Monday, November 1, 2010
Steelheading The Dean River
Okay, so I was completely amped about the prospected of writing a new post today about my last opportunity to hunt prairie chickens in Colorado this weekend before the season closes Oct 12th. That was right before my fearless hunting partner called at the last minute concerned about hunting in such an inhospitable environment right before we take off for our trip to South Dakota on Friday, rambling on about being worried that the dogs might get injured before we leave. Wimp.
So here I sit, with nothing to do but count the days before we leave. The guns are cleaned and cased (indecision requires that I bring four). I've shot a few last minute birds over the puppy, who performed marvelously I might add. I've weather conditioned my hunting boots. We've reloaded more than enough 16 ga. shells for the entire season, updated the doggie first aid kit (special thanks go out to Dr. Shawn Wayment, DVM, you really should check this out), checked the extended forecast almost hourly for SD, packed the truck to make sure everything I need can go, then unpacked to make sure I have everything I need, etc, etc, etc. You know the drill.
So now what? Let's talk Steelheading. First, I really should set the table though. In the Chinese calendar of my life, this was the year of the dog, a new puppy to be precise. Hence, I'm spending all my effort, not to mention my financial resources, on his development, keeping him healthy and in good physical condition, getting him up to speed, and putting him in front of as many birds as I possibly can. If there's such a thing as reincarnation, fly shop dog gets my vote for the next go round.
It's fair to say that I'm a creature of variety. Bird hunting has been an impressive pull in my life, one that has brought me in contact with some exceptionally kind and knowledgeable people and taken me to some breathtaking country. While I sit here day-dreaming about next week's adventures and what is sure to amount to a relentless onslaught of heckling, in the back of my brain, I'm never drawn too far away from the second greatest pull that has grabbed me by the arm with unyielding conviction (quite literally) - Steelhead fishing.
Drawn by stories from dozens of my friends who have returned from their fall adventures to BC this year, on what has turned out to be an historic season due to the lack of anadromous netting (go figure), I have difficulty coming to grips with the fact that I missed this year's season entirely. Perhaps I'll get a chance to fish the quiet Northwest rivers of Washington this winter. Perhaps not. Regardless, for some time to come, the only memory I'll have to hold onto is this short video I put together of my trip to the Dean River in the late summer of 2009.
The Dean River is an amazing place, remotely located in some of the most wild and beautiful landscape you can possibly imagine. Rich with logging and angling tradition, it is commonly accepted in Steelheading circles as the pinnacle in the pursuit for chrome bars. Genetically speaking, Dean River Steelhead are preselected by nature as pound for pound some of the most violently strong fish on the planet by virtue of fact that only the strongest ones are capable of making it up the Dean River Canyon Falls to earn the privileged right to propagate. To get acquainted with a Dean silver bullet is to familiarize yourself with a fish capable of moving so fast that they can virtually wrap your line around current flow. It's an amazing phenomenon to watch your line spin out directly across current, while at the same time, noticing from the corner of your eye a fish doing cartwheels two hundred yards downstream. Compliment this experience with the occasional 35 lb Chinook capable of ripping your arms off as a special surprise, and you've got a winning combination of world class trophy fishing that has no equal.
Grizzly Chronicles by James Sirois. Given the opportunity to go there, it's well worth the short hike to Jim's cabin from the lodge at BC West to pay him a visit and have your copy autographed. He'll poor you a cup of tea from his wood burning stove and regale you with endless tales of his furry friends from the forest.
The Dean River is indeed a special place untouched by the modern world. I hope I'll have the privilege to return there one day soon. For now, I best get my mind back on pheasant euphoria!