Smiling at this blessing, this life is the best...
Consider this my (belated) Thanksgiving. I won't even try to express how lucky I am to have the family, friends, job, ability to explore and enjoy my passions, and of course, woman who's company, I enjoy so much. Thanksgiving is supposed to be the day we reflect on our blessings, but I can tell you I count them every day. Top it all off with the fact that I was able to steal 3 days to myself (yes, I cherish solitude as well) to hit the Salmon River, and I feel guilty to complain about anything.
Made it to Pulaski around 2 am Friday. Grabbed a few z's in the truck before hitting the tackle shop and then the river. For most of 3 hours, I was the only one in the "prime" spot, but never so much as hooked-up. Managed to lose 3 steelhead and land "2" (more on that later) browns. As it turned out, I wouldn't even get that close to steel again all weekend, but who can complain? A trout is a trout...right?
Day 2 was a little more successful (if you can call it that). I didn't fish the whole day, sleep was calling me. Things started very slow, of course...and cold...
Though it turned out swinging would be the producer this weekend (peach egg-sucking purple bunny leech), the third fish landed was taken on a blue-and-orange estaz egg in a back-eddy. A little snakey and beaten, but a welcome reprieve from the long, frustrating, cold periods of monotony. As with most of the fish for the weekend, this one was between 18 and 20 inches.
Fished the section of runs, pools and eddys hard with the eggs for a good long time before trying out the leech. I can't say it was at all expected when I went to loose my line from an assumed snag and found this stunning, if modestly sized, specimen struggling to free itself from the hook.
I wanted to swing through the full run one more time before picking up for hopefully greener pastures, but when I got to the head, the friendly spinner with whom I had chatted earlier (and helped net and release-with expediency-a foulhooked steelie) was occupying it, and another had drifted down and set up shop above. I weighed my options, and considered the hour, and decided to check out the access on the other side of the river.
After examining the main channel thoroughly with my fly, I focused on the base of the cliff along the side channel behind a small island. I got lucky. The fight was tenacious. After netting this jewel, a flawless 2 foot long muscle football that, luckily, was very well hooked, knowing it wouldn't likely be beat, and in desperate need of sleep, I headed back to the motel for an afternoon respite.
Sunday was very trying. Firstly, I made the "mistake" of accessing a favorite hole from the nearest downstream parking area. Lets just say the walk upstream is significantly longer and more technical than the walk downstream from the upstream access. Still, a solitary walk in the silent winter woods is hard to spite, even when drenched in sweat.
After burning nearly an hour just getting there and over an hour more fishing it hard with eggs and streamers to no avail, I burnt the next few hours swinging my way back towards my chosen entry with the only action I saw being from rocks and trees, both submerged and on the banks.
I arrived back at the truck, exhausted and disheartened, with 2 hours of fishing time left. Disappointed, I had promised my sister if a suitable candidate made itself available I would bring her a small salmonid feast, and knew that I had abandoned my best shot at doing so by leaving Saturday's "sugar" hole for barren lands. There was only one solution; speed the quick drive back to where I knew there were fish, and see if they were still willing.
Sunday's only fish once again came on the leech with an amazingly unaggressive strike. She must have been confused, because with all the jumps and tail-walking, she had almost convinced me she was a small steelie.
I was almost thankful to see she had been pretty severely marred by a lamprey right between the gills; it made dispatching her feel that much less barbaric.
As time will say, nothing but
I did briefly hook one more fish before the day ended. This one would have been returned if landed (I feel guilty enough taking 1 fish, there would be no reason to take another today), but I never got the chance. The 3-day outing ended perfectly, satisfied with well-earned success, in the midst of a snow squall heavy enough to make it near impossible to follow the line with my eyes. It wasn't a banner weekend catching-wise, but it was stellar for the experience.
So that's my story for the weekend, barring an interesting episode (no, not the one where the guy in the raft almost ran me over 5' from shore, then proceeded to anchor 50' downstream from me for 15 minutes before pulling up and rowing circles over the prime hole that I was dying to fish before finally, and thankfully, passing out of my sight to harass someone else); as I mentioned above, on day 1, near the end of the day, I finally landed my first...