Friday, March 1, 2013

Last Call for Winter steelies

By Spider Rybaak
Sue and Tiny with the day's nicest steelie.

A famous journalist wasn’t getting the attention he felt he deserved from his Salmon River guide so he asks:  “Is the weather always this poor around here?”

“Nope,” responds the guide, “it changes sometimes.”

The noble writer turns red.

Since they hadn’t had a hit in about 30 minutes, the humble guide figures that’s the cause of his client’s antsiness and tries remedying the situation by announcing: “We’re movin’ after this cast.”

“Where to next?” asks the wordsmith.

“Glass hole.”

The writer completely loses it. “A guide’s never called me that before.  Take me back to shore this very instant,” he demands with such authoritative anger the river stops running for a split second.

So the guide takes him to the take out, passing several anglers battling steelies along the way.

Moral of the story: Listen to your guide or, don’t let the weather stop ya.

Last Sunday and Tuesday brought both points home.

February 24th found me Spey casting wooly buggers in the pool below the bridge in Pineville. Snow came and went at 10 minute intervals. An hour after starting I’m fishless and ready to leave. Seeing a guy entering the river on the other side holds me back. After all, I need affirmation that my decision to quit is a good one.

But he catches chrome.  And it didn’t take him more than 10 minutes. The most irritating thing about it is he’s Spey casting, too. But he’s using a marabou streamer and he’s hitting a seam I can’t reach from my side.

As tempted as I am to cross the bridge and fish next to him, I like my space too much and decide to go elsewhere, namely the stretch of river between the Short Bridge Pool and Long Bridge Pool in Pulaski.

Fish were there (I know because I watched a pin-head catch one floatfishing an egg sac) but they ignored my streamers.

Tuesday finds me in a drift boat with Captain Ryan “Tiny” Gilbert (One More Fish Guide Service; 315-529-6427) and Sue Bookhout, an Outdoor Communicator and Online Visibility Expert with Sue B Media (315-378-7738), a company she owns.

Launching in Pineville, our first stop is a no-name pool a couple hundred yards downstream of the first bend.

Tiny and Sue are floatfishing with beads; I’m Spey casting a wooly bugger.  Tiny suggests I floatfish, too, but I know better and keep whipping my fly.

Before long, they’re getting all kinds of action—and I can’t buy a hit. The sun’s high in an azure sky, so I whip out my cameras and, thinking I’ll show them, make like a photographer. I get some pretty good shots of an insect hatch and ice formations…but no fish.

If, as the book of fishy wisdom says, the proof is in the catch, I re-learned a valuable lesson: I don’t know it all. But the rebel in me argues: having fun Spey casting and making memories with great photos is every bit as valuable?

With an attitude like that you can’t lose, eh?

Currently, loads of overwintering steelhead are spread throughout the stream. The water’s running less than 200 cfs, a very fish-friendly rate. While the majority is enjoying success floatfishing  with beads and egg sacs, guys throwing inline spinners and streamers are catching rainbows, too.
Steelie in the snow.

Fishing from ship and shore.

Last ice.

Spots in the snow: winter hatch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Always a good read spider-----pizzaslayer