long and late: Klickitat Oct. 16, 22, 23 - 1st steelhead!

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by herl, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. herl

    herl Member

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    I caught my first Steelhead on Oct. 16.

    Saw my wife and baby off at Sea-Tac on the 15th and just kept driving. A lot of traffic and many hours later, sometime close to sunset, I pointed my car upriver at the mouth of the Klickitat. Made it all of 8 or 9 miles up rt. 142 until I just had to pull over and fish one hole before the light was gone. I hate to set up camp in the dark but an extra day of fishing, even if it is only for 15 min, is not something to be passed up.

    The next morning I geared up and rode my bike along a section of river that does not have roadside access, stopping at any likely stretches to see what I could catch. As it turns out I could not catch anything until about noon, when a ~15lb Chinook grabbed my polar shrimp about halfway through one of the deeper holes. I just about crapped myself. I have been pursuing the elusive steelhead since I moved to area, just over a year ago. This may not seem like a very long time to many of you, but no matter how you dress it, going a year without catching the fish that you are targeting is tough on a guy. I had hooked into two winter fish on the Skagit but those turned out to be fleeting affairs and left me, how should we say.. unsatisfied. So when a big fish grabs my fly on the swing when I am fishing for steelhead – I think STEELHEAD! A few seconds later, the slow, unconcerned, bulldogging style of the fight forced me to remember that there are lots of Chinook in this river. Sure enough, 5-10 minutes later I had my first fly caught Chinook to hand – nothing to sneeze at, but not a steelhead either.

    A mile or two up the river and about three hours later I was working my way down a small steely-looking run above another Chinook-looking hole. When I came to the end of the run and could wade no further on my side of the river, I decided to lengthen my line so as to swing into some brushy cover a little bit further below me. On what I am pretty sure was going to be my last cast, as the fly swung below the brushy cover, it was taken! This time there was no mistaking it. She was at the surface instantly. Rolling and thrashing, but not quite jumping. She made a couple of short, strong runs and another lively if not aerial surface display, but I had a 12lb leader and was determined to keep her out of the snags downstream. A few minutes later I was able to cradle my first steelhead in my own two hands. She was a hatchery fish, a little over 30” - pure silver with a dark green back and a faint pink stripe - magnificent. She took a #4 coal car with purple hackle, if that matters at all. Even though the Chinook was almost the exact same length, the two fish could hardly have been more different. I let her go. I could not kill my first steelhead, hatchery or no.

    I spent the rest of the day skating an ugly green bomber. I did not feel particularly motivated to get another one and I thought that if did get one on the bomber, it would just be a spectacular bonus. No bonus.

    I drove home satisfied and was quite satisfied for the next few days. I guess I still am satisfied, in a way, but by the following Thursday the drive had returned and with my wife and baby still gone, I returned to the Klickitat Friday evening.

    To shorten this already long story, I fished a solid two days, driving from run to run on the lower part of the river this time. I ended up catching another Chinook about 200yds from my tent in a hole that looked almost exactly like the first Chinook hole, but wasn’t. This one took an orange General Practitioner and was more like 33” and a good deal heavier, maybe 20lbs. The same day I landed another steelhead, this one around 28”, on an egg-sucking-purple-and-black-stiff-mono-leach. She was also a hatchery fish, was soundly bonked and joined me on my journey home.

    The second day, I received a good old fashion steelhead skunking and did not catch any fish of any kind.

    So there you have it. There are steelhead – they can be caught.

    It may be noted that both of the Chinook were caught on orange patterns and both the steelhead on black/purple patterns. The water was fairly low – 500 cfs – with good visibility. The days ranged from partly cloudy to clear and all of the fish were caught in the shade.
     
  2. Dylan D

    Dylan D Member

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    Great report and congrats! Thanks for sharing. :beer1:
     
  3. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Eric,
    Great report and congrats on your first of many steelhead to come in the future.
    Brian
     
  4. herl

    herl Member

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    Thanks Brian,
    If your coho skills carry over into the steelhead world, I'm sure two fish seems like small change to you.

    Eric
     
  5. Beckler

    Beckler Member

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    Awesome report, way to go!:thumb:
     
  6. John Dougher

    John Dougher Member

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    Good story; see the family off, jump in the car, camp & fish.
    Sounds as if Christmas came early.
    Congratulations on your first steelhead.
    John
     
  7. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

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    Very cool:thumb:
     
  8. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Eric,
    No steelhead is small change.;) I fished alot longer then one year before I finally scored my first steelie on a fly. Good job on the kings also.
    Brian
     
  9. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member

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    I always thought letting the first go was good karma. No matter if it was hatchery or nate. It also leaves the opportunity for me to catch it. Nice job and great report.
     
  10. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    So that's my problem. I kept my first fly caught steelhead. And now I have bad Karma:( :( :( :(. I guess that I'll have to give up fishing now. bawling: bawling:

    Jim bawling: :beathead:
     
  11. Danger Spey

    Danger Spey New Member

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    No Old Man you just need to do some volunteer habitat work and pick up a whole bunch of garbage on the river. Trust me it works!
     
  12. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    See the name "old man" well that is pretty much what I am. Can't walk to well lately with out the use of a cane. Don't walk up hill or down hill and don't bend over without the fear of falling on my knees and making them hurt worse.

    Jim
     
  13. OPfisher

    OPfisher I

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    Right on herl! Awsome story, glad to hear you found a couple!
     
  14. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    Eric,

    were you by chance smoking a pipe on the bank after catching your fish? i ran into someone that day on the klickitat with a very similar story. awsome to story by the way!
     
  15. herl

    herl Member

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    Jergens,

    That was me alright. Thanks for floating by so I had someone to tell. And thanks for being (or sounding) as excited as I was. Very cool-

    Eric
     
  16. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

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    Eric,

    both of my guys that day got their first steelhead on the fly rod, and they even let me catch one! The first steelie i ever got was on that river as well, and was as pumped as you were!

    Joe
     
  17. herl

    herl Member

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    Joe,
    Right on. I'm glad your guys got some. I was a little hesitant to say anything since I figured they were your clients and if they weren't hooking anything.. could have been a bummer. But, sounds like it was a good day all around - and you even got to fish. You gotta love a day like that.
    Eric
     

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