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My 1st Steelhead

Being a huge Pittsburgh Steeler fans my daughter and I both greatly admired our long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.  During his time with the team, they were consistently ranked as one of the best defenses in the NFL.  Coach LeBeau kept innovating, motivating and successfully coaching into his 70’s. 

My mentor - Rich

When Coach LeBeau was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame I told my daughter we were going out of respect for all the enjoyment he had given us.  His speech turned out to be one of the most inspiring I’ve ever heard.   Speaking of his age and the fact that many of us tend to think that upon reaching a certain age life has passed us by.  He then went on to list all the accomplishments he’d achieved after the age of 65.  These included winning AFC Championships, two Superbowl’s, having his players name to the Pro Bowl, just to name a few.  Continuing his talk, he acknowledged that if he’d quietly retired at 65 he would have missed out on these experiences.

While fishing in Erie on an unseasonably warm December day my thoughts reflected to Coach LeBeau’s speech.  I found myself on the stream fly fishing for Steelhead with a couple of friends from our sportsmen’s club.  This was my second effort fishing for Steelhead, my first effort having been unsuccessful.  I’m someone who hates crowds and cold weather both of which it seemed were part of that initial steelhead fishing trip.

When a fellow club member expressed an interest in going Steelhead fishing, I reluctantly agreed.  While I enjoy fishing with Jim purusing Steelhead wasn't in my comfort zone being a complete newbie.

Arriving at the stream around 8am (we’d driven up from Pittsburgh which is about a 2-hour drive) sure enough there were already 4 cars parked along the road.  Heading down to a spot our club President had mentioned there were guys fishing far closer than my comfort level.  Finding a spot up from them afforded a bit of elbow room but the feeling of being stuck in one location wasn’t comfortable to me.  In addition, fishing with an 8wt road, using flies never fished before, for a species I’d never caught made me feel rather pessimistic regarding my chances. 

Quickly Jim, who was spin fishing with bait had one on and landed it!  He was on the board and here I was feeling like a Baboon with a loaded guy.  Working the area yielded nothing as cast after cast went unnoticed despite signs of fish.  Trying different patterns still resulted in nothing showing interest.  When my cell phone rang, I was relieved to hear our club President on the line telling me he’d be to us with half an hour.  In the meantime, he suggested trying a couple of spots further upstream.  Eager for new water I walked up only to find guys occupying all the good water. 

Jim gets on the board

Returning to our original location I got a call on the walkie talkie that he’d arrived.  Speaking to him as he dressed, we put in place a new plan of attack.  I should mention that Rich is an expert steelhead fly fisher and knew this creek thoroughly.  Knowing my willingness to walk as far as it takes to get away from people we hiked and waded upstream until being stopped by posted signs that hung across the stream.

Just below the signs we’d fished a promising looking run that surprised me in its lack of production especially for Rich if not for a neophyte like me.  On our way down we stopped beside the run, discussing our lack of success.  As we were talking two fellow anglers came up and Rich mentioned the No Trespassing signs up ahead.  We then proceeded to launch into conversations about everything anglers talk about when on the stream with like minded individuals.  As we were talking, I happened to look down into the water and saw a big steelhead swim by! 

Announcing my discovery to the group all four of us rigged our rods and quickly had lines in the water.  The two fishers we had met were a stepfather and stepson and a few moments later the son had one on.  The fish was battling and just as he had the fish to the shore it managed to get off.  I’m not sure who was more disappointed in the result, him or me!  Resuming fishing as my sucker spawn made its way through the run, I felt a sharp tug on the line and the 8wt bowed under the pressure.  Shouting to Rich “I have one on!” he urgently retorted “Get him on the reel!”.   Doing as instructed the fish was on the reel and the fight was on. 

Rich had mentioned the preferred approach was to beach the fish versus netting them.  Asking for further instructions, both he and the stepson told me to back up onto the shore while carefully applying pressure to the fish.  Eventually I was able to get the nice female up onto the bank where my helpers corralled the fish preventing any last second escape. 

My 1st Steelhead

Rich said, “get the camera out” and soon my iPhone was in his hands with the steelhead in mine.  He snapped several photos of me holding that beautiful 25” fish resulting in a smile from ear to ear.  Releasing her back into the creek at the tender age of 64 I’d managed to catch my first Steelhead.  Thinking back to Coach LeBeau’s speech, if I hadn’t been willing to try something new or felt I was too old to attempt it I’d never have experienced the thrill of this moment.  Thanks to Rich and Jim my fishing companions on helping me achieve this milestone. 

Another shot from my photographe Rich

The moral of the story is to never give up on your dreams and never keep dreaming.  Tight lines, S

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15 de dez. de 2023
Avaliado com 5 de 5 estrelas.

Congratulations on a great catch


14 de dez. de 2023
Avaliado com 3 de 5 estrelas.

Testing to see if the comments work - S


10 de dez. de 2023

Good job Steve.

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