Today I bailed on a family Thanks Giving Dinner and went fishing.. but not without guilt. The end result was extremely exciting though. Conditions just don't often cooperate for winter fishing, especially when your working full time. That seems to stiffen your chances of hitting a decent day on a week-end considerably. That being the case when the odds favored us I didn't hesitate much. The river had just received a BIG push of water less than a week ago and was almost settled back in to the same flows. Late November - and all through the next month have proven to be my best luck with Steel on this particular tributary. Typical of me I was off to a too late start but had the perseverance to stick with the plan. Made the hike in and rigged up. Stepping into the water and making the first casts, a little higher than necessary to hopefully shake out any cob webs before reaching the real holding areas. Casting was pretty solid. I'd drug along my 12'6" 7/8 Guideline Lecie and Loop Danielsson 8/11 reel which is 4.25 inch diameter (for reference) A couple years ago I'd picked up a RIO Scandi Short Versi-Tip 6wt and this head is a very good match for the rod. Earlier this fall I'd added a Intermediate body to the kit and coupled with the 10' type 6 tip it was a spot on match for the water conditions, which are very decidedly UP from the past few seasons. I'd forgotten to put my thermometer back in but the water feels alarmingly COLD already. It's not that uncommon to go into December still above 40* but I'm pretty sure it was well below that. The first run I hit has the best and historically most productive water beginning not far below the start, there's a nice lengthy crescent shaped divit in the bank that offers an additional current break. I worked it slowly and made sure it was covered well, losing one fly to the bottom in the process. There's a distinct feature in this run that averages a half hour - forty minutes to reach and signifies the furthest down I've ever taken a Steelbow. It's always a bit depressing once you reach it without a pull. However,there's a considerable amount of water still below it, and I have taken some VERY nice Browns from it through the years. There's an area that's slowly but surely been evolving over the seasons. Changing into a deep but ultra slow center channel run. I'd gotten a good start on it and my swing was coming across right in the gut when it got picked off. Not the light 'tick' variety nor the full on slam, but an assertive take that ate up the loop I was carrying under my index in short order. When it came tight to the reel I gave it a solid 'pop' to be sure.. and all hell broke loose. The first run was long and continuous, surging heavily with boils near the surface. I was certain it must be Steel, seemed way to rowdy for a Brown. With no advance warning the fish jumped, WAY upstream of where my line had just been but was no longer! Reeling like crazy I caught up and was still connected. The fish began jumping and running, definitely Steel.. BIG steel. He shredded the pool to a froth and jumped so many time I lost count. Then the moment was at hand, I had him whipped. What the hell? Where did that line come from? There was extra mono in play! Yikes.. well wrapped into the lower head and sink tip. It was touchy business but I was able to untangle my line from the refuse, at one point I had to release all tension to the fish and thread my rod through the stuff. Thankfully it came up tight again and in short time I swept him into a little pocket just inside the shoreline break. WHAT A FISH, my god he looked enormous, waves of elation were washing over me and increasing the intoxication. WHAT A FISH!
The Kharma: That's when I notice my feet are still tangled in line. The same piece of crap I feared would prevent me from landing this incredible fish. I started chasing it down, I never leave something like this in the water or bank side. I couldn't come up with an end? I tracked it waaay up-stream and dead ended my self in water to deep to wade with the line solidly lodged on something still well up above me. Thinking that was the terminal end I reversed direction and chased it downstream well beyond the place my fish was landed in. I was and am STILL blown away by the amount of length involved. By this time I'm hoping there's a rod on the downstream end! After braving going out on a submerged sweeper a long ways over deep water I made some headway and got the line cleared. It is without doubt BY FAR the longest full section of line I've ever removed, easily exceeding 200 yards and covering two bends of river. It was a job retrieving it and ate up well over an hour that could have been spent fishing. But I stuck with the task hoping to balance the scales of kharma. I'm not sorry I did.. How could you improve on the day?? Oddly, there was no hook, shot, or lure at either end. What kind of a person just lets 200+ yards of about 12 pound mono spool off in a pristine river? I'm ever puzzled with stupidity.