Friday, December 20, 2013

The Ten Second Steelhead

Rob with a Trask River Steelhead
At one time, the North Fork of the Trask River was one of the most productive streams in Oregon for large steelhead. When the river was in good shape--low and clear--it was not uncommon to hook and land a dozen or more steelhead up to 16 pounds. However, if it was high and off color, you might hook the same number of fish but lose every one of them because in high water the river banks were covered with thick brush, vine maple and evergreen trees. Then, when a fish got into your backing you had to hold it, lose it or go after it. The latter choice was not a safe option.   

When you hooked a steelhead, its wild instincts kicked into high gear and it would often jump five to eight times as it streaked up, down and across the river, struggling for its freedom. On one particular trip I remember that three of us had hooked close to twenty fish and landed only two. We enjoyed the river’s challenges for many years, but unfortunately, logging finally took its toll on the fishery and the native runs eventually disappeared.

On one trip an unprecedented event occurred as I followed my dad and my fishing buddy Rob along a brushy path. We had just finished fishing a hole without any luck, and as we walked along the bank close to the water, I paused to undo a snarl in my line. To uncoil it, I smartly flipped it five feet out into the water. Suddenly, a 5 pounder grabbed the yarn fly, jumped twice and amazingly landed at my feet. I held the fish up and gave an exuberant shout. When they turned around I laughed and said, Look you guys, that only took ten seconds. Maybe you should.…” Without hesitation they started casting again with urgency.  


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