank. All the signs pointed to a great late afternoon on Steelhead Alley. The river flowed high, but green. Visibility was more than a foot. The water temperature was rising, although the snow melt would keep it well below 40 degrees.

But early signs can be misleading; just ask the ground hog.

The promise of clearing skies remained broken (unlike the cloud cover) as a cold wind blew through the valley. I was dressed way too optimistically and returned to the car for gloves and a balaclava mask. They helped, but nothing warms a chilled steelheader more than a tug on the end of the line. I drifted my flies through a slow seam and lifted a sucker off the bottom. No warmth in that.

The bait guy headed home with his buck. Gerry and I shivered. We each tried the head, the heart and the tail. I tried the riffle down below. Nothing. We could have fished until dark. But the signs were clear. Gerry got his fish, and that would be all. But even a cold afternoon on the river beats the alternative; whatever that may be.

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