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Started by twinbridges, May 03, 2010, 14:24:59 PM
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24 April Saturday
We are downstairs at 5.30 am and down to the boat for breakfast, wader up and take the jet sleds up Petersburg creek. It is a beautiful morning but the water is a bit low in the creek. This is the case in Montana as well and as we find out as the week progresses is going to be the headline event. The fish are waiting for the push of water but with little snowpack it is not happening. Although we are at the point of the biggest tides I think the fish recognize them for what they are and are hanging back waiting for the water to rise before they make there push. Unlike salmon who onI make several cast, then several more casts, change flies, more casts, change flies and then more cast and the fish takes it! I get a good hook set, but not perfect, and he flies across the river and now is own the reel which I feel quite good about. Just as he makes the turn against the far bank out of the water he comes and is a big buck of 22-24 pounds all in grand colors. Rooster lets out a yell about the size, my heart rate accelerates and then the second jump and I still feel we are in pretty good shape and then he bull rushes me and I can't keep it tight and he is gone. The most amazing fish I have every hooked up with and he is now gone. That is fishing.
After a few deep breaths we move down and we fine another pair. They are not playing at all and after some time we decide it is the same pair and are done for the day.
Further we march and find another pair but again we try everything and nothing happens. We walk and walk and walk. After some time Dan Downey catches up and he has got a very nice hen and is all excited!! Blow by blow he reiterates the take, the run, the jumps and bringing him to hand. He is a happy boy.
Rooster keeps walking and we take a break. After about 20 minutes we see him round the corner and we begin the slow walk back to the beach. Downstream quite a while we find Gote and Travis, Travis spotted four fish and Gote got one on but broke her off. Rooster hangs back with Travis and Dan and I continue.
After a while we find Joe and Todd the guide taking a break and join up with them and make the walk to the sleds where we find Barry and Ron. None have hooked up on a fish.
Great day seeing this river and having that memory etched in my mind of the big buck I lost, seeing begin his first leap and seeing more and more fish emerged with the colors etched to his side and then the moment when you know he is no more.
A bit of chit chatter and we are off to bed. It was a full day and we used it well.
ly need to get up water to spawn, steelhead need to be able to make the return trip to the ocean.
Gote gets one steelhead but that is it. I cast to two separate fish for sometime but they are having none of what I offer.
We decide with a storm brewing we will get out early and make the six hour beautiful run up to Houghton Creek. We get some glacier ice for the week, see some whales and generally enjoy a fantastic ride with great scenery.
We put out some shrimp pots on the way in and then have king crab and Dungeness crab dinner that was as it sounds incredible.
25 April Sunday
We are up early and have coffee. The troop wanders in and as Jen fixes breakfast we move down the bay to check the pots which have pounds and pounds of white spot shrimp which will be our dinner,
After a bit we suit up and head to the creek. It is very interesting in that there is a stream leaving the main bay and after a few turns and twists it opens into a salt lake known as the salt chuck. It is about two miles across and then a few sharp turns and we are in the creek.
Everyone out and the forced march begins. This is a great river and the walk is a bit treacherous particularly for Joe but we quickly figure a good arm will solve the problem as we go back and forth across the stream.
We walk and walk looking for the ghosts. And then Travis finds one for Barry and we watch as he works the fish cast after cast. We see the fish make a run for it three times but does not take. Turning away at the last moment as his instincts tell him this is not what he wants.
Rooster finds a pair and Joe begins to casts to them. The casts are a bit loose but he improves as he gets slowed down enough. He gets tangles a few times and when that happens I step in and make a few casts. The fly is on the fish but they are hunkered down. After some time they move on and so do we.
The group begins to spread out along the river and then lose sight of one another. Rooster and I have forged ahead quite some distance. In a beautiful tail out Rooster is on the high bank and says here is a pair. I move back to him and there they are.
I make several cast, then several more casts, change flies, more casts, change flies and then more cast and the fish takes it! I get a good hook set, but not perfect, and he flies across the river and now is own the reel which I feel quite good about. Just as he makes the turn against the far bank out of the water he comes and is a big buck of 22-24 pounds all in grand colors. Rooster lets out a yell about the size, my heart rate accelerates and then the second jump and I still feel we are in pretty good shape and then he bull rushes me and I can't keep it tight and he is gone. The most amazing fish I have every hooked up with and he is now gone. That is fishing.
26 April Monday
We head up to Wyndam Bay and Chuck Creek which is the creek on which I caught my first steelhead two years ago. We make our way to the stream and there is a pod of steelhead lying along a log. A couple of the guys had the first go at em with the idea to throw your fly upstream and let the current swing it to the log and the yarn and bead actually under the log. No one had any luck with this so when my turn came Rooster said hell throw it across the log but tight to it and in order to accomplish this as there were limb parts on the trunk you had to jump the line over them. On the third cast I had a taker and the 22" hen made three great jumps which all got to watch and then three other runs before Todd was able to get his glove on her. With all the blow down, and other obstacles there is plenty that can go wrong when these fish are on. Your every attention needs to focused. At least those that had not had the good fortune to catch a steelhead had the opportunity to see what we were trying to get done.
Next I caught a 16" Dolly. Rooster had said they had flown over the Chuck last season and there was a deep canyon just up a ways and the canyon was only a couple of miles long and beyond the river was perfect. The plan was for Dan, Gote, and me to go with Rooster on the adventure. We began by wading up about a half mile on a small trib of the Chuck, find a trail marked on an old map from the late 30's, traverse the mountain and find ourselves in Shangri-li for steelhead. Well the climb up was full of blow down, devils club and just plain old steep land. It was to say the least heavy going and only got worse.
Quite spectacular in some ways with the skunk cabbage blooming amidst the emerald green moss that was a foot or more deep. There were fresh signs of moose everywhere and some rather large bear tracks.
