Well, two trips to SE Alaska, 15-20 miles of hiking through rain forest, and finally got my first steelhead. Would be lying if I said it was not a pain in the butt, but it finally paid off this past Saturday at 1:15 pm. Three days into my second trip, thoughts of getting skunked again fresh in my mind, I see this small hole. Trouble is it was down a steep bank and had no casting room at all. A very small piece of real estate to stand on and a deep drop off just feet from the bank. At 6'6" 300 lbs, I felt like a pterodactyl perched on a toothpick.
I cast out just past a submerged log and get 5 feet of drift, then BAM. The fight lasted a long time on my 6 wt 12.5' spey/float conversion. I got the fish near me 4-5 times and it seemed to find strength from somewhere to take off again. Seemingly getting stronger as the fight continued, it was a rare feeling to grow tired as this fish seemed to get stronger and more pissed off as we went.
Finally got it close enough for my wife to get his head in the net. At this same time the line finally broke and the jig, float, line, seemingly exploded into the surrounding tree branches. Only the head would fit in the net and the fish flips and makes a 90 degree turn toward freedom. I dived in at that point on instinct and grabbed the fish by the tail literally as it is kicking. I still can't believe I landed this fish. So many obstacles, so many things that could have (and should have) went wrong. Guess it was just finally my day. Still not sure I am deserving, but everything went my way.
Upon getting my other hand under it's belly and feeling the full weight of this fish, it hit me just how big this fish was. I got some quick measurements at 36" X 18" and some snap shots. Arms sore, knees hurting from submerged sharp rocks, hands frozen and shaking, I felt the full impact of what just happened. Wind must have been blowing as well cause my eyes teared up a bit as this monster swam back through the tannic water from which it came. A fish is a fish, but the pursuit of this fish taught me patience, perseverance and humility. Without a doubt, the most significant fishing experience of my life.
My G-Smolt pose, Alaska Fly Fishing Goods cap and all
One last Dan cheesin shot...