Today i headed to a small stream in the coast range with my buddy to catch and release wild winter steelhead on the fly (or try at least) sadly as i feared the upper river had already cleared for the most part and i knew it was going to be a difficult day of fishing so we set off to start at the last hole ebfore tidewater and worked our way up. At last pool above tidewater i ended up getting a nice fat searun cutthroat on the swing, he fought damn good considering i was using an 8wt rod. after that we headed upriver and hit pullouts without any luck until we hit the lower part of the upper river (does that make any sense?) we came to a spot that was deep and fast with alot of converging currents, i figured there were no fish to be had but brad seemed to think so.. he was right. on first cast with one of his custom steelhead jigs (he gear fishes) there was a bobber down, a chrome flash and then gone.. this was the first steelhead brad had ever lost. after fishing that same area for a while we in worked our way upriver, missing a few hits but nothing sticking. we headed to the upper river knowing it was clear but hoping to find fish. after a few fishless clear holes we found it. a nice walking speed run shaded all day and not pressured by anyone. Brad hooks a fish on the first cast But breaks off while im trying to land it (wrapped the line around my legs) i sat for a minute while brad re rigs i decide to pick up my rod and try a few casts. first cast was crappy,but got it out there, then on the second cast it happened. towards the end of my drift my line went tight,indicator was gone and i had a fish on. for the first five minutes of the fight he stuck to the bottom and used his weight like a big old chinook. then i finally gained on the fish, it saw brad and went nuts, the fight really began. 3 sets of rapids and one river mile.this fish wanted off my line.. my reel was screaming and my rod was bent. i didnt know how much more my 10lb test leader could take. i stumbled through the fast and cold water up to the top of my chest waders keeping my line tight and following close behind the fish with my heart pounding and my arm aching as it attempted to snap my line by putting my leader under a rock.. it shot through two more pools after that and when i looked back for my buddy he wasnt there..around 2 minutes later he came around the corner and replied with "i fell in the water twice " the fish tried to head down more fast water but eventually it tired and we got a hold of its tail.This fish was estimated to be 18-20lbs. took a pic and sent him to the river to go do his thing with the ladies. this was a fish of a lifetime and i will never forget it. i worked hard for my first season hiking probably 20+ miles total along coastal rivers and losing my 6 first fish. This leaves me excited for next season. for those who don't know, wild fish are very important and should be handled with as much care as possible while being cradled for a pic and you should always revive them after a long battle.
my very first winter steelhead on the fly,a fish of a lifetime.