White Whale of a Steelhead Monday, February 22, 2010
And now for a game of “Can You Spot the Differences In These Two Photos?”
Both men are wearing waders. Both are smiling. Both on a riverbank … c’mon, think. What’s different?
That’s right. Morgan is wearing a green jacket and Paul is not.
Also, Morgan’s waders are all puffy from air trapped in them. I won’t tell you what he had for lunch.
…Oh. One more thing. Paul has a fish.
Yeah. About that. Morgan had one on. For a while. “Moby Dick,” is how he described it. I was upstream around the corner while this epic battle was going on. Odd that I didn’t hear the commotion, since he described this whale-like steelhead as “breaching” and slapping the water with its flukes and abnormally broad tail. Much like a whale watching adventure.
It seems this fish of Morgan’s sensed danger as it was coaxed to shore, then “leaped,” “jumped,” “rocketed,” “launched” … he used many descriptors throughout the many versions of this incident I was treated to.
Morgan and I were fishing the Grande Ronde, six miles up from Boggan’s Oasis. We had one stretch of river to fish, since we were waiting on the planting crew we’d shuttled across and couldn’t move around.
Paul was fishing the Wallowa River with Tom, the fishing guru of Winding Waters. See their results on the Winding Waters Fishing Report, back on the main page. Also check out the Steelhead Train numbers, which are impressive.
So Morgan and I had three lovely days in the same sixty yards of river and we flogged that chunk of water until it was bruised. I caught some wee trout and snagged a sucker, while Mo hooked into that white whale of a steelhead.
It was 32-inches long, by the way. I know this because he told me this. Which is impressive. Not just in size, but the fact that Morgan is so dextrous he can manage to wade out in the river before losing a fish, get a tape measure or yardstick on the thing and get a reading like that.
I’m confused why he didn’t just keep holding onto the fish after he was done measuring, just to save the hassle of wading back to shore and picking up his fly rod to continue the fight.
In any event, the leader snapped and he lost the fish. And I’m sorry. Very sorry. Not for him, but me. I had to hear him crying himself to sleep for the next two nights. Watch him lash himself with a hackberry branch as penance for letting that fish get away.
It was painful for him, I know. He pulled muscles in both arms by stretching them out wider and wider each time he recounted the tale, showing how big that thing was.
Ah, but there’s more fish in the river and we’re going after them. You’re cordially invited to come along.