First steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Salvelinus, Jul 3, 2005.

  1. Salvelinus Member

    Posts: 181
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    Well, I finally made a comittment to catch a steelhead and on my third trip of the year and first trip to the Kalama I scored. I had hooked one three years earlier which tore me apart on trout tackle on the Sky and then got off. Since then, strangely considering that I hooked a steelhead on my first day, almost my first cast, I have neglected steelhead and focused on trout. Around 2:30 on Thursday, at the end of my swing, with the fly hanging in a current seam, I felt a bump which seemed significantly larger than the smolt strikes I had been having all day. I set the hook and my rod stopped, then started bucking as a fish cartwheeled at the surface, showing a flash of silver. After a spirited, but not explosive fight, which took me about a hundred feet downstream, I landed the hatchery fish, which I estimated at around 7 or 8 pounds. I was exhilarated- this fish more than made up for the behemoth trout I had lost at Rocky Ford a few days earlier. It almost made up for the steelhead that ripped me and left me shaking to the point where I could not tie on a new fly on the Skykomish.... Ah, but that had been a wild fish and I wished this one could have been also. But I am not about to start getting greedy. It was a lot of fun and I plan on doing a lot more steelheading in the future.

    Interestingly, this fish had a green tag right behind the dorsal fin. If I was supposed to keep this fish or something, I apologize. I am sure that many on this site have insight into this matter. I probably should have kept it, considering it was a hatchery fish, but it was the first one and maybe it would have brought me bad luck. :hmmm:

    I have attached pictures. Sorry, they are not the greatest since I was alone and did not want to kill the fish by beaching it on the rocks.
  2. papafsh Piscatorial predilection

    Posts: 2,182
    Camano Island, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +53 / 0
    Way 2 Go!
    Now that's a fish worthy of your effort, thanks for posting the story and pic's. I'm sure you will be told by some that you should have bonked it, but you made a valid choice for yourself about releasing it, and that's as it should be.
    Next time you get one with a tag you should clip it off and send it to WDFW with the when, where, and how you caught it. That tag helps track the fish as to it's origin, age, and how far it may have traveled.
    Congratulations! :thumb:


    BTW: looks like an egg-sucking leach in it's mouth?
  3. Salvelinus Member

    Posts: 181
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    Thanks a lot for the info, papafish. I will send the tag in next time for sure. I will also keep hatchery fish from now on- I just couldn't bring myself to kill my first steelhead. And yes, she took an egg sucking leech. Maybe not the most glamorous fly, but it just plain catches fish.
  4. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
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    I have never held hatchery fish to the low esteem most do. Yes they are a threat to the wild fish, but they have gone to sea, and survived to return. Tough job. I'm not saying don't bonk them, heck, take them out of the potential gene pool by all means. I'm just saying that catching one shouldn't be seen as a second class accomplishment. Beauty!
  5. Steelie Mike Active Member

    Posts: 1,600
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    Great fish Salvelinus! Good luck with your new obsession! :beer2:
  6. OPfisher I

    Posts: 86
    gig harbor
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    you always remember your first time! way to go!!!
  7. _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

    Posts: 1,822
    Skagit River
    Ratings: +570 / 0
    I agree...the fish doesn't know he's a hatchery fish.
  8. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,628
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +532 / 0
    Congrats, man! :thumb: Very nice fish, and like WW said, despite its origins, it is still a living creature, and your choice to release it shows your respect for its life.
    I like the in-water shot.
    I don't catch that many steelhead (nothing bigger than a 16" jack on a fly, yet) so I would have bonked it. But three winters ago, before I became aware that "genetic pollution" posed a risk, I released a large (35+ inches) hatchery buck caught from a local creek that was a magnificent specimen (other than his origins), as I didn't need the meat (had brought home two hatchery brats the day before). It was the biggest steelie I had ever landed, and I didn't even get a photo, but I felt good about releasing it.

    Oops, I'm down to my last #4 purple/black ESL. Gotta hit the bench and tie up some #4's and #6's! And a bunch of Searun Cutt flies also...And I'm taking the rest of the week off!

    Thanks for the inspiration! Owoooheeeahhh!

  9. Matt Burke Active Member

    Posts: 3,640
    Ratings: +55 / 0
    Great fish and on the classic egg sucking leech too! Who cares what it is or what you did with it, getting something that size to hand is a great thing. Very cool.
  10. msteudel Mark Steudel

    Posts: 916
    Ratings: +9 / 0
    Nice job!
  11. Dan Soltau New Member

    Posts: 1,272
    Bozeland, MT - Raleigh, NC
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    I release everything, no matter what. But i dont look down on those who keep hatchery steelhead, but i certainly dont look up to them. So i guess i kind of do look down on them now that i think about it. Catch and Release
  12. inland Active Member

    Posts: 592
    Ratings: +45 / 0

    I have no problem whacking hatchery steelhead. Properly prepared they are great table fare. And they do bring a 'completeness' to the circle of what fishing really is: A BLOOD SPORT. No way around it. Every fish you play with, intended to be released, has a chance of not making it. You are not on any moral high ground to be able to either 'look up or down'. There is an ugly side to C&R.

  13. mike doughty Honorary Member

    Posts: 10,110
    the uinta's
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    I have no problem keeping the ocassional hatchery salmon or steelie if it is legal. it doesn't happen very often. everybody has there own opinions.
  14. TomB Active Member

    Posts: 1,620
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    Dan -
    that's ridiculous- you look down on people who are protecting the environment by keeping hatchery brats...come on man....what is the point of C&R if not to protect the environment...thus keeping hatchery brats is just an extension of such an environmental ethic. While i don't look down on people who release hatchery because it is their choice, I certainly advocate bonking them. Hatchery fish are as much a scourge to our native salmonids as habitat degradation and overfishing.
  15. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,278
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,373 / 0
    Sporting ethics


    Congratulations! The emotional impact of that fish ensures that you'll be a long contributing member to a thriving sportfishing economy.


    We are fortunate indeed to be able to individually choose our own set of sporting ethics. Not everyone subscribes to the same set, and for the most part, it isn't necessary, particularly with respect to hatchery trout and steelhead.

    Hatchery steelhead are stocked with the intention that they will be caught. Retaining them, up to your daily and possession limit, is your choice. Releasing them doesn't position an angler on any higher plain of sporting ethic. Hatchery steelhead are usually counter-productive as part of the naturally spawning population and are necessary to it only in some of our east of the Cascades rivers where they've been listed under the ESA.

    What's the point in looking down at others whose legal action differs from your own, unless it's to serve an illusion that you're somehow occupying higher moral or ethical ground? And what makes that ground higher when the hatchery fish in question exists solely to provide a recreational experience and be harvested?

    I kill some hatchery steelhead, and I release some hatchery steelhead. I release all wild steelhead. That's my personal ethic, and I know that others can and do have different ethics on the matter, and that's OK. Criticizing the legal actions of other anglers serves only to weaken the sportfishing community. We'd be better off not doing it.


    Salmo g.
  16. Lostinwater New Member

    Posts: 104
    Bellingham, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Very well said Salmo g. iagree

    Sal, that fishs a beut, great work :beer2:

  17. FLGator Member

    Posts: 646
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    Awesome! Congratulations on this incredible accomplishment. Another cool thing...the feeling of bringing a steelhead to hand on a flyrod feels the same everytime, just like the first time. One of the reasons it's so addicting.