The problem with not waiting
By JEFF LUND
June 03, 2015
It was right there. I knew it was there, yet I walked down to it. You don’t just walk down to where you know a steelhead is holding in thin, clear water. You trust it’s there, cast to it, it bites, you feel like the greatest fisherman in the world and then post the picture on the social media of your choice.
But not me. No. Not on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. If you’re me, you need to see the fish you want to catch and in doing so, spook it and ruin what you think will be your only chance.
I wasn’t too distraught because it’s been a great steelhead season, but still, it’s never good to be reminded of your potential to be a fool. Plus, this was after I went to my favorite spot that was filled to capacity – with humans. The creek was secret, or at least unmentioned, by locals at one time. Now, it’s hammered each spring because people like me write about great places and people like to see those great places. I’m mostly positive I’ve never mentioned this place in print (certainly not for its steelhead) but I’m still sorta the problem. Vehicles registered in Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and some locals were present - their occupants throwing spinners, jigs and flies in the few productive spots of the river not made to sustain such traffic.
That’s why I left and found myself at my secondary choice, ignoring basic principles of patience.
I hoped that wouldn’t be my only chance, and it wasn’t. I inflated my Water Master raft and floated a short section of a different river. The slow current allowed me to sit on top of a spot that’s usually productive. I casted, stripped in, and watched the fish follow. One particular cast attracted a quorum of varsity-level fish, any of which I hoped would bite. I slowed my retrieval, twitched the – whatever I was fishing with – and watched in slow motion as a two-hander approached. It was either a big rainbow or a smaller steelhead. Either way, I wanted it, but at the last second it veered off, like a driver who has had too much coffee, too much fast food and just saw the “Rest Area” sign.
I settled for a couple Dolly Varden, and the next morning hooked into a steelhead. Apparently I had learned my lesson, because though the current was painfully slow, and almost imperceptible, I waited…waited…waited… for the fly to swing. Then waited…waited…waited to make sure I covered water as I moved won, so I didn’t unnecessarily spook the skittish fish.
I brought the fish to hand and smiled. It was pretty fresh. Its flanks held a darker shade of silver, but it wasn’t moldy like a few others on their last trip into fresh water.
This is probably the best I can hope for in terms of an ending to my steelhead season. Fall is a long time to wait to get back out for my favorite fish, but at least I don’t have much of a choice. It’s nice when problems are solved for you rather than created because of you.
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, living in Ketchikan, Alaska