Meanwhile, up north in Pulaski…

…my spies tell me it’s good news/not-so-good news. The good: after a couple very down years, the 2016 salmon run has been strong. Here’s a quote from a local guide: “I thought that it would be a good run this year but it has far exceeded expectations.” More good: the watershed received several inches of much needed rain last week. The river jacked up to 2K; current level at Pineville is just over 700cfs. Everyone’s different, but I like higher water for this fishery. A strong salmon run means more eggs and rotting carcasses in the system, so right now is a good time to be tying up some egg and flesh patterns (and of course your favorite nymphs).

Now to the not-so-good: where are the steelhead? Those of us who remember the cruel disaster than was last year’s “run” are eager to return to the halcyon days of prodigious numbers of pre-spawn chrome. So far, that has not happened. Hopefully the next few weeks will see a big push of fish. Otherwise, we may be in for another long, cold, lonely winter.

Come back, baby!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Steelheading: A Tragedy in Several Acts

“Steelheading: A tragedy in several acts” first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of The Drake. The photo here is different from what accompanied the piece in the magazine, and this is my original text, rated R for some adult language. What if The Bard wasn’t writing about Danish princes, Roman emperors, and star-crossed Italian lovers? Let the curtain rise on…

Steelheading: A Tragedy in Several Acts

If there is another angling endeavor that matches the rapturous highs and soul crushing lows of steelheading, I’ve yet to experience it. One day, you are the Most Exalted Ruler of the Kingdom of Chrome. The next, a lowly knave scraping in fishless dirt. That you willfully participate in this theater suggests that you are either a masochist, an addict, or at the very least, innately damaged. William Shakespeare understood. Even if he never wrote a scene about losing a fifteen-pounder fresh from the lake.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  Hamlet

It’s a river. Some days it is blown out. Some days it is perilously low. There are steelhead in the river. Some days they eat. Others, they do not. I’ve blanked on perfect days and hooked immodest numbers of fish in water the color of mocha java. The river doesn’t hate you. Nor do the steelhead or the weather. You have no control over any of it. Try to stay positive.

~

“Sit you down, father; rest you.” King Lear

I took my nine year-old steelheading for the first time. In the days leading up to the trip, I hectored him: It’s not like when we go to Day Pond to catch bluegills. It took daddy forty hours of fishing to land his first steelhead. You will hook them, son, and you will lose them. A half-hour into the trip, Cam ties into a twelve-pound chromer and proceeds to land it. On four-pound test. He has zero experience with any fish that size, let alone an alcohol-fueled dragster of a fresh steelhead. On the outside, I’m cheering wildly. On the inside, I’m trying to calculate how many extra hours of yard work that little punk will be doing come spring.

~

“But, soft! what light though yonder window breaks?”  Romeo And Juliet

For a dedicated steelheader, rising with the sun is sheer fantasy. If you’re fishing popular water, you’re up and out long before daybreak. You’re not the only one doing this. For proof, check the alarm clock in your room at the cabin next time you’re there. Bet it’s set for five a.m. – or earlier.

~

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”  The Tempest

How agreeable it would be if everyone you met on the river were Roderick Haig-Brown incarnate. Many anglers are indeed pleasant and welcoming. Others, not so much. See if any of these characters sound familiar: The bozo who wades in so tight you could take his eye out with your rod tip. The jamoke who dashes into your spot as you battle a fish downstream, then glares at you for wanting your place back. The douche bag who keeps his line in the water while your fish roars past, oblivious to your screaming reel. The lout who drops drift boat anchor on the exact coordinates you’ve been casting to. Damn them, every last one.

~

“Now is the winter of our discontent.”  King Richard III

If you’ve ever stood in a river in sub-freezing temperatures and swirling lake effect snow for three consecutive days without so much as a single fucking touch, well, you know from whence I speak.

~

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Romeo and Juliet

There must be some mischievous spirit tasked with devising cruel and unusual ways of making you lose steelhead. How else to explain a 3x strong hook that snaps at the bend; a leader that tangles on a drift boat’s anchor rope; line that wraps around a reel handle mid-fight; a good Samaritan’s clumsy technique with a landing net? All resulting in lost fish. All in the space of two hours. I’m trying hard not to be bitter. Really, I am.

~

“Things rank and gross in nature.”  Hamlet

You don’t ever get used to the pernicious stench of decaying salmon flesh. Or the realization that the squishy thing spewing unholy pinkish-gray plumes from under your boot is a rotting carcass.

~

“Men at some time are masters of their fates.” Julius Caesar

You’ve been at this spot since before sunrise. You were rewarded with the prime lie, but there was no first-light bite, and now it’s close to nine a.m. Do you wait for steelhead to arrive? Or do you roll the dice and head elsewhere? Assuming the bite is on, how do you know if there will even be room to fish? Whatever you decide, know this: there is a strong probability that you will be wrong.

~

“The deep of night has crept upon our talk, And nature must obey necessity.” Julius Caesar

I relish the bonhomie of the evening scotch-and-bull session as much as anyone. But I’m wiped out, guys, and I want to be fresh for tomorrow’s ass kicking. Good night.

~

The nicest thing I can say about this particular day is that I got a decent photo.

Christmas 12:13

 

Shakespearean Steelhead in the Fall 2015 Issue of The Drake

A little angst and black humor, something any steelheader can relate to. It’s called “Steelheading: A Tragedy in Several Acts,” and you can read it in the current issue of The Drake. It makes the supposition that Shakespeare may not have really been writing about Danish princes, Roman emperors, and star-crossed Italian lovers….

Did Shakespeare chase chrome? Let’s find out.

Drake Cover Fall 2015

“Ten Things Every Beginning Steelheader Should Know” in the October issue of MAFFG

The October 2015 issue of Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide is out, and with it the latest article from the currentseams wordworks. I had a lot of fun with “Ten Things Every Beginning Steelheader Should Know,” and it mixes humor with practical advice. Worth seeking out if you can find it.

The Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide is distributed free at fly shops or available by subscription. It is an underrated gem.

October 2015 MAFFG

~

Cam is still a beginning steelheader, but he does a lot of things right. For example…

Steel Cam 11-24-214

Fall appearances, articles, and other currentseams-y stuff

Hard to believe it’s September. Especially with this heat. We need rain, we need cool, and we need it soon.

In the meantime, here’s what’s on the fall calendar. As you can see, we have lots of “The Little Things” options all over southern New England. You don’t need to be a TU member to attend, so stop by and say hi.

“The Little Things” Presentation to TU Narragansett 225, Wednesday, September 30, Elks lodge, Coventry, RI. For directions and times, visit narragansett.tu.org.

“The Little Things” Presentation to TU Mianus, Tuesday, October 13, Waveny Mansion, New Canaan, CT. For directions and times, visit mianustu.org.

“The Little Things” Presentation to TU Farmington Valley, Thursday, October 15, (I believe it’s at the Whinstone Tavern at Stanley Golf Course, New Britain, CT). For directions and times, visit fvtu.org.

On the writing front, I’m told that my steelhead piece will be in the fall issue of The Drake. I’ll let you know if that’s the case, and I don’t mind saying that I think this is one of the better (not to mention funny) concept stories I’ve written. Look for a feature on striper soft-hackles in the next issue of American Angler. And, as I look over at my writing projects list, I see seven items. I suppose I’d better lock myself in my lonely writer’s garret and hop to it.

Only two more days till the 300 Followers contest closes! If you haven’t already, no better time to enter than now. And wow, just like that we’re up to 320.

Here’s to a tremendous fall season for everyone. (Fish included.)

October Brown 2014