Monday, April 27, 2009

Opener 2009, Part 2: The Khalidian Invasion

I struggled only briefly for the title of this section of my Opening day 2009 Saga. The heading picture basically says it all. The gleaming, drop-back steelhead could just as easily be a double-barreled shot-gun!

Sometimes, when things aren't going well and you can't figure out why the fish aren't hitting your line, you need to drop into your comfort zone. This is what Khalid did for this year's opener, and it paid big dividends.

Instead of bringing out the centrepin, which he is still getting used to, he brought out his trusty old spinning setup. He rigged it properly, picked good current seams and pockets, had the right presentation and offerings, and ultimately he had more success than I've personally seen him have. He caught fish every day that we fished together. And furthermore, on the Sunday, he caught the biggest fish no less!

But the defining moment for him probably came when he tied on a jig and berkley's split-fin jig body, adjusted it based on the hits he seemed to be getting but not hooking, and ultimately had the float go down under the urgings of a hungry steelhead. He was understandably proud of having figured out what the steelhead would go for and eagerly and happily insisted that I get a few pictures of the lure in the fish's mouth.

All in all, it was as pleasant as usual to fish with Khalid. He is always a convivial fishing partner, making cigar smoke-breaks fun as well as full of steelheading discussion. What they've taken, what we think they'll take, what they seem to be feeding on etc... are all items of discussion and planning for our post-break activities.

Khalid's camaraderie is definitely one of the things that make me wish we had more river-time to spend, but I suppose that that's part of the reason that it's so precious: it's fleeting. It's over so quickly that one sometimes wonders if it was all just a dream...


Opener 2009, Part 1: Steelhead Ed

To my great chagrin, it turns out that Ed was right, and if I'd followed his advice I might have acquitted myself of at least some of the verbal abuse that I peppered him with from the break of dawn.

But this just adds to the litany of my deficiencies for the day. I also failed to refresh his memory of how to properly shot a float fishing rig, how to distinguish between cured and uncured roe, how to read current etc..; luckily I didn't need to refresh any of his abilities in complaints output management. His skills in this area are surprisingly "on."

Maybe I can be forgiven, if only on the basis that he used to out-fish me regularly in the old days. In fact, he was always the more open-minded and experimental between us. It was while fishing with Ed that I finally decided to try a wet fly - rather than just roe, roe, roe - based on the keen observation that he was catching fish with them ... and I wasn't. So I had no expectation that he could have forgotten any of the skills he used to display during those halcyon days. But then, I guess that's what fishing less than once a year does to even the sharpest among us. Vile atrophy!

Yesterday, however, will probably have served to restore some of the old prowess and wash away much of the rust. After I finally realized that senility had robbed my good friend of all of his steelheading faculties, I set to playing the guide for about an hour, and this is when he started hooking into fish. Most of them got off, until his reflexes caught up to the action. When the float went down for the last time, he delivered a quick, strong hookset and the fight was on. Then, because his rig was a little on the light side for the fish he was battling - a spawned out hen in the 9lb range - I taught him how to do the "Michigan Dirty." It comes in handy when you need to bring a fish up river, that has stopped peeling off line but is difficult to turn. You can see him applying the technique expertly in the caption above.

Ed's advice to me? While I was filming the action : "careful you don't kill the batteries."

My retort: "aw I just recharged them two days ago. They'll be fine."

The result: no picture evidence of Ed's fish on my camera.

Officially, I could claim that he got no fish. I could do that, if it wasn't for the meddling, pictorially enabled presence of one of the other three characters in this little Saga, who snapped the picture in the paragraph above.

continued in part 2: The Khalidian Invasion