A River Runs Through It comedy-style

I know, horrible casting technique on display in that flick, but c'mon, we've all seen it, right? LOL Reminiscent of the famous scene, I pulled a Brad Pitt move yesterday, though it was more comedy than anything; too bad it wasn't on video.

There is a certain tailout I visit that nearly always has at least one steelhead hunkered down. Unfortunately, it is a little difficult to fish well and get a good presentation; I've only pulled one fish out of it in the past, though Dozer (wasn't with me yesterday) has pulled a few more out. This is a deeper, abrupt tail with very fast top water and slow water down low in the steep, upward grade of what constitutes the tail section. There are also several distinct islands formed out of same lava-type rock and the typical approach is to wade out to the 3rd one, that sits behind the channel of water where the fish usually sit.

I make my way out there, and spy a fish. I've been hucking flies with the 8 wt. and a size 1 black spinner bounced along the bottom and not a sniff. I decide to continue my divergence from the usual, gonna drift this slot as the approach is better suited to getting in the zone fast and properly deal with that heavy current on the top without messing up the presentation. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to test out the worthiness of my recent expenditure for a fancy, custom drift rod...see if its sensitivity is all it's cracked up to be. I sit down, pull out a stretch of 8 lb. leader the length of my arm (that was the measuring stick Ed Fast used when I went with him back in February, though my leaders turn out several inches longer due to my gangly nature, LOL), a size 2 hook, some black yarn, and a very small corky. That trip with Ed was also the inspiration for a new drift rod. I fished his Edge rods and picked up 3 fish drifting within a couple hours and decided I needed that new tool, that rod was awesome! However, after some sticker shock, I did NOT drop the coin on a North Fork Composite and settled for a custom made from a Lami XMG-50. Very pretty with green thread wrap and a 'Made for ChezJfrey' inscription :), but I digress...That corky is bright red and white, but I have to at least stick to my guns and pull out the Sharpie and paint the red parts black...in my warped steelhead world, the Sharpie is the key ;) Pinch on an inch and a quarter of lead, then creep back out to the 2nd island, away from the fish and perpendicular from its position.

Still ducked down a bit, I cast a bit upstream, the line moves along with the current and I feel the first touch of the lead on the bottom. Line still crusing, tick, tick, then deadness and in a split second, I feel a tiny bit of tension in the tip form. I pull back on the rod, and now I've dislodged what feels to be a heavy branch and this 'branch' starts moving down with the current. It takes a second or so before the 'branch' gets upset and starts to shake, shake, then turn and run. Yes! And no, crap! The channel the fish is running down is formed by a 4th island that is raised higher than the rest and poses a danger to catching my line. I raise the rod high and move down with the fish, but no good...the fish cuts toward the inside and yep, the line is now caught. It can still pull drag, but its stuck. I move to the 3rd island, and still can't dislodge it. Then the fish runs again, zzzzzzzz, then leaps out of the water. But get this, the fish breaks the surface upriver of me. What the...?

I realize that the first run down, put a lot of line into the fast current and is now bellied out and creating enough drag in the water that when the fish ran back upstream, I've now got a giant U in the water but still with tension on the fish. I reel up the U quickly and now the line comes unstuck from the snag on the island and this fish is upstream from me. This is ideal. But, of course, can't last, right?

The fish jumps again, then decides it liked things better when I was nearly screwed with the line stuck on the island, because it bolts back down that same channel, I'm a little closer to the trouble this time and am hoping I can keep the line clear, but again, the fish cuts in close and sure enough, line catches again. The drag still sings as the fish keeps going, but my line is once again connected to this troublesome piece of rock. The fish eventually settles down deep somewhere in the pool that forms below. Now I'm left contemplating what to do as I only have an 8 lb. leader and can't imagine successfully yarding this fish back through that fast-flowing chute and I am not anxious to try sawing my line over that rock anyway.

I'm looking at the stretch of water between me and this rock, but it's probably 3.5 feet deep, and moving fast...not gonna be able to wade it and while it's probably only 3.5 feet wide, the rock is a raised ledge and gnarled, so a leap would likely end up with me hurt and/or in the drink. My eyes scan downriver and I see that where the water spills over into the pool, it's still fast, but only shin deep. I'm wearing shorts and running shoes, but awhile back I crafted some aluminum bars onto what were once slip-on rubber ice cleats with some rope to further secure them to my feet and they are nice and sticky on slimy rocks. I walk down and put a foot into the fast, but shallower water. My foot sticks. I place my other foot, then shuffle a step and test the grip. Still good. I can feel a lot of water pressure, but my feet are secure. I shuffle again, and again and voila! I'm on the other side! I step across to where my line is stuck, free it and this fish feeling renewed pressure, thrashes around in the depths and starts charging again. I figure from this new position, this game will soon end as I have 360 degrees of freedom to play this out.

