Monday, January 03, 2011

Is There A Better Way to Start the New Year?

If there’s a better way to start a new year than, in company with a son, to catch wily steelhead on a world-famous Olympic Peninsula river, I’m open for suggestions.

Spending New Years Eve in (Twilight country) Forks, Washington may be the only down side, but even that was survivable.

Doug and guide Mike Z admire Doug's 11-pound native hen (he also caught 14- and 8-pounders for a spectacular one-day fishing exhibition) following measuring and just before safely releasing the fish.

We started talking about the excursion at the family Christmas celebration in Oregon. Son Gregg determined pretty quickly that it was not an option he could consider this year due to a very full schedule. Son Doug said, “Let’s think about it.” It was, after all, only a week or so ahead of time. Would the weather cooperate? Are any guides available? What are the fishing reports? Lots of questions.

Industrious son jumped on the project as soon as he was back home. The rain/snow had stopped. Water was receding and clearing in the rivers. Weather forecast was good other than it would be cold. There WAS a guide available – and a good one. We decided to go for it.

Doug snapped me playing my 8-pound hatchery buck (pictured at top) which we could keep. Click on the photo to enlarge it, and note the bend in the rod.

I should mention that for those not acquainted with the very long odds of successful steelhead fishing, many unrelated things have to fall in place. Not the least of which are the time of year, the weather, the (river) water, the fish, and the knowledge to connect the dots. That knowledge is stored in the head of a good fishing guide – guys who are there every day and know the water, the holes, what the fish are hitting on, and have access to the spots via a drift boat, etc.

It is said that the average steelhead fisherman must actually fish (with line & lure in the water) for 30 hours for each fish caught. Those are long odds. But that is why the investment in a good fishing guide is money well spent. Simply, it’s the difference between success and failure.

Doug helps Mike Z load his drift boat back on the trailer at day's end on the beautiful Sol Duc river.

Our guide was Mike Zavadlov, owner of Mike Z’s Guide Service and a local resident of Forks. He fishes more than two out of every three days year around. We asked him which of the four fabulous rivers in the area (Hoh, Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc) was best right now. No hesitation: the Sol Duc.

We caught a total of four incredibly beautiful fish (I only got one) while drifting down more than 12 miles of river. Three were natives which had to be safely released. The other was my hatchery buck. I think we used just about everything in Mike’s tackle box, and the result was a spectacular day on the water, albeit a freezing cold one. I’m not sure that the temp got much above freezing all day. But without a guide, it would have been just another day of fishing – and likely without results. We highly recommend Mike Z as an excellent fishing guide.

Next New Years Day perhaps Gregg can join us on the adventure.


Ed Wall said...

I can't think of a better way! Or at least I can't remember a better way!

I don't even see a Safeway in the background!

This is the area that Darlene's dad fished for salmon every summer.

cherry said...
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