It was day three of a four-day trip and things weren’t looking good. The water clarity was off, weather pattern stale, and salmon were clogging the prime runs. Even with the three other sticks in our group—all of them seasoned locals—we’d only scratched-out two fish.
After tough morning and a tougher afternoon, I started rehearsing those lines fishermen tell themselves when things fall short of expectations: great just hanging out with friends, always good checking out new water, strung together some really nice casts…you know, lies.
By 4:00, we were set up on one of the more popular runs but almost everything was wrong—brown water, cloudless skies, and sun shining directly into the fishes’ eyes. Wiser gents on the roadside patiently waited for better conditions but pure desperation drove me to fish. I racked my Onyx 5wt dry line set up and went for maximum confidence: a battle-tested Platinum 12’6” 6wt, 425 Tonic, and 10’ of T-11. Out of charity, Bruce handed me one of his black/purple/red Fish Movers with a set of instructions: “Tie this on and give me a shout when you hook a fish. I need photos of this fly hanging out of a fish’s mouth.”
Within ten swings, I heard a slow click-click from my Perfect and in an instant I was connected to a red hot anadromous freight train. One problem: Bruce had already fished his way around the corner and was well out of earshot. Determined to help him get the proof of the fly mojo, I was faced with the challenge of not only landing a hot fish, but doing so while I rock-scrambled downstream in hopes of grabbing Bruce’s attention. After banging my shins, dunking, and working the steelhead free from not one but two snags, I somehow made it back to boat, netted the fish, and flagged down Bruce in time to snap a couple photos and safely release the fish.