Indian Summer Steel (Harvest time highlights)

Trinity River Indian Summer
Indian Summer steel as colorful
as the season itself.

The stage was set. A colorful landscape amongst towering evergreens provided a stunning highlight that was all but captivating. Cresting the west bank, filtering rays from an early morning autumn sun provided a prolonged dark sanctuary and enhanced the haunting beauty. A flock of mergansers shot through the river corridor, disrupting a resting heron that let out a loud croak while dodging and yielding the regimented flight. Ravaged by sexual maturity spawning Chinook jockeyed for position, pairing off, while digging redds along the soft edges of main riffle waters. An eager water ouzel hopped from rock to rock dipping and diving for aquatics and other tasty tidbits that were served up from the salmon orgy. Catching a glimpse of a fresh run Coho slicing through the riffle interrupted the moment and delivered another level of stoke and appreciation.

Sketchy fish reports deterred the majority. Surprisingly with all the river hype and publicity runs were void of anglers; a treasured rarity these days. However the early morning shift was full on and already delivered us two bright hatchery adults. Smiles of success and vocal excitement echoed. After the release of his chrome treasure, Ed decided it was time to pause and reflect. Besides the early morning four hour drive from the Bay was as good excuse as any to pop the vino and soak it up. Both anglers had scored but little did they know.

Lower Trinity River
Misty morning magic.

Matt was more than willing to forfeit the time out and already stepped in for the next pass. Steelhead and the grab are simply contagious! Delivering a full stretch across the main run, Matt incorporated a couple upstream mends to allow his #2 Pimp to drop into the far seem for a bottom scouring dredge. The fly presented a four stage presentation; the drop, dead drift, lifting swing and the hang-down (Dangle) before covering all promising waters. Stepping down, Matt repeated his delivery. Feet up, kicked back and enjoying the full comfort of the bucket seats, Ed lifted his stash of vino and started to mention something when all of a sudden Matts reel bursted into full throttle. The surging yank and tight line connection forced Matt to buckle and bow to his leaping quarry. Erupting from the center of the run was an unusually large steelhead sporting a broad, quadrangle profile that represented serious size and weight. Landing back within the confines of the run the steelhead made no bones about it. He wanted no part of Matt or the Pimp. In an instant the magnum buck sped off in hot pursuit down stream taking Matt directly into the core of his backing on the initial run. Out of control, rod at full flex and reel still in high pitch the steelhead raced through the tailout and into a complex boulder strewn series of pocket waters. “Run” I shouted! Run!

Trinity River stretch
Steelheading & the grab is contagious
full stretch in search of fun.

Wide-eyed and stunned, Matt hustled down river holding rod high and expressing great concern about the limited amount of backing left on the reel. Hoots and cheers from the gallery gave Matt encouragement as he proceeded down around the corner. In the blink of any eye the rod went limp and all was suspiciously quiet. Slowly we could see the silhouette of a tired, defeated steelheader casually walking back up river. Holding the rod and reel up to display his defense it was obvious the canyon buck not only got the best of him but also made off with 70 ft. of fly line, as well. Matt muttered, “What the hell— Some fish are just not meant to be landed.” All was quiet. A bald eagle soared above, briefly checking us and the spawning salmon out before flying up the canyon; adding to the mystic, beauty and magic of Indian summer steelheading. Sound Advice- Never show up at a gun fight with a limp 6 wt. and/or 100 yds. of backing… Thoroughly check out all your gear and be well prepared before stepping in. Trinity Fly Shop, “your Local source” always has the goods, local knowledge and offers sound advice with an easy smile. Check us out!