During the week following the previous incident I pondered the situation over and over. The three times it came to mind, I still was not able to find an alternative explanation. I hadn't seen or heard from Murph the entire day, so I cautiously ruled him out.
A few days later I made another excursion to the creek. Lessons had been learned from the previous trip and since the creek was empty when I arrived, I started casting like crazy at the dam. I was using the same set up as before, the fancy dancy special steelhead single hook with a bag of eggs.
I found the fast and furious approach at the dam interesting. The water was flowing so fast at the base of the dam, by the time I had the bail on my reel closed, the hook and bait were already flying by me in the water. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to notice a fishing hitting the hook, let alone set the hook if it all occurred before I could close the bail. Nonetheless I kept the pace up, hoping I would learn by fire.
In the middle of the fast and furious session I made a cast somewhat across the current of the creek, just to try something different. As I released the line on the cast the pole felt like it was cast something much heavier than just a simple fancy dancy special steelhead single hook with a bag of eggs. I wondered what had happened. I started to wonder if I had hooked into a small steelie and never noticed and had cast it back out into the water.
As I retrieved the line I watched the rod tip for an indication the monster steelie had taken the ruse of my fancy dancy special steelhead single hook with a bag of eggs as something it wanted to eat. After reeling approximately half the line back in, I noticed the rod tip wasn't where the rod tip was supposed to be. In fact the upper half of my rod was completely missing in action. I wondered where it could have gone, without me noticing. Odd. Again something must be afoot.
Once I had reeled in nearly all the line, part of the question was answered. The top half of my rod was hanging out with my fancy dancy special steelhead single hook with a bag of eggs. Why I am not sure, but it proved again something was afoot... but just what it was remained a mystery. They had spent most of the week hooked together in the back of the sled, so maybe the upper half of the rod missed the fancy dancy special steelhead single hook with a bag of eggs. One thing for certain, I very rarely cast half my rod into the water. Only half dozen, or so, times a season.
After reassembling my rod and doing the fast and furious for a bit longer, I decided to move on to something a little bit slower paced. Time was slowly ticking off the clock of when I needed to pickup Monkey from the institute of higher education, and it was obvious no self respecting steelie was going to be found at the base of the dam, in the strongest current on the creek. I don't blame them, why fight to stay in place when you can lounge in a slow moving hole and chill out for a bit?
The weather on this day was very mild, warm and the sun was shining bright over head. Since steelies are known to have sharp eyes and spook at the slightest hint of danger, from in the water or above, I sneaked around the banks with the highly lacking skills I use to stalk deer.
I carefully approached the hole where the guy “caught” the steelie after I had thoroughly fished the area a week earlier. Looking toward the center of the creek I was surprised by a steelie that was chillin' in the shallow water right near the bank. Our eyes meet at nearly the same time, well actually my eyes met the fishes tail and it burned rubber to get out of dodge.
How had I failed to see the fish before it saw me? My not finely tuned stalking skills should have given me first sight of the fish, not vice versa. What the heck was going on?
I still tossed my fancy dancy special steelhead single hook with a bag of eggs into the creek, thinking maybe his buddy was hungover after a long night at the bar or wasn't quite as astute as Mr. Steelie. It didn't work out. I fished for a while longer, never hooking into, or even seeing another steelie.
As I worked my way back out to the sled, I come across another guy fishing on the opposite side of the bank where I had spooked Mr. Steelie. He seemed to be concentrating on something in the water. I offered the obligatory wave and moved on. I checked the area around where Mr. Steelie had been hanging out and noticed a second set of footprints, aside from mine. The print looked familiar. I made a mental note of the print and went on my way.
After returning to Nimrod Ranch, I noticed boot prints in the dirt of the drive. I checked them against the mental picture I had taken at the creek. Sure enough they matched and no they weren't mine. Being the creek is only about a mile from Nimrod Ranch, I bet Murph got off his lazy behind and walked over there to try and cover his tracks. The finger prints from the upper half of my fishing rod are still being analyzed but I don't think there is any secret of what the results will be.
The spring run of Oncorhynchus mykiss is about to peak and you can bet Nimrod will keep at 'er. One of these years I may just luck into one and be able to share a picture.