- Cascade Fishing Adventures
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With some free time on my hands during a recent weekday afternoon, I figured it was time to hit the Vedder and check things out. It would be my first trip to the Vedder for steelhead this season. Despite the fact that steelhead enter this river in early December (albeit in limited numbers), I prefer to wait until after the early rush of eager steelheaders and the Christmas holidays are done before I head out. I always enjoyed the fact that the steelhead runs are only going to improve over the course of the season which would last well into April.
After taking care of a couple errands and rigging up my rod, I made the short drive over to the Chilliwack/Vedder river. As I parked the truck I noticed there were a few guys with fishing rods coming and going – there was plenty of traffic about. That was of no concern to me as I was really more interested in finding how the river had changed from the previous season. I like the first walk or two of the season, looking for a sizeable stretch or two of good water that you can find fish during any fishable water condition. I like to nickname them “trap-lines” and try to fish them consistently, learning what spots fish best in certain conditions, and where fish tend to lay during those conditions. Familiarity with the waters you fish is a significant key to success. After a bit of a walk, it was apparent that there were some changes, but nothing substantial. I had walked up river, and proceeded to fish my way down to the truck, fishing a variety of “holding” and “moving” water. Moving water can be described as a stretch of river where steelhead would stop for a quick rest while they are migrating upriver, but wouldn’t stay in for any extended length of time. This kind of water can be described as fast flowing water or rapids, and those spots often contain large boulders. Behind these large rocks or perhaps a log, are excellent places for moving steelhead to take a break. Holding water on the other hand, will keep fish in the run for a longer period of time, sometimes for extended periods of time. These runs can be long, with a riffle near the top where the river dumps in at the beginning of the run. The run will smooth out with a nice depth of water before the water speed increases and the flow breaks over the shallows into the next run. Often times, fish will lay at the very end of these runs just as it shallows and before the water breaks into the next run. As I worked my way down, I fished one of those nice runs twice. I was so confident that there were fish in there, I had to walk through a second time. With no fish to show for my efforts, I was unsure where I wanted to go next.
I hopped in the truck and zipped to another reach of the river. It was no surprise that there were a few vehicles there. After taking a look around, and seeing anglers up the river in various spots, I headed off in the opposite direction, and found a stretch of water with no other anglers around. This stretch contained moving water, and as I worked my way down, I fished behind large boulders, through slower seams and behind the large riffles.
I had made a dozen casts or so, and my attention span was a bit on the slim side. As I was letting my float drift through, something off in the distance caught my eye – that’s when I felt a sharp whack on the rod. Its seems oddly coincidental that these things happen when one isn’t looking – one of those quirky things with fishing. I quickly zeroed in on my float again, and saw it drifting along like nothing had happened. I reeled in and dropped the float six inches, knowing that “whack” couldn’t possibly have been a rock, but shortening my depth to avoid any potential snags. I casted to the same drift as before, and watched intently. After 20 feet of drifting, my float pulled under and without hesitation I set the hook, knowing it had to be a fish. Unbelievably, there was the quarry – a fresh and silvery winter steelhead, that had been hiding under the rough water surface.
Although not large by any means, this fish took full advantage of the current and was very spirited. I had to follow this fish over 100 metres down the river – along the bank, around overhanging trees and by wading waist deep in the river, all the while the fish was leaping and heading downriver. I finally landed the wild buck, and having already dug my camera out to set it up, I took a quick picture before releasing him. As he swam off vigorously, I thought to myself that this fish would be one of those memorable experiences that would stand out from many other steelhead fishing memories.
Thirty four years ago, I hooked my first steelhead. It felt like that was my first steelhead all over again.
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