Friday, November 6, 2015

Matt's Salmon River Steelhead

From what we gathered in communications with the Douglaston Salmon Run river walker, Matt's steelhead was the one and only this morning. Matt's weighs (the shot shows him releasing it) about seven pounds. I lost one at the net longer in length that looked skinnier. Both chromers.

Copious online reading before we came up informed me, but actual fishing comes down to trial and error and habit, and of course as a spin fisherman, I have a habit of holding the rod high as if it's no problem. After this venture with my son, I may hold the rod to the side more often. I told myself to hold the rod aside, having learned that's what you do with noodle rods four years ago, and reminded of the same for fly fishing numerously in my reading, but Nate caught me holding the rod high, and apparently it was too late before I could have adjusted position. I guess that's why I lost the steelhead. I had one other hit on a chartreuse streamer near the end of our seven hours, a pretty strong strike.

We fished three stretches thoroughly, but could not escape leaves. If not for the mass of them--I mean they were thick and cast after cast got interrupted by having to pull a yellow leaf off the hook--I think we would have caught more fish. The leaves cut into our time and grace. We began with a calm, warm air mass of about 60 degrees just after 6:00 a.m. Leaves were bad enough, but once the wind picked up, they got to be the mess I've described.

Since I've had severe herniation in my lower back for years, my spine is somewhat scholiotic, twisted, with the result that sometimes my upper back pains me badly. No problem on Lake Hopatcong recently, nor while casting spinnerbaits the week or so before my son got out. But I had to take several breaks today, finally saying the hell with giving into the pain and just exerting myself past the difficulty, which resulting in--less pain. I fished the last two hours with wilful determination that made me feel great afterwards. We had fished hard all morning, but it took me hours before I fully got into it; not that I wasn't trying; I just hadn't stirred the manic power in me yet.

When my son hooked up about 7:30, I got my camera, the $600.00 camera with the $525.00 lens, my favorite lens, and got in the water--with Korkers on of course--to get the shots, and my very last shot--about two seconds before I heard Nate whoop, saw him lift the steelhead in the net, and a split-second later fell flat on my face in the river--is the best. I'm saving it for possible magazine use after we get more experience yet. The file card never got wet, and I got the last picture my camera and possibly my Tokina lens will ever take. Sort of like a mother who dies giving birth. I took emergency measures to try to save the equipment, and, finding the electronics unresponsive, said, "If I broke my leg, that would be worse." Nate got some good shots of Matt and his fish, and later my son said, "If you told me a year ago I would catch a steelhead on a fly rod, I wouldn't have believed you."

You just play the cards in your hand, however expensive. Once the camera and lens got submerged, it was done. As I edit this last paragraph now, a tech has told me an upgrade is less expensive than repair. The camera will be replaced and soon; the lens either fixed within three weeks or replaced by the same model. Most of all, my son succeeded, and he's since talked about fly fishing the river that runs through town, the North Branch Raritan. And we'll be back for steelhead next fall.  

I wanted Nate to fish when I took a break with my aching back.

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