Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jumping Steelhead

Indiana - November 24, 2010

 An early morning visitor

I got an early start and arrived at my destination well before the sun began peeking over the horizon. After parking my car and getting my gear ready, I began walking into the darkness of the woods. The ground was very muddy which only added to the hazards that make the trip along the creek a treacherous one even during the daylight. The path was littered with sticker bushes and downed tree limbs, not to mention the washed out spots that can send you tumbling down the embankment into the cold water if you're not careful.

Stopping to say hello

As I got to the first spot I wanted to fish, a deer appeared in a small clearing just across the creek. He stopped to watch me for a minute and quickly decided I was not a threat to him. A few seconds later, a second deer joined him. They watched me for a little bit before they went on their way. For me, it's always a neat thing when I come across a creature in the wild and they decide I'm not a threat to them and they go about their business. Sometimes they run away when I pick up the camera, but these deer watched me as I set up my two Steelhead rods. They seemed curious about me.

My first Steelhead of the Fall

I began floating wax worms down the creek. I felt a bite right away but knew instantly that my bait was being harassed by the smolts - which are small 4 to 8 inch Steelhead that have yet to make their way out to Lake Michigan. I reeled the bait in and made an adjustment with the hope that I'd have fewer smolts attacking it. Sure enough the bobber went under and stayed there and I knew I had a good bite.

 Trying to get a grip

The fish made one powerful run as the line screamed off my reel. At the end of its run it made several high jumps out of the water. I moved down the creek towards the fish as I reeled in more line. I found a good spot to land the fish and as I knelt down in preparation to bring the fish in, it jumped again and hit me square in the chest. I thought for sure the line would break but it held and the fish landed in the water right in front of me. A few seconds later I was able to scoop it out of the water.

Still not cooperating

I made a couple of attempts to get pictures using the self timer but the fish still had a lot of fight left in him. He kept squirming and I wasn't able to get a decent shot after two attempts. I figured that he had been out of the water long enough so I turned around and lowered him close to the water so he wouldn't have far to fall when he broke my grip.
Resting before heading back into the current

The fish swam off but turned around stopped about 5 feet down from where I released him. He stayed there for a minute or two before swimming off into the deeper water and out into the current. I made a few more drifts in that area before throwing a spinner that I had made. With no luck on the spinner I moved off to another spot.

 Low water level

The mud made finding a safe spot to fish very difficult. There would have been more options for me if I would not have minded standing in the slop, but I decided to stay out of the slop and on drier ground for this trip. I tried two more spots with no luck before I wound up at my last spot.

Steep embankment behind the trees

At my last spot I wound up catching several smolts very quickly. I had to re-tie a few times after snagging in the brush that is all over the bottom of that creek. Eventually I felt some resistance when pulling back on the line and I had another good fish on. This fish was a couple pounds smaller than the first one and much darker. I managed to get it out of the water but I still had about 4 or 5 feet of mud to either walk through or drag the fish through. I got the fish about halfway and the hook pulled free. Since the fish was still just out of my reach, I turned the rod around and gently rolled him back into the water. He swam off with a burst and I decided to call it a day. There was freezing rain on the way and I did not want to be stuck in the holiday get-a-way traffic in an ice storm.

1 comment:

  1. HI Bill, as usual, I enjoyed reading your post. I remember being quite envious of you last year when you had successful stream trout fishing. The Steelies out in Idaho pretty much come from bigger rivers.