SFR: Snow, Steelhead, and Amanita


It's been at least a year since I've had a really good day steelheading. I was fortunate to get out on Sunday and hit the full force of the incoming hatchery winter run.

I left Seattle around 5am and pulled up to my favorite small Olympic Peninsula river at around 8:30. This river isn't swinging water, it's a tributary river with smatterings of deep holes and pockety tailouts. I left the 2hander at home and busted out the centerpin. For those that don't know what a 'pin rod is, it's ~13' long and uses a completely free-spooled reel. I think it's as difficult, if not more difficult then a fly rod to cast. Definitely an art-form, just different.

Back to the story... I walked down to the first run and as I was crossing the river I tossed my line into the head of the pool. As I was finishing crossing and dragging my nymphing gear across the stream I felt a little resistance. I gave a little jerk thinking I was hungup, felt a headshake then saw a chromer take a flying leap and spit my gear. Good start!

The next 2 hours the snow started coming down in sheets, and the fish decided to bite. At one point I was starting to get a little vertigo as I was watching my indicator, the current of the river, and the falling flakes, everything moving in different directions. The temp kept dropping and the snow kept coming, but despite the cold the fishing was hot. We hooked around a dozen fish and landed around half of them. All chrome bright, and ranging from 3-6lbs.

Around lunchtime the fishing slowed down a bit, so we decided to hike up stream. We made it about a half mile or so before the fishing picked back up. This time we found some bigger double digit fish hiding under a downed root-wad, the largest being a nice 12-13lb hatchery hen. You had to make a perfect cast, and hooking a fish was no guarantee of landing it on account of the roots and branches. We lucked out and pulled several more fish out while only loosing 2.

As we were making our way back downstream, all smiles, my fishing buddy spotted a patch of Amanita mushrooms overhanging the river edge. For those who have never heard of an Amanita (Fly Agaric), it's a mushroom with a long and worldy cultural history. The mushroom itself is rumored to cause an intense reaction that some claim makes you feel as if you're flying, it will also make a man violently ill if consumed, even kill. To get around this many nomadic tribes from Russia and Scandinavia used to feed them to their Reindeer herds then imbibe the urine from the animal. Regardless of the history, they make for some cool photos! (and no, I didn't pick them, or try and get any local elk to eat them so I could drink their urine)

The snow and ice on the road made for a long and slow drive home, but it was worth an excellent day of fishing and finally finding some mushrooms I've read so much about.
One of the best reports of the year. Thanks for helping me get the stoke going while unable to fish. Very cool find on the mushrooms as well. this is the mushroom that has been claimed to give birth to the xmas tree

wikipedia said:
The Koryak of eastern Siberia have a story about the fly agaric (wapaq) which enabled Big Raven to carry a whale to its home. In the story, the deity Vahiyinin ("Existence") spat onto earth, and his spittle became the wapaq, and his saliva becomes the warts. After experiencing the power of the wapaq, Raven was so exhilarated that he told it to grow forever on earth so his children, the people, can learn from it.[93] Among the Koryak, one report held the poor would consume the urine of the wealthy, who could afford to buy the mushrooms.
Diggin that 3rd picture (op3) alot. waste deep(as it appears on camera), snow, chrome fish, and a great pose.
Beautiful photos and good story. I wish I was there!!!!! Oh how I love Winter Steelheading! I have yet to experience left coast Steelhead, as all of mine was done on the Great Lakes, until I moved West. There are not many things that are better than colder temps, overcast, falling snow, clear water and fish moving! One of my best days, the harder and worse it snowed, the better the fish bit! I can not wait to ply the Steelhead waters of the West!

Made me jealous with this thread!

I have never been to the Oly Pen, nor caught a steely, this report makes me wish I had done both. The image of watching the snow fall, the indicator bouncing, the current, hooking fish....very cool.
Great report.