“We were absolutely soaked; it looked like we had been swimming and we were surrounded by darkness!”
My dad and mom, – ages 85 and 84 respectively - had once again taken their annual “steelheadin’ ” trip to the Lewiston area of the Clearwater River. Married for 60 years and steelhead fishing for close to 30 of those years, they were now at home again, eagerly sharing some stories with my sisters and me.
That fish that night was in the fight of his life, with a contender on the other end of the pole that almost always wins. As the old saying goes, “If one gets hooked on steelhead, it can be terminal.” Or at least something close to that. I have to admit there have been times with my dad, I did indeed wonder; this being one of those times.
Dad was just about ready to quit for the day when he “got a bite” as he fished from the bridge. While he held the pole and kept the tension in the line just right, he walked from the bridge down the bank so that he would be able to finish the fight and land this big guy. He could tell by the struggle it was giving him that this was a big fish and it would most likely take a while before he would land it. If he tried to rush it, he risked losing.
An hour and ½ later, in the drenching rain and October chill, Dad landed that steelhead. It ended up being the largest fish he caught this season, weighing more than 20 pounds. This was just prior to opening day, and while catch and release is allowed, keeping any fish caught prior to opening date and keeping the natives is not. Mom watched patiently as she held the flashlight, while Dad held the fish in the water, running it back and forth to be sure it was fully revived before releasing his catch back into the river. It wasn’t long before the fish was swimming away, and my folks returned to their camp; Dad satisfied with another successful endeavor at landing steelhead; and Mom shaking her head and kind of wondering about that “terminal thing”.
Dad caught 11 fish this trip, releasing 8 and bringing home 3 from their 2 weeks on the Clearwater River. The largest was the 20 pound Native that Dad caught and released that evening underneath the bridge. The smallest was a 15 pound female hatchery fish that he was able to bring home with him. In the picture below is an 18 pound 36” inch male hatchery fish that Dad landed on the final day of their trip.
Have you ever just tried to lift one of those fish?!! I'd say that little statistic above is pretty awesome for an 85 year old man. ..and I claim bragging rights! ;-)
|My Daddy and His Fish|
|Sissie, Mr. Steelhead, and Dad|