Yesterday’s incredible downpour has got my Steelhead senses tingling. We are still a bit away but it won’t be long before the silver bullets will be making their trek up our Ontario Rivers. Learning to fly fish for these migratory trout is indeed a thrilling quest. Different set ups for nymphing rods are needed. Quite a complex array of fly lines for swinging methods. But one thing remains the same, they are just fish and we must not put ourselves in a dangerous situation just for a hook up.
5 years ago I headed out to my favourite Steelhead River by myself. Water was high but perfect. Hiking for about a half hour I found myself at a perfect run with no one in site other then a few mallards, geese and 2 curious deer. I began my routine and worked the run 3 times with no hookups. I decided that crossing the river was needed as I was sure that I would have better luck. As I approached the far bank I had one last deeper portion of the river to cross. My mind was focused on the Steelhead and feeling omnipotent, I pushed through the deep area. This is where my right foot got lodged between 2 rocks and I became stuck.
Laughing at first, I worked my foot back and forth thinking I would just pull it out and trudge on. No such luck. The rapids were strong and were thrashing against my waist. I realized then that I was in trouble. My foot was not coming out and if I toppled backwards from the force of the river I would be done. This was the first time I ever thought to myself that this could be the end. I said out loud “it’s only a fish Jeff. What have you done”. Obviously I’m writing this story so I was able to bend down and loosen my boot while almost falling over numerous times. This took a long, agonizing 15 minutes. I wiggled out from the two rocks, turned back and sat on the bank of the river to reflect. This was the day that had changed my life and how I fish and guide for Steelhead.
I say 2 – 3 times every Steelhead guide day. “It’s only a fish. Do not put yourself in peril. Move on to a safer spot or river run. Again, it’s only a fish”.
Stay safe while pursuing these Ontario Steelhead. Water will be high. Never underestimate the power of the river.