Where: We floated from Altmar to 2A
Duration of trip: About eight hours and thirty minutes
Number of spots we fished: Two
Water level and color when we started: 475cfs and clear
Water level below Orwell and Trout Brooks: 800cfs and rising, color somewhere between tea and chocolate milk with a splash of leaves
Weather: Cloudy and cool to sunny and in the 60s(!). Two brief showers. Windy.
Number of steelhead we hooked: 12, plus one foul we broke off (got the fly back)
Number of steelhead we landed: 9
Number of times I handed the fly rod off to Cam after hook set: 3
Number of steelhead Cam landed: 3, including one hyperactive jumper
Cam’s first steelhead landed on a fly rod. He’s a natural.
Number of steelhead Cam has played on a fly rod before this year: Zero
Cam’s batting average in his three-year steelhead career: 1.000 (Five for five. Proud papa.)
Kind of flies I caught them on upriver in the clear water: small stones and soft-hackled nymphs, size 10 and 12
Pattern I caught them on in the dirty swill water: size 8 Bead Head Lifter, Pink/Chartreuse and Blue/Chartreuse
Downriver, I figured I’d need a hi-vis pattern to get the fish’s attention. I hemmed and hawed, considered an Egg-Sucking Leech or other streamer, then tried an Estaz Egg/San Juan Worm pattern. No. Tied on the Bead Head Lifter, got the answer I was looking for, and kept it on for the rest of the afternoon.
Number of steelhead I thought we’d catch in the dirty swill water: Zero
Number of steelhead we caught: 6
Ugh. Miles of dirty water. Scores of beleaguered anglers lining the shores. At least they could have gotten into their trucks and driven upriver. But we were bound by the confines of the boat, gravity, and what nature had thrown at us. As the saying goes, you don’t know if you don’t go. Six steelhead landed is a damn good afternoon, any day. In swollen mucky runoff, it’s lottery lucky. Wow. We’ll take it.
Guide rating: Highest marks. Jim Kirtland has what you’d call deep domain knowledge of the Salmon. His netting skills are exceptional. Very recommended.
Number of steelhead we landed on our two previous floats with Jim: 3 (I guess we were due.)
Number of steelhead I landed in 2012: 1 (sometimes the bear eats you).
Number of steelhead I’ve landed in the last 13 months: 41 (sometimes you eat the bear).
On a scale of 1-10, energy I felt from being out on the river on a spring-like November day with my son catching steelhead: C’mon.