20 lb Steelhead

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

  1. thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

    Posts: 263
    Bend, Oregon
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Hey Salmo G,
    When you had those 20+ plus pounders on and they didn't fight why didn't you just break them off? If they were so inactive and unthrilling why bother? See, even you wanted to land those fish because they don't come around every day.If you can get a big fish like that in fast, all the better for a quick release. Kerry S said it well,he's been fishing along time and in big fish water and they are scarce.I want to feel it because it is a goal of mine. We need goals in life. I want to catch a 20 pounder because I have been fishing for a long time and just want to see one. Is that so wrong? It's like why do people climb Everest. To push the limits of your equipment,yourself and your sport.

    I also agree with the previous post by Greyghost that the hottest fish I have ever caught were 12-14 lb hens that just went ballistic. Those are indeed fun and I could catch a thousand of those it wouldn't be enough. This thread was not about the hottest fish swimming just the biggest. I will keep searching for a hog even if maybe it doesn't rip like a mid teens hen. but then again maybe it will!


    Still looking

    Mark
  2. Will Atlas Guest

    Posts: 0
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    ok, this is going to seem a bit of a tangent, but Tallfly referred to someone named Clay Sharp with a bit of sarcastic disdain (if my web sarcasm senses are accurate). I saw he wrote a book with a bit of a goofy name like 'magical fishing for majestic steelhead' or seomthing like that, but other than that I know nothing. I also recall there may or maynot have been a member on this board called "sharp steelie" but when I looked at the member list I couldnt find him. Whats the deal?
    Will
  3. inland Active Member

    Posts: 592
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    Unlike Salmo my top 10 (or so) hottest fish all measured out between 36" and 39"+. Even though plenty of the low teens hens have been awesome they have paled in comparison to these larger fish. Of all the big fish only a handful in that size class have been dogs- every large fish from the Skeena has been a dog and only a few from the lower 48.

    William
  4. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,792
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +643 / 0
    My experience with the largest of the steelhead is that their "fight" has been much like that of most steelhead I have caught. Some are hot and some are dogs and most are somewhere in-between with the determinng factor often being the conditions under which the fish was caught.

    The most consistently "hot" fish that I have ever caught were those early summer (May and June) hatchery fish that were caught in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet the very same fish caught in later in the summer and fall often left much to be desired. The Deer Creek summers are another great fish though in the last 15 years those from the later part of the run don't perform nearly as well; due to elevated water temperatures?

    One of the very best fighting Skagit wild fish that I have caught was Feb. black and white hen of more than 20#s that came complete with sea-lice and was taken just a few miles above the top of tide water. She was everything one has ever read about "hot" fish and part of incredible day on the river. However later that same year a larger dark male never even made it into the backing which would have required only run of less than 30 feet at the time of hook-up and was easily controlled without any jumps.

    As so often is the case in fishing and especially so with steelhead there is no "iron-clad" rules about the fish and their actions.

    Tight lines
    Curt
  5. thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

    Posts: 263
    Bend, Oregon
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Well said William and Curt!
  6. HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Posts: 2,744
    Bellingham
    Ratings: +103 / 0
    I think most of you missed the best part of Salmo's post:

    I couldn't agree more. :beer2:
  7. Don Freeman Freeman

    Posts: 1,246
    Olympia, WA
    Ratings: +200 / 0
    Yup, got a 20# on the Queets 2 years ago, using a native guide, and three years ago, there was a rash of them in a river between Olympia and Portland that I fish a lot. I caught and saw a number of 20+ chromers, plus a couple of BIG fish the local guys landed. The biggest I've seen there since is around 15#, but obviously, I keep going back. And yes, the big fish are taken nymphing with strike indicators.
  8. Riane Mouse doctor

    Posts: 236
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Wow, these stories are awesome!

