Clearwater River steelhead
Last week I talked about the emotional fishing hangover that followed a recent trip. The trip in question was a day of fishing so diverse–so complex–that it’s difficult to sum it up accurately with a single title. The antics of the day varied as widely as the weather, which was cold and wet early in the day. In the afternoon, the clouds lifted and the day warmed comfortably. As the weather improved, adult behavior went the other direction.
This entry could be titled, “Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat” but that would be a bit misleading, as it suggests we fished with bait. Some of those aboard the two boats may gotten their fingers dirty, but I’ll not name names. I will state proudly that I did not. Being a puritan fly angler, it was bad enough that I was forced to use a spinning setup. At least I opted only to fish yarn egg patterns (Team Synthetic!).
Another theme for the day might well have been “Shooting Fish in a Barrel” because fishing was rather, well, productive. The total catch among 9 fishermen was 27 steelhead. Unfortunately we were only able to remove 6 hatchery brats from the system, with the remaining fish being
native wild unclipped. All were fine Clearwater River steelhead (and one fair-hooked sucker), and the overwhelming majority of these fish were caught before we broke for lunch.
Perspectives vary, however, and if you were to ask one of those onboard if the day were akin to shooting fish in a barrel,
Boane he would have answered that it was a “mighty big barrel.” As we exited the boats after 8 hours on the water, high-fiving and whooping it up in fine celebratory fashion, this fish-deprived angler was overheard using the term “Skunkapotamus” to describe the day.
Yet another title could very easily have been “Fireball and Russian Dwarves” due to the scent of cinnamon that hung in the air and the presence of a particular fur hat purchased in eastern Europe by one of those onboard. Was it my hat? Niet, although I may have worn it for a period of time.
“Mooseknuckle and Rubber Pants” would also be a fitting headline for the day. When you take a man who is 6’8″ and shoehorn his arse into a pair of rubber rain pants intended to fit a considerably shorter man, the results are self-explanatory. But when it comes to angling attire, it’s function over form that matters and waterproof pants were essential on this damp day that was at times downright wet. Large Albacore wasn’t the only one glad for the rubber pants, as a fair amount of entertainment was had at his expense.
“Fishermen are so Damn Competitive” was another theme that applied to the day. Before we boarded the boats everyone tossed 10 bucks into two cups: one pot for the First Fish caught; the other for the Biggest Fish. I was privileged to witness the First Fish being caught as it was landed by one of my boat mates. Bryan (not his real name) is a seemingly easy-going guy who is soft-spoken and laid-back. But turn your back on him for a second and he’s throwing elbows and jockeying for the best fishing position in the boat. No matter, it was good to get the skunk off the boat early. Around mid-morning yours truly landed an athletically-built fish in the 37-38″ range, as declared by the guide himself. This handsome B-Run Clearwater steelhead
was the biggest fish caught should have been taken the Big Fish award. However, the prize was awarded to another fish that was lethargic and out of shape. No amount of formal protesting on my part could sway the panel of corrupt judges. I won. You know it. And I hope you all can sleep at night knowing that I was robbed. In all reality, everyone got a blue ribbon (in fact several, thanks to Pabst).
Suffice it to say that on this day, where the weather changed dramatically, fishing went from hot to slow, and behavioral antics ran the full gamut, there’s just no way to sum it all up in a manner that’s nice and tidy. What it was, was a great day shared with great friends.
I’d like to take a moment to individually thank everyone on the trip: Jawn, thanks for the over-the-top generous hospitality and for putting the trip together (I’ll send you a bill for my share of the gas that was required to get there); Lenrod, much appreciation for getting us there and back through freezing rain and Wenatchee rush hour traffic, and not stopping to harvest road kill; The Brothers Albacore, thanks for the fun and for being so damn tall (and Large Albacore–my neck still hurts and we’re still friends); Micro, thanks for letting me sport your pelt hat for a while, and sorry about that whole P.O.T.Y. thing 30 years ago (get over it already); Bryan, thanks for getting the skunk off the boat early so we could just enjoy fishing without the pressure; Boane, sorry, man. It happens to men your age (try baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to get the stink out); Red Pig, you were missed this year–do not miss next year.
If the guys at Hells Canyon Sport Fishing will have us again, I’ll see you next year, boys. Bring on the 3rd annual Clearwater River Debauchery!