Summer is so close I can taste it. Another month and a half from now and most of the great summer steelhead rivers in the region will have good numbers of bright fish. Summer steelhead are special creatures. All trout, but with power and speed from a year or more of oceanic migration. As the days get longer and the air gets sweeter I am anxious for the early july morning, when steam rises from the river into the cool summery air. Wading wet with only a floating line, tippet spool and a small box of flies offers an angler the opportunity to fish unencumbered by gear and complication. They are a flyfishermans fish to be sure and the sport is steeped in rich traditions of angling for summer steelhead.
Tonight in a binge of anxious preseason energy I tied a dozen flies, including the sweetest pair of lady carolines I've ever turned out. I don't normally tie with expensive feathers, but I've had a couple sitting around for a long time and I've been wanting to try the pattern again. Every angler has a favorite summer steelhead fly, but I tend to think they're pretty interchangeable, as long as they're buggy. Purple is good, black is better. Alec Jacksons bend out too often to make their pretty lines worthwhile so I tend to tie on good old fashioned 7999s. That said, a lady caroline is meant to be tied on a spey hook so I tied on some #3 AJs, heavy wire.
A couple of summers ago I was fishing a medium sized summer run river that drains the glacial flank of a local volcano. Fishing was slowish, which I expected since I generally have my ass handed to me on this particular river. In the last pool of the evening a heavy fish took forcefully in the hangdown ripping line from my reel. I set the hook expecting a solid hookup but to my dismay nobody was home. The fish had bent a #3 AJ on the turn. God it stings to get that type of yank and never see the animal at the other end of the line. The mystery yank that should've been a fish, guess thats one of many reasons while steelhead remain mysterious and intriguing after hundreds of days on the water .