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Big Fish and Tough Conditions

It was a bet that the river would be fishable.  A freak winter storm rolled in Monday night and was blanketing the coast with a rare snow storm.  Heavy wet snow dumped on the coast range.  Rains before this cold front had rivers up and brown.  The gamble was that the cold snow would freeze up the gushing muddy creeks and the rivers would drop.  We drove.

Driving through the deep snow over the coast range was a different experience.  One good thing was we were sure to be the only ones on the river.  When we finally arrived we found this to be true.  We also discovered the river was still a bit high but worth a try.  We were here after all. 

Through the day we worked the water hard with heavy sink tips and big bright flies.  Rain, snow and hail pelted us – defining the insanity of winter steelhead angling.  Finally near the end of the day, the clouds broke and we glimpsed the sun.  The river seemed to be clearing and dropping.  My client Les had worked hard for a fish all day.

Suddenly a loud thumping erruped and Les let out a whoop!  His fly reel handle was a blurr and pounding the fly box in his vest as a big wild steelhead ripped line off the reel.  This was a hard charging fish that ate the big fly with a solid thud.  Line ripped out and Les’ rod bucked.  This was no small steelhead.

After a several long runs down river the fish decided to go upriver.  Surging past us it smoothly charged its way straight up river into the current.  It did this twice, the second time farther into the reel than the first.  Finally the fish tired enough to get it close to the soft mesh net and then we had it.  A dandy wild steelhead from the Oregon coast.

Way to go Les! The smile on his face says it all!

Rob Crandall
The Tug is the Drug!

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