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Now or Never.
Posted 19 November 2004 - 01:21 PM
Posted 21 November 2004 - 08:40 PM
I had a great day with the two of you on the river. It was my pleasure to show you a river that is special to me. I hope that we have the chance to do it again on your personal little gems. These are two great stand up guys that are a blast to fish with. Thanks for a great day.
You gotta do the "DOWN BY THE RIVER" thing. Beats the long drive for sure. Next time bro. Ganny Browns for sure next fall.
Just a great weekend. Nuff said!!!
Just like the good old days. After getting greeted by Titan at work we were on the road. A couple of hours later we were parked by the footbridge in Thornbury. The first thing that noticed was the sound of running water. Not a good sign as the last time that I was up that way, the river was already low. Always the optimist steelheader that I am, I quickly rigged up and prepared to get in a few drifts before putting doing for the night. There is just something haunting of sorts, seeing Great Lakes sailers sitting by the marina all tarped up and land locked. No cars are parked by the river, but you could still hear the haunting call of the river side flytyer, "I've been tying flies all day, IN MY VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER".... A quick jig and I was on my way.
The Beaver was hurting, so I pushed straight to the Trestle Pool. Nice and deep, with well-defined seams is always a good bet. With the low, colder water the nice riffles and runs were out of the question. With LESS then 6 guys on the river at this time, working this pool from end to end was a snap. In a couple of hours I hooked into a couple of fish and called it a night. This is strange ocurrance for me. For the longest time I would start fishing Friday night, and go like an animal straight on into the morning. I had bigger and better plans for the morning, so a great nights sleep was in order.
A lot of people are amazed at how we go fishing. A minivan with two adults, a rottie and gear makes for a load. Throw in the prospect of sleeping in there and it looks like a nightmare. For years now, Jeannette and I have been using the van for fishing trips and get aways in this matter. Using the van makes for an anywhere, anytime, and cheap fishing trip. With the dog curled up behind the front seats, and Jeannette and I snuggled up on the bench seat, we are able to get quite comfortable. With plans to fish the first light bite on one river and plans to walk another for the rest of the day, a full nights sleep was in order and was fast asleep well before midnight.
After sleeping in a bit it was time to get the show on the road. A nice breakfast, and the 'ine triplets' (urine, caffeine, nicotine), was in higher order then first bite. A quick pack up and we were on our way. We arrived at The Tim Horton’s with time to spare. As I was getting a sandwich made I motioned my wife over to a table by the window and a clear line on the door. Wouldn't you know it Ken (fly1) was sitting at the next table! After a quick round of hellos we were on our way. Quickly navigating through the town we arrived at our starting point for fishing the Bighead River. There were a few guys already fishing the favour local's hole, as well a handful more setting up. A light rain was falling and there was a slight nip in the air. This weather was nothing for couple of guys heading out for a day of stealheading. Said a quick hello to TonyM, and we were on our way.
We crossed the bridge and picked up the trail that is the start of a beautiful walk along one of the wild rivers in this part of the province. A long stretch of water that is a combination of all the best features of a steelhead river. Taking a long drop in vertical over a relatively short distance off of the Niagara Escarpment, the river is known for some pretty bizarre behaviour. With clay in the beds and banks, coupled with a fair number of farms in the area with tiled fields, rains bring total silted out conditions and high waters. Within a few hours, I've seen the river go from unfishable in the morning after a rain, to highly successful in the afternoon. Such can be the magic of the Head. With a recent lack of rain, I knew that the river was going to be tough.
The river is a textbook steelhead river, rivalling some of the finest waters found in North America. The waters are a mix of fast shallow rapids and deep pools. Boulder gardens dot the river with fast water and excellent back eddies and pockets. This is prime holding water when the river is running higher and warmer, when the fish are looking for oxygen rich waters and easy snacks. There are a number of holding pools that run slow and deep with excellent defined seams and current breaks. These pools are perfect for holding over in the infamous low water and gin clear conditions. Slower pools are also known favourite places for fish to hold in colder months. With the colder single digit nights and severe lack of fall rains, these pools would be the focus of our fishing day. With fairly long walks over rocky terrain, and numerous river crossings, there was fair amount of work for decent waters.
