Here we are, nearing the end of December, although we have yet to experience the transition to winter that we have come accustom to the last few years. Instead fall seems to refuse to let go. Any other year and I would be ecstatic to be steelheading in December with temps well above feezing. This year I’m dreaming of cold snowy days. Yes I love those cold snowy days, but rarely have the need to dream; by this time I’m living it.
This fall has left a lot to be desired; a struggle from the beginning. Frustrating, cumbersome and tiresome are words that can only begin to describe how my season has been. The peak of the fall run that I had been longing for all of the month of November simply never came. Fish trickled in here and there but with no solid push they were spread out and not easy to get.
Fish that are around have been heavily pressured in low clear water. A bad combination. Despite the fact that I’ve written multiple articles conveying my opinion that ultra-light gear is unnecessary in this day and age, I pledged in an earlier post to do some experimenting and perhaps prove myself wrong.
So I try a few things. I fish in ways that I haven’t since I was a kid, in a time when long whippy noodle rods and two pound leads were the norm. Ok, I didn’t quite take it to that extreme, but the changes made to my terminal gear are well out of the comfort zone I have built for myself.
I play around with my shot patterns; I downsize everything from my floats to my leader line to my hooks and weight. I get pretty good at mixing things up on the fly and changing as I walk from hole to hole becomes the norm. I’m sure to the casual observer I looked as if I had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I questioned whether I really did.
But I carried on. Day after day after day, making change after change after change. I’d like to think of it as experimenting but it was probably more like fumbling through every bit of my terminal gear hoping for something to click. It never did. I caught fish but the droughts between were too long; longer than I’m used to in what should be the peak of the fall run.
None of what I did this fall left me with any answers. Fish were few and far between and there were no rhyme or reason to the ones I did catch. Maybe I wouldn’t have caught as many fish had I not experimented, but I can’t say for sure. Perhaps my fall would have been a much easier one had I stayed true to the belief that I need not downsize. At the very least had the fishing remained bad I would have been none the wiser. Seems as if I could have saved myself some frustration.
Instead, as winter approaches I’m left just as clueless as I was when I started out over a month ago and the only thing I know for sure is that no matter how well I think I know these fish it’s never well enough. But I guess that’s steelheading. If I was looking for something easy I’d be fishing for bass.