Courage and the Sweet Release

The quest for steelhead is just that, a daunting journey that involves cold, nasty weather and a lot of casts, swings and steps through steelhead water looking for the elusive connection with a ghostly creature that is often soo-hard to find.  Steelhead are survivors and they are tough; as juveniles the slow ones are the food source for Osprey, otters, herons and other critters.  The desire to connect with the amazing power of steelhead is a strong draw for many anglers; anglers like Todd.

Todd has been fishing with me for several years, always in a chipper mood and asking lots of questions.  He has worked through the fits and starts of spey casting as many anglers have; as I did when I started.  Now quite proficient tossing the fly he can work through a run and not constantly be thinking “about the cast”…

This morning was special, dark clouds threatened as we launched in the pre-dawn gloom of what was about to be a wet day.  Anticipation was high as we anchored the boat at our first stop.  We carefully went through Todds gear selecting the right sink tip and one of the ever productive “Crandall’s Steelhead Nitemare” flies.  I tied it on with a Lefty’s loop knot and got Todd lined up.  Todd flipped in a sinktips worth of line – all of 10′, swung the fly about two seconds and SLAM!  Line screamed off the reel and Todd was fast into a great fish. On the first run it was nearly into the backing in what seemed like a heartbeat.  The #7 weight spey rod was bent in a wild arc and Todd’s grin stretched from ear to ear.

Soon a wild steelhead about 10lbs was at hand.  Careful to keep the wild beauty in the water we removed the hook and sent it on it’s way.  A valiant battle fought, a wild creature-being wild; what an addicting fish!

The clouds were dark and nasty and dumped more rain but our spirits couldn’t be dampened.  I guess that is one thing that I truly respected about Todd and about the nature of steelhead- just don’t give up.  Even when life is gloomy and tough he was out there fishing- you see Todd has cancer and he had to be off the river in time today to get radiation treatment later that day.

How blessed I am to be able to experience such great fish on a great river with an amazing person like Todd.

Wishing you smooth water and easy wading,

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