Steelheaders are understandably a superstitious bunch. Trying to provoke a grab one of the most ghostlike mysterious freshwater fish on the planet with a fly, when they aren't even actively feeding will do that. and when most of us catch only a handful of fish in a given season, we're looking for any little bit of luck we can get. Matt Klara's column for sexy loops this week on fishing superstitions got me thinking about my own superstitions surrounding fishing. I have a few but perhaps the most important is, never bring bananas fishing. I wont even touch them for 24 hours before a trip, wouldn't want to carry any bad mojo with me on the road. So a couple weeks back when my friend Jon Moore showed up for a day of fishing with a banana I was concerned. Apparently he was unaware of the fact that bringing a bananas is a surefire way to ensure that you have a fishless day on the river. The damage was done though and after a good natured ribbing we strung up the rods and started fishing. It wasn't 10 minutes before Jon had hooked and lost a fish on his first day EVER speycating. Needless to say I was feeling a little sheepish.
Flash forward two weeks. Yesterday back on the same river, his 4th day of fishing the two-hander. After a quiet morning I went back tot he truck while he went down river to fish another run. Grabbing sandwiches from his bag I reached in and, gasp another banana. For a superstitious steelhead bum like myself this is when the horror movie sound track starts. Oh god, this day might as well be over. He brought a banana again AND now I'd touched it. Anyways, trying to get over the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I tossed the sandwiches in my backpack and headed back to the river to meet Jon. In the next run, a sweet, long piece of water with two foot chunks of grantie interspersed throuhout I set Jon in the bottom half and started at the top. Ten minutes later it was deja vu all over again, him with a hot fish jumping on the end of the line, me feeling incredulous that my banana superstition didn't seem to apply to him.
The thing is, the fish ended up coming unpinned and I didn't touch anything either of the two days. So perhaps the curse of the banana is real after all. The only way to truly establish the credibility of the ancient and feared banana curse is to put it to the test by swinging a fish while dangling a banana in the water from your wading belt. Of course to do such a thing is to risk death or worse, bad steelhead karma...Klara are you game?
Last week of April and we're nearing the end of steelhead season. Depending on the weather we may occasionally get a week or two of May before runoff starts full force but that of course remains to be seen. What is true though is that we've had one of the coldest springs that anyone can remember, keeping the snow largely locked in the mountains up to now. Normally by this time run off has started, slowly at first but enough to keep the river flush with water and that beautiful green color of spring steelhead water. There's been some fish around, we'll have to see what we can find tomorrow.
I had the pleasure of fishing yesterday with Jon Moore, new faculty in our biology department. Jon is a salmon enthusiast who like myself, spent several years at UW fisheries. He also happens to be an avid steelheader. Having just moved to BC, he's been in the market for a two handed rod for sometime, so yesterday, finally having his new T&T 1307 in hand, lined up and ready for the river we decided to get out for a day of fishing, casting and bullshitting. Starting the day at a nice long run that fishes from river left we spent the first 15 minutes practicing the snap-t and before long Jon was making casts in the 50 foot range and fishing well. Seeing that he'd gotten comfortable enough casting to be left to his own devices I started to wander off upriver but before I could go more than 30 yards he let out a whoop. I turned around just in time to see his rod doubled over, pulsing with the weight of a fish. Then as quickly as it had happened, the fish was gone, unseen but memorable none the less. Hooking a winter fish on your first day of spey casting is certainly not the norm, but there's nothing like a little taste of luck to plant the seed of addiction.