Steelhead in the Surf

[Surf Caught Steelhead]After fishing a couple of seasons with Jose Silva I’ve learned quite a few things. Aside from new angles on holding water, fish behavior, tidal influence, and an ancient recipe used by the Peruvians to prepare a fine carp for the dinner table, the one thing that’s been drilled home time and time again, through experience, is this: Out-fishing the guy is simply impossible.

Our last 2 trips out together had left us driving home with MY side of the truck encompassed in an unsavory odor, suspiciously resembling that of a certain small mammal (black with a white stripe down the back).

[fly fishing surf perch]

But this was a new morning and a new beach… and finally, a barred little beauty to hand… make that MY hand!

Fully aware of the fact that these “high-rod” honors would be short lived I pulled out the camera and shouted “Hey Jose”!

[barred surfperch]

At the edge of the next hole I got into another, and he was even bigger!

[Amphistichus argenteus Agassiz)]

This is when I made the mistake of taking note to myself, “Doug: 2 , Jose: zilch”, and then, as if on cue, while I was looking down attempting to compose the picture I hear Jose yelp, “Hey Doug-a-roo”!

[Amphistichus argenteus Agassiz) fly fishing, barred surf perch]

I look up to see Jose’s 6 weight buckled over, with line headed for the horizon, straight through a set of oncoming surf bores!

[Fly Fishing the California surf]

I excitedly yelled back to him in question, “Striper”?

And over the crusty complaint of a corroded surf perch reel I thought I’d heard him reply back something that sounded a lot like ‘STEELHEAD”!

[Fishing Northern California surf]

“Whatever”, I remember thinking, dismissing my inability to decipher his, “bla bla bla”, over the noisy surf and that skin-crawling grinding sound of that poor sand embedded fly reel.

[Half Moon Bay Beach fishing]

Then I saw it jump! It didn’t just jump, it cart-wheeled through the surf! Stripers definitely don’t jump, and they surely do not cartwheel!

A few minutes later, and sure enough, Jose was posing with an 8 -10 pound steelhead, caught from the beach, on a fly rod!

[Jose Silva, Fly Caught Steelhead from the Surf]

The rest of the morning was a bit of a blur as far as I’m concerned. We continued fishing, and even caught a few more perch, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Instead, all I could do was check my cell phone every minute or two to see if I had enough “bars” to squeeze out a text msg.

[Jose Silva Surf Perch, Northern California]

Over celebration Ribeyes off the BBQ that night (washed down with a cold corona, or possibly two) I finally broke, “Hey Jose, who holds a wild steelhead by its gill-plate anyway”?