The weather during the weekend was calling for sunny skies and temps in the upper 60s, perfect weather for newbies and fairweather steelheaders. I made the right call by fishing upstream, as most people were still under the impression that all of the fish were still low. We arrived at first light and pretty well had the section to ourselves. With a jar full of juicy uncured King eggs, I felt confident that we would spank some fish pretty good. I instructed my student on how to float fish, mend the line and set the hook. Past fishing experience was using those Zebco closed faced reels that today belong in a museum.
I hooked into several fish earlier in the morning and I decided to move from the "kiddie pool" down into bigger darker water. Fishing at first wasn't that eventful, as I continued to be the chub master hooking into several trophy sized ones. I felt the temptation to see how far I could punt them across the river into the cliff, but the novice scolded me. I scoffed that chubs rank somewhere between hemorrhoids and the Cleveland Browns.
Once I rid the pool of chubs, I was showing of how to read water and where to cast. I watched he cast out right along the seam. At first I thought he cast too far out, but I didn't say anything. I was instructing him on how to mend the line, when the float shot under. He set the hook and the rod throbbed hard, a sign of a big fish. I had the drag set pretty loose and told him to keep the fish in the current high so to wear him out. He kept cranking away, being mindful to keep the rod high and tight. I gradually tighten the drag and got a glimpse of the fish - a large beefy male. Even though it was very large fish, it didn't really fight all that hard. I had him guide the fish into slack water and I muttered "hoooooly fuck, that's a tank" As I guided the fish towards the shore the line snapped and I quickly grabbed the fish. I struggled to control it and basically trapped it in my legs and sticking my finger in the gills. My legs were shaking and he was stunned at the size of it. I hauled it out of the water and this fish was over 30" and probably weighted more than 12lbs - an impressive specimen by Steelhead Alley standards. I took some money shots and I was truly impressed as she handled it like a pro. Not once did he panic, screamed for help or tried to hand me the rod.
The novice pretty well had the hang of it as I didn't even need to watch him anymore. Then all of the sudden I hear him yell out that he hooked into a fish. I watched to see a huge fish leap out of the water and this time it tested him. By now we had worn the path along the bank into a trough of mud. He guided it into the slack water it was a fat hen. The master himself was not to be out done, as I hooked into several fat pigs.
In all of my years fishing Steelhead Alley, I've never had a day where I hooked into so many large fish. Most of the time, it's those "cookie cutter" steelhead - 25" and 4lbs and sometimes a 10 pounder gets thrown in. I thanked the fishing gods for taking care of her and giving the both us great day.