Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/skagdvd/public_html/forum/Sources/Load.php(225) : runtime-created function on line 3
Check your @#%&!
Pages: [1]
Author Topic: Check your @#%&!  (Read 6672 times)
camosled
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 812


View Profile
« on: March 05, 2014, 01:51:50 PM »

By Jeff Mishler

In the dinner tent of one of our Russian steelhead expeditions, Pete Soverel proclaimed to the weary clan of weather beaten anglers, “If you loose the fish because the terminal gear fails, that's operator error”.  Interpretation: You failed the process of landing the fish if the leader parted, because you didn't check your knots regularly,

It's a lesson I learned early in my steelheading life.  Drift fishing with pencil lead and oakies reveals the abrasive nature of a near-the-bottom presentation.  Good mono is tougher than cheap mono.  Hard mono lasts longer than soft.  Good knots work better than bad knots.  Beginning by age 8 I knew the drill;  check your leader often.  Check it again.  Sharpen your hook even if you think you missed the rock. Change the hook before you even question the point.  

“No sense in loosing a nice steelhead over a fifty-cent hook”, Ed Ward muttered while changing what appeared to be a perfect sharp trailer on his Intruder.  One quality all good steelheaders share is that they are extremely particular and meticulous when it comes to their gear.  There is very little room for error on the river because the size of our prey varies greatly from fish to fish. And while you might be expecting another 8 pounder after the line comes tight, the possibility that a 20 pound buck might break your knuckles on the first run is real.  Steelhead are repeat spawners.  You never know which age class of adult just decided to destroy your bunny strip.  Using a 10lb tippet in heavy, colored water conditions is just asking for failure.  Even 12 pound Maxima is questionable if you will be swinging your fly near the rocks for any period of time.

So I was not terribly upset when I crackered off a huge steelhead this past weekend, in the hours before George Cook's pre-spey clave, clave.  I gave myself about 90 minutes to fish one of my favorite runs, leaving enough time to bushwack to the truck and roll into the gathering wadered up, ready to jack a few new sticks...(The SAGE ONE 4 weight switch rod is amazing by the way)

Working up the riverbank towards the head of the run, it was obvious that high water events had pushed most of the structure around, leaving the big rocks from the middle of the run spaced evenly in the tail out.  Each one surrounded by the in fill of smaller cobble.  At the present water level, they would not hold fish.  Because of the mass exodus,  the upper parts of the run lacked much of the holding water I fished during past winters.  Hopping around the bigger stones, I poked up the shoreline looking for a green bucket in the meatiest part of the 100 yard run.  Rounding the bend in the river, I spotted another steelheader 400 yards or more above me.  I could not get any closer to him without low holing him, so I decided, “We camp here” and walked out into the river, stripped off about 90 feet of line and jacked my first cast beyond the backbone of boulders midstream.  

I should have made that first cast about 10 feet longer because my fly parked on the backside of the last boulder.  I stumbled into the run, tossed a bunch of slack into the river and pulled the fly free.  I inspected the fly: the hook: the leader: the knots.  All felt solid.  About ten casts later, 2/3rds of the way through the arc, as the fly left the greasy part of the tailout and began to swing up on to the shoulder, the line came tight.  For an instant, I froze and waited for the line to belly a bit before coming tight.   The line surged back. I swept the rod low to the bank and a giant yank pulled the rod tip back towards the middle of the river.  At the end of the bright line a huge tail broke the surface.  Then nothing.  Upon inspection, I found that the leader parted at the double surgeon knot on the 20 pound butt section.  Obviously I didn't give the mono a full test.  That butt section had battled 3 steelhead two days before. Why didn't I change that butt section?  One minute of maintenance and I might have gotten a good look at what was by far the biggest steelhead I've seen in a while.   Not that I would have landed the fish, because beyond those controllable elements, ones attributed to basic rookie mistakes or blatant operator error, lie an infinite number of variables we cannot control.  The odds are mostly in their favor even if our obsessions, habits or rituals of terminal tackle maintenance are followed, meticulously.  That's steelheading.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 01:59:38 PM by camosled » Logged

wstcstbob
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 6


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 02:42:15 AM »

Great story.  A lesson learned the hard way for sure, but I bet you will remember it forever.  Smiley
Logged

9140 greenie
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 35


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 10:52:56 PM »

I too was at the pre-clave clave.  I left at lunch to go to my home waters in search of the big tug.  The day before I had the honor of hooking and landing a beautiful bright buck that pushed the mid-teens.  When you have the burning desire for a repeat performance, it doesn't go away 'till it comes again; and it did.  But this time I was fishing an experimental pattern that had stuck its share of rocks.  Knotted, and point checked, I began the ritual of covering the run:  Cast steps, cast steps, cast steps..... And a third of the way down the run my yearning was fulfilled.  However, this time the line went slack.  I covered more water, and went home.  The next morning I took a look at the fly to see if its anatomy was still intact and to check the point.  Dull.  Yeah I missed a fish, but I got to tell you the moment I knew the fish was gone I let out a big chuckle. Why?  Because the season has been full of experimentation, and the fact that I had moved a fish in one of the hardest fished runs, gave me the satisfaction that my perspectives on presentation was confirmed with a pull.
After about fifteen years of steelheading I've learned that it's the small things that I've come to appreciate.  I no longer look at a lost fish as a failure.  There are no words that can express how I feel, but  it's certainly not a failure, nor is it a success. 
As for Maxima... I no longer have confidence in that stuff.  A long time ago I picked up a new spool of 10lb Ultragreen to fish the Klickitat.  Every knot I tied broke with the slightest of pulls.   I tried every knot and trick I knew to get a strong tie, but everything failed.  Finally; in frustration, I took about four feet of the stuff, wrapped it around both my hands and began to pull.  The stuff stretched like salt water taffy and broke without any physical effort.
It's good that you can analyze your performance, but you must also take into consideration that it may not have been you, but your tippet.  Think of all the hundreds of thousands of miles that is produced.  Can you honestly tell me that every millimeter is perfect?  No one and no one thing is perfect.  Try as we might, "perfection" is an admirable thing to strive for, but never attainable.

Tight lines,
Keith
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
 
Jump to: