Back to the Alley

26 03 2019

A few weeks back the Office Manager for where I worked told me I had an extra vacation day left over from 2018.  I could have sworn I used them all up but I wasn’t about to argue with her.  I had to use it before March 31st so after a quick phone call I booked a guide to fish Steelhead Alley on March 25th.

This would be my third guided trip with them and my second with guide Josh Trammell.  He had sent me an email a few weeks back to tell me about dates he had open.  I wanted to pick his brain some more about the Naknek river in Alaska so I booked a second trip with him.  I was looking forward to fishing again but I knew conditions were going to be tough.  A lack of rain has kept a lot of the rivers low and clear.  The Grand, on the other hand, had a good flow but the water was dirty from issues with a dam farther upstream.  The plan was to start at The Grand and maybe head over to The Chagrin later.

Josh picked me up bright and early on Monday morning and we headed to our first spot.  It would turn out to be a spot I fished once before, about 4 years ago, but completely forgot the name of the park.  Now I have the location saved for future reference.  There were a few other anglers on the river so we headed further downstream.  Josh stopped and talked to two anglers and asked if they were ok with us fishing down from them about 50 yards.  They said no problem and away we went.  As i said before the water was dirty, less than a foot of visibility.  I was going to have to bounce the fly off their nose to get a hit.  I started swinging my streamer, through the run, and hoped for the best.  After the first attempt we switched over to a heavier sink tip and a different fly.  It didn’t make a difference so Josh rigged up my other rod with and indicator set up.  This is not my preferred method to fish but I wanted to learn how to do it since I have a few spots where this would be the best presentation.  I started over again, at the head of the run, and worked my way downstream.  We were getting kind of close to a log jam and Josh told me to make a couple more drifts and we would move back up.

Bobber Down.

Just that quick our laid back, taking it easy, enjoying the time on the water demeanor changed over to shock and panic.  The shock was hooking a fish, the panic was when it took off towards the log jam.  I was able to slow him down and after a few minutes we had him in the net.

After a few pics and a strong release I started back over.  Nothing happened so we moved on to a few more spots on The Grand.  During lunch we decided to move on to The Chagrin.  This was a river I had never fished before so I was happy to fish a new area.  The more spots I can get logged into my mental data bank the better my chances will be for future success.  Conditions on the Chagrin were the exact opposite of The Grand.  Low, clear water called for a different approach and a little more stealth.  The first few spots we tried yielded nothing.  Josh had one more area to try and we made our way there.  We started off with the indicator rig but soon switched over to stripping a small white streamer.  Josh told me this would be the best way to cover a lot of water quickly.  After I tried that through a few holes and runs we switched back to the indicator rig and worked one last hole.  We were going to start back upstream but two other anglers had shown up and set up in the first runs we fished.  That made this the last spot of the day.  It was do or die time and it wasn’t looking good.  I drifted the egg fly pattern through the same ripples over and over again.  Josh told me one more drift and then we would have to get going, otherwise I would get caught in the rush hour traffic around Cleveland.

Bobber Down.

We were both shocked.  I must have drifted that fly through the hole 30 times and on the last one the fish decided to grab it.  What’s even more funny is that the fly itself was just a bit of cream colored yarn.  Nothing else.  Sometimes these fish can be so smart and other times the biggest dummies.  I wasn’t going to complain though, at least not to much.  This fish was a little bigger and feistier than the last one so I took my time.  He was staying in the hole and there were no log jams to worry about.  After about 5 minutes we got him in the net.  A few quick pics and he was on his way.  Mission accomplished.  We packed up and Josh took me back to my car.  We chatted for a bit as I got my waders off and promised to keep in touch.  I had a long drive home and I was feeling it after doing a lot of walking both up hills and against currents.  My doctor told me I need to exercise more anyways.

Any yes, I did get stuck in rush hour traffic around Cleveland.

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