When the weather conditions and long laid plans to fish with Richard seemed to coincide, I decided that it was finally time to visit a stretch of river that I'd always wanted to fish. For years, this stretch of river had been a sanctuary, but thanks to recent changes to the regulations it is now open for angling. Richard and I intended to fish all of it. We parked one car at the top of the stretch, and one below it; almost all of it would be brand new water to us.
The morning was warm, for the time of year, and the water was lower and clearer than we'd hoped. It seems to be an autumnal trend that, as we get less and less rain, and as many of our rivers recover or benefit from better overall management (and therefore suffer less siltation and overrun), water conditions are almost always lower and clearer than we would be lead to expect, just from reading the graphs.
Nonetheless, we started fishing, working our way up, drifting in deeper or faster water, in bends and in pockets behind large boulders. One of the latter provided my first surprise of the day, as a large steelhead in the 8lb range took my float down with a quick bob. Just as I was pulling it up on shore, my leader snapped, and the fish promptly flipped and turned, and then it zipped out into the free river. I was a little disappointed at not getting a picture, but I was very happy to have hooked into something under less than promising conditions.
I won't lie. It wasn't exactly a fish-fest, and there were long stretches of sifting unsuccessful drifts, but we acquitted ourselves well, both of us catching more than we thought we could expect, including Richard's personal best steelhead, and probably my personal best coho.
Beyond that, the river yielded some very good water, which I can't wait to fish again, under better conditions. There were some really interesting stretches, with some hidden troughs to be sounded at some future point, when the fish are in again and in greater numbers.
Then, there was the usual bonus of fishing with Richard. He is always a jovial and optimistic companion, and his sense of humour never fails to make a fishless hour pass more quickly and less painfully. I was really glad that he also finally took my advice, adjusting his drift depth as instructed, to absolutely "school" me in one of the better pools we found.
I was lucky enough to take the last fish of the day, an absolute lightning bolt of a hen that forced me to rush down-river in its pursuit. Richard was there to help snap a picture of it, and it will adorn my banner for a while.
More days of fishing are coming soon, and more entries!