Slide Show

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to break a fishing rod

September steelhead

It was daylight on the river. The faint glimmer of an autumn sun hid behind the jagged peaks of Mount Olympus. 
As the sun rose the surface of the water was transformed into a shimmering reflection of red, gold and blue that mirrored the colors of the sunrise.  If, as the famous philosopher what's-his-name said, “Hell is other fishermen,” this was a fisherman's heaven, without another person in sight. 
Solitude is a rare thing.  
Every year hordes of anglers journey to the Olympic Peninsula in search of solitude. 
Until it's gotten so crowded you'd better pack your own rock to stand on if you want to fish near the water.  
Then there are so many boats on the rivers it's become more like a demolition derby than fishing. 
These days it may be a good idea to carry some extra boat bumpers or hang some old tires around your boat in case you are rammed. 
Rear-view mirrors on your river boat might come in handy just in case you don't have eyes in the back of your head. You never know what's coming down river behind you. 
It's generally bad trouble. Some of the boats carry potato guns and seal bombs so it might be a good idea to stow a tennis racket on board to ward off these impolite hazards to navigation. 
Not this morning. The river was mine.  
Wading to the water’s edge I hurled a spinner across the river where it dangled on a tree limb. What might seem like a bungling attempt by a casual onlooker is actually a technique it has taken years to perfect. 
You can argue with me but you cannot argue with modern science. Our native runs of salmon and steelhead have been evolving for millions of years which, according to Darwin's theory would explain why these fish are getting smarter every year.  
The fish have spent their entire lives watching people throw stuff at them. By the time a fish has reached adulthood they have pretty much seen every fancy cast there is. Except one, as a fishing guide who fishes more than 500 days a year on our local rivers, I was able to develop a cast the fish have almost never seen. 
Though difficult to master, my tree limb lure presentation simulates a mutant tree creature falling in the river, creating a feeding frenzy that can stimulate strikes in the most lock-jawed lunker. 
Rookies attempting this technique without expert instruction often make the mistake of trying to retrieve the lure from the tree limb. I have found it is much better to strip out line and lower the lure into the river. This allows you to fish water that would have been way out of range, if you hadn't cast into a tree. 
Slowly, I let out line until the lure just touched the surface of the water.  
Then it happened. There was flash of silver and a swirl in the water the size of a truck tire. 
The lure disappeared, the line ripped loose of the limb and took off downriver, peeling 200 yards of 20-pound mono-filament in the time it took you to read this. 
The great fish jumped four feet in the air, reflecting the colors of the sunrise on its silver sides. There was a sickening crack as my rod broke about a foot from the tip! 
That's what I told them back at the tackle shop where I got the rod anyway. It sounds better than the truth, “I slammed it in a car door.” 
Don't it?

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