It was a slow morning and we had to drop off a friend at the boat ramp at 1:00 so we decide to fish close by. The sun angle was good and I told Josh sometimes if there are fish around we can have great fishing mid-day if the sun angle is right. Josh and I split the run and worked through with sink tips. I was enjoying the opportunity to work on my cast and this spot was a good one for it. The swing was wide and a long cast would reach out mid-river to the fastest water and swing into the sweet spot very nicely. I worked on my D-loop and focused on using the bottom hand to tighen up the loop and launch the line into the wind.
Fish were rolling mid-way through the run. As the water deepend, fish rolled a lot and they were not trout. Violent rolls of aggressive fish would snap my head around when I heard them. Often they were above me, fish that had not taken my fly as I moved through the run. Anticipation built as I worked into the tailout. In the deeper water above I could reason why I might not have had a grab but in the tailout all bets were off; fish should be seeing my fly.
Then it happens when you least expect it. At the end of the swing my fly came across a boulder as the swing was slowing down. The line tightened slowly and I was sure I hung up on the rock. I tightened the rod and started to lift to unhook the fly when I felt the unmistakeable pulse of a throbbing fish ripping the rod the opposite way and then - it was gone! Uggh! bad mistake. I continued into the tailout with long casts deep into the current and far into the tailout. Two casts after the "rock" incident the loop ripped from my fingers. The line came tight to the reel and ripped out in aggressive surges. I tightend the rod lifting towards the downstream side and a the fight was on!
Large headshakes shook the 13'-6" #7 weight Z-Axis spey rod I was using bending the rod deeply. The fish ripped out some line and then cooled a second for more headshakes, then, well then it was gone. Water sprayed off my reel as the fish ran downstream into heavy current. The running line quickly dissappeared and then the backing. Lots of backing. I thrashed towards shore. The bottom gave way under me and I dog paddled a bit getting a good dose of cool water in my waders. Once to shore I scrambled down stream over rocks, boulders, branches, trees and other fun obstacles.
I pulled hard on the fish. It would slow down from time to time but the current and gravity were on it's side. I couldn't stop it. At one point it nearly spooled me. That's right, all my flyline and over 100 yards of backing. Running through the water with half full waders as fast as I could go over rocks and under trees was the best workout I've had in a long time. My legs ached my lungs were burning and my rod arm was starting to cramp.
Finally after what was close to 1/2 mile the fish slowed and held up. I got the backing on the reel and then finally some of the running line. Once caught on a boulder mid rapid, I was able to free the line and come back tight to the fish. Working the fish downstream to softer water we finally were able to land one tough steelhead.
See the video of Rob getting beat up by a steelhead: Steelhead beats up Water Time Guide- Video
Josh and I came back through the run and got one more steelhead, a wild fish about 10lbs that stayed in the hole and didn't run so hard down river. That was good because I don't think I could have run that run a second time.
To get your excercise chasing steelhead come fish with us: www.watertimeoutfitters.com