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First and last chance Chetco steelhead

lunkers had the first shot last Wednesday at catching steelhead on the Chetco. Unfortunately it was also their last shot as heavy rains quickly raised the river the next day. By Friday morning it rose to 28,000 cfs and was still on-the-rise. With heavy wind and rain storms in the forecast it’s hard to say whether or not the Chetco will fish next week.

When it does settle down, folks who will be plunking between 5,000 and 6,000 cfs will get the first crack at catching fresh winter steelhead that will be heading up the river.

But rivers aren’t the only things that are rising these days. The price of angling licenses and tags has suddenly skyrocketed.

 James Hall of Brookings standing next to his homemade rod holder shows off a steelhead he caught on Wednesday while plunking a Spin-N-Glo at Social Security Bar on the Chetco River.
James Hall of Brookings standing next to his homemade rod holder shows off a steelhead he caught on Wednesday while plunking a Spin-N-Glo at Social Security Bar on the Chetco River.

A 2016 resident angling license will now set you back $38.00, and the cost of an Adult Combined Angling Tag is $35.00. So if you want to catch a steelhead one week from this Friday on New Year’s Day, you’re going to have to shell out at least 73 bucks to do it.

Add the price of a Hatchery Salmon/Steelhead Harvest Card, which is now $25.00 and the grand total is now $98.00. Not that I’m complaining, but that’s only two bucks away from a C-note. I never thought I’d see the day.

But on a merrier note – an old poem revisited.

‘Twas the Bite before Christmas
By Larry Ellis

‘Twas the bite before Christmas, when all through the riffle,
not a fisher was sneezing, not even a sniffle.

The cows were all mooing, so we practiced some farm-calls,
in hopes that some chromers would gobble our yarn-balls.

The steelies were nestled all snug in their redds,
while visions of Spin-N-Glos danced in their heads.

With roe in their egg-loops, and rods safe in their snaps
we all settled in for our pre-hook-up naps.

When out on the surface there arose such a clatter,
I woke from my slumber, to see what was the matter.

Away from my pickup I flew like a plover,
picked up my G-Loomis, which was doubled over.

The light of the sun, which arose o'er the dale,
gave the luster of chrome to each shimmering scale.

When, what to my favorite river of lunkers,
with clubs in their hands, came eight helpful plunkers.

Such furious thrashing, robust from the get-go,
I knew that this trophy had come from the Chetco.

More rapid than eagles, my coursers they came,
and I hooted and hollered and called them by name:

"Now Martin! Now Mansur!
Now, Ramsey and Mitts!

On, Shurtleff! On Welter!
On, Loring and Pitts!

From the top of my lungs!
Should I happen to fall, I yelled!

Bonk away! Bonk away!
Bonk away all!"

My coursers forewarned me, that my goose was cooked,
they wondered if this one was truly fair-hooked.

When up toward the skyline the metalhead flew,
with my sinker in sight, and the Spin-N-Glo too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard with a crash
the leaping and falling of each separate splash.

As it drew in its head, and it turned from the south,
I could clearly see this one was hooked in the mouth.

I imagined him mounted from his head to his tail,
in a cabinet varnished from rail to rail.

A placard inscribed with my name well preserved,
would let everyone know, it was duly deserved.

His eyes--how they twinkled! His cheeks--like chianti!
And he had a hooked-nose, just like Jimmy Durante!

His small little kype was drawn up like a bow,
and the gums on his chin were as white as the snow.

The shank of the hook he held tight in his teeth,
and my line had encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a big, fat round belly,
that shook when he jumped, like a jar full of Smelly-Jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old buck,
then I mocked him, and called him a conquered old schmuck.

But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had something to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
the magnificent chromer had just gone berserk.

When twisting his head in the rocks with his nose,
not an angler could help me, not even Bob Rose.

He sprang to the air, a most ominous sign,
then my line parted ways; this prize wasn't mine.

But I heard him exclaim, as he leaped toward Seattle,
"You might catch me next year, but thanks for the battle!"

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon.

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