Jeremiah is the first one in. At the first possible place he slides down the bank, makes a cast, and instantly hooks up. He's ecstatic. He's fishing a big soft bait and the little smallie strips the hook. He's incredulous.
The battle is on. He hooks another and almost gets it in his hand before another soft bait is gone. This happens a third time.
He carefully knots on a shiny pink spoon with a nasty treble hook and settles in for the long haul. I move up the bank, slide down into the water and pick my way across the river for the first time this summer.
There is much to investigate and explore. Where are the deep runs, the potholes, the secret haunts of big fish? I work my way downstream. I want to swing the big black woolly bugger along the far bank, but the water gets deep and fast way too soon. Not only that, but the bottom is sand that washes away from underfoot. I can't get close enough to reach the bank. I move on down.
Right across from Jeremiah the current bends in, forming a deep trough. I can get close enough to work it. I get some bumps, and then hook up. Make a note: could be a steelhead or two would find this place to their liking.
Meanwhile, Jeremiah has been hard at it and having success. He catches one and points out that we're tied. Then he catches another and makes sure I know that he's ahead in the fish count. I love how much he loves this.
I move on down the length of the island. With the lower water of fall the whole bank on our side should be reachable.
I go back upstream along the island. The bugs are hatching thickly over a little channel that runs along its bank.
I go on to the upstream end of the island and cross over to see what the river channel behind the island looks like. It's fast now, but there's a nice run all along the far bank. And it's easily accessible.
I fish it for a ways without any results, but it looks better and better to me. It would be much easier to fish than the big channel, and logical holding water for steelhead--if they decide to cut around the back of the island on their journey upstream. I'll find out.
I'm tempted to keep going, but I'm out of sight of Jeremiah, so I break off and cross back over the island. I'll save the rest to explore when I'm out on my own, or when Jeremiah decides to cross the river with me.
I cross back over. I think I'm taking the same route as before but I find some deeper water than I remember. I still need to find that perfect line.
Jeremiah is still fishing his run, but he's tired and hungry and ready to go. It's easier for him to leave knowing that his two fish beat my one fish.
So another summer day winds down. We feel that we made the most of it. Sometimes when you wade into a river in summer it feels like you're wading right into summer itself. That's a feeling that can last a lifetime. And that's a gift that I'm so happy to be able to give.