    I have been fortunate enough to catch a buck that was about 37x21 in my one year of steelheading, I'm guessing thats about 17#? It was a dog- only once into the backing. I caught a Skykomish hen that was about 34 inches long (maybe 14 pounds)- about gave me a heart-attack and ran off over a hundred yards, and twice more into the backing! I'll take that hen over the buck anyday!
  9. inland Active Member

    Posts: 592
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    Ratings: +45 / 0
    I forgot to add to my post that all but one of the larger fish have been summer runs taken in water temps of 39-55F. The one and only >15# winter run was a buck and while it wasn't 'hot' it was a tiger where I was wishing like crazy it would finally get going to burn some juice so we could call a truce.

    William
  10. Rayne Rivers Member

    Posts: 32
    Somewheres, WA.
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I would have to agree with the "there are more 20 pounders 'caught' than actually exist" line of thought. Have been witness to far too many weight estimations that were waaay off the mark. From what I've seen, most "20 pounders" actually fall into the 14 to 16 pound range. Fly fisherfolk seem to be the worst offenders - but then again, "trouters" that take up steelheading, should probably be expected to "freak" when seeing fish of such proportions.

    Also, some of the "formula's" for weight are quite inaccurate. The most reliable I know of is the one having that "1.33" factor - I believe it is called Sturdy's formula. I was present at a scientific data gathering session - 14 steelhead captured and killed in a gillnet for biological examination, weighing from 11 to 19 pounds, within 6 miles of tidewater, having a body conformation similar to the Kispiox strain of fish. I lengthed and girthed all 14 fish, and then weighed them... the Sturdy formula was within a few ounces on the entire group. Hardly a big enough sample to be called "conclusive", but it does suggest some correlation.

    My experience with fight corresponds with Smalma's. Steelhead larger than 16 pounds have the same characteristics as the ones weighing under that... some fight, some don't. I believe that part of the "myth" of large fish "being dogs" comes from anglers having the realization that they have hooked a "trophy", then subsequently "backing off" on fish fighting pressure in the erroneous belief that this will somehow increase the odds for landing the fish - the fish never get's "concerned for its life" in this situation. Try pressuring those "big ones" for all that you and your equipment are worth and then see how many of the "biggies" are dogs! A "hot" 16+# buck is the excitement of the "favored" hot 8 to 12 pound female increased by several degrees in magnitude... believe me it's friggen scary!
  11. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
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    You guys clearly suck. One of our brothers here posted this gem not long ago

    "I have a line on some coastal rivers and I expect that in the next four or five seasons I'll have a couple double-digit fish landed days. And some of those fish might end up pushing 20 lbs."

    This guys skills is one of the reason I've pretty much stopped fishing. I'm a competitive guy, and since I can't measure up, why do it? You should all join me and hang up your gear too. We can all sign up for a karate class with 10 year olds... Like Kramer! :thumb:

    P.S. No it wasn't SharpSteelie...
  12. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
    .
    Ratings: +3 / 0

    me too, that's why I only catch small ones:eek:
  13. greyghost Member

    Posts: 507
    Coastal Rivers, OR
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    RR,
    I'm interested in the Sturdy formula; what would be the corresponding weight for the fish pictured in my last post, it was measured at 39" X 22". When landed I figured it between 23-25lbs, traditional weight calculator puts it in about 24.
    My hardest fighting fish last year was a football shaped buck of about 12-13lbs that took about 50 yds of backing off my 8 wt spey on the initial run with multiple aerial displays on the way. When I finally tailed the fish three runs downstream I was soaked and sore and neede to sit down for 15 minutes or so to stop shaking.
    My big fish last year fought hard but the fish was too afraid to leave the confines of the deep run it was hooked in and I was able to use a high perch on some bedrock above the fish to gain straight leverage and tire the fish fairly quicky even with 8 lb maxima as my tippet. The only real trouble I had was that the wrist was so wide, it took several tries to grab and actually keep a hold of.

