I recently experienced some Heartbreak on the Rouge.
Well, today was the redemption!
I had planned to fish the morning, but sleep got in the way. I arrived on-river at about 2pm. I waved hello to the salmon I had caught on my last trip. He was still there, in the same pool. The one lonely salmon, bolstering my confidence in catch-and-release.
I got to my target pool and drifted a full worm and different depths. I saw a nice splash, so fish presence was confirmed, but not takes on the worm. I drifted a pink pompom, no takes. I tied a roe bag, no takes.
Back to the worm, it was now 4pm, the sun was setting, and it was getting cold. I decided to change my rigging strategy for the worm. Instead of poking it through the middle (wacky style), I poked it through the nose. The ultimate natural drift! Having a lot of worms purchased in bulk in advance helped me accomplish this, because I went through quite a bit of them.
I was losing them to a school of shiners, but I kept on putting a full, nose-hooked worm back on.
After about 5 minutes, I set into another one of those “snags that come to life”. And boy did it ever!
I was instantly transported back to my spring days of steelheading with the insanity on the other end of the line I had waited all summer to experience all over again. Finally, after a month of getting skunked, I was into my first fall steelhead.
On 4lb line, the nice hen was quick to show me who was boss. A great size fish, probably the biggest steelie I’ve hooked so far! She darted from one end of the long, deep pool to the other and back again and again and again, the centerpin reel spinning away against my fingers.
A full breach and accompanying splash rounded out an unforgettable fight.
Old salmon have nothing on this!
When I went to remove the hook, I noticed that I wasn’t the first to hook this beauty. Inside the mouth I found a hook baited with a white tube jib and a broken-off leader line! I freed her of this extra bait.
Off to fight another day. Maybe I’ll catch her again, just like that one old, lonely salmon.