I declined last fall the invitation from my friend and ace fishing correspondent Steve Kyle to go with him on a several-weeks-long trek from one Pacific Northwest steelhead fishing river to another in cold, wet, futile pursuit of those elusive sea-run trout. It was a wise decision.
Like Joe Btfsplk, a character in the old satirical comic strip Li’l Abner by cartoonist Al Capp, Steve is a well-meaning guy who regularly chooses to battle dodgy weather. In Capp’s comics, a small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovers over Joe’s head to symbolize his bad luck. Such a symbol would be most appropriate for Steve on most of his fall and winter fishing trips.
But last week he sent me the following message from somewhere in British Columbia. “While you guys are buried in rain, I am living the life of Riley here in B.C. Not one of drop of rain to be seen and as close to tee shirt and flip-flop weather as one could find. Reminds me a lot of Loreto, Mexico, with calm waters and cheery fishermen…”
I thought he had finally gotten lucky until I read a little more of his message and saw the attached photos.
“…haven’t touched a steelhead in two days. Water temp is a blistering 38 degrees.”
Several of our Sonoma fishing colleagues responded to his message with references to his loony self-deception, suggesting that even Joe Btfsplk would know that in Canada, it is still winter.
Normally impervious to such slings and arrows, Steve would have carried on. At least I thought he would, until I got this message last Saturday: “I may have been slightly daft for taking this flyer to fish steelhead in the spring in BC, but there is always the chance that I would find myself at the right place at the right time.”
Not this time apparently as he encountered “… a rotating smorgasbord of wind, rain, sun, and cold.”
It finally got to him.
“Today, I hit the wall around 3:00 when I realized that I was standing waist deep in sub-freezing water, all the while trying to rollcast a 13-foot Spey rod into a gusting 12-knot headwind. After my umpteenth try, I said, ‘I don’t need to do this any more.’ And so I quit.
“With a cast count close to 1,500 and a fish count at an absolute zero, I am considering coming home two days early if I can get a flight. I may be a mountain goat of sorts but I am an old mountain goat for sure, or at least I feel that way today. No pictures to send your way ‘cause I didn’t think you’d be interested in rain shots.”
His fair-weather fishing companions, myself included, are convinced that this rare moment of sanity is only temporary.
In the meantime, closer to Sonoma, when the wind is not blowing sturgeon fishing on San Francisco Bay, especially the part closest to us, is red hot. Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop fished near the Pump House last week and in less than two hours, he and a buddy caught and released eight big sturgeon to 60 pounds and several large striped bass to 14 pounds. Keith says the sturgeon fishing will be great for the next two months at least.