    Pete
  14. bhudda heffe'

    Posts: 1,946
    basement
    Ratings: +109 / 0
    i wish i had something worthy to say, but since i havent actually LANDED a steelhead(ive hooked up with'em)never landed:( they might as well all have been 20 pounders.
    jeffrey
  15. bigtj Member

    Posts: 280
    Victoria, BC
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    My biggest fish last year was 38 by 18 which is about 17 pounds. I caught it in BC. I think that if you want to catch a 20-lb steelhead you might consider spedning some time up there. You will give yourself an opportunity at a fish in the 20-25 pound range, and see some pretty cool country while you're at it.

    My biggest fish ever was from coastal stream in Washington at 40 1/4 by 20 3/8 which if I remember correctly is about 21 pounds. Fish like this don't come around very often, at least in my book. If I don't catch a bigger steelhead in my life I won't be disappointed.

    Have you considered fishing for kings? If big fish are your thing they are the way to go. I've landed kings up to 47 inches long (45 pounds) on a 2-hander and they are a lot of fun. They average about 20 pounds on the rivers I have fished for them. The grab isn't dissimilar from a steelhead. If "size really matters" kings can be the way to go.

    I agree that people over-exaggerate fish size quite a bit. That fish I caught this year to the untrained eye might have been called a 22 or 24 pounder. But heck what does it matter? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The only person who will really know is you. Measure it to the mm or take a W. A. G. at the size at the end of the day it's all about a good time.
  16. thewaker Tight line takes ain't no fakes!!

    Posts: 263
    Bend, Oregon
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Bigtj

    I have done the King thing and have landed fish up into the mid fourties on both spey and single handed gear. It's not just a big fish quest its a big steelhead quest. Also, I have spent a bit of time in BC, just havent gotten a real piggie yet.

    Mark
  17. circlespey Member

    Posts: 244
    Seattle, WA.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    I think the 20 pound mark is interesting but not that relevant given different systems, pressure, etc. They are certainly more prevalent in Skeena country on a couple of systems. On my trips to BC I have been lucky to tie into a couple of such fish but they certainly aren't a dime a dozen.

    I've been lucky to see two very legit twenties on the Sky; one was a fish I landed for a gear guy on the Sky above the mouth of the Wallace that I taped for him at 43 inches. This guy, who I have seen a lot on that part of the Sky, released that fish to fight another day (despite the regs) which made him one of my personal heroes. I am sure similar fish swim on the coastal rivers and Skagit / Sauk but I have not been fortunate enough to see them.

    My gallery here has several pics of some 20 pound fish from the Sustut.

    This is one from last year:
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=17643&cat=500&ppuser=485

    This is the largest fish I have seen / caught to date up there, from a few years ago:
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=228&cat=500&ppuser=485
  18. bigtj Member

    Posts: 280
    Victoria, BC
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Mark,

    "word" on the steelhead quest. Good luck with the 20 pounder.

    -John
  19. otter Banned or Parked

    Posts: 376
    Port Angeles, Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    To all -

    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    That makes your daddy wanna rock
    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    It's the movement it isn't the stock

    Well, I got a girl that's so darn thin
    There ain't much of her but bones and skin
    One thing about her I can understand
    She wraps all around me like a rubber band, baby

    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    That makes your daddy wanna rock
    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    It's the movement it isn't the stock

    Well, I want a girl who's built real fat
    Kenny don't like to see 'em like that
    But I like to see 'em big and tall
    The bigger they come the harder they fall

    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    That makes your daddy wanna rock
    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    It's the movement it isn't the stock

    Well, I want someone who feels like they got to have love
    Love to look at the stars above
    My little baby, I want you to know
    She'll bring me home all of her dough

    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    It ain't the meat, uhm uhm uhm
    It ain't the meat, I say the action
    That makes your daddy wanna rock

    Bring it down one time
    It ain't the meat it's the motion
    It ain't the meat, I say the movement, girl
    It ain't the meat, it's the action
    That makes your daddy wanna rock




    otter
  20. beaverton New Member

    Posts: 56
    E. Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    When I was young I remember my dad catching numerous decent steelhead but none lately. That was probably 15 years ago.