Glimpsing the water unicorn after 10,000 casts.

      My buddy Jim made me go to the Deschutes River for a weekend in mid October. Okay, so he didn't need to twist my arm much, but I almost didn't go due to a tedious project at work and a near miss on buying a house. Fortunately everything fell into place and Jim wasn't taking no for an answer.
Jim with a beautiful Deschutes River hatchery steelhead.
      We left Friday afternoon and set up camp in time to get a couple hours on the river. The sun was bright and the temperature was perfect for a long sleeve shirt and fleece pullover. I brought the 5 weight switch, 7 weight spey and the 5 weight single handed rod expecting to spend most of my time with the switch. I was also excited to fish my 1930s Pflueger 1496 reel with the round line guard.
       I stepped into the water in the middle of a great run, threw a short cast and started working the water. With each cast, I worked out to the sweet water and was tossing 70 feet before I started the steelhead shuffle through the run. My casting skills sucked but I was still tossing the fly with decent distance and enjoying the occasional tug that defines a good cast with the Skagit head. One of the ugly casts was rewarded with a solid tug on the line as a steelhead slammed my size 4 freight train fly. The rod danced and I yelled with joy. Within seconds the line went limp, the rod went flying and I had touched a water unicorn. On the next cast the countdown began as I started on another 10,000 cast count to the next steelhead. 
     I cast until dark. Woke up the next morning and cast all day until dark only touching a fish, a small trout, when I switched to the single handed rod. I think I reached 10,000 the next morning. I was fishing a run Jim and I had fished the previous morning while Jim fished a short run below. He started yelling "fish on" and I reeled up and quickly walked down to the lower run. When I found him, he was leaning over a beautiful hatchery steelhead that was destined for the dinner table.
         After taking a couple photos, I returned to my run. I finished a swing and took a step down. I secured my footing, lifted the rod and the line went tight. It was fish on. The steelhead started swimming upstream and I kept pressure while reeling in the line. I turned my head cam on and started capturing footage as the fish swam towards the middle of the river. I felt a solid head shake and the line went limp. Another fish lost. I stripped the line in, took a step and cast the line. Only 9,999 more to go. 

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