While playing one day on the vice
I came up with a fly that was nice
I used some dog hair
it was sparse but had flair
the head was finished not once but twice
So off to the river I went
to see if my spey could get bent
I arrived at the spot,and believe it or not
where I fish was an old English gent.
The gent was quite nice and named Will
cracked his flask and handed me a swill
it went down real fine, he casted his line
I could see he had more than his fill.
His casts were a total train wreck
he could see they were going to heck
his double was in trouble,his poke was a joke
he ended up with line around his neck
He soon realized he was done
a cast he could not make, even one
so he opted out,thus saving the trout
who were dying of laughter and fun
I watched from the side on the sly
still wanting to fish my new fly
I got on the rock and got quite a shock
when the first cast rose a big guy
I knew right away it was steel
It's weight I wanted to feel
so without a doubt I speyed one more out
trying to fool him and seal up the deal
The cast was right on the mark
he approached the fly like a shark
with a head and tail swirl my reel started to twirl
and then the gears they started to bark
I could tell this fish was real big
you might even call it a pig
he stretched out my line my reel started to whine
I don't smoke but I needed a cig
This fight would be easy to botch
I thought "where is Will and his Scotch"
When out from a tree probably taking a pee
stumbled the old man tuned up a notch
He waded out quite expertly
only once did he drop to his knee
he gave me the flask, I didn't have to ask
took a big pull and said whoopee!
The fish was now growing tired
after the shot I was really quite wired
I gave him a ride he rolled on his side
I told Will "tail him right now or your fired"
The old man moved like a cat
grabbed the tail of the fish no time flat
he twisted the fly and we both said bye bye
have you ever heard a story like that?
The moral of the story is clear
Sometimes scotch is better than beer
If you meet an old man, he may have a plan
and you might end up giving him a cheer
While playing one day on the vice
This is Tokatee Falls, the historical natural barrier to upstream steelhead migration on the North Umpqua. I was in the area working yesterday and went in to take a peak. It's much nicer to look at than a concrete dam.
I can only hope in my lifetime, that we once again see steelhead in the spawning rich gravels of the upper river and running all the way to this impressive natural barrier.
The surface of the mirror smooth pool is broken without warning. The early dawn shutters and shakes itself to life as the movements that happen under the cover of darkness now become visible and audible.The very real presence of a steelhead is made known with the unmistakeable head and tail roll of a newly arrived, active, and happy fish. We are first into the run and anticipation is high. This fish will most likely eat a swinging fly and after years of fishing this pool and seeing these early morning antics countless times, I can hardly contain myself. The wading out to the casting station is some of the most treacherous anywhere in the world. Trust me on this one. The water is up 4 inches or so making every step that much more difficult.The North Umpqua is particularly hairy wading anyway, but getting out to this run is in a class all by itself. A series of steps and moves that cross deep channels while balancing on precarious bedrock and walking along barely submerged reef. The direction of travel is evident by the path made from thousands that have made their mark on these rocks before.The lighter colored scars showing well worn foot steps from the studded boots that have become our lifeline.This subsurface trail wanders out to mid river like a drunken sailor. This path is not at all straight and takes advantage of any flat or shallower spot to make the journey easier. This is a commitment to be sure but it is part of the challenge that makes this river so fun. There is nothing easy here.But the fish are here and it often rewards the diligent and persistent, and so we go.I manage to get my dude out to the spot without either of us swimming which is always a good way to start. I hate an early morning bath is 45 degree water.
The line from the first cast unfurls and hits the water. Even though the line lands softly, it is almost as if a bomb went off as the line sends concentric rings ever outward, disturbing a once placid surface.Successive casts put the fly into the zone of the usual first fishes lie, and where I believe our early morning riser is calmly laying.The mend is right and the drift is good. As the fly comes through slow and steady and enters the fishes holding lie,a slight tightening of the line and small pluck are all that registers on the line and rod. "That was him" I say quietly. I am answered with "Do they grab it that softly"? "Sometimes even softer" I say. Another few drifts through and the same pluck, almost more of a kiss happens again. We change flies and try to get a solid commitment out of the fish to no avail. This fish would not move aggressively to the fly so we went in search of another. This experience at this run will be saved in the super computer of my mind and will go in with all the other calculations and observations that I am constantly rolling around in my mind. Every one of these experiences is more information complied on the ever elusive and unpredictable quarry we chase.There is more than one way to count success in my book and hooking every fish I go up against is not the measure I use.
Then I got to thinking......Having one of the last really healthy wild fish rivers on the planet to pursue these fish is a gift. Every wild fish encountered here is a gift and this last trip really hammered that point home to me.In fact every part of the fishing experience on this river is a gift. It's a gift to be able to RUN up and down her banks. It's a gift to be able to SEE her in her fall beauty, leaves brilliantly colored in the afternoon sun. It's a gift to be able to HEAR the raven call from on high as he rides the canyon wind. The water ouzel and the otter, the beaver, heron and eagle are just some of the gifts you see on any given day.All of the senses come alive as you ply her waters and the overwhelming feeling of being very small and insignificant take over. It's an amazing place to steward and support, full of gifts to be unwrapped as they show themselves daily. The fish are but a few of the many treasures on this river.
I thank God daily for the gifts He has given me......my wife, my kids, my extended family and friends. I am thankful for health and prosperity and the ability to enjoy what He has created for us.
Wherever you fish.......look for and appreciate the gifts you find and remember who the gift giver is.
Down By The River from the new album Treasure by Neil Young and The International Harvesters.......So good!
The Klamath River, running through the rugged Northern California mountains, used to hold the fourth largest population of salmon and steelhead in the world. Every year millions of fish would surge up stream. Now, over fishing, agriculture, and bad politics have taken their toll, and the once great runs are not only diminished, they are mostly gone. To many fly fisherman, the Klamath might as well be dead. But angler Ryan Peterson has heard rumors that during the winter, a run of massive steelhead creep upstream unnoticed. Is it a good yarn or is it real? This season Ryan wants to find out. The search for the ghost run begins.
The Season Episode 2.8...Lewis and Clarke from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.
A bunch of great contributors on this new blog.....should be a fun one to follow. The wheels are just starting to turn on this, about 10 posts so far. I am fortunate and humbled to be able to post on this new blog from time to time.
Rail Against The Darkness is an exceptional post with outstanding visual imagery by my friend Alexander Grant.
Check it out here-The Long Line Collective