The legend of scuba Steve
The following is all true some of it is memory and other parts come from what I was told after it happened.
In 2008 we were on our 5th trip to the Salmon River in New York to fish for steelhead. We go up the first week in November this way we avoid the salmon season crowds and the cold weather that can blow in later in November. It also seems to be a good time for the steelhead and large browns that swim up the river to feed on salmon eggs and then spawn at their designated times. This year was about like most first day was a rush to get there and get on the water and figure out what they were on. That first day I took a couple of nice browns in the 8 pound range and hooked and missed a couple of steelhead on was in the net but decided to tail walk back out of it. The next three days were about the same with a few more browns of good size and some steelhead landed. As a group we were all having a good trip with many of the guys getting there first steelhead or landing a personal best.
Saturday dawned gray and cool unlike the previous days that were fairly warm for that time of year. When we got to the lower fly zone in Altimar we were the first one there so we had our pick of spots. I chose the same place I had ended the day before and waited for first light. I had been fishing for about 30 minutes when Jt yells fish on and promptly lands a beautiful double digit steelhead. Then Jeff hooks up and beaks off. I flipped my fly back up into the seam in the heavy current and it stopped about 8 feet down the drift I lifted and the drag starts screaming. After about a 10 minute fight I landed a nice 6 or 7 pound steelhead. The rest of the morning went about the same with the whole group taking turns hooking up. About noon the fish seemed to go off the bite. We ate lunch right in the parking lot and were fast back on the water. About 1:30 a good rain shower came thru and actually dropped the air temps down another 5 or 8 degrees. I hooked up with two more decent steelhead and landed both of them. I decided to take a break as my rod hand was cramping up with arthritis I made one more cast in the seam and damn if I don’t hook up right away. This was a much larger fish and a male that jumped about 4 feet out of the water then proceeded to run about 50 or 60 yards downstream. At this point for some reason the fish decided to make a 180 degree turn and head directly back up stream. At this point my rod hand is screaming from a cramp and my ring and pinky finger have locked up and will not move. I tried to reel as fast as I could to gain back the line that was out about the time I got back about 40 or 50 feet of the belly the fish decides to jump , now it is directly across from me I the river and hanging about 6 feet out of the water so I reach out and drop the rod tip. Well the fish jumping and pressure on the rod exerted by the belly in my line pull the rod right out of my hand. The next several minutes all happened in slow motion and that is how I will forever remember them. The rod and reel (worth about $800 and only months old) is lying in the river a foot away from me in about 4 inches of water. The fish runs some more, with the reel handle toward the bottom the reel starts to creep out a bit. I stepped forward to put my foot on it and the rod jerks forward about a foot and even deeper. So I kneel down to reach for the rod, just as I am about to touch it the rod jerks another foot out and into the current. At this point it is starting to float down stream. I said to my hell go for it so I dove arms first and grabbed the handle, at this point I relies I am now floating down stream as well. I tried to keep the rod up and pressure on the fish as I floated, but it was hard with head going under ever so often. After floating about 50 feet down stream I saw and arm and grabbed onto it. It was my buddy Steve and he pulled me to shallow water and onto my knees. At this point I felt a tugging on the rod and thought someone was grabbing the tip, but someone yelled the fish is still on. As I was getting to my feet on of our group reached over and grabbed the rod just as the steelhead jumped again, pop the tippet broke. I was angry I lost the fish but also thankful that my little dive had turned out ok. Amazingly with my wading belt tight and my wading jacket cinched up at the waist the only thing that had gotten wet was my arms and head. I had even kept my glasses on. As I stood leaning on the bank a guy who was on the other side of the river came across the bridge and shook my hand saying” that was the coolest thing I have ever seen” one of our group, I think Billy yelled yep that is scuba Steve.