How to (not to) piss off someone steelhead fishing

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by ChrisC, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. NomDeTrout Fly Guy Eat Pie

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    ah the classic combat fishing areas. I think the worst combat fishing I've ever seen was this past year's pink salmon run. I swear everyone and their grandmother's dogs were out with their Walmart setup trying to snag fish by sweeping across the river.

    There was one occasion, my friends and I got to a popular hole early morning but by the time we got there, there were already a good dozen guys drift fishing the area. We didn't think much of it and joined in. This is very common for gear fishing, no concerns of low-holing, you just watch their line and yours and hope you get the fish, but you each take turns casting one after another to not cross eachothers' lines.

    Anyway, a hour or so pass, people are hooking up here and there and everybodys having fun, when this big trailer-trash type guy comes strolling in wearing sweatpants and a lawn chair with a 5oz sinker and a treble hook and a can of sand shrimp. The guy lobs the damn thing diagonally across the river, crossing over everybody's drift and doesn't move. Now the guys that were wading in to the right of him are pissed now since they almost got their head dented in with a 5oz pyramid sinker. The fatass stands there looking like he owns the damn river and crosses his arms, revealing a pistol tucked away in his shoulder holster under his fat armpit.

    Needless to say, i'm not about to start shit with the roughneck kind, so literally 5-6 of us just decided to move upstream away from the guy. 30 minutes or so later, what do you know...the guy's decided to move upstream and is now plunking diagonally across us again. At this point, a friend of mine decides to voice up and tell him he can cast forward atleast so he doesn't cross everyone's drift in which he replied in a dickish scoff and saying "sorry man" with a little smirk and doesn't move at all.

    from then on, I vouched to never hit the community river holes ever again. Needless to say, I'll be skipping Reitors and Tokul this season.
  2. Salmo_g Active Member

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    Your City ,State
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    Greg Price,

    I learned about the rotation method of steelhead fishing on the Fortson hole on the NF Stillaguamish River in the early 70s. I was told it had been in practice on the Stilly below Deer Creek for decades before that. The Fortson hole was about 2 1/2 times its present length prior to the Christmas flood of 1980, and as many as 60 or 80 steelhead would stack in there in the fall, attracting maybe a dozen anglers at a time.

    First guy there began at the head of the pool, followed at about 50-75' intervals by successive anglers as they arrived. When you finish the pool, you get out and return to the top and start over, or take a break, or go somewhere else. There was incomplete agreement about what happens when you hook or land a fish. Some anglers felt you're obligated to go back up to the head of the pool, and some felt you could resume fishing where you left off. No one ever made too big a deal about it beyond questioning the act, and it didn't really matter in the scheme of things of keeping several anglers cooperatively sharing a productive piece of water.


    Fish the way you want, but understand that by tradition you were the one fishing out of synchrony. Not that it matters, but why would you still be fishing the same pool after 2 or 3 hours? I can see how you would be perceived as a hole hog, but if that's how you want to fish, just tell the approaching anglers that and they can fish around you. It's not in the catagory of things worth getting hot and bothered about.

    Erik Helm,

    Beat rotation is different than fishing rotation in a pool. In the UK a beat is a river reach consisting of several pools. The fishing is private and highly regulated. My understanding is that a couple of rods are assigned to a beat, and typically you switch beats around noon with another pair of rods from a different beat.

    As far as any kind of fishing etiquette in designated combat fisheries, it's non-existent.

  3. inland Active Member

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    Even on beat rotation you don't always get your own pool. When you don't pool rotation is still the name of the game. Whether you fish bait, spoon, spinner, or fly- pool rotation is how it is done.

  4. Ray Member

    Posts: 340
    Post Falls, ID
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    There are so damn many ways to steelhead fish, there are bound to be conflicts. Swinging flies, nymphing, pulling plugs, side drifting, boondogging, bobber fishing, etc. The way I look at it is simple, if I'm fishing a spot and was here first, you get the opportunity to fish around me. Upstream, downstream, I don't really care. Just be aware of the technique I'm using and stay the hell out of my way. I'll do the same for you.

    I have no patience for fishermen who think that just because they are working the top of a run that everyone else on that section of river has to stay out. If you want to fish the "bucket", start there. Don't be pissed off when somebody comes along and starts fishing the bucket while you screw around fishing crappy marginal water. I hate people who act as if they own a section of river. There are pleanty of fish and fishable water to go around.
  5. Keith Hixson Active Member

    Posts: 1,507
    College Place, Washington
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    I believe two things could solve these problems, courtesy and willingness to share. Planting yourself in a hole on river and hogging that hole is wrong. Selfishness will produce bad behaviour in others. Also if some else would like to fish the hole, let them.