We made four different pushes up and to the south with the canyon to our right. Rooster of course was certain it was just a bit further each time and when he made a scouting trip to the canyon he said it was still about a 1000 feet deep but he could see steelhead behind every rock. Talk about trying to keep us in the game.
The problem was as you looked to the opposite wall it continued south for as far as we could see and of course in the deep forest there was no way to see when our ridge ended.Hours passed and we walk ever onward and finally stopped for our crab roll Jen had made for lunch. I noticed Rooster did not eat his but had some snacks. I found out later the reason he did not was he was thinking we might have a night in the woods and he would have it to share with us.
Rooster, made one last explore as we waited. Dan and Got talked medical stuff and I took a short nap only to wake to their discussion which I thought was a bit disruptive of my nap. After a while Rooster came back whooped and lay down. He had accepted that we were not finding steelhead shagrali today.
I suggested we do a bit of contour walking and then head downhill. When we get to the trib it is full of blow down and stuff. It is almost as hard as going vertical. We do this for a couple more hours and finally we get to the main river. I am soaked through with sweat and as we are going to fish a bit more I take my layers from the top, get in my bag and find some dry stuff which is excellent.
Finally, as we walk back to where we hope someone has left us a jet sled as Roosters radio is gone. Eureka, a jet sled and four beers. We are tired puppies for sure.
A very good cocktail, a quick shower and then an incredible dinner of grilled king s
27 April Tuesday
We are up early and make the run to Kadak Creek which takes about 3 hours or so. It is incredible how good the weather is and how smooth the ride.almon is wonderful. Sleep is easy.
We get the drift boats into the water and with a good tide we are taken in beyond the cabin. I remember much of this water from a couple of years ago and sometime toward the later part of the day Rooster is spotting for me and I make more and more casts to the fish and finally I get a taker only to lose it in just a few minutes. Damn. I keep fishing and after some time I get the fish to take and it is an explosion only a steelhead can do. Upstream and then with incredible speed downstream and I am in my backing in seconds. I start running as fast as I can to stop losing line. Rooster is on his way as well and about fifty yards downstream I catch up and steer him away from a downed tree and in a few minutes we bring a 30 plus inch hen to hand. Beautiful fish and safely released.
The steelhead reputation is well earned. You can not describe the strength and speed of these fish. It is endless casting and absolutely nothing and then in a micro second the explosion happens, and the speed and power astounds all your senses and you are either on your best game or it is quickly ended.
After a bit Gote also gets a fish after farming one and the run is on again. This fish makes it to the tree and by some miracle Rooster keeps lifting limbs and the fish is still on and is brought to hand. This is also a nice fish and it is a miracle that Rooster was able to stop him from braking off. I am down there in a second or too and reach out to congratulate Gote and when I touch him it is as if he is electric with his whole body vibrating. Good stuff indeed.
The tide had left and we had a hell of a hike across the sea bottom with a 19 foot tide. It is about two miles to the place we can be picked up. I think if we did this a couple of weeks we would be a hell of a lot fitter.
28 April Wednesday
Well the tide is now not our friend so we make the walk across the flat with the promise the tide will be with us after lunch.
Fishing is not easy but Dan now known as "Dangerous Dan" gets another one from a hole he got two yesterday and then as we head out down near the log jamb dammed if he doesn't get another one. He is a very good angler having grown up in Montana and he also understands the persistence needed to catch steelhead. This fishing requires patience to cast over and over again hoping beyond hope for the miracle.
Travis at first picks Joe and Barry up a ways upstream but within 20 yards says they have to get out and walk. He and Todd and Lucy the dog take off. They hit a rock, Travis falls down, turns the speed up inadvertently, the boat lurches forward hits a rock and Lucy is ejected just as the boat speeds past Dan! Travis regains his footing and after a few more rocks gets the boat stopped. All are fine but the jet sled ride is an anomaly in that when you get to a tough spot the response is to add speed which means if you hit something the results are not good.
In the afternoon we make an incredible voyage through Rocky Pass, troll for king salmon near Port Protection with no luck but the view to Mt. Cauler is incredible.
We spend the night at Point Baker which is where boats go to die it seems but a few people live and we rest well
29 April Thursday
We fish Salmon Creek and again make the big hike across another low tide flats. We head up and I see one steelhead at Stadium Pool and a couple drops off. I keep going up with Todd and Gote about a mile. After a bit we see four fish and I begin to try to get one to take something. It goes on for a couple of hours but it is not to be.
Early on we hear a plane and after a bit three guys show up and are dismayed to find us on the stream as they have flown some distance to be here. I suggest if we did not have this big boat to ferry us around and they did not have an airplane and we were all walking we likely would never see anyone. They somehow felled to see the humor that was intended.
No fish for anyone until just at the end when Dan is in a fast pool no bigger than a table and as I look up he has a steelhead on and miraculously gets him to hand. He is a very good angler indeed.
We get back to the Adventurous and make a three hour passage to Wrangell. This is our last night on board. Too bad.
Sounds like a great trip TB!
Post some pics when you get back!......... 0--0
That's some good stuff right there! Major Suckage!
Great report - same with photos on other thead.
Can't wait to hit it again myself in September - Going for 30 inch rainbows and 25 inch dollies this trip. (at least that is what they claim :angel:)
Thanks for sharing. I will always remember my first Steelhead - on the Skykomish in WA. No matter how much you've read and prepared - the first run scares the heck out of you.
Helluva a trip! 0--0
25"dollies................I see TM is letting some of his midget harem go with you.
Quote from: 22midge on May 11, 2010, 10:07:50 AM
These are the "dollies" I was talking about - They will definatley put a bend in an 8 weight rod.