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How Many Guides Does It Take.......

Posted by Mark Saturday, March 16, 2013 2 comments

to land a steelhead? It took three today.

Fished today with Marty and Jeff. Picked up a couple fish, the second fish hooked by Marty was an absolutely insane duel. I haven't seen a battle like this..........ever! I had just been over to see Jeff landing a fish and turned around to see Marty up on a rock downstream of me. I could not for the life of me figure out what he was doing up there. Then he sort of yelled something, then I could see he was into one. By the time I got to where he was, the fish had done some serious work trying to remove all of his kite string from his reel. The thing just went and went. His new Farlex reel was barking like a junk yard dog as he struggled to hang onto the rod and avoid the handle whirring at 20,000 rpms. He is kneeling up on the rock doing every trick in the book to avoid being spooled. It was dicey to try and follow along the bank in this spot so he tried to do battle from the rock. Every time he got the fish stopped and started to try and put some wood to him, the fish would bolt again, the Farlex protesting loudly each time. This fish would not cooperate at all. Soon, we all knew what we needed to do. There were overhanging limbs touching the water well downstream of us and the fish was getting precariously close to wrapping the line in them. I went ahead of Marty wading across slick bedrock in nipple deep water. I got down to where the limbs were in the water and lifted the branches clearing the way for the line. Marty made his way down passing the rod to Jeff as he rounded some stream side vegetation. Jeff passed the rod back to Marty and he continued down.When he got to me, there was another exchange as he handed the rod to me as I held the limbs up and we worked the rod and line through the branches and got clear of it. Once below the tree, Marty set to work trying to land this fish. Every time Marty tried to pressure the fish he took line like it was going out of style.

 At one point Marty could not,and I mean could not do a thing with this big boy. It wasn't from lack of trying. Again,every time he tried to pressure the fish in any way or change the rod angle, the fish would bark off 30-50 feet of line. I don't know how much line he had out but it was A LOT. All I know is that arbor was getting mighty skinny. Finally,running out of options, and backing and just to try something different, Marty graciously handed the rod off to Jeff.  Marty was kind of like "see what you can do with him Jeff". Jeff used an old trick from his CW days and started sweet talking the fish(literally) up the soft current of the inside bank. He just pointed the rod almost directly at the fish and VERY SLOWLY just started winding it in. No rod angle changes, just steady pressure and a winch approach. All the while he is softly saying "Come on baby,come to daddy, come on baby etc" and any other nonsensical phrases he could think up. Marty and I were dying laughing as Jeff was definitely moving the fish upstream for the first time in a long time. It was working and he gained back a ton of line over the next few minutes. When we saw the back end of the running line still 40 or 50 feet away, Marty grabbed the rod and resumed the battle. The fish had begun to tire now and Marty quickly got the upper hand and tailed the fish for a couple quick pics and release. Total team effort and a very cool experience to see and be a part of. These fish will kick you butt!







Marty Sheppard flat lined

The object of our devotion and affection


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You Need To Have Plan A-Z

Posted by Mark Monday, March 11, 2013 2 comments





After reading my buddy Marty's post regarding the vast amount of info we process as guides, I wanted to add my 2 cents.

When guiding on any river you need to have a plan......at least most of the time. Sometimes it is loosely based sometimes it is a hard line.  The NU is unique in that it is a drive, walk and wade river. This allows for multiple shots at certain runs that you would like to fish. Many times others like these runs as well. That is where knowing the river comes into play. As I drive the river I usually have spots in mind that I want to fish. The plan can change rapidly when someone is occupying a run that is on the hit list. When you see an occupied run a couple of things start to happen in my head very fast. First, I immediately think of the next run that would be worth stopping at. 2nd,as I pass the occupied run I am calculating a number of things. Do I know the person in the run? Does that person know where the fish are? Does he know where my favorite fish is in the run? Can he cover said fish? Is he standing in the right spot? Or is the person fishing there a newer fisherman to the river and clueless to the particulars of that run? These all contribute to weather or not I come back and fish the run later after that person is gone.

When fish are moving there are many runs that I will follow people through without a problem. I have a good sense of many of the anglers on the river and know who to follow through a run and who not to follow through a run. That of course can all change on a dime too and there are days that I will follow the best fishermen through because I have a feeling about a particular run. Often I will fish the run differently than they did and use a completely different approach. Adjusting cast angles etc to show the fish a different look.

Anyway, after passing the run that was plan A, I am looking for plan B. Driving at 50,all the while calculating time of day,sun angle,shadows, traffic on the water, fish movements and location in the river,wet footprints in runs etc. Plan B comes into view and someone is there as well, fishing it from the trail side. I quickly move on by that run making the same observations as I made passing Plan A. I always learn stuff on the river all the time, often from watching other people. The day I quit learning or think I have this river dialed will be the day I quit....it will never happen. Too much still to learn, so much more to know!

On and on it goes, sometimes passing many runs before you find an opening. All the while the calculations and observations are clicking off in your head. Ooh there's Vanman in Smith Springs, Nevada Red was in Famous, Fishbum is everywhere today I can't shake him! Dang it Wratney corked me in Honey Creek! Mikey is ghosting around upriver, Frank Moore is in Mill Run. Rich is in Wright Creek, Scott is in Lower B, Uncle Jeff is in The Bakers. Clueless dude is standing in the middle of the river in a no name run, casting in the frog water.

And so it goes, the endless cycle of fishing,driving, getting into runs first, getting into runs last. Trusting your skills and instincts to put you on a fish. Sometimes this may mean driving from the Deadline to the upper river because you have a feeling about a certain run. I have learned to trust those feelings and do what my senses tell me. I have been rewarded enough to know those feelings don't come by chance.The more you know the river the more backup plans you have. The more observant you are about not just where you fish but where others are fishing, the better chances you have at being in the right place at the right time.

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Why?

Posted by Mark Wednesday, March 6, 2013 1 comments


Why do we chase this now near mythical creature?

Why do we as fishermen keep casting and swinging when it seems as if the last grab you had was months ago?

Why do we keep fishing,exploring new runs and covering others that always produce without getting even a sniff?

Why do we drive late into the night and early into the morning to fish rivers and places that may or may not produce a steelhead on a swung fly?

Why do we obsess about flies,lines,leaders rods and reels like a mother over a newborn baby?

Why do we let our fishing obsession spill over into our home life and sometimes strain relationships,finances,and vehicle longevity?

Why don't we take up golf instead?

The reason is simple.The steelhead has gotten into our soul, it has become part of us. We don't know where it ends and where we begin. Our past random encounters with this fish have stayed with us and we can't forget the feeling of being connected to one.The lightning bolt feel of being tethered to a wild fish with nothing more than a few ounces of gear in hand is hard to describe to someone who does not know. You would be hard pressed to find a fish with the fight and beauty that steelhead offer. It is one of God's most amazing animals,it's life cycle and range in the ocean is still almost a complete mystery.It is unmatched in the piscatorial world. The locations and surroundings in which these fish can be found are legendary. The brotherhood of like minded individuals is the glue which keeps this pursuit alive.Knowing there are others as afflicted with this obsession as we are is comforting sometimes.We fish for steelhead because it is inside us now. There is no going back,there is no giving up. There is no other fish or compromise that satisfies as the steelhead does. Each fish is special and we cherish each one when it comes.

As much as you want to quit it all sometimes and do something else, you can't. It's ingrained in you now, you can't shake it.

Don't even try..........

When you are walking the paths and enjoying the pursuit of these fish remember from whom these great gifts come.Celebrate the Creator,the giver of all good things. 

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Psalm 23













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