    Two words would solve all the problems courtesy and unselfishness. Then everyone is happy.
  6. Erik F. Helm Frozen in the river, speyrod in hand

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    From reading "Six Months in Scotland" by Sylvester Nemes, it seems that quite a bit of water has become owned by associations. Also fishing rights can be had on some of these stretches for only a few pounds for a half day in non-prime run times. The days of wealthy landowners owning the rivers is changing.
    So, beat and pool rotation is a must. Have a neat photo of a conga line going down a river from a U.K. magazine. 18' rods and multiple anglers.:)
  7. Erik F. Helm Frozen in the river, speyrod in hand

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    Good point.
    I was referring to rotation within pools or a pool in a beat, but used some rather ambiguous language. Oops. But it's O.K. Nobody knows what a 'beat' is anyway ;)

  8. inland Active Member

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    To Erik's point:

    Section 7. This is why, all things added up, I am to the point of paying (and traveling far, far away from the PNW) modest $$$ to play. So the likes of anglers that 'have no patience' or 'get the hell out of my way' either buy into the idea of sharing or they get tossed out on their ear.

  9. Big Tuna Member

    Posts: 1,965
    Wenatchee, Washington
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    Sounds like those stuffy tweed-wearing traditionalists had at least one thing figured out. Funny how a little basic civility or etiquette can improve the experience for everyone in the same way that self-absorbed knuckle draggers can ruin it for everyone.
  10. ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    Eagle River, Alaska
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    heh sounds like Alaska
  11. Warmonger newt

    Posts: 201
    Yakima, WA
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    “Treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated.”

    best statement of the whole blog
  12. Porter Active Member

    Posts: 6,471
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
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    Geez, it's funny what they teach you in kindergarten applies to the rest of your life in all facets. If only all could ???? :confused:
  13. SpeySpaz still an authority on nothing

    Posts: 1,826
    Roy, WA
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    nicely put, Mr Hixson.

    I was at a very crowded place last weekend and got lowholed by an experienced DHer who I recognized and had spoken with before. Biggest problem was I was fishing short with a switcher, looking for fish on the inner seam, and he waded in with a big stick below me and decided he was going to wade where I was fishing, and sieve the water below me with the big stick and slow swings.

    I hinted a bit and got ignored, reeled in, waded up to him, and let him know how disappointed I was with him. Never raised my voice, never cussed, just told him like it is.
    Just because it's crowded doesn't mean we ignore each other. Had he come in above me he would've gotten a greeting and a dram. Plus virgin water outside my short swing. So experience doesn't necessarily denote grace.
  14. oldskool Guest

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  15. FT Active Member

    Posts: 1,243
    Burlington, WA
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    Thanks for posting this link. Hopefully, it will get folks who are not aware of this standard Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead fish through the run by starting at the top, taking a step or 2 every cast or 2, and ending at the end of the tailout or bottom of the run. This works wonderfully for anadromous fish like Atlantic Salmon and steelhead because the fish move through a run or hole on their way upriver; thus, anchoring in one place doesn't increase the odds of hooking a fish, nor does fishing through decrease the odds of finding a biter.

    Like the blog article says, any person, using any type of equipment (gear, spin, fly, bait, lure, yarn, plugs) can fish a run this way and nobody ever gets in anyone's way and all have a good, pleasant day on the river. And if there are folks already in the water fishing through (which is what it is usually called), simply wait until the person at the head moves down 100' or so and start in behind him. Simple, elegant, easy, and effective way for everyone regardless of gear type or skill level to enjoy a day on the river.

    Granted, this type of fishing through is foreign to the vast majority of trout fishermen, bass fishermen, pike fishermen, carp fishermen, etc. But keep in mind that these fish tend to stay in one run or hole of a river and that they also have areas within the pool, hole, or run that are feeding stations, things which steelhead don't do.

    This method has been the standard way of fishing for Atlantic Salmon regardless of the country for something like 300 years. And as Salmo pointed out, it was the way fly fishermen at least, and most gear and spin fishers as well from what some of the old timers I've met have told me, fished in years past. Too bad it is not the norm anymore, but there is no reason it can't be. If those of us who post on this site and all those who read it but who are not members of the site all decide to fish through like this, just think of how much more pleasant a day on the river would be.

    Greg Price,

    I've fished many rivers and places where this fishing through was practiced by nearly everyone. I've fished runs on the Sol Duc, Queets, and upper Hoh where gear, spin, and fly guys all fished through the run and all had an enjoyable time on the river and some fish were caught too. I've fished the NF Stilly many times on a summer weekend where there was a line-up (i.e. people waiting their turn to start at the top and fish through) and not a person got angry at having to wait, everyone got along, and people even talked to each other in a very pleasant manner while waiting their turn.

