Thursday, October 28, 2010

Surgical Swinging

I readjusted my pack, slinging it to my left to give at least one shoulder a break. Nearing the end of our hike, what had felt like floating before was beginning to feel like burdensome river walking. I was still on cloud-9, but gravity and a whole lot of hard-rock bottom had taken their respective tolls on my shoulders and feet. We'd just finished passing through the first fish-less run of the day, and as I turned the corner a midstream boulder field seemed like just the place for a long over-due break.

I plopped down on the first flat rock I could find, threw my pack down and laid my rod across my lap. It felt good to sit. I glanced at the sun peeking through gray clouds and tried to guess what time it was. The day felt full, almost complete, but deep down I was pining for one more fish. I scanned the run in front of me, a piece of transition water between two long, high-gradient shale stretches. It was tight, compact, and fishy. A log jam on the far bank provided the only real challenege to the angler.

Hearing splashing to my left I broke my gaze to find Nate approaching the head of the run. He looked the water up and down and then shot me a familiar glance, which I interpreted without much thought. You or me?

I thought about that last fish I'd been pining for and what a fitting end it would make to the day, silmutaneously remembering all the choice water I'd taken shotgun on earlier in my lust for a fix.
"Go for it" I conceded.

I was a bit suprised when Nate laid down his indicator rod and approached the run with a 12' spey rod. I have to admit, it made me feel like a bit of a Sally knowing that I'd have elected to nymph through such a close-quartered piece of water. I watched intently as Nate stripped the heavy skagit head off the reel along with a few feet of running line. Looking up, the big piece of slab rock in front of him made a perfect perch. He stepped up, worked the slack out past the rod tip and punched out a cast.

The first attempt fell a couple feet short of the log jam. He let it swing dutifully through the dangle, repositioned his anchor and pumped out a second cast. The fly checked in mid air, grazing the log just before it hit the water. The line came down in perfect succession, forming a downstream J-curve on the water's surface.

I barely had time to focus on the end of the line before I heard the "THHHHHWACKKKKKK" of a 400-grain floating line breaking the surface tension as Nate applied a two-handed powerset. It sounded heavy.

"YEAH DUDE!!!!!"

I couldn't contain myself. Watching the whole scene unfold was almost more exciting than hooking the fish myself. John showed up just in time to lend a landing hand and I went into paparazzi mode...

... a great memory from a great day.

The dudes are on assignment this weekend. We'll try to leave your with some Friday Fish Porn to oogle over in our absence, and should return with plenty of blog fodder, so for the Dudewater Die-hards who actually read this stuff, stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Steelhead Fanatacism

Looks like conditions are ripe for a steelhead jihad. Let the holy war begin.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cleveland Browns!!!

We'll take that to the Super Bowl.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chromers 'ey?

The sickness knows no boundaries...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Swingin: A How-To





Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Fish Porn...

The clients from today...

Solid double boys.

Chuck with his new friend.


One of the ODs (original dudes) from Dudewater with a beastie after the clients hit the road.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Creek Walkin'

Let me preface by saying that two days removed, I'm still buzzing from two of the most enjoyable days of steelheading I've ever had. They didn't come without a cost though - I'm not sure how many river miles we walked, but if the soreness-turned-to-stiffness in my quads is any indication I'd say it was around 647. In retrospect, a small price to pay for one hell-of-a good time.

I realize that if the average blog-readers' attention span is anything like mine, I'll have to maintain a high picture/prose ratio to keep your interest. That said, this was a great trip with many memorable moments, so forgive me if I get a little "wordy". In my defense, once upon a time I was an aspiring journalism major...

For the purpose of the blog I've reduced the trip to a handful of memorable moments that I'll try to impart to you as best I can. Hope y'all enjoy it as much as we did...

The Mojo Fish
Any fishing trip, even a quick jaunt to your home water, begins with a degree of anxiety. On familiar water the feeling is subconscious - after all these years you probably don't even notice it. You want to put a fish on the board, but you're not desperate. You know where they like to hold, you know what they like to eat, and success becomes a simple matter of execution. Not to mention the fact that on your home water, there's always next time.

On special trips though, the anxiety weighs on you. The moment you hit the water all that anticipation bottled up for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time suddenly explodes in an overwhelming desire to catch fish. You can take all the deep breaths and sentimental gazes you want. You can try to take it all in, remind yourself that you're in a beautiful place, that it's about the overall experience, that a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work, that you're just happy to be out, blah blah blah blah blah: The truth of the matter is, in that moment, you need to feel a pulse at the end of your line.

Steelhead fishing in particular can produce excruciating levels of angling anxiety. Weather, water conditions, and most notably the fish themselves offer very narrow windows for success. When the stars do align long enough to provide ideal conditions, you'd better make the most of it. Knowing this, you fish with purpose, in search of the Mojo Fish.

That first fish of any trip gets the positive energy flowing. It lifts the burden of anticpation, inspiring confidence, allowing you to pat yourself on the back for a brief moment. Steelhead fishing is ultimately one big game of hide and seek, and while it's nice to win every once in a while, for reasons already alluded to it's best to do so at the beginning of the trip.

When fishing with your buddies, you want to build mojo not only for yourself but for the group. If your buddy hooks up first, you are in one way relieved and in another suddenly even more desperate; the last thing you want is for the whole group to get skunked, but the truth is you made the long drive, you tied the flies, you've been dreaming about this trip and, damnit, you want to catch a fish!

So when everyone in your fishing party pulls a mojo fish out of the same run, it's probably a sign of good things to come. And that's what we did on Monday.

"Dude, is that your backing??"

Logged some serious river miles the last two days. After my last trip yielded little in the way of fish porn I promised y'all I'd make up for it next time around. Well, I've got about 800 photos to sift through, so let's just say I got the goods. This trip deserves a full write-up though and plenty of pictures will follow, but in the meantime here's a teaser to wet your whistle...