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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Bad Cast=Good Result(Ya just never know)

Posted by Mark Tuesday, July 12, 2011

 I had the opportunity to mix a little business with pleasure this week. I actually had legitimate work looking at the transmission corridor that runs above the North Umpqua from Soda Springs to Dixon. Rugged country is an understatement. I hiked in to the lines behind Bogus Creek Campground and looked at a section that had been worked recently by the tree crews. I took a shot or two from this unique perspective of a couple of classic runs.

 Archie and Lower Archie from on high

So after I got my exercise in stomping around in the hills, I of course had to wet a line......DUH! At this time of year when the water is still so high, I try to think like a fish. Where would I be if I were swimming up this ditch? The popular spots right now are the easy spots to fish and thus everyone is in them. I avoided those places and went to an old familiar spot in the lower river. There was no way I would get out to the heart of the run but I could make it out to a pretty stable area and cast a longer line and cover most of the juicy stuff. I had been fishing a skater earlier in the evening, but my intuition told me sink tip. I stripped out some line to get beyond the boil from the rock we usually stand below. I made one cast and pulled it in"I didn't like that"I said, and set up for another slightly longer version . This second cast was a total train wreck, the line landed with more squiggles than a bowl of spaghetti, along with a huge belly being sucked in and held by the eddy from the rock. Basically the worst cast and placement of a fly as I possibly could have done, just terrible......and then the line went tight and a healthy fish grabbed my misplaced offering and headed for the back door. After a quick but spirited fight, I landed a chrome hatchery hen of about 8lbs. I should have given her the rock shampoo but traveling on the road early the next morning,did not bode well for fish retention at this time. I gave her a reprieve and she swam away strong. I fished a couple more spots, switching back to a dry line and skater on my new switch rod. As I find the button with this rod, I enjoy it more and more. I am fishing an 8 wt Rio Steelhead line on a 7110 Red Truck and I fish it mostly with one hand. It likes a high hard stop and that is what takes some getting used to, arm strength wise for sure. It roll casts like a dream and I just like fishing the longer floating lines on a  rod like this. A very good North Umpqua rod if you can master the technique to wield it. I'm working on that, always pushing myself to fish the way I like to fish not always what is easy or popular. Anyone can take a skandi head and chuck it a mile.....not so with the setup I fish. I will be working on it till I am an old man for sure.

Feeling pretty good after having a little action, swinging some skaters around etc.I again went to a spot that was just barely coming into decent shape. I started in way up high wading out to a spot I could get into a little of the deeper water in the main flow. I again opted for a tip in this situation, I just felt confident it was the right thing to do here as well. I fish drylines most of the summer and in these levels have no problem putting a light tip and unweighted fly through to just get into that mid water column. I worked my way down into the lower end just enjoying the run and the rhythm of casting and swinging. I was throwing a nice line and the drifts were on auto pilot. I was getting a slow swing into an area that holds a lot of winter fish as well. The water clarity was good enough to see why they liked it in here. A fast outside current with a mix of plate rock and basketball and bigger sized rocks just inside of that. A great place for a fish to move through quick or rest and hold.

I was about at the end of my casting and wading limit but had enough for a couple more before I called it. I make a nice cast and it hits and starts to swing, tap,tap,tug,tap,tug, I wait for the line to tighten but nothing, tap,tug,OK that's enough of that,time to SLAM THE DOOR!  I set the hook after what seemed like an eternity, not knowing for sure if waiting was the right thing to do. I haul back on the rod and half expect the fish to be gone, just a nipper and I missed him, but no, positive vibrations come from the other end as I find myself tied fast to another fish in  this short evening outing. This fish is big, wild and not very happy with me. He runs hard and fast all over the pool. I can barely keep up with him. He swims right at me and I struggle to gain line back and keep good tension. He sulks out in front of me but I know he is far from done. I pressure him from the side to get him to budge, he resists and slowly heads out to mid current. I again try to put the wood to him and he pauses for a second and momentarily comes towards me and then he bolts. In the span of 10 seconds he jumps four times, ripped off all my running line and  30 or 40 feet of perfectly good backing. He jumps two more times and makes another run for the tail but I am having none of that. I duke it out with him for another minute or two and get him up to a rod length away and the hook pulls free and he slowly swims off, the victor in this battle. I like it when I don't have to touch them.The ending for me on this night was a perfect ending to a perfect day. And I worked all day too! I don't need to land all of them.

Some ask me if I count the fish I don't land.....some people have different ways of counting things.

A big,wild, North Umpqua buck steelhead at the peak of his strength that just gave you a ride you wont soon forget......I say it counted, oh boy did it count!


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