Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Day of Transition

Saturday, April 29th marked the Opening Day for Trout season this year in Ontario. My day began at 2:00 in the morning, as I lay awake waiting for the alarm to go off. I've never slept much, if at all, the night before the Opener. I'm not really sure why. The Steelhead in our rivers for the most part bear the wounds of their spawning ritual this time of year, and fishermen from all walks of life line the banks, standing elbow to elbow at every well known pool. It's the day where I see the most number of wild Steelhead strung up on the "the rope of death", and it's when I see the most number of people walking through meticulously built redds, smothering and crushing offspring that would have been a part of a future generation.

After today, I realized that my excitement for Opening Day wasn't about the fishing itself. It was about of the camaraderie, laughter, and good company of my friends. It was about the familiarity of seeing acquaintances that I only ever see on this day every year. It was about the eerie silence and the lone sound of a gently flowing river amidst the pre-dawn. . . and most notably it was about the rare opportunity to fish again with the man responsible for this obsession of mine, and for which I am eternally grateful - my Old Guy.

We arrived at the river at 4am and revelled in the temporary solitude. By 4:15, I was battling my first Steelhead of the day, which turned out to be a fresh pre-spawn female. By 5am the serenity of early morning was replaced with the trampling of brush and the splashing of feet through the shallows. As the light peered through the leafless trees, it became apparent that it was going to be a great day - there were fish everywhere. The fish began to awaken as scattered rays from the April morning sun found their way to the deep pools and each fish took their turn to entertain us.

The colouration on this fish was very unusual but very cool - this lady was caught and released 3 times - This strain must be the blond version of the Steelhead gene pool

It's fish like these why I love Steelheading - this fellow leapt so high, it landed in an overhanging bush before its re-entry. A very angry 8lb hen
Opening Day for me also signifies the beginning of my departure from the "gear" and the migratory fishery - thoughts of little gems, old monster browns, and fly fishing begin to take over. Yesterday, I pulled a nice sized Brook Trout out of one of the most unlikely places while Steelhead fishing - it must be a sign.
I think I have a couple more Steelhead outings in me, but I intend on dusting off the feather and fur very soon. It's about time I became re-acquainted with some old finned friends that I haven't
seen for quite a while.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Few Errands

I took the opportunity the other day (Friday, March 30th) to run a few errands. Errands that have been weighing on me for some time; and what better place to run them than the Steelhead Strip Mall, or the Eastern Tribs as most know them.

At first light, I stopped at one of my favourite "stores" as they always have a great selection of spirited first year class specimens, along with the occasional Costco Goliaths of monumental proportions. As an added bonus, they always seem to be in stock. The problem is most everyone knows about it and trying to stop by on a weekend can be claustrophobic. It also means that its products are highly educated, which requires quite a bit of wit and creativity to find them. When I arrived, I was excited to see that only one other patron was loitering about. We exchanged pleasantries and I quickly proceeded to my favourite aisle.

After a number of drifts and several offerings, I switched up one more time. The float meandered along when it suddenly and deliberately was sucked under. I raised the rod in exaltation, and a gigantic boil formed by something even larger sub-surface. It's mammoth head shook from side to side and the rod bounced in synchronicity. The Goliath rocketed upstream and the line sung under the tension. With my eyes as wide as two half moons, and mouth agape, it stopped, rolled, and my line went limp. My morale was shattered with the loss and I wanted to sit on a log and cry. After a long moment of sulking, I picked myself up and headed upstream, where I was able to redeem myself with a couple decent finds.

In this particular store one must contend with sometimes very daunting obstacles.
After a few hours, I stopped at 2 other shops and picked up a few more things, including a drop-back male that looked like a football, and a spunky shaker that fought beyond its years.

It certainly wasn't a bad day at all. In fact, a day of retail therapy was just what I needed to work out the bugs from the last few months of inactivity.