Several years ago I spoke with steelhead expert/biologist Bill McMillan while collecting data for an article I was writing. I recently stumbled upon the article in my folders and thought it would be worthwhile to share it…
Five steelhead facts worth knowing:
1) It is no secret in the world of steelhead fishing that there are two distinct runs of steelhead. Appropriately termed “winter-run” and “summer-run” steelhead, it is a fair assumption that winter-run fish enter the freshwater system during the winter months, while summer-runs begin their migration earlier in the year during the spring and summer.
Beginning as early as November and continuing through May, winter-run fish enter the system at a relatively developed stage of maturation. Their bellies are robust; their time scarce and their attention concentrated…
If my brain were a storage unit, it would be one without walking space, stacked with hoards of cluttered paraphernalia. That’s how it feels right now anyway, unorganized and overwhelmed, elbowing my way in & around my own thoughts.
I blame it on Roderick Haig-Brown.
See, last year I had taken on the most ambitious project of my life: the authoring of a book summarized as a reflective novel based on the history of our sport, and both its evolution & migration from the United Kingdom to North America’s west coast.
Do not be fooled by this mundane description; it’s about as dry as a robust red wine — flavourful, intoxicating, addictive and sure to stain.
In addition, I had also signed a television show to the World Fishing Network, where I would write a ten part episodic series about the authoring of this book and the research that went into it.
I don’t usually post interviews written about me, but it was just so refreshing to finally receive an article that was honest and void of redundant, overdone questions.
I recently received this wonderful email from a fishing guide (who shall remain anonymous), and it occurred to me that it might not be such an awful idea to post the article.
“Hello FlyGal Company,
I know this is a long shot, but if at all possible, can you please forward this personally to April? It’s kind of a big deal, since she indirectly helped save my life and career.
My name is ***; I am a Pacific Northwest Fishing Guide. Last season, I found myself burnt out, beat up and holding on by a thread with serving people out on the water. In fact, I put my rods in the closet, closed my doors for Winter Steelheading and was about ready to chop up my Guide License…”
Uneven edges of volcanic rock push their jagged prongs through my thin khakis.
Uncomfortable, I shift my weight to alleviate the numbing tingle of pooled blood in my lower extremities – a fitting discomfort while sitting atop a rock-face spotted with dips and dimples home to equally as stagnant flow.
The air smells of salt. What my nose can’t decipher, my tongue can.
It runs itself over my dry lower lip, tasting the ocean’s seasoning.
I pick at the flaked skin until my fingernails pinch pain through the raw gummy flesh beneath its peel. The sting interrupts my mindlessness…
I lower my hand to my side, again staring vacantly into the cobalt blue sea.
There’s a pack of cobia working their way through the headland I patiently perch on.
I am sure that proper terminology for these creatures is a ‘school’, but to refer to them as such would be misleading; a ‘school’ of fish might be deemed as a behaved and conformed assembly – innocent children on a chaperoned outing. These fish were anything but that.
We are going back to New Zealand for the third time this year and thought we’d invite some of you to come along on our hosted trip!
It’s not much of a secret that I am in love with South America; its liberation, fishing, scenery, food… what is there not to love?
I had heard of Marc Whittaker from Rod and Gun Fly Shop in Santiago, Chile through the guys at IF4. When we discussed teaming up to do a potential showing in his neighbourhood, the ideas began to fly. Before long, I was on a flight south-bound where I was scheduled to see my way around the country where I would work with Marc and the Chilean government to try and educate the youth (and their parents) on their importance of catch & release and the impacts of the dreaded didymo/rock snot (a horrible algae that covers the river banks and affects insect life/fish… a single drop of water can devastate an entire fishery if introduced.)
It’s a little known fact that my first guiding gig was as a sturgeon guide on the Fraser River.
As an employee for another guide company (this was in the pre-FlyGal days), I was routinely tossed from boat to boat, spending time in different jet boats from multiple manufacturers.
To be fair, most of the boats were comfortable and relatively reliable but there was only one boat that could force me to raise my eyes from the doghouse while I rigged up stink bait and bait balls during my eight hour shift; the gorgeous and welded aluminum Wooldridge…
As we headed to Australia, a smile dressed my face… this was the first “non-work” vacation I had taken in quite some time.
The Sydney beaches were gorgeous. Surfers and tourists played in the sun and I couldn’t help but look beyond them for signs of decent fishing. Spotting the shark net in the distance, I quickly remembered that these beaches were much different than those on the west-coast of BC and the thought of a run in with a man-eating bull or great white shark rose my heart rate and lessened my desire to go swimming.
Arriving in Australia always loses me two days… as they are one day ahead of us, the 30 hour commute inevitably steals another day and I needed a day of rest for my body to catch up.
Colby and I had two days to get back to the mainland, catch up with family, pack for another month of “off-roading” and make sure that business was running smoothly.
I had originally scheduled September to be my month of stability… my new property sat blossomed by summer, waiting for me to groom its field, cut its deadwood, revive its old boat launch and become familiar with its sprawling riverfront and the steelhead who lay within it.
I’d counted down the days where I could wake up on my own schedule, pour a gourd of yerba mate and look out at the riverfront that I had worked so hard over the years to obtain…
…But in true “workaholic” fashion, I had somehow managed to schedule September to be hectic and as quick as the steam of my hot tea evaporated into thin air, so did my aspirations of having any free time.