Salmon River Steelhead II

steelhead 009Just can’t get enough, can you?  I have to admit, this steelheading thing is straight addictive.  Once we learned these fish are merely an hour and a bit from Hamilton, one just can’t help themselves.  So here we go again, Chris and I decide just one more trip down south will be the end all to the season.  Late November, the earlier fall weather giving way to winter, we boogied out of Darby towing a raft in a full on blizzard. Lost Trail pass was four wheel drive all the way while wondering what our dumb asses are thinking trying this late in the year.  Finally hitting the Salmon, we get to see what we’re looking at as far as actual river conditions.  Not to bad, really.  Just a little slush here and there but full on fishable from our perspective.

steelhead 002We post up camp for the night and awake to a seven degree morning.  “Hey, how’s the river look?” I ask, huddling the Mr Buddy heater in the tent.  “Not good.”  ” Should we go?” ” Might as well, we’re here.”   Confidence.  If your gonna be stupid you have to be tough.  Being in no real hurry to commence the madness, we fire up my frozen diesel and sit in the comfort of the heated cab while waiting on espresso pots on the MSR outside.  Eventually we set sail and floated a short stretch with a ton of good water, as long as the slush cleared enough to get a drift through.

steelhead 007At three o’clock the magic happened.  Battling slush and frozen guides, lines, beers, boats, you name it, we finally pulled it off.  Every run we knew was choked with slush and ice, especially in the sexy gooey water where the steelies hang.  Screwdaddled on every turn, we laid our coins on our final and all time epic run, Power Eagle.  It actually had a different name up to this point, but from now and forever it shall be Power Eagle.  With Chris sitting up front and me in the rear, we worked that run like a well oiled machine, while anchored just perfectly beside the goods.   With the ice clearing and run opening up, we finally willed those damn steelies out of their lies.  Four fish in the last hours of the last day that river will be floated for the rest of the year.