    I've experienced it on the Wenatchee, including this fall including sharing a run with a fellow fishing spoons and another one fishing yarn on a gear rod and my adult son and I fishing a 2-hander with a fly. I've seen this on the Sauk/Skagit as well, including with folks fishing with gear equipment. Interestingly, the gear guys, spin guys, and fly guys all got along with one another and all had a good time simply by each one fishing through.

    Ahhhh, if only everyone steelhead fishing fished through.
  16. wet line New Member

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    Burien, WA, King.
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    I generally agree with cast and move down but there are some exceptions we need to consider. There are areas where a single cast will not cover all the holding water and it may take several casts to cover the area. Maybe it will take 10 or 15 minutes to make all the presentations. Even if there is but a single prime spot 3 or 4 casts are ok with me.

    Summer fish will move further for a fly than a winter fish and tend to be a bit more agressive so fewer casts in the immediate area are needed. Winter fish in general need the fly in their face and it may take a few casts to get the fly where one wants it.

    To sit in one spot for a great period of time IS counter productive. Just move around and down and go fish. You aren't low holing someone who is anchored to a spot!

    If you are a person who runs down a river and covers a lot of water in a hurry don't get upset with someone else who fishes slower and more methodical and vice versa. Life is way too short for that!

    wet line Dave
  17. pmjasper Member

    Posts: 51
    Palatine, IL
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    Great article guys that really gets me thinking.

    As originally mentioned in the article, the rotation method or moving downstream is rarely practiced in the Midwest, at least where I have fished thusfar.

    I fish a fairly crowded and well known river in WI and a few weeks back I hooked up on a nice male steelie. After landing the fish, I thought there must be more in the same area so I kept casting until I hooked another. Now on this stream, most nymph, use egg imitations with indicators or the ever popular chuck and duck. Swing flies is not as popular here unless dealing with high water conditions. I've never once seen anyone move out of a hole before or after catching a fish but this honestly makes me wonder....should I have moved after catching that first fish or would I have been a fool to leave a productive area only to have the next guy move in and sit in the spot until he was ready to leave???

    I'm not sure and not trying to play the naive guy for my own benefit but as I mentioned before, growning up on the east coast and fishing there and now the Midwest, I've rarely if ever seen this hole sharing concept utilized. Normally it's you arrive first, you have the hole until you decide to move on. Again, maybe it's right or maybe it's worng but that's the default for fishing the rivers I grew up on and frequented. At least now I am aware that if i ever head out to the west coast there is a different standard expected.
  18. Salmo_g Active Member

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    There is no rule or regulation for rotation fishing on a pool for steelhead anywhere that I know of. What we have is local custom or local tradition. However, not everyone subscribes to the local customs, either because they are not local, not informed, or don't give a shit about what may be customary, instead preferrring to do whatever they please, irrespective of the effects their behavior has on other anglers.

    In your example, where the angler who arrives first owns the rock, so to speak, you might have been foolish indeed to leave after landing your first fish, since other anglers may have taken your place and become wed to the rock and not given you another chance all day.

    Life, along with fishing, is more complex in our highly mobile and transient society. In the past, local customs, traditions, and ethics essentially enjoyed something equivalent to the force of law. Not so anymore, where even the letter of the law and its intent frequently receives minimal respect or adherence.

    What works best for me is to communicate, or at least attempt to, with other anglers about intentions and expectations. If I fish around others, I try to do so only to the extent that our intentions and expectations are compatible. After that I leave.

  19. pmjasper Member

    Posts: 51
    Palatine, IL
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    Definitely agreed.

    Again, if I see someone in a particular spot, I give them plenty of room to continue doing what they are doing without my intrusion. On the beach, on a party boat or another crowded venue, moving in on a guy is called "mugging" and just not worth the hassle it causes. Loads of places to catch fish, no point in trying to stand on the next guy's shoulders to do so.

    As far as the rotation method...I really don't have any personal experience but would not be adverse to using it. All the rivers I fish now are so small that the runs and holes don't readily accomodate more than one or two anglers anyway.

    The closest thing I saw to the rotation method was at the Ballfield on the Salmon River. The pool is basically a large bowl-shaped basin with water flowing in at the top and out at the bottom. There was anywhere from 50 to 75 guys all around the hole, plunking away and sliding down here and there. The worst part was that one guys hooked up on a salmon, another guy set cause he thought it was his fish and subsequently the fish broke off. The guy who lost the fish was angered and threaten to fight the other guy who set the hook. A minute later, the guy who lost the fish, drops his rod crosses the river and gets right in the face of the guy who seemingly made him lose the fish. They started jawing and shoving and no one down in the hole was doing anything to stop it. My wife, father-in-law and I watched from the high cliff overlooking the hole, as there was no way we ever thought about entering that madness down there. If that's fishing I want no part of it.
  20. Erik F. Helm Frozen in the river, speyrod in hand

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    Sounds gruesome...