Went up to Elk Creek this past weekend to try for some Lake Erie Steelies.
We got there a bit late and after setting up we check out the area. I had saw a promising pool right next to our site, so after we walked the local area, I tried there while my buddy walked back downstream.
I went out on the stone slab next to the pool and made a few casts, working the line into a teacup sized area in the current that i noticed would get the fly nice and low in the pool. I was using a bead head Rainbow Prince. A few more casts and BAM
! I let the line slide between my fingers to keep pressure on the fish but also give it some room to breath.
It took off like a shoot and then it burst from the stream in a jump that sent out a giant spray of water. I held the line as it went back upstream and glanced at the burn marks on my fingers from the line, thinking wistfully of those casting gloves I never got around to getting this year.
She fought on and I held on. I would feel her try to run and I'd give her line and when she stopped I reel her back in. After a few runs I was having trouble reeling. Glancing down I saw that I must have not adjusted my drag, which I normally keep pretty loose, for reasons I really can't think of. I had a giant birds-nest in the reel. It was so bad that I couldn't get any more line on the reel. I looked at the line in the water and realized I had at least 10 feet of line, plus a 10 foot leader, plus about 3 feet of tippet.
I couldn't land it without bringing in line, and I sure as hell was going to try and bring it in by hand.
So, holding the line in my rod hand (my left) and keeping pressure on the fish, I started to tear line off of the reel with my right until I got to the end of the nest. It was almost to my backing.
That's when the fish decided to run again, downstream. I stopped what I was doing and let the line slide out between my thumb and first two fingers (burns!!) while using my pinky to try and guide the line back on to the reel and I did a little cranking and a lot of praying.
I got all the line back on to the reel and quickly adjusted the drag. I gave the line a little test tug while the fish wasn't running. Good enough, I thought.
Now it was back to fighting the fish. It jumped a few times. I reeled it in a bit. Then she ran upstream and behind a rock. Then, nothing. I pulled back and there was resistance. I pulled back harder and it was the same. I moved the rod right and left and the same. Did that SOB throw the fly and now I'm stuck, I wondered. There was no headshake, no trembling, nothing.
Feeling a little more than disgusted, I tried to roll cast past the rock to free the fly. Pulled and it was still stuck. Another roll cast. Same. Frustrated, I just grabbed the rod and yanked.
The line takes off downstream; the fish was still on
She runs downstream about 40 feet and gives an impressive leap into the air.
For most of the time I was fighting the fish, there were two teens standing watching me. We were talking a little bit, but honestly I was a little pre-occupied. Then the one guy offered to net the fish if I got him close enough. "You have a deal," I said and he grabbed the neck from the back of my vest.
So I started to work her back again. She was fighting me, but she wasn't trying to run anymore. She came back a bit more and then I saw her turn on her side a few times and I brought her in.
"This is it." I figuring her worn out, I really started to put the pressure on her. And just like that, she was in the net.
All told, it took about 10 minutes to land her. She measured 23 inches from nose to tail and was fat with eggs. I'm usually a bad guess at weight, but I would put her to be about 8-10 lbs.
I had already made a deal with myself, the first was for the table and the rest would be released. I couple guys told me I was crazy for eating it, that it tasted horrible. But I can't think of a better way to end a day than with fresh fish roasted over a fish, with some good brews to wash it down with.