Salmon river and Tributaries, 11.21-11.26

I had four days off that conviently turned themselves into a week of fishing. Playing hookey was a good thing, and I won't apologize for it. Some days were productive, others were good time on the water, away from the books and the hassles.

Day 1, Tuesday. We went brown trout fishing. Behind every good steelhead fisherman there's eggs, and brown trout eggs are the best of the best. Brown trout fishing is the necessary part of a steelheader's November that gets him through the rest of the year. We fished some smaller creeks out west with fresh tied egg sacks and single egg patterns, the hens were there and we got some.
Nothing is wasted, the eggs are taken, blood and juice are absorbed into cloth and the eggs are frozen. The fish are smoked and eaten. This is the most fish killing I do in a year, but I have friends that love the taste of smoked brown hens, and I love fishing with eggs, so it works out.

Day 2, Wednesday
I fished the salmon river and landed a few small fish, and lost a bigger fish of about 7 pounds. The water is running at 1800cfs, which is difficult to land fish in. I drove up north to play around on some creeks and landed a few nice rainbows. I didn't feel like taking too many pictures, I was too engrossed, starting to forget about being in school and the impending finals. Last night I had a nightmare about being unprepared, so I'll just fish hard today and get my head into fishing while I have the time to do it.

The river is forecasted to drop to 900cfs on Friday, that's going to be the day. So much of fishing is waiting for your time to attack and saving your energy instead of wasting it on higher water and non-prime conditions. If you can stand to lay back and hit the river right when the conditions are prime, the rewards are significant. I've been lucky enough to learn from fisherman a lot older than me who curbed my reckless attitude at an early age. Fish with someone who's been on the water twice as long as you, and he'll tell you to calm down, don't waste your time, or your energy, the fish will come. It's a hard bite to swallow when you've driven 8 hours and only have a week to fish, and are concentrating on the last few days of your trip to get fish, but it's a good lesson.

Day 3. Thanksgiving

Well, we decided to go out brown trout fishing again, hoping the rivers would be empty, and with no such luck! Even the brownies were scarce, but we did get to land a few nice rainbows. This was a big driving day, hitting creeks, but not catching many fish, another dues paid day, but tomorrow... The salmon river is dropping to 900cfs. That's were I'll be.

Day 3 Friday, Salmon river, Good luck, Bad luck

there were fish to be caught, maybe not piles of them, but we caught many fish today. The bad luck struck us with two broken rods and a lost net (one of the rods and the net are to my credit!) These things happen, bad luck is like that. Some days you get out on the water, and something just doesn't feel right, like there's something in the air. At least the fish cooperated for us.
On an amusing note we did a before annoying centerpinner/after annoying centerpinner picture set. Just stop smiling, put your hood up to make it look like your fishing in colder weather than everyone, the total champ shot. It's one thing to take a picture when your hood is up because it's colder than snot out, it's another to go out of your want to look like a coolguy. Here's a before and after:

Day 4 Saturday, slow day, no bad luck

We fished the DSR again but there were Saturday crowds about, and finding open water was tougher. We decided to move around a lot today (fatal mistake) but I did get my friend Dae to see some water he's never fished before. Too bad we didn't cash in at any of the other spots. Not much to say for this day, just tough.

Day 5, Sunday, we are redeemed!

Much better fishing today, no broken rods, no lost nets (ok, I did misplace the net once). Another great change was that the sun had finally given way to still overcast weather. The sun had been a problem seeing our floats while fishing the north side of the river. A lot of times a change from sunny to cloudy, or vice-versa seems to help the fishing. I like fishing in the sun, but when there's no clouds in the sky and you have to stare into blazing glare and pick out your float, things can get a little distracting.

Today was what I would consider the perfect day of fishing: we found fish throughout the DSR, the crowds were thin, and the fish were very aggressive. The day was over before I knew it, and I was again confronted by the fact that tomorrow I would be driving home, and fishing is going to be thin for the next few weeks with final exams fast approaching. I was away long enough to forget everything but the side of my life devoted to fishing, and I got to live in that mindset for a few days before it was back to reality. I reluctantly pointed the jeep west until my next trip to the Salmon river

One Fish

"all I want is one." Something often said by a weary fisherman after a long, fishless day on the water. It is a saying that has some importance though. Do I really mean that? Am I really satisfied to catch a single fish? Of course the answer depends on the fisherman (or at least his mood at the time). As nice as it would be to claim that I go out after "one" everytime, and when that fish is landed, I'm satisfied, that would be a lie. That is the fisherman I want to be, the guy who can enjoy just catching one fish, and where everthing else is a bonus.
Some days I can be that fisherman. Today I think I was. I landed my one fish within 10 minutes of fishing and couldn't even scare one after that. I could have driven further east, but I didn't feel like it. I wanted to fish this river because I knew I'd be able to fish in relative solitude, and for the most part, I did. It has been a few weeks since I've fished, and while I thought I'd be hunrgy for more, I really wasn't. I'm saving my energy for my last trip to New York before I begin the sprint to the end of the semester, and final exams.
I've come to realize that while I enjoy fishing in Ohio, it's just an outlet to keep me entertained before I can get over to the lake Ontario tributaries. Not that these fish are any less worthy of my attention, but New York is "home" and the rivers there still make the hairs stand on the back of my neck when I think about them. maybe if I had learned to steelhead fish in Ohio I would take fishing there more seriously. Maybe you just can't teach an old dog new tricks.
I've been on the phone with my friend Josh who has been in NY for the past week on vacation. The fish have been good to him. Brown trout fishing out west, steelhead fishing in the eastern basin. The salmon river is full of big chrome fish as I type this, despite high water. I won't be there for another week.
So I go and fish a close river in ohio. Just to get out and say I fished, feel a little of what I like to call "the power and the glory" of a rampaging steelhead on the end of my line. My "one fish" fought well, charged me 3 times and managed to throw enough slack in the line I was lucky to land her. She was hooked in the roof of the mouth, had the fish been hooked in the corner of the mouth, I might have only "hooked" a single fish, instead of landing one.
So today I fished a few hours in the afternoon, daydreaming of the salmon river, and enjoying not having my nose in a book for once. Tomorrow will be different, there will be the cleaning out of the truck, followed by trying to get ahead on school work to give me a buffer for when I plan to play hooky for a few days to make my Thanksgiving break in Pulaski a little longer. I took the shorter drive today because this was one of those rare occasions where fish didn't matter. All I needed was running and water quiet.
Sometimes I think we fish because we want to get away, or as John Gierach might say: we are mad, happy, sad, or all of the above. Sometimes I have no idea why I'm fishing but I want to be out there: standing in the river, away from all the worry-noise of life; responsibility, work, school, money, friends, the future... They all get swallowed up -at least temporarily- in the swirls of the current.