I’ve been to the woods: spring – and rainbow trout fishing – is finally here
You know, when you watch a hunting or fishing show on YouTube, and as it gets good, a series of commercials starts, but as your laptop is hooked up to your TV and across the room, you keep laying on the couch hoping the commercials end, but they never do?
The transition from winter to spring was that maddening, endless cycle of announcements that kept us from getting to the exciting games.
But it’s finally here.
I regret my metaphor a bit because it makes me stare at the screen on the couch, which is the opposite of what I do when spring comes, but hey, you get the point. Endless commercials, like an endless winter, suck.
I took two solo trips down my favorite Steelhead River over the weekend and felt the euphoria of warm leisure time. Was it just a month ago I was in Fairbanks battling -30 degree temperatures with all the warm, man-made clothes I had, looking for bitter, windswept hills for the caribou?
Shortly after I caught my fly in a tree and swallowed the irrational rage that followed in an attempt to improve myself for my next marriage, I launched myself perfectly alongside the stream and hung onto a steel head.
There was no epic combat, no long runs and no jumps. He just stayed down, shaking his head and refusing to be lifted. These are the scariest battles because at any point in time it seems like the fish will have had enough of the nonsense and fly away for the nearest traffic jam, rocks or rapids. Trying to follow slippery rocks got me in the water more than a few times, but not in the heroic way Brad Pitt’s character in “A River Runs Through It”.
Less than 20 meters below the track where I hooked the rainbow trout in, the three obstacles waited. First off, a short dive into what I could only guess was a bottomless run that was tangled with trees on one side and boulders on the other. If he turned and headed in that direction, I’d be in trouble. At one point he did, but not for running, just to move into a quiet pocket atop the fast water, as if to create suspense before breaking my heart. Of course, it’s never really breaking a heart when a rainbow head runs away. The experience is borrowed since they do not return home and are only in possession for a short time. It’s the fleeting moments that make people spend a lot of money trying to restore habitat and preserve trails. It seems to many that catch-and-release fishing, as well as hunting, is the opposite of conservation, but it is often the user groups that do the most in wildlife protection important to their mode. of life. We are in 2021, not in 1821. The illusion of unlimited resources is long gone. Except for the trawlers and the carnage caused by their unfathomable bycatch.
Anyway, I picked up the fish with my net, knelt in the water, removed the hook, then slid the fish off the net. I turned it on its side and stood up for a photo. I have come to like this approach. If the fish floats to the side long enough that I can have an objective comparison with my fly rod, then so much the better. If he straightens up and takes off, I get an action shot.
I had an action shot on Sunday. It was the perfect shot and the perfect start to the long-awaited spring.
• Jeff Lund is a freelance writer in Ketchikan. The Kindle version of his book, “A Miserable Paradise: Life in Southeast Alaska,” is available for pre-order on Amazon. His column, “I Went Into the Woods,” appears twice a month in the Empire Juneau.