Breaking from the trail down to the river we encountered a few guys working the first pool. Knowing that there was another pool just up abit, we quickly pushed on. Arriving at a well-maintained turn in the river we set up and joined a couple of guys working the river with float gear. After some quick adjusting of set-ups and locations everyone settled into the drift and started focusing in the business of finding and turning fish. In very short order Ken hooked into a scrappy male. After a little commotion on the surface and a burst of short runs, he was quickly brought to hand. With a flick of the wrist a nymph was removed from the top of the mouth and like the star of the moment posed for pictures. A nice male in full winter dress with deep shades of red, a classic late fall steelhead. The fins and tail were worn, evidence of the low water conditions. Happy to be back in the swim after his release; a quick flick of the tail and he was gone. Congratulations were offered and unknown at the time it was to be the last fish of the day. For me at that point the trip was a success. For me the feeling I get when I share a river with someone new and they get skunked, sucks. After working the pool for a little while longer, we striked off in search of new waters just around the bend.
Not one for liking to deal with the real world when I'm out on the river, this was to be a day that I welcomed having my cell phone with me. Steelheader1975 was delayed first thing in the morning and not able to start out first thing. I encouraged him to still make that trip, knowing that we could meet up with him midway through the day at one of the three entry points for the river. With a few quick calls and some incredible help from my wife, Will was able to join us at the site of a blown out dam that totally opened up this river. Jeannette roamed around with the camera and shot of a few quick rolls of film. I hope that they’re a few more photos to add from this trip. After a quick pat on the head for the dog, and a quick peck for Jeannette they were off back up the trail. The cell phone would again come into use later at the trailhead at the end of the day. I'm not one for the intrusion while I'm fishing, but on this day it was key in making it a success for all parties involved.
The afternoon was then left to the three of us, as we were the only guys working the upper section of the river. This plus the great scenery makes for a great day. With conversations ranging from bamboo rod building to rivers and fishing, a great afternoon was had. The rain threatened to return on a few occasions, but was battling at times with the sun that tried to break the clouds. The day was quiet except for the brief appearance of a few ATV's. I was quite amazed at how quiet a 4 stroke can be. I for one think that there is something just right about steelheading and the soft krump of heavy artillery in the far distance. The other two did not miss the beauty and uniqueness of this magical river.
All too soon our day came to an end, with the appearance of a bridge and my Wife pointing out fish. To our surprise as we finished our river walk, closer inspection revealed life in the river. Many kilometres away from the bay, salmon were still doing their dance. Looking very discoloured and beat, we bid them farewell and headed back to the parking spot with the other vehicles. Ken and Will were very understanding and patient dealing with Titan as he tried to join them on the bench. A few laughs at his expense helped shorten a relatively short drive. We got a few more drifts in and decided to call it a day.
As we can up from the river the haunting call returned, "spent the whole day tying flies....". A jewel of knowledge returned from my childhood. It is okay to have friends slower then the neighbourhood dogs, and sacrifice them. I did a quick shake and Will was caught. He can over after cursing and laughing at me for my quick moves. If you can believe it, this old timer, drives from river to river selling flies that he ties in the back of his van. Very interesting little setup. Rods were quickly broken down and waders stripped off. As dark over came the light, a great day came to an end. With three guys that know and fish many of the different river systems in this province, the opportunity to share many new rivers abounds. Good byes were exchanged, with a new respect for the Internet at its ability to bring people together. As we lead our merry band back to the highway, I noticed another van leaving as well… And just knew.
For me the weekend wasn't over. A quick stop for pizza and plans for the morning bite we settled into our spot, "IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER". But after dinner I decided that sleeping in my bed was more important. Plus, I really didn't fighting for water in the morning, with the crowds. I had a great time in a packed 24 hrs, and could go home happy. We pulled the pin on our little adventure turning the van inland. Something caught my eye as we turned up the hill. Parked in a level spot, with the light on was a white van. The haunting call was the same, sort of. "Spent the whole night tying flies..."
----- Unknown -----
Posted 22 November 2004 - 08:07 PM
Thanks again for a great time on the water and thank Jeannette for her taxi service it was greatly appreciated after the long hike. We're sorry if we kicked Titan out of his spot I hope he doesn't hold it against us.
He's welcome in my van any time.
<span style='color:blue'>Ken Paterson, Streetsville, Ontario</span>
Posted 23 November 2004 - 09:47 AM
I am anxious to fish that scenic stretch again. I can definitely see why you treasure that river so.
Posted 23 November 2004 - 05:19 PM
Anytime, anyplace. I had a blast with you guys. Your home court for sure. Browns, Bows or Brooks, I'm game for it all this upcoming year. SH1975, we gotta talk about turning that wagon of yours into a Steeliewagon .
----- Unknown -----
Posted 26 November 2004 - 05:52 AM