Wednesday, July 2, 2017
I met Steve at Highway Products/Pavati Boats at 5:00. He was excited, saying they had been doing well the last few days, and he expected us to have a great day. I appreciated the enthusiasm. I hadn’t been doing well fishing, and I was getting tired of the heat. It was supposed to get up to 112 degrees today, but I had a fleece on as it was about 60 degrees at this time of morning. The water is about 47 deg, so it’s cooler when you are on the river. We were going to a different section of the river today. We were the first at the landing, but as Steve was preparing the boat, another guide came in. He was a friend of Steve’s. They grew up fishing together. He had a mother and maybe a six-year-old son with her. What a good Mom! They were only going to be on the river for three hours, so they were off quickly, and we never saw them again. In fact we didn’t see any other boats all day. There were a few people fishing from the banks and one fellow in the river.
Before we took off, Steve gave me a run-down of the gear and how to use it. New rods, different lures. He had 8 rods in the back, all Lamiglas. I had been impressed with these rods on our previous trip, especially the power of the Quik series rod that we caught the 32-pound salmon on. They bend and flex so well, it acts as a shock absorber as the fish jump and try to shake the lure. These were XM or something. I had looked online for Lamiglas rods. Like anything else today, there are so many choices, it is impossible to choose.
We caught two nice cutthroat trout right off the bat. With two rods in the front, Steve guided the boat along a channel beside a slick, or quiet side. it wasn’t long before a fish hit the front rod. It was a nice Steelhead, fighting hard, flashing its silver sides as it slashed through the water. What a hard-fighting, powerful fish! It did an acrobatic leap through the air while Steve told me to keep the rod tip down. Finally landing him with an athletic move by Steve with the big net. It’s fun to watch how a great pro handles the fish and releases them. Usually you hold the fish upstream to get them re-oxygenated before releasing them, but this water is so fast, it quickly turns them sideways. For a minute the fish floated upside down, but it soon flipped over and was off.
Get the lure out of the net and get it back in the game. This is a beautiful river. Every time I see a different stretch, the more I appreciate it. There are so many different personalities to it. Soon there was another steelhead on, a native just like the last one. A steelhead and a rainbow trout are the same species, but the steelhead goes to sea and returns to the rivers to spawn. They have just started the run, which Steve said will last until November/December when they spawn. Unlike salmon, they don’t die, but return to sea. This great fish had travelled 200 difficult miles to get here.
In some areas without big holes, we drifted a salmon egg along the sides. Steve pulled out a big box of imitation salmon eggs with all sorts of colors and sizes. He said some days they hit one color, the next day it will be something different. Today, they didn’t like any of them. There was a different rod for each technique. I asked how many rods he had as I was trying to sort this all out. I’d like to buy gear that I could salmon fish with, and figured I needed another rod for steelhead. I have a fly rod that will handle steelhead, but my spinning rods certainly won’t. Then Steve answered the question. 50 rods. 50?! Of course this is his business, how he makes a living, but he also loves it. He gets so excited when we catch a fish. One time he was working the boat hard as I worked another steelhead. I asked if he got tired when he had to do that, but he said the adrenaline kicks in with the excitement. Cool! He still gets excited after all the fishing he has done.
I lost track really, but I think we caught the two Dolly Varden, a number of small trout and 7 steelhead, all of which were native, wild fish. It was a blast. I was lucky to be the only one in the boat and lucky to have such a talented and nice guy guiding me. He has lived here all his life, catching his first steelhead when he was five on this section of the river. He knows every hole, and has great stories of epic battles. One time in Rattlesnake Rapids, they had a big fish on as they headed down the rapids and it jumped in the boat, flopping all around as he tried to guide the boat through the rapids.
There were several pretty good rapids on this stretch, a couple with big waves. It is just no problem with this boat. Steve said it is such a gas to be able to use the best boat on the river. Other fishermen are amazed at how the boat handles. A number of times he has sold a boat on the river. I can tell you I want one! I love this boat, especially for this river. We went through several very shallow riffles and it didn’t touch a rock. Going sideways through some waves, no water came in. The doors are great. Great for getting in and out of the boat, but also for easing a fish out of the water in stead of hauling them in over the sides. As it got hotter, it was nice to step out the door and take a refreshing dip.
It was a great day. We got off the river about 1:00. Eight hours on the river with a great guy, catching steelhead and telling stories. The scenery is spectacular, and so are some of the houses on this stretch. We caught the biggest fish in the Patrick Duffey Hole. Then we came to Jim Belushi’s house, a very pretty and not ostentatious house. Steve said he built it from reclaimed lumber from a guy in Virginia. Could this be Willie Drake??
Steve said he was going to the coast for a month starting next week. Salmon are stacking up in the mouths of the rivers. Dolly Varden also come into the rivers, and you can catch some kind of big perch off the beach that are great to eat. I was ready to go to the coast to escape the heat, but now I was really convinced. Think I will go to Brookings tomorrow.