20 lb Steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by thewaker, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. thewaker

    thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Messages:
    263
    Media:
    26
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    How many legitimate 20+lb steelhead has anyone caught lately, as in the last 3-4 years? In this day and age,with wild runs depleting, mismanaged rivers going to heck,and other environmental and oceanic issues, it seems to be a harder and harder goal to achieve. I know they are out there, in places like the Oly Pen, Skagit, Sauk, Clearwater, and of course BC. Oregon and California coastal rivers have them also. I'm just wondering, what other peoples experiences are with hooking and landing truly large steelies on the fly. I have gotten close one time with a fish that was 37X20,a little over 19lbs acording to the formula. That's after 23 years of chasing the son of a guns. I know there is a 20 out there swimming somewhere and I need to feel it!

    Please do tell me some stories!

    Mark
     
  2. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,350
    Media:
    45
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Toledo, Wa. on the banks of the Cowlitz
    Home Page:
    I got this fish in 2005 - I did not tape it but 3 of us estimated it to to be approx. 40 inches. I would guess it weighed in the low twenties. This is my biggest fish to date. It was caught and released on an OP river. The fish took a #4 orange G.P. spey on the swing.

    In 2004, I guided a gentleman who hooked another fish that was at least this size but we never did land it. The fish jumped at least 6 times about 3 feet in the air or better and took my Tibor for a spin. It was one of those fish that was uncontrollable and in the end, the fish wrapped the fly line around a log and broke the fly line.

    Here in Washington, there are fish caught over 20 lbs. every year and there are fish in the 30lb class caught in nets. 20 lb. fish are fairly common in B.C., I have some friends that may catch 2-3 in that weight class during any given trip.

    During the winter/spring of 2006, I didn't see any fish over 14 lbs. or so with the average at about 7 lbs.. Not sure why they were so small last year for me. I saw a number of fish caught by guys backtrolling plugs that were in the upper 'teens during that '05 season.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    6,585
    Likes Received:
    594
    Location:
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
    Not I. And I have no friends who have. At least not in the last 10 plus years....do they really exist? Silvers...well yes
     
  4. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Messages:
    6,585
    Likes Received:
    594
    Location:
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
    Not I. And I have no friends who have. At least not in the last 10 plus years....do they really exist? Silvers...well yes
     
  5. Kevin J. Burnham

    Kevin J. Burnham Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Messages:
    2,153
    Media:
    908
    Likes Received:
    148
    Location:
    Auburn,Wa.
    I have not come close. My late fishing partner got one that was 21 on a trip to Alaska in 97 Which was the biggest I've seen.
     
  6. Longs for Cutts

    Longs for Cutts Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2004
    Messages:
    337
    Media:
    25
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Gardiner, MT (formerly Bellingham)
    My buddy got one in the spring of 05. The river? He'd kill me if I mentioned it...
     
  7. Panhandle

    Panhandle Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Messages:
    4,103
    Media:
    50
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Selkirk Mountains, Idaho Panhandle
    I'm stuck on 15 lbs. Someday.....:beer1:
     
  8. thewaker

    thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Messages:
    263
    Media:
    26
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Steve,
    Nice fish! I have read a lot of your posts and seen pictures of a lot of your fish in the gallery. You are probably a real good measure of what an experienced guide/angler can do in big fish water. You catch big fish and from what I can tell, a fair number of them too.My point is, being a guide,you spend as much time in big fish water as anyone probably and until 2005 had not landed a 40 inch fish. I'm not knockin it just trying to prove the point that on a fly in the States, they are harder to hook and more importantly land, than some people would lead you to believe.

    Once again thats a huge fish and I'm extremely jealous!

    Mark
     
  9. greyghost

    greyghost Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    Messages:
    507
    Media:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Coastal Rivers, OR
    I got a 37.5" X 19" (maybe a shade under on the calculator, but I call it 20 since I held it) in February '05, and a 39" X 22" in March '06. Both of these fish were thick bucks caught nymphing. My best fish swinging have been in the 13-16lb class, I apparently can't get the big dogs to move far for a fly, maybe this year????????

    Pete

    BTW Steve that is a beautiful fish.
     
  10. Lostinwater

    Lostinwater New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    Messages:
    104
    Media:
    89
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, USA.
    Whatever Pete, I look at the picture of the 39x22 everyday that I'm at the shop.
    I still think those are modest measurements. What's 07 have in store?
    For me, I only catch small steelhead, even in the winter. This year will be different...20 pounder, can't even imagine.
     
  11. Ryan Nathe

    Ryan Nathe Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Messages:
    836
    Media:
    64
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Closest I have ever gotten was on the Sauk and it was mid teens, I cant imagine a 20+lb steelhead in a river like the Sauk with a single hander and with big heavy flows.... heaven....
     
