RE:Spring Native Clave
One of the luxuries of my travel schedule is visiting the Emerald City. A world class city that from the vistas of downtown on those not so rare clear days of Spring has few if any that contend with her beauty. This however, was not one of those spectacularly clear days when the reflection of the snowpack from the Olympics or Mt Rainier blisters the retina of those foolish enough to stare at their beauty too long. This was a typically cloudy PNW day; in fact the only unusual thing about this trip was I drove up from Portland instead of flying.
First stop was hop over to Bainbridge to pick up my 10151-4 which I had sent to Sage for repair. The 10151 is the quicker yet softer of Sage's 10wt 15's. The ferry ride was tranquil enough with the weather clearing to allow distant views of OP and Cascades, I found the time to steal a daydream or two. I picked up my stick after finding the factory and talking with a couple of very nice employees of Sage. Rushing back to the ferry I could get a couple hours of Friday mornings project done to grant more fishing time.
I had called Brian earlier in the day about the conditions on the Sky, "low and clear but it is raining" he said with some optimism. After getting some direction on a couple areas to fish and catching up on a couple other thoughts, I was set. First stop in the morning was to be Buck Island, a piece of water that I've heard of from both Jeff and Brian. The river had risen according the USGS, I took the temp at 40, and the clarity had dropped to 2ft, cool time for a big bright fly. Buck Island is a very typical steelhead run particularly in since I was third rod at O'dark thirty, following bottom bouncer. IRS, another choice piece of water that has produced many fish in the years it has been fished also failed to produce. I was driving back to hit Buck Island again, however it was occupied again by three rod this time. On to Monroe to check out Ben Howard, which rumor had it doesn't fish anymore. I pulled in and looked at the 6 cars parked and a truck unloading a Drift Boat, I thought "like I've got a snowballs chance in hell". Walking down I notice the run was open, grabbed my gear giving plently of room to the guys loading the boat.
I entered the run 100 yards below the ramp and proceeded to my preferred knee-deep depth. Working the run in this flow it felt like good travelling water and descent holding water, but at 9:00 this would be my last run of the day. As I reached the lower end of the run I recalled the previous time I fished Ben Howard three years ago on a sunny April I caught a nice small hen in the area I was currently fishing. This time the current over the apparently featureless bottom felt a little heavy for the 40 degree flows, I began working faster. Suddenly I did the grab dance, I hard hit at thirty degrees of swing, I felt secure about the hook being firmly in the hinge of this barrel-rolling ball of fury. A couple runs lightly into the backing, the CFO's song to the guys in the drift boat still anchored above the battle tightened. 15 minutes of short runs, head shaking, surface thrashing, and a gradual bar to beach this beauty as my heart raced with the my first of spring and Millennium fish. After a couple brief photos and a measurement, "off to spread those genes you precocious young male". Still pumped and a little shaken I reentered the water, and began casting and stepping again. Suddenly snap there went the rod again, this time the third section above the ferrule. My reaction reel in and keep smiling, I walked to the car grab my 8150 laced up and resumed the run.