Spey casting

The Steelhead Gods Were Good to Us.

In March of 2011, the love of my life got down on one knee and asked me to marry him on the most beautiful river we have ever fished– The Queets. I will never forget that special moment and how my life has never been the same since.
Unfortunately, that same year, we were unable to fish the run where we got engaged, because the river was high and un-fishable. So, we left the moment as it was and moved on to other rivers to fish…
This year, we came out President’s Day weekend in February, and luck be hold, we revisited the run where Andrew “put a ring on it” the year before, and the river was perfect. We didn’t get our hopes up just yet, but as soon as we saw the run and the conditions, we couldn’t help but get excited.
Andrew started in on a section above me and I got in on the lower part. The whole piece had that nervous steelie water and it swung perfectly. I was nervous with excitement!
I fished through the bottom without a touch (well, besides some rocks that didn’t move…) but Andrew had a nice hit a few casts in and a few moments later, I heard the always anticipated and glorious “Wahoo!”. I looked back and saw the Sage TCX rod (one of our wedding gifts) bent and my husband beaming. Immediately, I reeled up and started to run towards him…
Before I had a chance to get the camera out for a quick photo of the fight, the fish was off. (At this moment, it’s always a brief feeling of defeat and the tormenting question “WHY???” screaming in your head. Most anglers know that a fish coming off before you have a chance to land it, is the safest way to catch-and-release a fish, but it’s always nice to at least be able to see it, and for my husband and I– we live for the chance to possibly be able to tail the fish and release it back into the river. Especially  when it’s a nice fish with a good fight).
The two of us have a mutual agreement that once one of us catches a fish (whether we land it or not), the other person can fish through the same spot afterwards. So, I jumped in where Andrew left off, with the hope that I might get lucky as well.
Very willingly as always (Haha), I allowed Andrew to give me some pointers on how to cast straight across the rivers versus angled down the run, and showed me how to mend the line a different way than I usually do, so I can make the line really sink and get down to where the fish are laying based on the structure of the run (or as we can guess from how we see it from the surface). So after I made my fourth or fifth cast using this new technique, my line swinging around, and I can feel the fly sinking down… and right as I feel like it reaches that “fishing” zone, my line is suddenly pulled tight, and within a matter of seconds, it’s tearing down the run and my reel is screaming. I immediately check the drag, and after feeling that it’s set perfectly, I just pray the fish will make a run and then get tired from the side pressure that I eventually have to put on the line so it starts swimming back towards me. While Andrew is running back towards me, this magnificent chrome, native beauty jumps clear out of the water, and that’s when I see its girth and bright flesh. And at that moment, my initial feelings are justified, and  I at least know what is on the end of my line for my sanity’s sake.
Once the fish started to give in and slow down a bit, I gave Andrew the okay to try and tail him for me as I carefully steered him in towards the bank. Andrew, who is pretty seasoned at this technique, quickly grabbed his tail and slipped his hand underneath its belly and kept him secure in the water, while I came up to take his place for a quick photo. Keeping him in the water, I aimed him upstream, and let him decide when he was ready to go. A few moments later, his tail gave me a good splash, and he tore off full of vigor. I immediately dropped to my hands and knees on the bank and had a moment of sheer relief and gratitude… The reality hit me. I had landed a beautiful wild steelhead on the run where my husband proposed to me. It felt incredible.
God, I love fly-fishing….

Categories: Spey casting, Steelhead

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