SAD- Steelhead Affective Disorder

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
The wild steelhead season ended Sunday. I put in my 70+ hours on the Skagit and Sauk for the third consecutive year. No fish. In fact, I have never felt a winter winter steelhead on the end of my fly line. This is not a fact that I am proud of. I may have reached a breaking point. I think I have Steelhead Affective Disorder or I've just gone banana whacko.
Here are my symptoms
1. I am not sleeping well. It is 10:30 PM and I am not close to sleeping. This is far from normal.
2. I have been a real jerk to be around. My poor wife.
3. The lawn has never looked better. Since I now hate most everyone, yard work has become apealling. My father always said you could always tell the good fisherman because there lawn wasn't mowed. Mine looks great, edged and everything.
4. I just feel terrible. It's the same feeling I felt when Aaron Boone homered in game 7 off Wakefield. The difference is, it is constant. This ache in the top of the stomach. You know, like the game is over, you've lost and you can't go back in time and tell Grady Little to get Pedro out of the game.
5. I constantly think of what I could have done differently. Maybe I should have used darker fly's. I should have fished longer days. I should have car fished more. Why didn't I fish this run or that run. If I had told Francis I wanted to fish that run first, where he caught one right in front of me. For the love of God, please stop these voices!!!!! The dog had better not bark at nothing tonight, if I get to sleep. I will punt that little :mad: ........ Settle down Chuckie!

I am at my wits end:confused: . Aaaaaaaarrrgh :mad: ,the voices won't seem to stop. Sometimes I find myself thinking of nymphing with an indicator or plugging. But then I realize that that is like losing your virginity to a prostitute.
I need a little advise. Ordinarily, I would not ask this group for advise since all I'd be told is to buy a gazetteer and know the regulations, but I am sure that someone out there has been through this. My dog's life may depend on it. Thank You in advance.
Beckett V. Halliday 4:00 PM,
Well besides this post being insanely funny, well to me at least. My only advice to you is that in the steelhead fly-fishing book by Trey Combs there is a reference about a guy who now guides the Sauk and Skagit, but got skunked the first two years he fished those rivers. I fished it for the first time this year and was LUCKY, I tied into one on my fourth trip, but I have gotten skunked on plenty of other rivers this winter. Don't give up those Sauk fish are worth every hour. Maybe you should make some trips by yourself next winter, so you dont end up hating your friends who seem to catch all of the fish, but then you wont have a picture of you with the fish. For me I can get a little bored with 8 hour days and no fish, so I brong my ipod and put one headphone in and turn it on low, I know that the outdoors are supposed to be an escape but it helps me to not become bored. I put it in just one ear so that I can still hear what is going on around me. For me I also just enjoy bombing a long cast and the satisfaction I get from a perfect swing. As far as the Sauk itself goes, I have only jsut caught my first fish there a week ago so I am by no means an expert, but the fish I picked up was in softer water than I have ever caught steelhead in. It was around 7pm, so there was shade on the water. In my five trips up there I have never seen anyone fish the water that I caught a fish out of. The drift boats always come down and fish the far side and I have never seen a bank fisherman there. Just think it is only a month and a half before you can start all over with the summer runs. P.S. the fly I used was all black, I hear black is the "go-to" color on the Sauk.

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
Wow...steelheading is a different game on the west side i guess. I dont wanna make you feel bad but i think we have more steelhead around here. I can't remeber the last time i was skunked. I think i am sharp steelies reincarnation as a fish god put on this planet to convert steelhead.
Oh, I have a story for you, this winter I drove over to the OP to a little river to fish, I got a speeding ticket on the way over, missed the only bite I had all day, and at the end of the day I was picking up litter at a boat launch and put my rod on top of the car then I proceeded to forget about my rod and drive down the road. I HEARD the rod hit the pavement. My Abel reel isn't so pretty anymore and thank god for Sage's guarantee for clumsy and stupid people. That was a pretty bad day for me. If you ever want to head out to the river next winter PM me, I will even let you go through the holes first.

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
Thanks guys, I'm not looking for charity, although I'd take it. I need a cure. I feel like my girlfriend broke up with me, but I can't use the cure for that. The Sox better win tommorow or I may go Postal.
Got Beckett,
As soon as you figure out that fly fishing for steelhead is 100% half mental, you will get one.