I also figure that I am not going to try banking this fish and get back across with a fish in hand; I'll play it out to exhaustion, then keep it on my line as I make my way back across, then land it 'over there' where shore access is simple. I work the fish around, get it close, then it runs and leaps and dives back into the far side pool and current. I work it back, then it charges into the slacker side, but a shorter distance; it's tiring. After two more attempts to escape its fate, this fish is now coming in on its side and floating near the surface. I decide it's done for and this is where things get 'fun'.

Using the same step/test/shuffle technique, I'm making my across the lip of that channel, when the water pressure starts moving one of my feet. Unfortunately, as my foot slides, my balance wavers and anyone that wades enough knows what typically happens at that point. A weight adjustment in the other foot, then it slides a little and with the fast current pressing the feet about, there is no chance for them to recover. My feet fly down, I crack my left knee on the rock bottom and instinctively my hands are scraping around the bottom. Incredibly I find a large crevice in the rocks and I grab tight. Now, before I continue, let me reassure you all that while the water in these channels is very fast, it dumps into a couple pools of deeper water, but almost immediately, the current peters out. I had just seen a guy actually swim the span of the river just below me, and during the week, actually have seen guys wading/standing in the middle of the river just below this spot. Also, this channel I'm in, when it dumps into the pool, it is about 4 feet from the ankle deep water of the bank and the current dies about another 4 feet down river...there is not much worry in this spot. But, in the moment, the instinct to 'grab something' kicks in and my hand has found a home.

So now I've got iron grip on my rod-with-fish with my right hand, a left-hand grasp on an unseen crevice among the rock bottom and a cascade of water ripping over my body. The water rushes over my entirety from my neck down and my feet have flown out below me; I am in a 'superman' position in this narrow channel of current, body surfing in the surface water of the recipient pool. The next instinct is to recover, so I bend my waist, hips, and knees trying to reestablish some form of foot contact, which proves very difficult now that my feet are angled sideways against the bottom. I twist a little, then eventually I feel some purchase in one foot, hold, then bring the other foot under me. I raise my body out of the water a little and though tentative, I think it will work. I let go of the crevice, skate my feet over a few inches, another few and I'm within a foot of the island...then my feet go out from under me again, I fling my left arm toward my island destination, gain a hold on a rock, but only for a second, then I'm washed into the pool below. Now I'm swimming.

I extend my legs and though I'm neck deep, I feel a rock bottom. I'm bobbing a bit and very slowing drifting down river, I push off a rock toward the shore and now my feet have lost all contact. A couple strokes with my left and and a couple scissor kicks and I move a foot or so and my feet feel rocks again, I stumble step a couple and I'm knee deep, then fall, catch myself with my left hand and crawl out onto the shore...fish still on the line.

In retrospect, being so close to shore and knowing that the pool was only about 5 feet deep, only about 5 feet long and the current totally dies within, when I initially started to slip, I should have just dove toward shore, a few strokes and the result would have been the same; I was getting wet no matter what and I would have avoided the other ridiculous antics. Again, I think it's just that instinctual response to 'grab something' and not get swept away...even though that 'swept away' was at a maximum going to be about 3-4 feet, LOL

Anyway, here is the instigator of the whole ordeal:

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Oh, wow! :yikes: I have goose bumps after reading this. Glad you made it back to share the story and the pic of the priceless fish. :worthy:
Great write-up! I think that fish is still grinning!
Lovely post. Won't call it an ordeal, you'll be telling stories about it for a long time to come.
Thanks for the laughs.................

That was a great read thanks for sharing. :D :peace:
That was a well earned fish. Great story Chez.
haha I enjoyed our phone convo more could hear it in your voice hahaha. dadadaduhhhhhh!!!! its a bird no its a plane no its superchez!!!!
I bet you're super-glad it wasn't a winter fish!
SmallStreams said:
I bet you're super-glad it wasn't a winter fish!

Hehehe, wouldn't have even risked any of it in winter. In fact, the only reason is because in that spot, with flow/temps the way they were, there really wasn't any risk. I'm only slightly crazy, but not entirely stupid ;)
Wow, nice post
ChezJfrey said:
Hehehe, wouldn't have even risked any of it in winter. In fact, the only reason is because in that spot, with flow/temps the way they were, there really wasn't any risk. I'm only slightly crazy, but not entirely stupid ;)
I beg to differ!
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