Wacky out West – The Fix

As the flows from Lewiston dam subside to less life-threatening levels and summers brutal grip begins to lighten upon the California north state, a seemingly mythical migration begins. One by land, the other by sea, destine to unite in a secluded tail out kept secret by the crystal clear waters of the Trinity River.

Within a few dedicated anglers, this changing of season conjures up a small subconscious voice that whispers tails of silver summersaults and screaming reels of seasons past. Soon these whispers can no longer be muffled (no matter how loud you play Zeppelin III) and it is time. The weekly migration over Buckhorn summit begins. Early mornings and later nights, the early season junkie cashes in a life of leisure, filled with caddis stuffed frankentrout of the lower sac and postcard perfect waters of the Mccloud, for “zeros” on the punch card and worn out boots. There are few fish in the river, and we know it, the odds are stacked but as is the case with any great prize. So we hunt.

These are a different fish; wild, strong and chrome. They are wise, knowing every hole in every gill net. Strategically they navigate the great waters of the Klamath with precision and speed before hangin’ a right at the confluence of the Trinity and finishing the mission home.  Sure their hatchery raised, twice- removed, second cousins will fill the river in the months to come, but leave those for the dinner table, for the early season Trinity Steelhead is a different beast.

In search of the fix I found myself a mile north of Steel Bridge on the upper Trinity last week, September 7 to be exact. Accompanied by fellow addict Russ Kegler of The Fly Shop, we spent the morning hours coaxing a few small brown trout to smaller parachutes and feeling out the river for the new season at hand. Sometime around noon, just as the shadows began to leave the water, the sink-tip came out and it was time to go to work. Midway through a beautiful run, I clipped off the black bunny leach and dug out a creation that was the product of a long barley-aided tying session we had some time ago. It’s a thing of wonder really; looks something like a bushy articulated flying squirrel floating on the water before the sink tip pulls it under for the first swing, screams past your head like one too.

I gave the first cast a mend and tried to picture what that thing had to look like down there as it began to cross the tail out. As the line began to straighten out I commenced day dream mode and wrote it all off…a second too soon. Instantly it happened, the GRAB, the needle prick, the shock, the rush, adrenal glands pumping overtime, the rod blew up in my hands, yet indescribable until you have experienced it.  White knuckled, all I could do was hold on and buckle up for the ride as the chrome freight train sent my backing not clicking through the guides. Its blurry from there but some time later I tailed a beautiful wild hen. She probably won’t be the biggest fish of the season but I will remember none more clearly. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 23”, there was not a scale out of place and sunglasses were required for viewing. Best of all, she took the flying squirrel.

Although more recent trips have yielded less than stellar results, its part of the game and that fish is why we play. If I go fishless the rest of this steely season, that one grab will stick with me. It may lay dormant for some time, but odds are I’ll be crankin’ up “Immigrant Song” next September.



P.S. If you are planning on coming out for steelhead season this year Darren and Jeremy have my number, and make sure to stop by and get the low down from the guys at THE FLY SHOP.


~ by troutdoctor101 on September 16, 2010.

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