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5-04-03 - I only took this one picture today...too busy loosing fish to take stupid scenery pics!

5-04-03 - Best Day Ever...wait...Worst Day Ever...wait...Best Day Ever...wait...

Rivers Fished: Oak Creek
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 5-4-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 60's dropping to around 40 (I could see my breath).
Water Temp: ?? - haven't replaced the thermometer yet.
Water Level: low, but not quite at its "bottom" point.
Water Color: Tinged Green, visibility about 1 foot.
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Black Heron, Manhattan Beach, MP's Antron Bug (Herring), MP's Egg Sucking Steeley Stone, Bender's Krystal Spey, Antron Bug, Green Caddis, Whitlock's Red Squirrel Nymph, Grey Heron, Chum Candy, Glo Bugs, and a boatload of other stuff.
Pattern Color: see the respective patterns.
Fishing Quality: AWESOME

So we started out on a beautiful morning at an undisclosed location; a fork in the river around an island...I was swinging the Grey Heron Spey..when wham, a huge fish nailed it. I chased this fish clear around the island before Chromeseeker's Dad netted it. Awesome buck about 15 lbs...tons of red. Then, the next cast after landing the buck, again WHAM! And again I go chasing a HUGE Steelhead around the island...my line getting tangled in the debris on the shore while this fish gives me a real run! Finally Chromeseeker's Dad again nets the fish...a monstrous chrome hen that actually has a bit of a kype. Easily 20 lbs, her front snout is hooked but also "bent"....the kype of her upper mandible actually comes down to the left side of her face! I'm totally ecstatic. I can hardly contain myself. Steelheading has NEVER been this easy....heck I could catch them in my sleep! And then I woke up...

It's 9:00 AM and what a "Steelhead Dream". I looked around the house and can't find Chromeseeker and his girlfriend...I called him up and they had left about 6:00 am and were at Oak Creek, already one fish each. CS had to stop fishing at 11:00 to go home for some afternoon commitments, so they had gotten an early start.

By the time I got my act together it was just about 11:00; another cell call to CS and he was just wrapping things up, a combined 3/10 outing! I really DID have something to look forward to. On the drive from Lake Como to Oak Creek I was trying to figure out "where" I had been in that early AM dream...either it must have been Kletzsch park or the "tiny island" in Oak Creek. Someone was trying to tell me something.

I got to Oak Creek at 12:30 and fished until about 8:30 PM. Rather than bore you with all the details, here are the highlights.

There were a lot of people around in the early afternoon, so I went downstream. Kids were running around everywhere, as were the anglers. All sorts of foot traffic to spook the fish. On my way down I came across an angler fishing a pair on the redd; I acknowledged his presence and informed him I'd be going "super slow" in order to not spook the fish. Despite my best intentions I think my passage spooked them anyways.

Further downstream I found a male moving up. I came down underneath and started casting...I got my tug and lifted my rod. SNAP! Busted my FAVORITE ROD! Dont' know if I had the fish or a rock..doesn't matter...I was really upset. Hopefully Justin can repair it or make me up a new 2nd piece.

Later on in the day I fished one of the upper pools. Large flies were not working...in many cases you could sight-fish...and large speys and such were clearly AVOIDED by the fish...they'd just swim around them. So I tied on MP's Antron Bug in Herring, dropped my leader to 4 lb test, and drifted through the pool. On the fourth cast, a tiny rocket FLEW OUT OF THE POOL...my line attached. 3 more times in rapid fire succession this dark little buck went airborn...and managed to free himself from my line.

In the afternoon (about 5:00) I was moving downstream when I saw a HUGE fish surface. I mean MONSTROUS. Looked like a CHINOOK! I prepared myself, this time armed with a Grey Heron on the 4lb. leader. As I set myself up in position with a tree (to camouflage my presence) a slightly smaller, but still jumbo female flashed in the deep water (probably 2.5 feet). A man and his daughter came up and asked me how my day was going...I told him "Stand Still and you'll see".

On the third or forth swing into the small pool I connected with a MONSTER. TOTALLY HUGE. CHINOOK SIZE I TELL YOU! Easily 20 lbs. of totally colored-up buck Steelhead came out of the water in "JAWS" fashion, shaking his head wildly. My drag zipped as I raised my rod to set the hook. He surfaced again, crashing down; the analogy I use to describe it is this - image a 40 LB dog jumping into a swimming pool - that's the sound of this fish as it crashed down on the surface. I got a great look at him, lots of red on his sides and gill covers, and tons of black spots. The adrenaline was at an all-time HIGH! A rapid succession of these jumping maneuvers, combined with the fish charging forward, took the tension out of my line. When I regained tension, the fly came loose...flew out of his mouth and into a nearby tree! I was TOTALLY PO'd at this point. I made a mental note where the pair had been redding (not like it was hard to remember) and continued on back downstream.

After hours of sightfishing a couple known holding spots I had many more less noteworthy hookups. Overall I attribute all my losses (totally roughly 0/15 for the day) to poor hooksets, and I attribute THAT to the fact that I SNAPPED MY ROD on a hookset early on .

Not to fret, I could fish as long as I wanted due to legal night fishing. The last fly up was the Manhattan Beach Spey which Tom Bender had tied for the '03 Spring Spey Swap. Earlier in the day I had run into Bushertail from Lake-Link; he had taken 2 fish on a chartreuse wolley bugger and was convinced that chartreuse was THE color. It DID seem to work well; Tom's Krystal Spey (with a chartreuse egg) had a couple hits in the afternoon. The Manhattan Beach worked pretty well too. My last-ditch effort was back where I had hooked up with the brute.

Upon arriving the female was still redding, and I starting swinging. It was pretty dark at this point, but the street lights were all on. No one was around...it was totally surreal, kinda like walking through DisneyWorld at night, without ANY visitors. My first few swings connected briefly, and again on the fourth or fifth swing I connected big-time. Not the bruiser, but probably another male who was sitting behind the female. He rocketed a good 2-3 FEET out of the water, spinning, and instantly without much effort threw the hook.

So there you have it. About 8 hours of fishing, my favorite rod busted in my own hands, about 15 hookups, one monster fish story (which is TOTALLY TRUE) and NOTHING landed. A horrible and yet awesome day. I feel totally exhilarated and dejected at the same time....a mixed bag for sure. I've heard days like this described as "character builders"...the kind that make you question WHY you chase Steelhead. At the same time, a day like this is precisely the answer to that question!

  MP 

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