FYI, Summer steelhead are easier to catch:)


Ignored Member
If I were you I would just give it up. No sense in beating yourself up over some stupid fish. Quit. Don't fish for steelhead anymore. Stick to planter trout. They are much easier to catch and closer to home. Think of the gas money you will save. Steelhead are a myth anyway. They don't really exist. They were created by guides and tackle shops so they can take more of your money. Sell off your steelhead equipment or better yet give it away to someone you don't like. Think of it. You would setting them up for all of the same frustrations you have been experiencing. You could be getting back at someone you don't like and they will think you are the nicest guy around for giving them all that neat fly fishing gear. What irony.


Piscatorial predilection

There is no cure, no twelve step plan, no patch, no magic pill, hypnosis will not work....NOTHING!

You will just have to live with it, oh sure there may be the salve that brings relief, RB trout, summer runs, SRC, Dolly's and such but that is only temporary, a remission if you will.

But beyond that there is no hope, the only thing you can do now is to keep applying the metaphorical salve as often as possible, until the next flair-up.


Oh!, and keep comming to the SAD meetings here at WFF. "Hi my names papafsh, and I'm a winter steel-a-holic"

Rob Zelk

I swing, therefore i am.
Its funny because I know of 2 fly guides who didn't get a fish to hand themselves, now i guess their clients caught some fish, but still, if i was a guide and didn't get a chance to hook up I would be wondering why i'm doing this. Then there's this other fly guide who says hes had over 100 fish to shore, I know he's bogus, because I've seen how he lets his clients fish, wading up to their chest and flooging the water casting way over the seam with traditional style stuff. Then he tells me he caught 2 fish out of this same run the night night before(I was waiting for them to fish through), when me and a friend were fishing that same run the night before, and nobody else was there. Hell, if anyone has caught 100 fish this year its John Conag(spelling?) he may be the best gear guide on the river and he may possilbly be up around that mark. One thing is the pressure on the river this year was crazy! Magazines don't help. I've only got a hand full of steel this season from the skagit/sauk, and I put in mucho hours. But Salmosalar, it dosen't matter what fly, bright or dark, but if i could choose one, it would be darker. It dosen't matter also who just fished a run, anyone can catch a fish behind anyone, it dosen't matter if your Ed Ward, it still happens to the best of 'em. Also my friend's giant fish he almost landed this year(read paragraph below) was hooked after 8 people had been through the run, including ourselves! Crazy huh.

Zen- Yeah, you folks are lucky for having more steelhead over there. But when with those steelhead, traveling so far, have you had a screamer that went all the way across the river cartwheeling, then scream 100 yards down river? The steel over here are a bit bigger(besides the clearwater fish) but also are fresher/brighter. Every steelhead I've caught this year over here has been over 12 pounds except for one 9 pounder. Weekend before last we had a fish up to the beach that was a about 3 or 4 inches bigger than fish in my gallery that was taped at 39.6! It was probably in the upper 20lb range, and with a girth like a football maybe, possibly, dare i say 30, definately a fish of a lifetime. But I do love those rivers over east, can't say i'm not a bit envious, you guys do catch way more over there, bastards ;)
Got lots of trips in this year. Finall tally:
- one spawned out hen
- several hookups of my hand and back (spey rod)
- one broken spey rod (weighted fly + high velocity + cast into the tip = breakage)

At least I only went swimming twice.

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
Zen Piscator said:
Wow...steelheading is a different game on the west side i guess. I dont wanna make you feel bad but i think we have more steelhead around here. I can't remeber the last time i was skunked. I think i am sharp steelies reincarnation as a fish god put on this planet to convert steelhead.

Yeah, but you and Ibn are just snagging nymphers....


BTW, just kidding, I ended up pulling plugs and tossing jigs the last time I went out! :)


James Mello said:
Yeah, but you and Ibn are just snagging nymphers....
Hey now, don't put me in the eastside steelhead category to. Those fish are more trout then steelhead, if that makes any sense.

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
Well ibn, im not the one using treble hooked copper johns now...

True dat, I did have some encounters with larger steelhead this fall in the ronde. I was spooled and broken off at the backing knot but a steelie that look to be in the high teens. I landed a couple in the mid/lower teens and one maybe 16-17lb fish with a very different body shape than the ronde fish that had to be a stray from the salmon river. Even though it was fall and these fish were in great shape, its nothing like what you guys have. I am making trips to the OP and BC hopefully next year to catch some real fish. This later season stuff is more like fishing for big trout, although I finally landed a very large fish out of a little tributary in late late march and the fight was extremly impressive, most fish are landed in about 5 minutes and don't get close to your baking, although many will give at least one good jump.

Every time i see you toss a pick up i get jealous, i cannot imagine the fight one of those fish gives.