  12. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Messages:
    1,701
    Likes Received:
    342
    Location:
    Arlington
    I rarely fish winter runs with a fly anymore. My biggest steelhead on a fly is under 10lbs. I've landed a couple of 17's on gear and lost one last spring that may have been over 20.
     
  13. HogWrangler

    HogWrangler Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2006
    Messages:
    333
    Media:
    166
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Stanwood WA
    to steve buckner, DAMN!!!!! What an amazing beast that fish was. Beautiful.
     
  14. djzaro

    djzaro New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Messages:
    218
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    gone, bs
    I watched a guy with mcq land a 19 pounder native on the sky last summer. Good pic on his site. Other than that, never.
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    2,973
    Likes Received:
    917
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Thewaker -
    Based on the angler reports I have been seeing from the north Puget Sound region there has been an explosion in the last 10 or 15 years in the number of 20# steelhead being caught (nearly all released). It seems that 20 pounders are as common today as fish in the upper teens were 20 years ago.

    I agree that some rivers are more likely to produce those exceptionally large fish; examples being the Skagit/Sauk and some OP waters. It also has been my observation that the truly exceptional fish are more abundant some years than others. Perhaps the single most exceptional year in my angling career was 1983 - which accounted for nearly 1/2 of the 20# plus fish that I have personally caught.

    In the last decade I have fished the Skagit system quite a bit (almost exclusively with a single hand fly rod) and as a result have lucky to hook a few steelhead. In the period have brought several to hand that would easily exceed 20 pounds.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  16. doublespey

    doublespey Steelhead-a-holic

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2003
    Messages:
    616
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Bothell, WA
    Hmmm - i get a kick out of the obsession with 20lbers. I've been very lucky and caught two that were in that range. Both were summer steelhead caught with two-handed rods on big desert rivers. One was a wild 38" buck that redefined for me what a steelhead could do. 3 runs deep into the backing, multiple cartwheeling leaps, and even a funny moment where the gear guys 300' away on the other side of the river were asking each other who'd hooked it. I'm still in awe of that fish - the adrenaline overload was unreal.

    The second was 40" hatchery fish of substantial girth. It was hooked on a cold November day with snow on the banks and the water temp in the upper 30s. It was a slow, wallowing battle between me trying to get it to shore and it attempting to go find a rock to hide behind. In between it rolled around and swam in slow motion like a grudgingly compliant dog that hasn't yet been trained to heel.

    The first was sheer ecstacy. The second was all downhill after the excitement of the take. Yes, it was the largest steelhead I've ever landed. But there's a lot more to Steelhead than just size.

    My 02,

    Brian
     
  17. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    2,805
    Media:
    8
    Likes Received:
    85
    Location:
    Tacoma
    Biggest fish to date for me is a 17lb hen caught on gear. I've caught one fish around 11lb on the fly. Now I've seen lots (maybe a six or so) legitimate 20lb fish in the last 5 years. All of them were gear caught on the Sol Duc, and all of them were kept. It seems to me that fishing specific watersheds are what give you the best odds of catching big fish...
     
  18. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    just look at bob ball's website...nets dont help but the fish are there. it also depends how/when you fish. Some peoples angling effort is concentrated during hatchery season, which significantly lowers your odds. Also larger fish tend to displace smaller in the deeper parts of runs and some angling approaches are less sucessful at reaching those places.
     
  19. rudejude

    rudejude Banned or Parked

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2006
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    everett
    I caught a 23# native last winter,on the Snohomish,well according to the length and girth, but I was using gear, I think that the big ones don't take fly's as much as bottom bait such as shrimp, and eggs, that is why I love that river so much, whether you fish the Sky or the Snoqualmie, they all have to pass by me first, that is why I am getting into flyfishing, I have never caught a steelhead I could keep, the hatchery fish don't like mebawling:
     
  20. PT

    PT Physhicist

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2003
    Messages:
    3,644
    Likes Received:
    781
    Location:
    Edmonds, WA
    I've caught a few that taped between 39.5" and 41". All of them I estimatated to be 20 plus. They had big shoulders and were taken from rivers known to have the plump gene in them. I've also just slipped the hook out of the mouths of a couple that I know were just as big.

    My experience with the largest fish I've landed was much like doublespey's. The fish was caught on a real cold day and was probably close to 23 or 24#. It did nothing but hold about 20 feet out from shore and when I realized it wasn't going to do anything I just clamped down on my reel and started walking backward. I just pulled it up in the shallows, it layed on it side so I grabbed the hook and pulled it out of the fishes mouth. All over in probably 3 or 4 minutes. The only thing exciting about that fish was the take and it's size.

    About 3 weeks later my buddy caught what appeared to be the same fish. It looked identical to the one I landed but had some color to it rather than the chromer I'd caught.
     

Share This Page